Tackling intellectual property infringement – the agency role

Posted on Tuesday 01 February 2022 | Bethan Crockett

Bethan Crockett, Digital Risk Director at GroupM UK writes about important role of agencies when it comes to protecting brand safety and helping tackle intellectual property infringement.

Brand safety has never dropped out of the top three digital advertising concerns for brands. "We'd rather not advertise than be compromised with ads appearing in the wrong place" was the clear position shared by Christian Armond, General Manager of Digital Marketing, TUI at the Joint Industry Committee for Web Standards (JICWEBS) Townhall on 24 Feb 2016 hosted by the IAB.

Clients entrust agencies to take responsibility for executing against general and specific brand safety requirements, therefore agencies must ensure the right policy and process is in place to meet these requirements and to minimise the risk of ad misplacement.

At GroupM we take steps to avoid advertising appearing on three types of non-brand safe content: illegal (contravening UK or EU law), illicit (displaying widely accepted inappropriate themes eg. pornography, hate speech, violence) and unsuitable (misaligning to specific brand attributes).

As intellectual property infringing content falls within the illegal category, it is non-negotiable that we commit to preventing all advertising appearing on these sites on behalf of our clients.

Our brand safety strategy encompasses:

·       Procurement: working with trusted supply partners to secure highest quality inventory and to partner on brand safety measures

·       Protection: contractually requiring application of our Brand Safety terms, including use of our comprehensive GroupM Blacklist to block high-risk domains, and adherence to our three hour take-down policy to stop suspect activity

·       Technology: testing, deploying and recommending use of independent and market-leading content verification partners to block illegal, illegitimate and inappropriate content and to provide detailed post-delivery analysis

·       Expertise: investing in dedicated operational analysts to manage and continuously improve our proprietary brand safety evaluation processes, to advise on blacklist and whitelist use, and to proactively investigate anomalies in delivery and performance data

·       Industry Standards: holding our own teams and partners accountable for driving industry best practice and committing to industry-wide initiatives and accreditation

We have engaged with The City of London Police Operation Creative from the outset. The Infringing Website List is a critical input into our GroupM Blacklist which currently contains more than 190K blocked domains. The Operation Creative program is invaluable as it provides a legal process for referring sites for investigation and legal certainty on those proven as infringing.

We fully support the Digital Trading Standard Group (DTSG) Good Practice Principles which educate and raise standards for all UK companies playing a role in delivering digital advertising. Xaxis, our digital media platform that programmatically connects advertisers to audiences across all addressable channels, has held DTSG certification since early 2015.

Most recently, GroupM partnered with European Association of Communication Agencies (EACA) at the EU Commission "Follow the Money – Online Advertising" IPR enforcement expert meetings. All participants agreed our goal is to demonstrate we can effectively self-regulate using tools and technology to identify, block and prevent advertising revenues flowing to infringing sites – especially when backed up by national programs such as Operation Creative.

We believe the digital advertising market should be trustworthy where all parties take responsibility for supply chain integrity and tackle in coordination all risks including intellectual property infringement.

Written by

Bethan Crockett


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