An in-depth report by CNBC describes TeaTV, which not only runs stolen video programming but also exploits programmatic advertising to steal ads from well known brands. It exposes how advertising automation can miss pirate requests that look the same as legitimate requests, when they utilize the standard advertising APIs.
The article describes how many of the advertisers contacted by CNBC were not aware of the problem, or, if they were, they either said that they wouldn’t discuss it or cited policies that they don’t allow ads on pirate sites.
What this means
One might question how “reputation management” could possibly tie in with piracy. But an attack on advertising could translate to an attack on the brand’s reputation.
As it stands today, ad pirates can party like it’s 1994. Back then, a Wired reporter started registering the domains of Fortune 500 companies, and then called them to see whether they were even aware of this “Internet thing.” When he registered ‘mcdonalds.com,’ he exclaimed “Oh, that’s McCool. I feel like McPrometheus. I have stolen McFire,” and then contacted the company, which answered the phone but missed the gravity of the situation.
But the danger to brands in 1994 was just like the danger to brands now: that shadowy parties with bad intentions could hijack their brands and smear their reputations. Not to mention that consumers might think that their favorite personal care product just planted ransomware on their computers.