79% of European advertisers reduced the number of ad impressions on pirate sites following the communication of the TAG Brand Integrity project
The Trustworthy Accountability Group (TAG), an advertising industry self-regulatory body aimed at combating criminal activity and strengthening brand safety in the digital advertising supply chain, today released the first annual report for TAG’s Project Brand Integrity (PBI), an initiative set up to protect advertisers from negative brand associations by alerting them when their ads appear on pirate sites in Europe.
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The report found that direct outreach by PBI prompted a large majority of advertisers (79%) to reduce their ad impressions on pirate sites, with nearly half of this group (43%) terminating nearly all ads on these sites. Among the brands that reduced their ads, there was an overall reduction in advertising on pirate sites of nearly two-thirds (66%).
“Sometimes the most powerful tool for change is actionable information,” said Nick Stringer, vice president of engagement and global operations at TAG. “In today’s complicated supply chain, advertisers and their agencies may be unaware that some of their inventory is ending up on pirate sites, driving illegal activity and enriching criminals. This report found that the vast majority of advertisers contacted by TAG took steps to protect their advertising budgets and brands when alerted to such misdirection.
LABEL established PBI in February 2019 in partnership with a UK anti-piracy and brand security specialist white ball. The initiative aims to protect brands from unwanted association with digital content theft by alerting advertisers or their agencies to advertisements served on high-risk websites and those that infringe intellectual property (IP) in Europe.
Through this partnership, White Bullet monitors high-risk websites that infringe iIP in the European digital advertising markets and provides information to TAG about the advertisements displayed on these sites. TAG then notifies advertisers (or their agencies) privately and confidentially when a significant number of their advertisements appear on these sites and provides the advertiser with information and actionable tools to reduce their risk, including participation in the TAG’s Brand Safety Certified program.
“Ad-supported piracy is an ongoing challenge for the digital advertising industry, and it’s critical that we continue to work proactively and collaboratively to combat it,” said Peter Szyszko, Founder and CEO, White Bullet. “This first annual report from Project Brand Integrity shows the progress we’ve made and where we need to focus our efforts as we seek to protect brands from any unwanted association with digital content theft. Alerting advertisers to ads shown on high-risk websites has already had a huge impact, but the fight is not over yet, so we look forward to continuing to work with TAG to increase PBI’s effectiveness.
In 2022, TAG plans to expand PBI’s efforts and further increase its effectiveness through new steps, including a robust process to engage with advertisers who have – to date – been unresponsive to outreach. As part of this process, repeat offenders will be mentioned in future reports and referred to the European Commission for recommendation to be included in its Counterfeit and Piracy Watchlist.
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Allie Wootton, Head of Anti-Piracy Group, Advertising and Payments Strategy, Sky said: “As a content creator and advertiser, Sky fully supports Project Brand Integrity and the wider work of TAG and White Bullet to solve the problem of advertising funded piracy This is a major step forward in trying to stop the flow of ad revenue to criminal organizations looking to monetize stolen content, and it’s something that the whole of the advertising industry can support.
PBI’s annual report also highlighted issues and trends in the fight against ad-supported piracy. In particular, the report found that hijacked domains are changing rapidly, with 73% of all domains monitored since the program’s launch now redirecting traffic, using mirror or proxy websites, or going inactive. He also found a significant shift towards programmatic advertising on pirate websites, as 64% of advertisers appearing on such sites last year were served through programmatic channels compared to 24% through affiliate marketing channels and 11 % through sponsored content.
“We commend TAG for designing and executing the Project Brand Integrity program,” said David Green, Vice President of Public Policy, NBCUniversal. “By alerting brands that inadvertently place their ads next to stolen content, TAG provides an essential brand safety service to advertisers and agencies. And by decreasing the profitability of ad-supported piracy, the program benefits the community. creativity and the millions of jobs it supports.
PBI is backed by TAG’s Brand Safety Certified program, which includes robust anti-piracy requirements for businesses. As of April 19, 2022, 128 companies have earned the TAG Brand Security Certified Seal, with 47% (57) applying the standard to their global operations.
PBI’s direct engagement with advertisers and their agencies also includes other industry and public policy efforts, such as the Memorandum of Understanding on Online Advertising and Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) facilitated by the European Commission in 2018.
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