In its ongoing efforts to work with copyright holders and reduce online piracy, Google is testing new ads that will appear in the results for certain searches. The ads will pop up for a “relatively small number of queries” involving terms like “download,” “free” or “watch,” according to a Google blog post published Friday.
Google provided further details on how the ads will work in its updated report on “How Google Fights Piracy,” which was also released on Friday. The document updates the anti-piracy measures the search company has taken since its previous report came out in 2013.
Those measures involves handling millions of requests each year — more than 224 million in 2013 — from copyright holders asking Google to remove infringing Web sites from its search results. “Today we receive removal requests for more URLs every week than we did in the twelve years from 1998 to 2010 combined,” Google said in the new piracy report.
‘Driving Traffic to Legitimate Sources’
Organizations like the Recording Industry Association of America, the UK’s BPI, Fox and NBCUniversal frequently ask Google to remove from its search results sites that use their copyright content without permission. Google says it processes most such requests in six hours or less.
However, Google emphasizes that most search queries produce results that don’t include copyright-infringing Web sites. During the first half of 2013, for example, users searched for “30 rock” 5,000 times more often than “30 rock free stream” and for “katy perry” 200,000 times more frequently than “free katy perry mp3.”
For queries that do suggest a search for free downloads or access to pirated movies, however, Google has begun testing ads that will point users to legitimate content sources. Copyright holders that want to appear in such results will have to pay for those ads.
“For example, the query ‘expendables download’ returns an ad format at the top of the page advertising Google Play, Vudu, and Amazon,” the new piracy report said. “The same ad format triggers on queries for queries like ‘expendables torrent.’ While relatively few users search in this way compared to root queries like ‘expendables,’ we are happy that these new ad formats are driving traffic to legitimate sources of media.”
Another ad option highlights legitimate content sources in the righthand panel that often pops up in searches for movies, music and performers.
More Down-Ranking for Pirate Sites
In addition to the new ads, which are being tested in the U.S. to start but will eventually be rolled out globally, Google has refined the algorithms it uses to down-rank sites that have been indicated in a large number of copyright violations.
“In August 2012 we first announced that we would downrank sites for which we received a large number of valid DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act) notices,” said Katherine Oyama, Google’s senior counsel on copyright policy, writing in a post on the company’s public policy blog. “We’ve now refined the signal in ways we expect to visibly affect the rankings of some of the most notorious sites.”
That update is rolling out this week, Oyama said. She added that Google was also removing more terms from its auto-complete function to reduce the number of search results leading to sites that have been flagged for DMCA violations.