Google and Yahoo were among the top advertising networks servicing the most ads on pirate sites, according to a new study unveiled Thursday.
The analysis (.pdf) by the Annenberg Innovation Lab at the University of Southern California found that Pasadena, California-based OpenX was the leader in fostering ads on pirate sites. Google ranked second and Yahoo, sixth.
The report, which the lab will release monthly, is expected to renew the debate by the industry on how to tackle pirate sites that offer movies, games, music and software without licenses from the rights holders.
“I thought the whole SOPA and PIPA thing was a disgrace. That’s not the way to solve this issue,” Jonathan Taplin, the lab’s director, said in a telephone interview, referring to legislation that died last year to combat online intellectual property theft.
Many major brand names make sure their ads don’t appear on porn sites, he said. But when it comes to pirate sites, it’s another story, Taplin said.
“Why couldn’t the same thing apply to pirate sites?” he asked.
Taplin said that Google “reached out to me and said, ‘We are trying to stop this from happening.’”
Google said in a statement, however, that the study was “mistaken.”
“The complexity of online advertising has led some to conclude, incorrectly, that the mere presence of any Google code on a site means financial support from Google,” the company said.
Still, Google is removing millions of URLs from its search that link to pirate sites, according to its ownTransparency Report. The lab’s report was based off data scraped from Google’s report.
Yahoo, which runs the Right Media ad network, said in a statement:
“Right Media has long standing policies of prohibiting certain types of content and behavior from our Exchange, as part of our commitment to creating a safe and healthy marketplace for our customers and their end users. Our customers are contractually obligated to comply with our Exchange policies, which specifically prohibit introducing content that appears to promote unauthorized use or reproduction of material that is covered by copyright law.”
Here’s the list of the top 10 networks, according to the study:
2. Google (including Double Click)
6. Yahoo (including Right Media)
8. Media Shakers