Brands: Beware Of Ad Networks Supporting Pirated Content Sites

Jonathan-Taplin-AAdvertising networks need to do a better job of protecting brands like General Motors, Honda, and Lenovo against serving ads on ad-supported Web sites that distribute pirated content, such as movies and music.

The industry has been active in identifying ad units served next to competing or undesirable content, but not informed when they appear on sites distributing copyrighted material gratis.

Amazon, American Express, BMW, Lexus, Saks Fifth Avenue, Walmart and Walt Disney World are among the brands that appear on multiple occasions on infringing sites, according to Annenberg Innovation Lab Transparency Report at the University of Southern California, which cites an estimated 150,000 sites related to entertainment.

The university school became one of the academic organizations to work closely with Hollywood as it transitioned from celluloid to digital distribution of movies to theaters in the mid-2000s.

The goal of the report is to steer ad dollars away from pirated-content sites that exploit film, TV and music. It draws on information from the list of top infringing sites compiled using the Google Transparency Report of domains with the most DMCA Takedown requests.

Since the last report, several brands and agencies are working with the lab to regulate ads across pirated sites. Google and OpenX, two big players from the last report, are no longer on the most recent. Annenberg Lab Director Jonathan Taplin said he met with both companies to discuss methods and address the issues. Basically, they blocked access from their ad servers, similar to what they do to avoid placement on pornographic sites, he said. Both reduced the number of infringing sites they place ads on.

The latest report, which compiles information since Jan. 1, 2013, names Yahoo’s Right Media and British firm Propellerads.com as a major provider to infringing sites. Propellerads increased service this month to the pirate marketplace, and moves into the No. 1 spot in USC's survey. Sumotorrent takes the No. 2 spot, followed by Yahoo's Right Media, Admxr, Exoclick, Adcash, Quantcash, Mgid, Adtransfer, and Infolinks.

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