Dear American Express:
I write you today to ask why your ads are appearing on top rogue sites such as http://www.filestube.com? Sites like these are for-profit enterprise level organizations often with ties to organized crime. Sites like these appear to profit by illegally exploiting artists copyrights and monetizing their web traffic through advertising. Yes, advertising bought and paid for by American Express.
This is not an obscure site. Its Alexa ranking shows that it is one of the most popular websites in the world. I realize that you probably did not intend to have your ads appear on this site. However, I still hold you accountable for not properly auditing your advertising agency Olgilvy & Mather and your ad network DoubleClick. It should be noted that this site also links to some pretty prurient, possibly illegal videos; it’s entirely possible that I won’t be the only one holding you accountable.
I’m told that advertising agencies often hire companies to verify that their clients’ ads are being served to the approved websites. I am here to tell you that from what I have seen, these services are incompetent or worse. We have plenty of screenshots and source code showing major brands that surely use these services, advertising on illegal sites. (We’d be glad to share some of these screenshots and source code with you.)
Here are screenshots that show an American Express advertisement on http://www.filestube.com apparently served by DoubleClick. This isn’t abstract to me–this page is a link to an illegal download of one of my songs. You should also note some of the other “suggested” searches on this same site are for some pretty nasty stuff. I don’t like having my brand seen in these places and I’m sure you don’t either.
I suggest you do something I can’t do–audit everyone involved in this process . What’s the worse thing that could happen? Your brand not appearing on sketchy sites next to links to pornography?
Now that’s priceless.