London police say their unrelenting pursuit of "seedy ad networks" and payment processors used by websites that distributed and promoted pornography, pirated software and unlicensed content was paying off.
A police department spokesman said the intercepting of advertisements on served pirate websites had choked their revenue stream by 70 percent, vindicating the department's policy of following the “money trail”, rather than an individual infringer.
The spokesman said over recent years, some major brands had unwittingly helped fund the trade in warez and unlicensed content, citing the example of an advertisement for Lexus recently washing up on a site promoting beastiality.
He said other companies purchased ads on pirate sites knowing they had high visitor numbers and because the transaction chains behind digital ads being displayed were so complex, they pleaded ignorance and escaped any liability.
However according to musician and internet campaigner David Lowery, ignorance of the law and its processes, was no excuse. He said "I've never seen Coca Cola or Apple advertisements on a hardcore pornography or pirate site. If Apple can control it, so can others."
British advertising self regulator, the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB), which sets industry standards, conducts research, and gives legal support for the online advertising community, has been working with a London based publicly funded private policing agency, to set up a list of infringing sites so that advertisers have no excuse for having their ads screened on illegal or pirate websites.
An IAM statement released recently said “It’s clear that this is a PR problem no brand in its right mind wants to have." but apparently the lure of a high number of viewers of advertising was so great, some agencies, or individual companies purchased digital ad space, knowing full well what the websites contained.
An executive at advertising agency giant Publicis said the problem was that “The entire advertising industry is too fixated on chasing cheap slots, even if that means ‘fishing in a cesspool’".