The Trustworthy Accountability Group is going after European pirate sites

Alyssa Clementi

The Trustworthy Accountability Group (TAG), a global certification program which aims to fight criminal activity in the digital advertising industry, has announced the launch of Project Brand Integrity. Along with partner White Bullet, TAG will use Project Brand Integrity to protect European brands from having their content stolen and published on pirate sites. If illegal stolen content is detected, TAG will notify the advertiser or its agency.

In 2016, TAG partnered with CreativeFuture to launch a similar initiative in the U.S. In the past two years, the project has successfully reduced the number of impressions on pirate content sites in the U.S by more than 90 per cent and has eliminated all ads from premium brand advertisers on those sites.

“If you are a brand advertiser, the skull-and-crossbones isn’t just a pirate movie trope. It accurately reflects the toxic danger of associating your brand with stolen content and criminal activities on pirate sites,” said Mike Zaneis, CEO of TAG. “Project Brand Integrity will serve as an early warning system for advertisers and their agencies, so we can alert them when their ads have run near stolen content and help them implement effective safeguards to prevent it from happening again. We are delighted to work with White Bullet to jointly enable this program, while advancing the European Commission’s important work in this area.”

In order to carry out the initiative, White Bullet will scan the top ad-supported infringing sites within European markets for stolen ads. The Digital Advertising Assurance Provider will then screenshot the illegal ad and the associated code, which identifies who is responsible for publishing the pirated content. Once White Bullet collects a substantial amount of evidence, it is sent to TAG, who will then privately notify the affected advertiser and/or advertising agency.

In accordance with Project Brand Integrity, TAG will work to educate advertisers and agencies on how to further protect themselves from advertising fraud using tools and techniques such as TAG’s Certified Against Piracy Program. TAG will also be partnering with the City of London Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU) and Europol to raise awareness on the issue of pirated advertising content. TAG has simultaneously released a new white paper, “Winning the Fight Against Ad-Supported Piracy: Successes, Challenges and Best Practices."

“We are always pleased to see the introduction of initiatives such as Project Brand Integrity that uphold similar values to our own. PIPCU is at the forefront of combatting digital piracy,” said detective constable Steve Salway of the City of London Police’s Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU). “Our Operation Creative sees City of London Police officers disrupt criminal activity online by working with content owners and internet service providers. As a result, we have seen over 1,800 illegal websites cease to operate, protecting UK consumers along with the preservation of the UK creative industry.”

“We at White Bullet are proud to be working with TAG on this important new initiative,” said Peter Szyszko, CEO of White Bullet. “It represents a significant and coordinated platform to assist brands and ad agencies in the EU to enhance their brand safety programs. Our proven data model and dynamic analysis, together with TAG’s expertise and cross-industry coverage, mean we can be confident of reducing ad-supported piracy across the EU.”