Pirate sites pocket $200 million in ad revenue

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An international report on internet ad revenue revealed this week that over $200million in ad income is collected by pirate websites.

The 29-page report was published by American watchdog Digital Citizens Alliance, stamped with the title ‘Good Money Gone Bad: Digital Thieves and the Hijacking of the Online Ad Business’.

It revealed 30 major torrent sites that had pocketed over $4million last year, and dozens of small content theft sites making as much as $100,000 in ad revenue.

Some of the bigger sites include The Pirate Bay and Bitsnoop who hosted advertising in the past year by big brand names such as McDonalds, Lego, even Amazon.

The advertisers often don’t even realise their brand appears on these sites as the advertising has gone through what is known as “blind sales channels” (random placement, basically). Indeed a McDonalds ad could well end up sitting next to one for illegal pharmaceuticals or a hooker parlour.

The Digital Citizens Alliance hope to encourage brand managers and marketeers to seriously consider the damage such random ad placement could be doing their business. Or is it helping the big brands, who can tell?