Domain refutes News Corp porn ad claims, calls on lawyers

Lindsay Bennett
By Lindsay Bennett | 12 December 2016
Greg Hywood

Domain, Fairfax's real estate site, has refuted claims in News Corp paper The Australian that it is buying advertising space on porn and pirate websites and using it to inflate its audience figures. It has also accused its rival of "gutter dwelling" and "dressing up bile as news". 

The Australian reported ads for Domain’s Commercial Real Estate site were ­delivered to sites displaying ­images and online video footage of hardcore ­material, including extreme ­pornography. It also said Domain ads ­appeared on a cloned version of The Pirate Bay, one of the world’s most popular file-sharing websites. The article does state that Domain and Fairfax may not have "knowingly" funded these sites.

The issue of brand safety and where ads appear online is a constant battle ground for brands, as the increase in programmatically traded inventory and the use of intermediary ad exchanges leaves brands open to less than premium placement. In a statement issued by Fairfax, Domain says the allegation damages not just Domain but “all legitimate media businesses.”

Domain says it has not authorised any advertising, retargeting or redirections that appear on porn or illegal sites and a review from its technical partners has confirmed no advertising from the site has appeared. It believes it is the victim of a "a malicious scam/bot". 

Domain has now approached News Limited’s lawyers to “fully investigate the matter” and has requested the information and videos that allegedly show its ads placed on the dodgy websites.

“We have this morning asked News Limited’s lawyers to provide us with any and all information they have on this matter so our technical people and independent advisors can more fully investigate the matter. This request encompasses all the information, emails and video that they have," Domain says.

“We will notify the authorities of our findings and fully co-operate with any enquiries that may be launched in relation to this matter. We told The Australian it was wrong. We note they printed our quote. But still they had no hesitation in running the yarn.

“News Limited has never had any shame about using their media platforms for attacks on competitors. They dress up their bile as news and bore the rest of the industry with their seemingly endless appetite for gutter dwelling.”

The article in The Australian follows a tit for tat battle between REA and Domain that flared up recently when Domain CEO Antony Catalano released a damning statement about REA's "copycat" behaviour.

AdNews understands the bad blood between the real-estate powerhouses begun earlier this year when REA disputed Domain's 'Number One Property App' claim in court.

Speaking with AdNews recently, Catalano said the time had come to take a stand against REA for putting out "misleading" information in the market. 

AdNews has sought comment from News Corp.

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