Legal Issues

by Mike Masnick


Filed Under:
ana, counterfeiting, rogue sites, sopa

Companies:
groupm, mpaa



Ad Industry Is Already Getting Ads Off Of 'Rogue' Sites; So Why Did We Need Legislation?

from the just-saying... dept

Recently, the Association of National Advertisers (ANA) and the American Association of Advertising Agencies (4A's) put together a statement of best practices as part of an "International Anti-Counterfeiting Conference." The best practices say that advertisers and marketers should be explicit that they don't want their ads on "rogue" sites. This leads to a bunch of thoughts.

First up, as Dan Mitchell at Fortune points out, the companies that already advertise on "rogue" sites aren't the major advertisers. For all the talk by copyright maximalists of how big companies are getting rich off of rogue sites, that shows they don't know much about how advertising works. The ads that show up on most of those sites is the crappiest of the crappiest of advertising -- the pure bottom-filler type crap that doesn't pay very much at all. While Mitchell uses this to suggest that such a best practices won't "staunch the flow of revenues" to these sites, he totally ignores the more important point: that it shows that these sites aren't making very much money in the first place because all the advertisers who actually pay decent ad rates have already made sure their ads don't show up on these sites.

Second, this raises questions about why the MPAA was so insistent on the need for SOPA. It sure looks like the major players in the industry are already doing things like blocking ads from "rogue" sites voluntarily. It's amazing how the entertainment industry likes to pretend that companies would never do such things without a law, when they do it all the time anyway.

Finally, the Adweek article (first link above) notes that ad giant GroupM already had put in place a blacklist. But what the Adweek article unfortunately left out was that the "list" GroupM came up with was a complete joke -- listing all sorts of perfectly legitimate sites, like the Internet Archive, Vimeo and Soundcloud. Oh yeah, and a bunch of hip hop blogs... and 50Cent's personal website. It's great to declare that they won't let ads show up on "rogue" sites, but it gets worrisome when they define "rogue" sites so broadly.

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  • icon
    Skeptical Cynic (profile), 8 May 2012 @ 10:16am

    Internet Marketing Best Practices 101:

    1. Don't allow your ads to show on websites where your potential customers are not going to view them.

    2. The websites your ads show on should be relevant to the message and audience you want to target.

    3. Spend your marketing dollars where they are most effective. Rogue sites are just where the most money is spent. Right?

    Seems like the view that marketers would advertise on 'Rogue' sites does not make a lot of dollars and cents.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Ben, 8 May 2012 @ 10:20am

    Crazy

    Its the illuminati, internet control.

    XD

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    weneedhelp (profile), 8 May 2012 @ 10:33am

    Rouge sites

    Rouge = Any site that doesn't buy MAFIAA protection.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      gorehound (profile), 8 May 2012 @ 11:29am

      Re: Rouge sites

      +1
      Fuck the MAFIAA & all who stand by it.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      ltlw0lf (profile), 8 May 2012 @ 12:44pm

      Re: Rouge sites

      Rouge = Any site that doesn't buy MAFIAA protection.

      Yeah, but the article was about Rogue sites, not red sites. I prefer hanging out at red sites like Techdirt, which isn't a rogue site, unless you are a shill.

      :-)

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 8 May 2012 @ 12:51pm

        Re: Re: Rouge sites

        You know it's only a matter of time before Congress misspells this and bans sites from using the color red. The excuse will be that the RIAA and MPAA actually wrote the legislation, not anyone in Congress, so as a third party Congress shouldn't be blamed.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 8 May 2012 @ 7:12pm

      Re: Rouge sites

      Rouge: a cosmetic typically used by women to redden the cheeks so as to provide a more youthful appearance, and to emphasize the cheekbones. Derp.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 8 May 2012 @ 10:35am

    Call me whatever you want, but I have a huge problem with Ad companies categorizing sites as "rogue". Alright, counterfeiting and piracy sites, maybe, but sometimes they do it in the most stupid ways.

    Google Ads, for example, your site has an articles about police busting a child porn network? You can find yourself having your Ad's blocked and having payment denied. You have a site a about sexual education and dst-prevention? You live in fear of them removing your ads accusing you of being a pornography site.

    Yes, you can dispute it, doesn't change the fact that you spend two weeks or more without the funds that many times are needed to keep your site online - and they may block your ads again at a later date and even deny the dispute without giving a proper explanation.

    I know two or three sites that because had to turn to second-rate, sometimes shady and ridden with questionable ads (penis enlargement, for example) because google dropped them.

    Others had to drop content in order to conform, as can be seen through the whole ordeal with TV Tropes recently: it purged ALL articles related to the analysis of works with sexual content, including Vladmir Nabokov's "Lolita" in order to conform to Google Ad's standards. Of course, some works(like Lolita itself) were restored, but those who were less notable and which their new team of "Moral Guardians" deem too "immoral" are throwed into oblivion discarding an enormous ammount of built through 8-years of user contribution and community activity in order to stay afloat.

    And no, is not a matter of being dumb and starting a site when you can't maitain it, many sites start small and you can afford it, and then they grow so big that without a suplementary source of money, you can't keep it online.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Skeptical Cynic (profile), 8 May 2012 @ 12:27pm

      Re:

      Very good points and I have seen this happen. You toe the line of good articles or you are on the outs.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      PaulT (profile), 9 May 2012 @ 12:59am

      Re:

      "Call me whatever you want, but I have a huge problem with Ad companies categorizing sites as "rogue"."

      I understand your point, but I think in the grand scheme of things, one private company opting - of its own free will - not to advertise with another private company is pretty low down on the list of problems associated with this issue. You can't force a business to do business with another, and if the "morals" of one of those company happens to favour prudes, then don't deal with them if that annoys you.

      As for your examples, Google is not the only legitimate ad provider out there, nor are ads the only source of revenue. It's a purely business decision whether you wish to conform to Google's guidelines to use them, use another provider or use a (potentially higher-paying) "shady" provider, or use another source of revenue other than ads.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 8 May 2012 @ 10:39am

    If I was in charge of a company's Internet advertising, I would make sure that my ads only showed up on sites I would want associated with my business. That would not include any website that actively engages in illegal activity.

    And that works the other way, too - if I ran a website I would want control over the ads placed there.

    But somehow it seems like the default is just for the websites to accept whatever the ad companies give them, and for the ads to appear on whatever sites the ad company is willing to put them on. So if a fake ad that attempts to install a virus on the users' computers slips through whatever protections the ad company has in place, it gets on a bunch of sites at the same time. And a company doesn't know it's advertising on an illegal website unless someone calls them up to complain.

    You would just think that the companies on BOTH sides would insist on more control over the whole process. I mean, sure, you can request that a particular ad be blocked from appearing on your site, and you can request that your ad not be shown on a particular site if you find out about it, but that's being reactive instead of proactive.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      kirillian (profile), 8 May 2012 @ 11:34am

      Re:

      There actually are a lot of tools available to most companies to do this. Google Ads for example will let you remove any ads you don't want to see on your site or even blacklist a domain beforehand if you already know of a problematic one.

      The issue is probably that there are a lot of people out there who don't want to do their jobs and so don't use those tools, or a lot of people who don't know they exist.

      Even then, I can get an ad on a number of sites fairly easily by just putting my malicious ad in the pipeline. SOMEONE is gonna let it slip though. Perhaps we should just be upset at the actual offending party rather than constantly trying to place blame on a third party?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 8 May 2012 @ 12:03pm

        Re: Re:

        "Google Ads for example will let you remove any ads you don't want to see on your site or even blacklist a domain beforehand if you already know of a problematic one."

        Yes. It lets you blacklist. Which means you'd have to know in advance which ads were problems, or remove them after you find out about them. I don't think it lets you whitelist the ads, which is really what I was looking for.

        "Perhaps we should just be upset at the actual offending party rather than constantly trying to place blame on a third party?"

        Sure, I blame the bad ads, but let me put it this way... if going to Techdirt gave my computer an ad-based virus, that would probably be the end of me going to Techdirt. If Techdirt had multiple ads that played sound when each page loaded, talking over each other, I probably wouldn't want to stay on the site very long. If it had one of those ads that flashed black and white saying I was the 1 millionth visitor, eventually I would get so annoyed that I would stop coming.

        If Techdirt were to allow such ads, it would deserve such blame. Frankly, I don't care that it's a third party. Imagine if there was a really nice restaurant, best food around, good prices... but in a high-crime neighborhood with drug dealers hanging out on the street corners. You can say the restaurant is only a third party, but would you take your family there? They'd better figure out a way to either clean up the neighborhood or move out.

        Or, for maybe a closer analogy, you know how some menus have ads? Imagine if there were pop-up porn ads on some of the menus. They can try to say it was the printer's fault and throw away those menus, but I'm guessing most people wouldn't go there after that happened to them. Especially if it happened more than once.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          John Fenderson (profile), 8 May 2012 @ 12:28pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          I understand your point and am not arguing against it. But for this problem:

          If it had one of those ads that flashed black and white saying I was the 1 millionth visitor, eventually I would get so annoyed that I would stop coming.


          Annoying and abusive ads are so common that simply avoiding sites that use them means that a huge portion of the web would be inaccessible to me. But I'm pickier. I count as annoying and abusive any ad that has sound that autoplays at all, any ad that has any video that autoplays, and more. In other words, about 80% of all internet advertising that I see.

          Fortunately, this sort of problem is easy and free for the user to fix: I use noscript, but other solutions are, I imagine, equally effective.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    ahow628 (profile), 8 May 2012 @ 10:48am

    Wasted time

    How much of TechDirt's time is spent explaining basic economics? If it didn't do that, would it actually host any articles?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 8 May 2012 @ 10:49am

    Here we go again. "Fer us or agin us". "Good or evil". "Valid or rogue".

    Do you really have just one brain cell (as you are constantly being led to believe)?

    Who determines who's "Fer us or agin us" (or for that matter, who 'us' is), "good or evil", "valid or rogue" ? Ask yourself who stands to benefit by such simplistic decisions.

    Only stupid people see complicated things in binary terms. Are you one of them?

    And the brain manipulators (aka "advertisers") like it that way - stupid people are so much easier to control and dupe.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Troll Sheriff, 8 May 2012 @ 11:06am

      Re:

      Hold on thar little cowpoke - yer not the same varmit who was in here spoutin' that 'no nuanced articles' horseshit a couples weeks ago, are ya? Gonna need to check yer Troll Guild card.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 8 May 2012 @ 11:18am

      Re:

      "Here we go again. "Fer us or agin us". "Good or evil". "Valid or rogue".

      Do you really have just one brain cell (as you are constantly being led to believe)?"

      Translation: Cry, cry, cry, cry, ad hominem attack using a poorly thought-out question.

      "Who determines who's "Fer us or agin us" (or for that matter, who 'us' is), "good or evil", "valid or rogue" ? Ask yourself who stands to benefit by such simplistic decisions.

      Only stupid people see complicated things in binary terms. Are you one of them?"

      Translation: (Reality distortion field kicks in) Attempt at rhetorical questions and deep introspective thought mashed with more insulting

      "And the brain manipulators (aka "advertisers") like it that way - stupid people are so much easier to control and dupe."

      Translation: I am as stupid as the people I claim are stupid.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      New Mexico Mark, 8 May 2012 @ 12:48pm

      Re:

      Those who view things in binary terms always see 10 choices. Problem?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    DannyB (profile), 8 May 2012 @ 11:01am

    What exactly is a Rogue Site?

    Is there a definition?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Digitari, 8 May 2012 @ 3:28pm

    RE: ad's on websites

    I use noscript, adblocker and adblocker plus and the addons, I have not seen an add in 4-5 years. on ANY website (even porn sites)I also do not use MS IE except to play quake live.

    If more folks used Chrome, Opera and/or Firefox (not only would they spell better) Bad ads would just dry up.

    If I am looking for something I want to buy I will find it thru a search engine, having an ad for a car, boat or Viagra on a site will not induce me to click it; Then again, I've been online for 15 years or so (and I'm a cheap bastard to boot)

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 8 May 2012 @ 7:19pm

    For all the talk by copyright maximalists of how big companies are getting rich off of rogue sites, that shows they don't know much about how advertising works.


    I don't think Google's ad network is part of these organizations. Wonder if they'll be conforming to these best practices.

    Second, this raises questions about why the MPAA was so insistent on the need for SOPA. It sure looks like the major players in the industry are already doing things like blocking ads from "rogue" sites voluntarily.

    So this was announced before SOPA? I don't think so. Are all of the ad networks going to do it? As stated above, I don't think Google is a member so I have no idea whether they'd bother honoring those associations best practices.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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