Ever wondered how much a torrent portal, linking site, or cyberlocker earns from advertisements? The Digital Citizens Alliance (DCA) has released a comprehensive report (PDF) detailing how much piracy sites are making in ad revenue. Titled “Good Money Gone Bad: Digital Thieves and the Hijacking of the Online Ad Business”, the report says websites that make money off pirated content like movies, TV shows, music, and more, generated a whopping $227 million in annual ad revenue during 2013.
The statistics presented in the report are based on the number of ad positions, page views and estimates of the different ad-rates. Websites are divided into three sizes based on the number of unique visitors per month. These are: large (>5 million), medium (1-5 million) and small (<1 million). Further, they are divided into various categories like torrent portals, linking sites, streaming sites, and direct download sites. Sampled websites are the ones for which Google received 25 or more DMCA takedown requests during the third quarter of 2013.
Out of 596 websites that were sampled, the 30 largest sites and the top torrent sites have the highest profit margins, earning as high as $6 million a year. "Even small sites can make more than $100,000 a year from advertising," the report reads. Torrent sites, which constitute less than a quarter of the total sample, have profit margins up to 94.1 percent, and take away half of the total ad revenue.
As per the report, a large part of the total ad revenue comes from premium brands including McDonalds, Ford, Dell, Amazon, and more. Although the brands themselves are not aware of this, as their ads are sold and resold through various “blind” sales channels, this can damage their reputation, DCA says.