The advertising industry took a major step Thursday in fighting rogue websites that steal copyrighted material and sell counterfeit goods. To cut off the financial support that keeps rogue sites alive, the nation’s two major ad industry associations recommended agencies and marketers take steps to keep brands' ads off those sites.
The Association of National Advertisers (ANA) and the American Association of Advertising Agencies (4A’s) released the statement of best practices during the International Anti-Counterfeiting Conference in Washington, DC. Supported by the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB), the groups advised marketers to include language in their media placement contracts and insertion orders to prevent ads from appearing on rogue sites.
“Marketers must have confidence that their ads are not unintentionally providing financial support or otherwise legitimizing ‘rogue’ Internet websites whose primary purpose is to steal the intellectual property of America’s innovators and creators,” Bob Liodice, ANA president and CEO, said in a statement.
The anti-piracy policy adopted by the ad industry comes five months after the Internet industry shut down advancing anti-piracy legislation in Congress. While the debate remains contentious, there has been universal agreement that the key to shutting down rogue websites was to cut off the money that keeps them alive.
Recognizing advertising was the first line of attack, GroupM last year became the first ad shop to adopt a comprehensive anti-piracy policy, compiling last summer an updatable black list of some 2,000 websites that are cut off from ads from blue-chip clients like Ford, AT&T, Unilever and Dell.
For advertisers, it’s just good business not to support rogue websites, according to Liodice. “The ads can lend inadvertent legitimacy to the illicit business models and can mislead consumers into believing that these ‘rogue’ websites are offering authentic products and complying with the law,” he said.
Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), co-chair of the Congressional International Anti-Piracy Caucus, was one of several lawmakers last October urging the ad industry to take steps to stop advertising on rogue sites. He called the announcement a "great step and an important acknowledgement that rogue websites are not an appropriate place for legitimate companies to advertise.”