GroupM Wages War on Piracy Sites With Anti-Fraud Group TAG, Demands Publishers Join

Media Agency Group to Require Publishers and Vendors Sign Onto Anti-Piracy Offensive

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A counterfeit Captain Jack Sparrow from 'Pirates of the Caribbean' attends Disney's D3 convention.
A counterfeit Captain Jack Sparrow from 'Pirates of the Caribbean' attends Disney's D3 convention. Credit: Patrick T. Fallon/Bloomberg

Piracy sites are plundering brands' booties. Last year 589 piracy sites combined to reap $209 million in ad revenue, according to estimates from Digital Citizens Alliance and MediaLink. Now GroupM and the industry's anti-fraud organization, Trustworthy Accountability Group or TAG, are fighting back and requiring publishers to join the battle if they want GroupM's money.

By the first quarter of 2016, the WPP-owned media agency group will require publishers to either have their anti-piracy capabilities certified by TAG or work with third-party vendors that are certified.

TAG will certify publishers and vendors based on their abilities to identify piracy sites, stop ads from running on those sites, ensure that ads are running in the right places and prevent sites that likely serve pirated content or counterfeit goods from receiving advertisers' money. The organization will name the first set of these certified companies in the third quarter of 2015.

TAG was created last year by the 4A's, the Association of National Advertisers and the Interactive Advertising Bureau to fight ad fraud, but the industry has decided that illicit websites are part of the same overarching problem deterring marketers from spending more online.

"With IAB, 4As, and ANA, we've worked years to make the digital ecosystem more trustworthy," said John Montgomery, chairman, GroupM Connect, North America, and co-chair of the TAG Anti-Piracy Working Group, in a statement. "Fighting pirates of copyrighted content required every ounce of our tenacity and ingenuity, but with the advent of TAG's Brand Integrity Program Against Piracy, we have powerful new tools and safeguards."