Ad Industry Unveils New Anti-Piracy Program

A coalition of major ad industry groups are rolling out a new program that aims to “validate” companies that offer anti-piracy services to ad agencies and marketers.

The voluntary program calls for quality assurance companies like DoubleVerify, among others, to be certified by outside auditors, including Ernst & Young and Stroz Friedberg. The auditors will assess the effectiveness of programs offered by the quality assurance companies, which the industry is now calling “Digital Advertising Assurance Providers.”

The new program comes from the ad industry's Trustworthy Accountability Group, an initiative of the Association of National Advertisers, the American Association of Advertising Agencies and the Interactive Advertising Bureau.

TAG CEO Linda Woolley is expected to unveil the validation program on Tuesday, during the IAB's annual meeting in Phoenix, Ariz.

With the program, the ad industry hopes to “create a structure that should help improve the marketplace, and the market for the use of services that stop piracy,” says Stuart Ingis, a Venable attorney who helped draft the program standards.

He adds that the trade associations don't intend to make substantive decisions about whether a site offers pirated or counterfeit content. Instead, the new program aims to evaluate whether the quality-assurance companies have criteria to identify sites at risk of offering pirated content, and can enable marketers and agencies to wield control over whether their ads appear on those sites.

Ingis says that he anticipates certification by an outside auditor will cost around $50,000 to $100,000, but adds that the ad industry doesn't set the price. Quality assurance companies that don't want to hire outside auditors will have the option of self-attesting that they meet the validation standards.

Participating providers of anti-piracy services can display a “validated-against piracy” seal provided by TAG, while companies that hire the providers can display a “certified against piracy” seal by TAG.

The Motion Picture Association of America and Recording Industry Association of America support the new program.

“I’m encouraged that advertising firms and their partners recognize this is an issue for all of us who seek a digital ecosystem in which musicians and labels get paid for their work and brands don’t unwittingly fund rogue sites,” Cary Sherman, CEO of the RIAA, stated.

Those groups were among the backers of the Stop Online Piracy Act -- a bill that would have provided for court orders banning ad networks and payment processors from doing business with “rogue” sites, defined as sites dedicated to infringement. That measure was shelved three years ago, after protests by Web companies and advocacy groups.

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