GroupM Won’t Advertise On ‘Pirate’ Websites

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Credit: AP Images

Sir Martin Sorrell’s WPP has blacklisted more than 2,000 US websites that carry illegal or pirated content to ensure client ad campaigns only appear in legitimate digital media space.

The US division of GroupM, WPP’s media planning and buying operation, spends about $3.5bn (£2.1bn) annually on buying ad space on websites on behalf of clients such as Ford, Unilever, AT&T (NYSE: T) and IBM.

This list, which will be expanded over time as many pirate sites are known to “domain hop”, will eventually be expanded to encompass GroupM’s global operations.

GroupM is responsible for about $6bn a year of digital media spend on behalf of its global clients, according to media evaluation company Recma.

“We’re serious about combating piracy and protecting our clients’ intellectual property as forcefully as we possibly can,” said Rob Norman, global chief executive of GroupM Interaction.

“This policy extends to digital media buyers at all GroupM agencies, as well as other WPP companies like Team Detroit, which manages Ford’s media business.”

All publishers that want to carry advertising with GroupM will have to sign up to its new anti-piracy policy.

GroupM’s own content producing clients – such as Warner Bros. (NYSE: TWX) Paramount, Universal Music and Summit Entertainment, which produced the popular Twilight series of vampire movies – have shared their own lists of pirate websites to help create a master copy.

“Pirate sites are known to ‘domain hop,’ so we need to keep on top of the latest list of identified offenders as best as we possibly can in order to enforce this new policy to its fullest effect,” said Norman.

GroupM serves as the parent company and central buying point for WPP media agencies including Maxus, MEC, MediaCom, and Mindshare.

Sites blacklisted include,,,,,, and

This article originally appeared in MediaGuardian.

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Vinod Nambiar

It will be interesting to know how Search engine content networks (Google, Bing etc) will respond to this, or how WPP group will control exposure of client ads via content networks of the search engines. 

Search marketers know how content ads end up being shown in all kinds of sites – pirate sites, parked domains, sites that just exist to make $$s of advertising clicks etc etc. 

If ads are run via automatic placements in Google, the report about sites where the ads were shown is only available after 48 hours. So essentially the client ads will run for a while before being paused. The only option then for WPP cos is to use Site placements (where you choose sites) or just not do content/display via Search engines. 

Another shake up to let good original content rise above the rest! And for the display initiatives at the search engines. Both will have significant impact


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