The digital advertising industry is under attack; ad blocking technologies (and their inclusion on Apple platforms) are expected to have a significant impact on revenues within the industry. However, it is websites with pirated content that the advertising industry has been waging war on this year. Websites containing pirated content or selling counterfeit goods (Illicit Sites) are estimated to have made just under a quarter of a billion dollars in 20141 (from revenues generated from the placement of legitimate adverts on such Illicit Sites). Further, the reputational impact on advertisers who have adverts placed on these Illicit Sites is substantial and many advertisers do not want to be regarded as condoning/supporting illicit content.
The above concerns resulted in the Trustworthy Accountability Group (TAG) launching its anti-piracy program earlier this year (the Program). Through the Program, TAG (working with independent third parties such as Ernst & Young) will validate providers of anti-piracy tools/technology (that, amongst other things, prevent placement of adverts on Illicit Sites and ensure that they are placed on correct legitimate sites) as Digital Advertising Assurance Providers.
Although the creation of the Program is in its infancy, many companies have thrown their weight behind the initiative, including both Facebook and Google. Of great significance is the recent endorsement of the Program by GroupM (which is responsible for approximately US$106 billion in media advertising for its clients), which has stated that by the first quarter of 2016 it will require its media partners to: (a) have their anti-piracy capabilities certified by TAG; or (b) work closely with certified companies.
As with many challenges in the digital age, the above highlights that a legal strategy alone may not deliver a complete solution and that a commercial technological strategy that includes maximum industry cohesion also has a key role to play.