Whether it’s fraud or viewability, the growing laundry list of things advertisers are now complaining about, in the digital advertising ecosystem, was neatly summed-up this week in a tweet by LUMA Partners’ Terence Kawaja:

But there is yet another industry practice to add to that list – pirate sites, which rip off premium publishers’ content in order to attract audiences, and ad spend. That doesn’t just hurt publishers affected – it also threatens advertisers, who want their ads to appear on kosher sites.

“I think it’s understated – I think it’s a billion-dollar problem,” says GroupM Connect’s north America chairman John Montgomery, in this video interview with Beet.TV.

“This isn’t something that (advertising) clients get immediately. They say, ‘Why is it my problem if content is being pirated?’ Clients don’t realise that their ads are what’s fuelling the profits of the at-risk entities, the pirate sites.

“It’s a serious, long-term problem. There are a lot of non-legitimate sites making tons of money. Our clients’ ads are making this happen.”

GroupM started working on its own approach to tackle the problem a couple of years ago, and, this February, the  IAB’s Trustworthy Accountability Group (TAG) created a certification that will allow advertisers through compliant platforms to buy ads only on unpirated content.

Montgomery acknowledges the challenge: “The cheaters are always one step ahead of the chasers.” But he reckons recent initiatives will help: “It’s going to dry up the area of great funding for these pirate sites. It’s something that we can stop.”


This interview is part of a series of videos leading up to the DMEXCO conference in Cologne. The series is presented by 4C Insights + Teletrax.