Study: Ads are financing piracy

A recent study of the advertising revenue made by piracy sites shows that the most visited websites for illegal distribution of content in Germany gen-erate an income of 33 million Euros per year through visits by German users.
Most of the advertisements are placed by the Internet gambling industry (22.3 percent), mostly with licenses from Germany (Schleswig-Holstein), Gibraltar or Malta. They are followed by German and international browser game providers (12.1 percent). Advertising of branded companies is rare.

The study on funding of piracy sites by ads, which is made by FDS File Defense Service, has systematically collected ads on more than 50 major Internet sites for illegal distribution of movies in July 2016. In detail:

Forms of piracy / The importance of Streaming 

  • Videohosters (streaminghosters) are the most important source of illegal con-tent for German consumers. In July 2016, the 24 most visited videohosters had 115 million visits by German users. By comparison, sharehosters (file-hosters) had 46 million visits and peer-to-peer portals 13 million visits.
  • The importance of advertising for these sites has increased in the past 2 years.

Advertising revenues

  • In total, 2.4 billion ads were delivered to German users in July 2016. Videohosters accounted for 1.5 billion ads. alone delivered 885 million ads.
  • On an annual basis, the most popular piracy sites in Germany generate about 33 million Euros in advertising revenue through German visitors.
  • Worldwide these piracy sites annually achieve 300 million Euros in advertising revenue. But the total advertising revenue of the piracy system is significantly higher, due to the fact that there are countless sites less unknown in Germany, but with a lot of visitors from other countries.

Advertisers / Ad Networks

  • Most ads are placed by the Internet gambling sector (22.3 percent) and the browser game industry (12.1 percent). Most of the Internet gambling sites have licensees from Germany (Schleswig-Holstein), Gibraltar or Malta. Also some of the browser game companies are based in Germany.
  • Overall, 459 different advertisers were found. Some of them are notorious sites or malware, but sometimes these were also respected companies, e.g. Amazon, Babbel, Bonprix, Fortfun, Freenet, Gameforge, Playzo, Rabatt Rudi, or Upjers.
  • The top 10 advertisers were responsible for 33 percent of all ads.
  • Ad networks are involved in at least 68 percent of the ads. The top 10 ad networks deliver 39 percent of all ads. Many of these networks contact the illegal sites, offer “good rates” and use other illegal sites as testemonials.

The illegal distribution of media products on the Internet is usually done for generating revenue. This can be achieved either through the sale of pre-mium access or by placing ads.

For further details on this study, please visit (German language):
See also: “How do hosters make money with illegal content”, a study on payment providers involved in piracy: