Plenty of Ad Networks Still Love Pirate Sites

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This week copyright holders applauded a 'groundbreaking' anti-piracy commitment from GroupM, the world's largest advertising media company. The announcement is the result of increasing efforts to ban advertisements on pirate sites. However, don't expect to see ads to disappear from The Pirate Bay and co. anytime soon.

scamadIn recent years various copyright holder groups have adopted a “follow-the-money” approach in the hope of cutting off funding to so-called pirate sites.

Thus far this has resulted in some notable developments. In the UK hundreds of advertising agencies are actively banning pirate sites and similar initiatives are popping up elsewhere.

This week came another breakthrough when GroupM, the world’s largest advertising media company, adopted a set of anti-piracy guidelines. As a result it now requires media partners to agree to strict standards and ban pirate sites.

The MPAA applauded the initiative and expressed hope that other stakeholders in the ad industry will follow suit.

“The issues of ad-supported piracy is an important one for creative industries everywhere, and it is an important one for businesses whose brands are being hurt by having their advertisements associated with these illegal activities,” the MPAA’s Howard Gantman wrote.

GroupM’s announcement will definitely have an impact on the higher echelons of the ad industry. However, at the bottom and outside the public gaze, several companies are fighting for the grace of pirate sites.

Most regular visitors of pirate sites are probably familiar with the adult advertisements, gambling promotions and other dubious offers that are sometimes bordering on fraud.

These brands have a hard time finding banner space on legitimate sites but not on file-sharing services. The added benefit is that the cost per 1000 impressions is much lower on pirate sites, not to mention the opportunities for intrusive ad formats such as popunders and interstitials.

There are several ad companies that specialize in this area. They act as the middlemen between pirate sites and advertisers in return for a significant stake of the proceeds.

At TorrentFreak we have seen several emails from ad networks advertising their services. Instead of being wary of pirate partnerships, these companies proudly promote their cooperation with these sites hoping to convince others to join.

Below is an example of a company that offers “amazing results” with its popups, mentioning KickassTorrents as one of its top clients.

Email sent by ad company A


Another advertising outfit already assigned an account manager, boasting streaming sites Watchseries, Movshare and Videoweed as partners.

Email sent by ad company B


The above shows that the anti-piracy efforts are not going to stop money from flowing to these sites. What it will do is limit the already minimal presence of mainstream brands, trading them in for more dubious ones.

Whether that will have a significant impact on revenues is unclear, but it does make visits to pirate sites without an ad-blocker more risky.

That leads to a rather grim conclusion that the anti-piracy measures are helping the vendors and advertisers who peddle shady and malicious ads, instead of really hurting pirate sites.


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