Every hardworking business development manager likes to see gratifying online advertising sales generated by his agency’s creative talent; but what he doesn’t like to see are piracy websites enjoying any revenues from those ads. Thanks to a new “best practice” initiative, which has been embraced by leviathans like Google, AOL, Microsoft and Condé Nast, those sites are likely to find it a little harder to do so.
The guidelines involve the creation of an informal complaint procedure which allows rights holders to notify ad networks whenever they’re alerted to one of their ads being featured on a dubious website. Once notified, Google and other networks will (voluntarily) investigate the identified site and decide whether it’s involved in piracy. There are hints in the guidelines that the flagged website will, upon investigation, be given the chance to issue a counter-notice.
The more seasoned business development manager could be forgiven for viewing the initiative as an attempt to head off Government intervention. When the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) was under debate, there was much talk of further legislation to cut off the supply of finance to any site dabbling in copyright infringement. But while the recording industry has given lukewarm support to the initiative and the Motion Picture Association has been dismissive (it won’t be effective, they believe), the Obama administration has enthused about it.
A statement from the administration reads:
“The Administration strongly supports voluntary efforts by the private sector to reduce infringement and we welcome the initiative brought forward by the companies to establish industry-wide standards to combat online piracy and counterfeiting by reducing financial incentives associated with infringement. We believe that this is a positive step and that such efforts can have a significant impact on reducing online piracy and counterfeiting.”
A multi-stakeholder alternative
Google has publicly acknowledged the problem of ad-sponsored piracy sites in its statement on the initiative, but MPAA Chairman Chris Dodd believes that placing the onus on rights holders is simply not enough. Instead he called on “all players in every sector” to join with rights holders in taking a proactive a stance to ban legitimate ads appearing on illegal sites, including ad agencies, advertisers, online ad exchanges, and ad placement services.
Business development managers might have an additional job to do if the industry heeds Dodd’s advice.