There is no suggestion that Pandora or TikTok are knowingly funding a TV-piracy service called TeaTV. But ads for these and other legitimate digital services have been found within that website, in an investigation published by CNBC.
“The online service offers a wide swath of pirated movies from major networks such as HBO and streaming services including Netflix as well as current releases from top movie studios,” it reported. “Video ads have shown up from brands including TikTok, streaming service BET+, the Madden Mobile video game, music streaming service Pandora, Pluto TV, Hulu, Yahoo Mail and many more.” Ads for Amazon’s Fire TV and retail chain Walgreens had also been spotted on the site.
The real story here is about the ongoing murkiness of some aspects of the digital advertising ecosystem. “The digital content supply chain is so complex that it can be a challenge to keep track of where and why the ads are surfacing,” as CNBC put it. “Some in the industry argue that ad-tech players aren’t scrupulous enough about where ads can be placed, and others suggest that brands need to more clearly lay out which sites are acceptable and unacceptable for showing their ads. And some say the entire digital advertising ecosystem in its sprawling state makes it nearly impossible to expect safety.”
Our takeaway: as competition intensifies in the music-streaming world, companies know they need to be smarter about digital marketing – and that will include keeping tabs on how and where their ads are appearing.