IAB Tech Lab releases new specs for ad seller transparency: Sellers.json and SupplyChain object

Two new specs aimed at addressing ad fraud and increasing transparency from the buy-side of the digital advertising ecosystem are out for public comment from the IAB Tech Lab: Sellers.json and the OpenRTB SupplyChain object.

The 30-day public comment period ends May 10.

What is OpenRTB SupplyChain object? The SupplyChain object will show buyers all the parties involved in selling or reselling a given bid request. It consists of a set of nodes, with each node representing an entity participating in the bid request sale. The complete chain of entities involved in (and paid for part of) the sale are then discoverable to the buyer.

“This information can be important to buyers for any number of reasons including transparency of the supply chain, ensuring that all intermediaries are entities that the buyer wants to transact with and that inventory is purchased as directly as possible,” per the spec.

It can be used with OpenRTB 2.5 and OpenRTB 3.0.

What is Sellers.json? It’s a file that allows ad buyers (DSPs) to see and verify the final seller of a given bid request — as long as the seller is ads.txt authorized. It’s like an inverse companion to Ads.txt, which publishers post to their domain to list authorized sellers of their inventory.

It also makes visible the identities of all intermediaries that participated in the sale of a bid request. It allows publisher name and domain attributes to be looked up and cached offline rather than supplied with every bid request. Each seller has a seller_id, which is the same ID that appears in an ads.txt file, SupplyChain.nodes and typically in the Publisher.id property of an OpenRTB request.

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Ad systems place the sellers.json file on their root domain and any relevant subdomains. For example, http://indexexchange.com/sellers.json. The IAB Tech Lab advises “Every advertising system listed in an ads.txt file and any advertising system that is referencedfrom a SupplyChain object node should also publish a Sellers.json file” on their domains.

Why we should care. These two technical specifications build on the ads.txt imitative that launched two years ago, and apps-ads.txt for app developers, to help combat invalid traffic, ad fraud and counterfeit inventory on open exchanges. With the trio of specs, there are now tools for the sell-side (SSPs), the buy-side (DSPs) and intermediaries.

“Growth in the global digital advertising ecosystem requires trust, and sellers.json and the SupplyChain object provide essential visibility into the supply chain, enabling buyers to curate media sources,” said Dennis Buchheim, senior vice president and general manager, IAB Tech Lab. “Used together, these technologies help enable a more transparent, more efficient advertising environment. I encourage everyone to provide feedback to the Tech Lab, and adopt as soon as the specs are finalized.”

This story first appeared on MarTech Today. For more on marketing technology, click here.

About The Author

Ginny Marvin is Third Door Media’s Editor-in-Chief, managing day-to-day editorial operations across all of our publications. Ginny writes about paid online marketing topics including paid search, paid social, display and retargeting for Search Engine Land, Marketing Land and MarTech Today. With more than 15 years of marketing experience, she has held both in-house and agency management positions. She can be found on Twitter as @ginnymarvin.

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