GroupM and TAG Join Forces to Tackle Brand Safety

In the chronic fight to stamp down on online piracy, brand safety has become one of the biggest challenges for advertisers as they battle for ads to only appear on legitimate sites and those that do not steal copyrighted material.

To combat this challenge, WPP’s media buying arm GroupM is requiring that all of its media partners receive validation in Trustworthy Accountability Group’s (TAG) anti-piracy program by the first quarter of 2016.

This decision will make a significant impact on pirated content trafficking worldwide because GroupM is a major media buying group whose media investments on behalf of clients reached approximately $106 billion in 2014, according to industry benchmark RECMA.

“It’s very gratifying to have the world’s largest media buyer commit to the TAG program for itself and its partners,” said Mike Zaneis, chief executive (CEO) of TAG in a prepared statement.

In TAG’s anti-piracy program, providers of anti-piracy tools and services will be validated as Digital Advertising Assurance Providers (DAAPs) by independent third-parties including business consulting services Stroz Friedberg and Ernst & Young.

To be validated, DAAP companies must show how they identify risky sites, prevent ad placement, disrupt site transactions, monitor and assess the safety of ad placements, as well as prevent payment to sites that are likely to offer pirated content or counterfeit goods. The first validated DAAPs are expected to be named in the third quarter of 2015.

For GroupM, the partnership with TAG will help the agency focus on its core business, according to John Montgomery, chairman of GroupM Connect’s North American operations. Prior to today’s announcement, the agency had worked for a number of years to maintain its own blacklist suspected of hosting pirated content. This included directions along with insertion orders of sites where ads should not be placed. While the approach was effective, updating and maintaining these lists had become a huge task.

“[While] we’ve measured a significant amount of advertising revenue kept away from pirate sites, the level of effort required to build and maintain databases of suspected pirated sites is weighty. We are glad to have helped TAG to create it’s anti-piracy program and for the advent of DAAPs to help operationalize the blacklist process with audited third parties who take on this responsibility as a service business,” Montgomery tells ClickZ.

“We hope that all agencies and publishers will endorse TAG’s anti-piracy program as this will significantly enhance the quality and reputation of the overall digital marketplace,” he adds.

This collaborative initiative between GroupM and TAG is one of the few big moves in response to ongoing problems in the digital marketing industry. In August of this year, the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) in the U.K. addressed brand safety as well, in addition to ad viewability, ad fraud, ad blocking and user privacy.

Homepage image via Shutterstock

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