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Data shows sites with ads.txt tend toward higher viewability

May 4, 2018 7:07:46 AM

Pixalate has kept close track of ads.txt adoption and growth, and while the initiative has seen widespread adoption over the past six months, questions still remain as to whether or not the ad inventory sold by publishers with ads.txt is of higher quality compared to sites without ads.txt.

There are many KPIs used to determine "quality," and what qualifies as "quality inventory" can change from one company to the next. But viewability is one of the most ubiquitous measurements used in digital marketing today, so we set out to examine viewability trends as it relates to ads.txt

So how do ads.txt-enabled sites stack up against sites without ads.txt in terms of viewability?

Pixalate studied global programmatic desktop display advertising data in February 2018 and March 2018 to begin painting the picture.

ads.txt-viewability-blog-header-feb-march-2018 (1)

February 2018: Ads.txt-enabled sites had higher viewability


Pixalate's observations of the global programmatic desktop display ad marketplace in February 2018 were clear: Sites with ads.txt, on average, had higher overall viewability rates.

  • Viewability (February 2018)
    • Ads.txt enabled: 45.4%
    • Ads.txt not enabled: 41.9%

The trend here appears clear, with ads.txt-enabled sites delivering about 3.5% higher viewability rates compared to sites without ads.txt. But this is just one month's worth of data. Here's what March looked like.

March 2018: Ads.txt-enabled have notably higher viewability rates — again


Our observed data from March 2018 is even more conclusive on the viewability front. The March data aligns with the February data in terms of viewability — but to an even greater degree.

  • Viewability (March 2018)
    • Ads.txt enabled: 43.2%
    • Ads.txt not enabled: 37.4% 

The trend holds true across top domains

While the above data represents data collected from over 500,000 sites which participate in the open programmatic marketplace, Pixalate also studied the Alexa Top 20,000, Top 50,000, and Top 100,000 sites — those of which that participate in the open programmatic marketplace — to see if the trends held true across the domains on which marketers are most active. 

We found that sites with ads.txt had higher viewability than sites without ads.txt across all subsets studied:

March 2018:

Viewability: March 2018
  Ads.txt Enabled Ads.txt Not Enabled
Alexa Top 20,000 43.1% 36.1%
Alexa Top 50,000 43.5% 36.9%
Alexa Top 100,000 43.2% 37.3%

February 2018:

Viewability: February 2018
  Ads.txt Enabled Ads.txt Not Enabled
Alexa Top 20,000 45.6% 41.6%
Alexa Top 50,000 45.8% 41.9%
Alexa Top 100,000 45.4% 41.9%

Preliminary results: Ads.txt-enabled sites offer higher viewability

Our study from February and March 2018 suggests that sites with ads.txt do indeed offer better quality in terms of viewability. 

  • In February, the difference in viewability was about 3.5%
    • 45.4% for ads.txt-enabled vs. 41.9% for sites without ads.txt
  •  March, the difference in viewability was nearly 6%
    • 43.2% for ads.txt-enabled vs. 37.4% for sites without ads.txt

What have you observed when buying on ads.txt-enabled sites versus sites without ads.txt?


The data contained in this blog represent Pixalate's measured observations of the desktop display programmatic advertising ecosystem in February and March 2018. The data is representative of over 500,000 sites which participate in programmatic advertising in the open marketplace.

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