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GroupM mandates that it will only work with ad network partners using certified anti-piracy services

WPP’s GroupM has revealed its expectation that all of its partners comply with new anti-piracy guidelines in order to prevent brands from advertising on sites that host stolen content such as music, TV shows, and movies.

The media buying group will back The Trustworthy Accountability Group’s (TAG) anti-piracy guidelines and make it a requirement that media partners either become or use TAG-certified providers if they want to continue doing business with it.

Since GroupM makes investments on behalf of clients that come to roughly $106bn total, the company hopes that its endorsement of TAG – which is supported by IAB, the 4A’s, and ANA - will help set the standard for the industry as a whole and make a significant impact when it comes to curbing pirated content.

“GroupM has gotten behind this and taken this bold step, and we’re hoping it gives the rest of the market momentum,” John Montgomery, chairman of GroupM Connect NA and co-chair of the Tag Anti-Piracy Working Group, told The Drum.

He highlighted the importance of the stance by claiming that pirated sites often disguise themselves as legitimate content platforms and get ad networks to place advertising revenue on their sites. A report from the Digital Citizens’ Alliance estimated that pirate content sites made more than $200m last year from advertising accidentally placed on these sites, according to GroupM.

Brands then end up advertising on these sites unbeknownst to them, making them disreputable. Viewers also may be tricked into thinking these sites may be legitimate since they’re seeing recognizable brands, putting their devices at risk for malware.

To combat this issue, TAG’s anti-piracy program will ensure that providers of anti-piracy tools and services are validated as ‘DAAPS’ (Digital Advertising Assurance Providers) by independent third parties like Ernst & Young.

In order to receive validation, these companies must present how they identify risky sites, prevent ad placement, and disrupt site transactions, otherwise GroupM will not do business with partners who fail to prove compliance.

“This is not a nice, friendly ‘Can you help?’” warned Montgomery.

The first DAAPs are expected to be named before the end of this year.

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Minda Smiley

Minda Smiley is The Drum's US advertising reporter, covering how brands and agencies are using today's platforms, technologies and innovations to connect with consumers.

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