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In flagging display ad scams, the biggest names in the tech sector have finally flagged a key concern for everyone online.

Unfortunately, in doing so, the likes of Google, Facebook, AOL and Twitter have completely overlooked another rampant ad problem that relates closely to those it is targeting. 
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Tech Forest Obscures the Piracy Trees 

The TrustInAds.org initiative is a laudable move by the aforementioned tech companies to raise awareness about online ad scams that deliver malware to unsuspecting visitors.

In their own words:

Hidden amongst the many legitimate online ads offering these services are some ads from bad actors who lure unsuspecting users to compromise their accounts, install malware on their computers or steal their identities.”

There’s no doubt that this is a problem that needed tackling. The fact that more than 4,000 suspicious ad accounts have been shut down already shows how much effort the tech sector is putting into this clean up.

Nowhere on the site or its accompanying report, though, is there a mention of shutting down accounts that run ads on sites that profit from content piracy. This is unfortunate, as these sites represent a similar threat and this is just the kind of approach – a mixture of raising awareness and remedial action – that would help to tackle the hundreds of millions of ad dollars made by sites developed purely to exploit creators. 

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Make Ad-Supported Piracy a Priority

A natural extension of the Trust In Ads effort would be to target sites that use stolen content as a lure to attract advertising revenue. Often these sites are filled with a variety of display ads, some of which are malware delivery systems, and they exist only to dupe visitors into believing that they are legitimate resources.

It’s in the best interests of major platforms like Google and Facebook, both of whom are building their business on serving ad space, to protect the integrity of not only the ads they deliver, as this latest initiative does, but also the sites to which they deliver them.

So for many of us this is a case of two steps forward, one step back. We can see that Google especially has the desire, time and resources to spend on improving the security and integrity of its ad product, but once again see a prime opportunity to move against piracy overlooked.

We’re all in the creative industries in one way or another… it’s time to bring that creativity to bear down on sites and advertisers that exploit our output for their own gain.

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