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GroupM calls for anti-piracy certification

WPP’s GroupM, the global media investment management company, has endorsed the Trustworthy Accountability Group’s (TAG) anti-piracy guidelines and a new requirement that its media partners either become or use TAG-certified providers of anti-piracy services to participate in GroupM’s Trusted Marketplaces. GroupM’s media investments on behalf of clients are approximately $106B (RECMA 2014); the company’s action will make a significant impact on pirated content trafficking worldwide.

“We’re in the business of giving the world’s most valuable brands marketing advantage with smart media strategies. This inherently means we’re vigilant for clients’ brand safety. Our work with TAG in the development and now full adoption of anti-piracy guidelines is a major leap forward,” said John Montgomery, Chairman, GroupM Connect, North America and Co-Chair of the TAG Anti-Piracy Working Group. “With IAB, 4As, and ANA, we’ve worked years to make the digital ecosystem more trustworthy. Fighting pirates of copyrighted content required every ounce of our tenacity and ingenuity, but with the advent of TAG’s Brand Integrity Program Against Piracy, we have powerful new tools and safeguards.”

Announced in February 2015, TAG’s anti-piracy program helps prevent ad placement on websites that facilitate distribution of pirated content and/or the illegal dissemination of counterfeit goods. Through the program, providers of anti-piracy tools and services will be validated as Digital Advertising Assurance Providers (DAAPs) by independent third-parties including Stroz Friedberg and Ernst & Young, working with TAG. To be validated, DAAP companies must show how they identify risky sites, prevent ad placement, disrupt site transactions, monitor and assess the safety of ad placements, and/or prevent payment to sites that are deemed likely to offer pirated content or counterfeit goods. The first validated DAAPs are expected to be named in Q3 2015, and GroupM will require that all of its partners receive such validation by Q1 2016.

“It’s very gratifying to have the world’s largest media buyer commit to the TAG programme for itself and its partners,” said Mike Zaneis, CEO of TAG. “Major marketers want to protect their brands from being placed on sites that are associated with criminal activity. TAG is building the trusted marketplace for buying and selling inventory in the digital supply chain.”

A report from the Digital Citizens’ Alliance estimated that pirate content sites made more than $200 million in 2014 from advertising placed inadvertently on those sites, damaging copyright holders across music, movies, TV, books, games and more. Advertisers whose brands inadvertently appear on such sites suffer reputational harm. In addition, consumers that visit these sites are made to believe the content is legitimate due to the presence of brands they recognise and are often damaged by malware or other malicious code that infects their computers.

The Brand Integrity Against Piracy Program has also been endorsed by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), Independent Film & Television Alliance (IFTA), CreativeFuture, and Copyright Alliance, among a number of other advertising industry groups and companies.

“We applaud GroupM’s leadership and commitment to enhancing trust and transparency in the digital marketplace,” stated Krishan Bhatia, EVP of Business Operations and Strategies, NBCUniversal, and TAG Board Member. “As a premium content provider and a digital advertiser, NBCUniversal is committed to protecting its brand from appearing on illegitimate sites and stemming the flow of ad dollars to pirate site operators. We encourage the entire market to follow GroupM’s lead.”

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