It’s amazing how quickly major brands will react when public perception is on the line. Which is exactly what’s happening here: less than a week after releasing its first report on the level of major brand advertising on pirate sites, researchers at the USC Annenberg Innovation Lab are starting to get phone calls. “Since the [first] report was issued [on January 3rd], numerous brands have reached out to the Lab to find out how to effectively pull their ads from pirate sites,” a researcher told Digital Music News.
That follows a sharp and decisive move from Levi’s, a brand that simply contacted their advertising agency to figure out an immediate removal plan.
But who are these other major brands, exactly? Right now, names are being kept quiet while complex teardown discussions take place. According to the Lab’s report, brands are frequently unaware that their high-priced banners are running alongside unauthorized torrent, lyrics, or mp3 sites (though we’re guessing their ad agencies are a bit more knowledgeable.)
Either way, the near-term future could feature a number of high-profile pullouts, with Levi’s representing the first domino. That would be tremendously gratifying for Annenberg Innovation Lab director and professor Jonathan Taplin, who’s really on the first onion layer here.
But why is this happening now, some fifteen odd years after the onset of smalltime mp3 sites? Perhaps major labels should stop paying millions to the RIAA and hand the reins over to guys like David Lowery — that is, if it’s not too late. But this also speaks volumes on the complexity of modern-day online advertising, and the tendency of ad-delivery networks and Google to use that complexity to their obfuscating advantage.
Which is exactly the point of the USC Annenberg research effort. Which brings us to Exhibit A, a map of all sorts of connections that Google (and others) would rather leave un-diagrammed and undiscussed. “This serves as an alternative way to conceptualize the data at the heart of the examination,” the research group relayed.