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UK ad spend on piracy sites down 64%, reckons PIPCU

By | Published on Friday 3 March 2017

City Of London Police

The City Of London Police’s Intellectual Property Crime Unit – aka PIPCU – reckons that there was a 64% decrease in the amount of cash going from top ad spending companies in the UK to copyright infringing websites last year.

Since its launch in 2013, PIPCU has been an advocate of the ‘follow the money’ approach to tackling online piracy, which is to say you go after the sources of revenue on which copyright infringing websites rely.

That includes ad income, which can come to piracy operations via an assortment of third party ad networks, meaning big brands sometimes end up inadvertently posting ads on infringing sites, which generates revenue for the infringers, while also helping the piracy set-ups look more legitimate.

Through its Operation Creative campaign and Infringing Website List, PIPCU has been pressuring brands, ad agencies and ad networks to do more to ensure their advertising doesn’t appear alongside copyright infringing material. It’s research from data company whiteBULLET that reckons ad monies passing to piracy sites from key UK brands was down nearly two thirds in the last year.

Responding, PIPCU’s Pete Ratcliffe said: “This shows the great impact our work has on protecting the creative industries in the UK and across the world. Operation Creative is about taking away the revenue that these criminals use to undermine one of the most important industries to the UK economy. In the coming year we will be stepping up our work in this area and these results not only show the great work of my team but also the great cooperation shown by brands and advertising agencies we work with”.

Giving his backing to PIPCU’s work in this domain, the government’s IP Minister Jo Johnson added: “The naming and shaming of infringing websites sends a clear message: criminal activity will not be tolerated. PIPCU and their enforcement partners will continue to track down, de-legitimise and disrupt advertising revenues on these infringing sites. I commend PIPCU and their partners for these continued efforts to disrupt funding of illegal streaming sites by dramatically reducing rates of advertising that appear on them”.