Advertising Industry Launches Initiative to Protect Brands Against Piracy Websites

Advertising Industry Launches Initiative to Protect Brands Against Piracy Websites

February 10, 2015

Trustworthy Accountability Group Launches Anti-Piracy Program as First Part of Campaign Against Click Fraud, Malware, Lack of Transparency

Phoenix, AZ – February 10, 2015 – The Trustworthy Accountability Group (TAG), an advertising industry initiative to improve the digital ecosystem, today announced the launch of the Brand Integrity Program Against Piracy. The program will 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 (4A’s), 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 program during the IAB’s annual leadership meeting in Phoenix, AZ.

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 U.S. Chamber of Commerce and a who’s who of organizations 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 program, 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.

The criteria for DAAP validation (known as the Core Criteria for Effective Digital Advertising Assurance) include:

  • Identifying “Ad Risk Entities” (AREs):  Assessing and identifying websites or other media properties that have a discernible risk of facilitating the unauthorized dissemination of copyrighted materials and/or the illegal dissemination of counterfeit goods.
  • Preventing Advertisements on Undesired Ad Risk Entities: Enabling advertisers and agencies to restrict the display of their advertising on undesirable sites or other media properties that do not meet each advertiser’s or agency’s standards.
  • Detecting, Preventing or Disrupting Fraudulent or Deceptive Transactions: Ensuring protocols and capabilities exist to find and limit ad placements on Ad Risk Entities that use fraud or deception to avoid the standards set by the advertiser or agency.
  • Monitoring and Assessing the Compliance of Ad Placements: Detecting and reporting on Ad Risk Entities that are not in compliance with advertiser or agency instructions to allow remedial action to be taken.
  • Eliminating Payments to Undesired Ad Risk Entities: Using technology and protocols to prevent payments to undesired sites and other media properties.

With this announcement, the program will begin the process of validating entities that offer services to advertisers and their partners to protect their brands. It is expected that this document (1.0) will evolve and improve based on learnings during this next step.

Validated DAAPs will help protect the online advertising ecosystem by providing their tools and services to other digital advertising companies – such as ad networks, exchanges, and demand side platforms – or directly to advertisers and their agencies. (Companies that provide services covered under the DAAP criteria to themselves using in-house resources can opt to self-attest to meeting those elements of the Brand Integrity Program.)

Applications for DAAP validation are now being accepted, and the first companies to receive such validation will be announced over the coming months. More information and the full criteria developed for the TAG Brand Integrity Program Against Piracy can be found at tagtoday.net/piracy.

About the Trustworthy Accountability Group

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. For more information on TAG, please visit tagtoday.net.

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Industry Reaction to the TAG Brand Integrity Program Against Piracy

Linda Woolley, President and CEO, Trustworthy Accountability Group:

“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.”

Mike Zaneis, Executive Vice President, Public Policy and General Counsel, Interactive Advertising Bureau:

“The TAG Brand Integrity Program Against Piracy creates a framework for the industry and allows advertisers and agencies to protect the integrity of their brands by limiting exposure to risky content sites. Building upon past efforts of ad networks to combat content theft, this expanded program creates new, highly effective tools for the industry to boost their fight against these criminals.”

Bob Liodice, President and CEO, Association of National Advertisers:

“Billions of dollars that belong to marketer‎s have been stolen or misdirected for unscrupulous purposes. TAG’s efforts are exemplary in that this anti-piracy program brings the industry together to fight this issue leveraging our collective assets and intelligence. It’s time we reclaim what is ours and put an end to these devious and criminal activities.”

Nancy Hill, President-CEO, 4A’s (American Association of Advertising Agencies):

“We launched the TAG initiative to tackle some of the toughest issues in digital advertising. The anti-piracy program is an important step in our efforts to build a safer, more effective and more trustworthy advertising ecosystem. By empowering advertisers to enforce their own standards based on what works best for their brands, the Brand Integrity Program Against Piracy is a win-win for the entire online advertising supply chain.”

John Montgomery, COO, GroupM Interaction: 

“An advertiser’s brand is its most precious possession, and this program will help us ensure that our clients’ brands are not put at risk through unintentional placement on sites that promote pirated content, counterfeit goods, or other illegal activities. We look forward to working with TAG on this and other programs to help strengthen the advertising ecosystem by addressing systemic problems like piracy, malware, fraud, and lack of transparency.”

Stu Ingis, Partner, Venable (who led the drafting of the Core Criteria):

“This cross-industry system is designed to help advertisers and their agencies identify and avoid the properties that are leveraging their brands to support illegal activity. The key element of the TAG Brand Integrity Program Against Piracy is that it is ultimately driven by the advertisers themselves, based on what they decide is in the best interest of their brands. They will now have a cross-industry system that provides them the ability to choose to reduce their risk of association with illegally displayed content and counterfeit products, using tools that have been independently validated.”

David Hirschmann, Senior Vice President, U.S. Chamber of Commerce:

“Businesses and consumers benefit when industries come together around voluntary programs to encourage commercially reasonable, technologically feasible steps all stakeholders can take to reduce the sale of counterfeit goods and content theft online. The advertising industry has made real progress by forming the Brand Integrity Program Against Piracy, which helps protect companies from damage to their brands by inadvertently having their ads placed on sites associated with content theft. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce commends the creation of this advertising industry initiative as part of the sector’s broader Trustworthy Accountability Group, which also addresses fraud, malware, and other threats to the digital advertising ecosystem.”

Senator Orrin Hatch, Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, Congressman Bob Goodlatte, and Congressman Adam Schiff, Co-chairs of the International Anti-Theft and Creativity Caucus:

“For years, we have encouraged stakeholders in the online advertising space – brands, ad agencies, exchanges and ad networks – to take voluntary measures to ensure that online ads do not subsidize 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.”


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 recognizing 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.”

Cary Sherman, CEO, Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA):

“This is an important initiative undertaken by the advertising industry and we applaud them for it. 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. We hope use of these services will be widely adopted and will help create a more safe, legitimate and vibrant Internet for all of us.

Jean Prewitt, President and Chief Executive Officer, Independent Film & Television Alliance:

“As the voice of independent film and television creators around the globe, we applaud the announcement of TAG’s Brand Integrity Program Against Piracy. Ad-supported websites that illegally peddle films and television shows cause enormous damage to our members. We appreciate that the advertising trade associations have established a program that will not only help companies protect their brands from being associated with content theft sites, but also protect the hard-working men and women who create the movies and television shows that so many people enjoy.”

Sandra Aistars, Chief Executive Officer, Digital Copyright Alliance

“We are glad to see brands taking the initiative to deploy validated tools and technologies to keep their ads off of infringing sites. As the organizations setting up this effort have recognized, when legitimate ads appear on illegitimate sites it is harmful to the brands as well as to the artists and other creative people whose work is being stolen. Using validated vendors, brands will be better able to direct and police where their ads appear, and so there should no longer be any excuse to continue piracy supported by legitimate brand advertising. While this is an important first step, ultimate success will require widespread adoption by advertisers, ad agencies, and ad placement entities. Consumers and creators should continue to monitor this issue and encourage brands and ad tech companies to do the right thing.”

Ruth Vitale, Executive Director, CreativeFuture:

“The creative community supports TAG’s Brand Integrity Program Against Piracy, and we applaud advertising industry leaders for this positive step. 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 hardworking creators of movies, TV, music, books, software, and other creative works. We are hopeful this effort will be broadly embraced.”

Bob Barchiesi, President, International AntiCounterfeiting Coalition: 

As the world’s largest non-profit organization devoted solely to protecting intellectual property and deterring counterfeiting, the IACC applauds this effort to help good brands keep their ads of sites associated with counterfeiting and piracy. The TAG Brand Integrity Program is a major step forward in protecting brands and keeping pirate and counterfeit websites from being unjustly enriched. We look forward to its widespread adoption across the advertising ecosystem.”

Tom Galvin, Executive Director, Digital Citizens Alliance:

“Blue-chip companies spend decades building brands that consumers trust, but content thieves put that trust at risk. We see ads for some of the most respected and admired brands placed on sites for stolen movies and television shows. The Brand Integrity Program Against Piracy will make it easier on both ends of the ad-supply chain to give companies and agencies confidence ads will show up on legitimate websites that consumers can trust.”

Joe Apprendi, CEO, Collective:

“Collective has always been committed to ensuring ads run in brand safe environments through active inventory supply management and we look forward to working closely with the IAB on this initiative.”

Matt McLaughlin, COO, DoubleVerify:

“DoubleVerify has been at the forefront of authenticating the integrity of digital media and we are pleased to support the IAB in this important industry initiative to address the fraudulent practices that serve to devalue our ecosystem.”

Brian Murphy, VP Product Management, Integral Ad Science:  

“The only effective way to ensure that legitimate market participants get what they’re paying for is to reduce the amount of illegitimate activity throughout the ecosystem. Achieving this goal will require the kind of collaboration and coordination best supported by a focused cross-industry body such as TAG. Integral will enthusiastically continue to support the group’s efforts and looks forward to working with other member organizations to increase the effectiveness of solutions combating fraud, piracy and malware.”

Sean Shaub, Chairman, MiMTiD Corporation:

“L-3 National Security Solutions & MiMTiD have formed an alliance, along with global audit firms, to address the extensive and growing digital ad fraud problem that is pervasive in the industry today. Utilizing recently declassified technology, our team provides leading consulting and audit services to recover ad dollars erroneously spent by advertisers in years past and provides real-time infrastructure to prevent problems in the future. We look forward to working with TAG on this important initiative to resolve these long standing issues in the digital advertising ecosystem.”

Walter Knapp, CEO, sovrn Holdings:

“Fighting fraud in the supply chain is an important issue that impacts the entire adtech ecosystem. Individual companies can’t defeat fraud alone and TAG is a welcome step forward to fight fraud as a collective group. My hope is that TAG will weed out bad actors by urging more collective action and publicly certifying supply sources. Strict certification requirements will allow advertisers to clearly identify high quality supply sources and point their campaigns at genuine publishers with authentic readership. A win for everyone except the fraudsters.”

Daniel Peak, CEO, Veri-Site

“Veri-Site is pleased to support the Digital Advertising Assurance Program, we’re very optimistic that clear standards and broad adoption will remove a significant financial motivation for content piracy and intellectual property theft.”

Peter Szyszko, CEO, whiteBULLET Solutions Ltd:

“whiteBULLET is a strong advocate of a safe, open Internet that protects consumer and business interests. We understand advertiser needs for a trustworthy digital ad ecosystem that offers brand security and ad placement transparency. As a specialist data solutions provider with tools to help advertisers choose inventory appropriate for specific campaigns, whiteBULLET supports the Trustworthy Accountability Group’s efforts to enhance confidence in the digital supply chain.”