Amex must really like advertising on #1 copyright infringing and illegal porn linking site Filestube

<<<Editors note.  This story is from Aug 30th,  we didn’t run it because we expected to hear something from American Express after the initial story.  We never did.  Maybe this time we will get an explanation from American Express.>>>

Aug 30th.

A couple of weeks ago the Trichordist along with http://www.Adland.tv  caused a little bit of a fuss by showing Amex was advertising on the #1 copyright infringing site http://www.filestube.com. They were giving money to the shysters ripping off my music.

As shitty as that is, we know that most of brouhaha  had nothing to do with Amex getting caught advertising on yet another file-sharing site. No, http://www.filestube.com is not just any disreputable copyright infringing site. It goes a step farther. It likes  to promote it’s “recently watched videos” on virtually every page and A LOT of the time these “recently watched videos” appear to be  illegal pornography.   So you have an iconic American brand like AMEX sitting right next to some pretty disgusting links.  (Screenshots were provided.)

Our post seemed to generate a good reaction.  Indeed, it appears the mother of all ad networks DoubleClick stopped advertising on the site, at least as far as we can see into the labyrinth of ad networks.

We tweeted out our post and follow up to @AmericanExpress and notified their ad agency. We figured that was the last we’d see of American Express on that site.

We were wrong.  Apparently someone working for or on behalf of American Express  must really like advertising on this site, cause they are still advertising there. If DoubleClick stopped serving ads  at filestube.com did Amex switch to a different company that serves ads at fielstube!!? WTF?

Now I’m not an advertising expert  maybe people who don’t want to pay for music AND watch bestiality videos are American Express’s ideal target audience.  But it doesn’t seem likely and…

How stupid do you have to be to get caught doing this twice?

More amusement follows if you look at the website for the company that served the AMEX ad the second time:

Drive results with Sojern

With greater scrutiny than ever on advertising strategies, budgets and results, Sojern is the powerful partner you need to reach premium audiences in ways that no one else can.

  • Exclusive audiences – Sojern reaches the most desirable demographic groups: with higher incomes, more frequent travel for business and leisure, more income to spend – and a greater inclination to do so.

Pure comedy gold. Or out and out fraud.  I don’t see how whoever is doing this to American Express could keep their job.  We wrote Sojern to alert them of this situation and try to get a comment for this article but as of this morning we have heard nothing from them.  I dunno maybe you can get them to comment:

http://www.sojern.com/contact_us/pr-media

Also Ogilvy and Mather appears to be the ad agency for American Express.  Perhaps they can explain the rationale behind advertising on this site.

Amex–stop giving money to people in Moldova that exploit my work.  Stop giving money to people who appear to  distribute illegal pornography.  And if you didn’t intend to advertise on this site?  Do your shareholders a favor and demand an audit and rebates from your advertising agency and the advertising networks.

We still haven’t seen Coca Cola, Pepsi or Apple advertising on any of these sites. It can be done.

filestube lyric page with search for camper van beethoven.

About Dr. David C Lowery

Platinum selling singer songwriter for the bands Cracker and Camper Van Beethoven; platinum selling producer; founder of pitch-a-tent records; founder Sound of Music Studios; platinum selling music publisher; angel investor; digital skeptic; college lecturer and founder of the University of Georgia Terry College Artists' Rights Symposium.

7 thoughts on “Amex must really like advertising on #1 copyright infringing and illegal porn linking site Filestube

  1. Oh my god the satirical ad possibilities! The trouble is, they’d obscure the point of the piece. It would be very interesting to start using the American Express logo everywhere for your own purposes and see how log it took for them to kick up a fuss.

  2. You’re wasting your time with them. AMEX has been caught laundering money for drug cartels. They were prosecuted in Mexico. They were also named as one of the laundries used by Noriega. No one cares, especially them. They’ll happily be associated with criminals, as long as they make money.

    • Actually I think we did get through to them. More on this in a follow up post. Also consider this: Amex has a relationship to the music business. All those american express member ticket pre-sales? The artists must give permission. We didn’t just randomly focus on American Express.

  3. David, shouldn’t you be contacting Amex’s online media buyer, the ones who place the ads for Amex?

    We have to take a step back and look at all the parts in the system. Banner ads/Google ads only exist because people have clicked on them in the past. Advertising itself only exists because people buy whatever advertisers push. WE, all of us, created the system. Not just technology, not just artists, not just Google or advertising – the interconnectivity of all of us created this ecosystem. Therefore I say, musicians who complain about Google (or Amex for that matter) and its profits should sit back and digest the fact that they are part of the problem, and increasingly so every time they use Google or the web. The web is people-powered, there’s no escaping that fact.

    • Dave.

      Jesus Dave i’m not talking about the entire web. You just seem to want to disagree with anything that I say. I am not talking about advertising web-searches on search engines, you can look at the screenshots and see this. I am talking about specific artist exploiting websites and specific advertisers. so tell me again how are musicians like me that shun illegal filesharing sites possibly any part of this problem? The problem I’m talking about? Cause I really don’t get that.

      But what I really don’t like is that you keep insinuating that I somehow don’t understand how the web works. I can bet that technically I know a lot more about the web than you do. I’ve been writing code since 1980. But that’s not the point here. I’ve also educated myself as to how exactly the online advertising market works. And frankly your suggestion that I contact Amex’s online media buyer shows your ignorance. The online web buyer is incentivized to advertise wherever they get clicks. Why would the buyer listen to me? I don’t write their paycheck? However the Brand does not want their ads on sites like these. They write web buyer’s paycheck. Therefore

      1) I embarrass brand.
      2) they inform online web buyer that they lose their contract if this happens again.

      Simple. And by the way it works. We received word through an associate that a high level executive at Amex is pissed and we were told this was not gonna happen again.

      But frankly what is sad, is I get the feeling that you don’t ever want to see artists and musicians win. It bugs you that people like me even try. You’ve given up. And you expect me and many other musicians to just accept somethingas obviously scummy as cyberlockers. The thing about the cyberlocker industry is that it’s actually quite a small group of people who run, host, serve ads and transfer payments to these sites. They are actually fairly vulnerable.

      Imagine Dave, if instead of being a constant Naysayer, someone like you on the inside of the online advertising industry lobbied and spoke out on artists behalf? We might even get this done faster!

      I didn’t pick this fight based on some calculation whether we could win. I picked this fight cause it’s the right thing to do.

      • David,
        No wait a minute, I am not insinuating anything about your knowledge of the web, nor you my lack of knowledge about the web I’m sure, we are just looking at what happens online through different lenses. I don’t want to disagree at all, I actually just look at the facts and try and share them as I see them. I am a strategist interested in user behavior, I’m not an ad guy, I only suggested that many companies, Amex included, do not sit down with their media buyers and discuss exactly where their ads will appear. You have now corrected me, you can call me ignorant but I’m willing to say you know more about how online ad buying works than I do, so fair enough. I repeat, I was not suggesting for a minute that you don’t understand media buying, it was a simple, serious question.

        As you know, Google’s algorithms work wonderfully both positively and negatively. So ads appear everywhere whether intended or unintended. I could complain that you respond to me as if somehow I don’t want a solution for musicians but I don’t think you intend that. I do want to find a solution but after 18 years it’s looking slim. What I wrote in my comment above is just a simple philosophical take on what has happened. It’s open to debate of course but there a few truths in that comment that may be unpalatable, but all musicians must use Google at some time. Many, maybe not all, use Spotify and other streaming services musicians and sense their value. Then they complain about them. BTW, I’m talking about musicians generally, not you specifically.

        Also to clarify, I do not think for one minute you are the problem. I fully respect your position but you don’t currently speak for all musicians, so when I say musicians are part of the problem I mean musicians are not outliers living outside of society, they are operating in the same current social construct as non-musicians are, especially when they use the services I mention above.

        Also to clarify I have not given up, nor am I a naysayer. I just stand with one foot in a camp that would prefer I stand with both feet in it. I just returned from Ireland where I gave a Keynote speech at Galway MIT for a Hewlett Packard conference, to a room that was 50% technologists and 50% musicians and other creative media artists. As always I defended musicians against the technologists in the room who I needled about living in a bubble in their HP labs dreaming up Cloud technologies, without bothering to get input from artists. And you surely must have heard about the panel I led at SanFran MusicTech last year challenging technologists about the intellectual failure of streaming services as a “big idea” and asking them for a “big idea” where musicians are involved all parts of the financial transactions.

        I am regretful that we got off on the wrong foot and I take the blame for that. I agree with you that working together we could make something happen faster, and I’ll say it here in public right now – I’ll throw my hat in that ring. We’d be better off working together for the benefit of all musicians than having spats in blogs. I’m more than happy to support your efforts.

    • The point is that the advertisers all say that they prohibit their advertising appearing on sketchy or illegal sites. The adserving companies and real time barter trading desk operators all say that they prohibit their clients’ ads appearing on sketchy or illegal sites. And yet the ads appear on sketchy and illegal sites that get a share of the advertising revenue from a variety of intermediaries (you know, the sacred intermediaries who want no responsibility for anything). We are told these ads must have “slipped through,” yet ads for high quality brands appear on sketchy and illegal sites routinely, constantly and blatantly. Whatever labyrinth it travels through, that revenue starts with the brand. Whoever is in between, we know the ad revenue starts with the brand and ends with the illegal site.

      If the adserving networks have built a system that is not capable of complying with the rules that the advertisers require and which the networks promise to comply with, then these networks have turned a design defect into a very profitable feature. For everyone in the chain except the artist.

      This is not limited to copyright infringement, by the way. The same problem exists with pharmaceuticals. Google paid $500 million to avoid indictment because Google executives did not want to stand trial for violating the Controlled Substances Act by selling advertising that promoted the sale of illegal drugs. (http://musictechpolicy.files.wordpress.com/2010/09/google-agreement.pdf) These executives are now being sued by Google stockholders for breach of fiduciary duty, in part because the stockholders think they used the company’s money to pay a personal fine, overstated Google’s earnings, and many other counts. http://musictechpolicy.files.wordpress.com/2010/09/dekalb-pension-fund-redacted-complaint.pdf

      So when companies put a product into commerce that has a design defect that harms the public, the company doesn’t get out of responsibility for their actions because they do it a lot. Or at least that’s the way it’s worked with exploding gas tanks. That one cost about $5 million 1978 dollars plus a recall.

      $500 million vs. $5 million. And drugs is just one category of bad behavior by ad networks. Looks like Google thought the senior management team had some real downside. I wonder if the advertisers think they have any? There is no escape from liability for making a defective product just because the manufacturer makes a lot of them. Or because people buy cars.

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