June 12, 2012 – Advertisers should not unintentionally provide financial support to “rogue” Internet sites that are dedicated to the infringement of the intellectual property of others and need to have confidence that their corporate brands and images are not being compromised by association with such unlawful activity, according to a statement of best practices issued recently by the Association of National Advertisers (ANA) and the
American Association of Advertising Agencies (4A’s) (see http://www.aaaa.org/news/bulletins/Pages/mmpirate_053112.aspx).
“The deceptive practices of these rogue Web sites are unfair both to consumers and the companies that invest vast resources to establish brand integrity,” said 4A’s President-CEO Nancy Hill. “Combatting online piracy and counterfeiting is a key priority for the entire business community.”
The 4A’s moved forward with the statement of best practices to raise awareness that its member companies “may have unwittingly supported pirated or rogue sites when using ad networks,” according to GroupM Interaction Chief Operating Officer John Montgomery, who also serves as chairman of the 4A’s Privacy Committee.
GroupM – which buys nearly one-third of the world’s media, Montgomery said – blocks advertising at rogue sites by using verification agencies to identify illegal sites and attaching a list of those sites to insertion orders which specify that ads not be placed on those sites. “We want to cut off rogue sites’ funding,” he said.
The 4A’s/ANA statement of best practices takes a similar approach. The groups encourage their members to address rogue sites that are dedicated to intellectual property infringement by including specific language in media placement contracts and insertion orders with ad networks and other intermediaries involved with their U.S.-originated digital advertising campaigns on both domestic and foreign Internet sites.
The document sets forth the groups’ belief “that our members should each commit to take affirmative steps to avoid placement of ads on such sites. This commitment is not intended to foreclose advertising on legitimate social media or user-generated content sites, even if infringing content occasionally appears on such sites.”
The language the groups suggest that its members adopt includes:
- All such intermediaries shall use commercially reasonable measures to prevent ads from being placed on such sites.
- All such intermediaries shall have and implement commercially reasonable processes for removing or excluding such sites from their services, and for expeditiously terminating non-compliant ad placements, in response to reasonable and sufficiently detailed complaints or notices from rights holders and advertisers.
- All such intermediaries shall refund or credit the advertiser for the fees, costs and/or value associated with non-compliant ad placements, or provide alternative remediation.
Even if advertisers include these provisions (or adapt them in a manner appropriate to their businesses) the ANA and the 4A’s acknowledge that “in the context of a highly dynamic and complex digital advertising ecosystem” that “inadvertent con-compliant ad placements will occasionally occur.”
Still, the statement reads, “we should not knowingly allow our businesses and brands to supply financial life-blood or lend a veneer of legitimacy to fundamentally illicit business models.”
“Piracy is a widespread problem,” Montgomery said. “We want to encourage our industry to take a look at this issue and consider taking action.”