NEW YORK: Leading brand advertisers and agencies have signed up to the anti-piracy pledge of the Trustworthy Accountability Group (TAG), an advertising industry initiative to fight criminal activity in the digital advertising supply chain.

Among those signing were Allstate, American Express, Colgate-Palmolive, Comcast, GroupM, Intel, Johnson & Johnson, Kellogg's, MillerCoors, SMG, State Farm, Vivaki, Unilever, Walmart and ZenithOptimedia.

The pledge requires the signatories to commit to take "commercially reasonable steps to minimise the inadvertent placement of digital advertising on websites or other media properties" that support piracy or counterfeit content by the end of this year.

Companies also agree to fulfil that pledge in a manner consistent with TAG's anti-piracy efforts which may include, among other things, directly hiring a Digital Advertising Assurance Provider (DAAP), using ad placement services that have been certified by TAG, or by doing business exclusively with ad agencies that have been certified by TAG.

TAG also announced that the first group of TAG-validated providers of anti-piracy services – including comScore, DoubleVerify, Incopro, Integral Ad Science, sovrn, Veri-Site, and whiteBULLET – are completing the validation process while several others have been certified through a TAG-designed self-attestation process.

Mike Zaneis, TAG CEO, described these moves as "a turning point in the fight against ad-supported digital piracy".

"There is tremendous momentum behind this initiative from advertisers and agencies that no longer want to put their valuable brands at risk of association with this criminal activity," he said.

And it's not just brands at risk, pointed out Jennifer Gardner, director of media and partnerships, Unilever North America.

"Visitors to pirate sites often fall victim to malware and viruses that are used to drive bot nets creating false and fraudulent traffic," she said.

"Unilever believes that industry-wide efforts like TAG's anti-piracy campaign can help improve the consumer experience as well as bring rigour and accountability to digital advertising," she added.

Data sourced from TAG; additional content by Warc staff