Ad industry launches anti-piracy initiative

The Trustworthy Accountability Group (TAG), an advertising industry initiative to improve the digital ecosystem, has launched the ‘Brand Integrity Program Against Piracy’, designed to help advertisers and their ad agencies avoid damage to their brands from ad placement on websites and other media properties that facilitate the distribution of pirated content and/or illegal dissemination of counterfeit goods.

TAG is an initiative created by the Association of National Advertisers (ANA), the American Association of Advertising Agencies (4As), and the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) to attack ad-supported piracy, digital advertising fraud, malware, and other deficiencies in the digital communications supply chain. TAG CEO Linda Woolley announced the anti-piracy programme during the IAB’s annual leadership meeting in Phoenix, Arizona.

Companies in the online and mobile advertising ecosystem can participate in the voluntary Brand Integrity Program Against Piracy by using validated tools and services to identify and prevent advertising from running on websites and other properties that present an unacceptable risk of being associated with infringing activities, including copyright piracy and the illegal dissemination of counterfeit goods.

The Brand Integrity Program Against Piracy was supported at its launch by the US Chamber of Commerce and a ‘Who’s Who’ of organisations and companies in advertising, online publishing, adtech, media, and consumer protection, including:
•    Advertising: Association of National Advertisers (ANA), American Association of Advertising Agencies (4A’s), Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB), GroupM Interaction
•    Advertising Technology: Collective, DoubleVerify, Integral Ad Science, L-3 and MiMTiD, sovrn, Veri-Site, whiteBULLET
•    Media: Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), Independent Film & Television Alliance (IFTA), CreativeFuture, Copyright Alliance
•    Consumer Protection: International AntiCounterfeiting Coalition (IACC)

Under the programme, TAG will work with a small number of independent third-party validators, including Ernst & Young and Stroz Friedberg, to certify advertising technology companies as Digital Advertising Assurance Providers (DAAPs). To be validated as a DAAP, companies must show they can provide other advertising companies with tools to limit their exposure to undesirable websites or other properties by effectively meeting one or more criteria, including: Identifying ‘Ad Risk Entities’ (AREs); Preventing Advertisements on Undesired Ad Risk Entities; Detecting, Preventing, or Disrupting Fraudulent or Deceptive Transactions; Monitoring and Assessing the Compliance of Ad Placements, and Eliminating Payments to Undesired Ad Risk Entities: Using technology and protocols to prevent payments to undesired sites and other media properties.

TAG was created to spur industry-wide improvement at an unprecedented scale, focusing on four core areas: eliminating fraudulent traffic, combating malware, fighting ad-supported Internet piracy to promote brand integrity, and promoting brand safety through greater transparency.

According to Woolley, it is critical that online advertisers be able to protect themselves from potential brand damage from piracy, fraud, and malware and safeguard their marketing investments. “This initiative will help marketers identify sites that present an unacceptable risk of misappropriating copyrighted content and selling counterfeit goods, and it will help them remove those sites from their advertising distribution chain,” she stated.

Senator Orrin Hatch, Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, Congressman Bob Goodlatte, and Congressman Adam Schiff, Co-chairs of the International Anti-Theft and Creativity Caucus, noted that for years, they had encouraged stakeholders in the online advertising space – brands, ad agencies, exchanges and ad networks – to take voluntary measures to ensure that online ads did not subsidise websites that profit by defrauding consumers or stealing the work of American creators. “The establishment of the Brand Integrity Program is a significant step forward in this effort and the Caucus applauds the inter-industry coordination and work that went into this announcement. With the adoption of validated tools to keep ads off pirate sites, it’s incumbent upon advertisers and others in the supply chain to follow through and make use of these new technologies to cut off funding to sites that use online theft as their business model,” they suggested.

According to Senator Chris Dodd, Chairman and CEO, Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), whether you are a creator whose product is stolen online or a brand whose reputation is damaged, the harm caused by online services that illegitimately distribute content is serious and far-reaching. “We applaud TAG for recognising this issue and creating the Brand Integrity Program Against Piracy to help cut the ad revenue flowing to these infringing sites. This latest step from TAG is an encouraging demonstration that voluntary initiatives will continue to pave the way for vibrant digital marketplaces that benefit all members of the online ecosystem,” he declared.

Ruth Vitale, Executive Director, CreativeFuture, said the creative community supported the initiative. “Advertisers now have innovative tools to keep their good ads off bad sites. This program helps protect the integrity of advertisers’ brands, while rewarding the hard-working creators of movies, TV, music, books, software, and other creative works. We are hopeful this effort will be broadly embraced,” she added.

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