IAB Tech Lab releases new specs to boost transparency across entire supply chain

New IAB Tech Lab specs now move to 30-day public comment period

The IAB Tech LAB has introduced two new specifications aimed at increasing transparency in the digital supply chain for supply-side platforms (SSPs) and exchanges.

The first spec is sellers.json, similar to an inverse of ads.txt. The new technology allows buyers to verify entities that are either intermediaries or direct sellers of programmatic partners.

The second spec, OpenRTB SupplyChain object, allows buyers to see all the parties selling or reselling a bid request. This aims to show the full chain of custody of an impression by referencing entries in sellers.json.

Sam Tingleff, chief technology officer at the IAB Tech Lab, said the new specs were driven by demand-side platforms (DSPs) receiving large amounts of opaque inventory.

"Ads.txt allows for a declaration of intermediaries for resellers," said Tingleff. "It was not clear how a reseller had actually sourced the underlying inventory.

"DSPs are asking for transparency into the full chain. They're saying, 'if I'm getting a request from one exchange, which I know is a reseller for the publisher, where did they get it from?'"

Now there are transparency tools for SSPs, intermediaries and DSPs, Tingleff said the next step is cryptographically certifying the entire path of an impression. He said calling the entire supply path "covered" is too strong of a term, so moving toward securely certifying the supply path is the next key step.

Sellers.json and the SupplyChain object will now enter a 30-day public comment period where SSPs and exchanges can test and provide feedback on the new technologies.

Advertising platform InMobi will be an early adopter of both specs. Sergio Serra, senior product manager, supply and programmatic at InMobi, called for the industry to quickly adopt them.

"Sellers.json and SupplyChain object are the natural evolution to help make the ecosystem even more transparent and trustworthy," he said. "It's crucial that everyone in the space evangelize the importance of supply path transparency in the spirit of fair and more reliable advertising and programmatic trading.

"InMobi will be an early adopter of both Sellers.json and SupplyChain object and we hope the rest of the industry will follow."

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