Pirate Sites Earn $227 Million In Ad Revenue Per Year With Some Funded By Major Brands [Report]

digital citizens alliance logoThe Digital Citizens Alliance claims pirate sites earn $227 million in advertising revenue per year, with ads from major brands like Amazon, McDonalds, American Express and Ford showing up on 30 percent of the largest sites.

Yesterday, TorrentFreak covered the Digital Citizens Alliance report Good Money Gone Bad: Digital Thieves and the Hijacking of the Online Ad Business which evaluated ad revenue for 596 websites that had received more than 25 takedown requests through Google during the third quarter of 2013.

The report organized pirate sites into four categories – BitTorrent and other P2P Portals, linking sites, video streaming hosts, and direct download (DDL) host sites – and then by size, with large sites designated as the sites with more than five million unique visitors per month.

According to the report, of the $227 million estimated total ad revenue, large torrent sites earned the highest profit margins at 94.1 percent, generating over $6 million per site per year.

Pirate site ad revenue

The largest sites were also most likely to have ads from premium brands including Amazon, American Express, Dell, Ford, Lego, McDonalds and Xfinity. TorrentFreak noted, “Most of these ads are sold and resold through various channels, so the brands themselves are not aware of these placements.”

TorrentFreak questioned the accuracy of the report’s estimates, stating:

How accurate the estimates are is unknown, but with the top sites serving hundreds of millions of pageviews a month, the figures don’t seem unrealistic.

TorrentFreak also highlighted the fact that not all of the sites used in the study were necessarily pirate sites, noting the site vcdq.com doesn’t host or link to infringing content.

Related Topics: Channel: Consumer | Legal | Legal: Copyright & Trademark | Statistics: Online Advertising


About The Author: is Third Door Media's General Assignment Correspondent, and reports on the latest news and updates for Marketing Land and Search Engine Land. From 2009 to 2012, she was an award-winning syndicated columnist for a number of daily newspapers from New York to Texas. With more than ten years of marketing management experience, she has contributed to a variety of traditional and online publications, including MarketingProfs.com, SoftwareCEO.com, and Sales and Marketing Management Magazine. Read more of Amy's articles.

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