Making The Most Of File Sharing: Free Market Research & A Captive Target Audience

from the cutting-nose-off-to-spite-the-face dept

The demonization of file sharing by copyright maximalists blinds many companies to the fact that it is marketing in its purest form. That's because people naturally only share stuff they think is good, and thus everything on file sharing networks comes with an implicit recommendation from someone. Not only that, but those works that appear on file sharing networks the most are, again by definition, those that are regarded mostly highly by the filesharing public as a whole, many of whom are young people, a key target demographic for most media companies.

What this means is that file sharing is providing some of the most reliable market research you could hope for, because it is totally unprompted -- research, moreover, that is being made freely available to anyone who takes the trouble to gather it. Remarkably few companies seem to have cottoned on to this fact, but one that has is the Australian media giant Fairfax, as reported by TorrentFreak:

At a government broadband conference in Sydney, Fairfax's head of video Ricky Sutton admitted that in a country with one of the highest percentage of BitTorrent users worldwide, his company determines what shows to buy based on the popularity of pirated videos online.

"One of our major ways to get content is going to BitTorrent, and other BitTorrent sites, and find what people are illegally downloading to then go to the content owner and say, 'hey, I watched this last night it's going awesome on BitTorrent' and then say 'how about giving it to us?"
This is such an obviously smart thing to do, you can only wonder at the self-imposed obtuseness of other companies that don't follow suit. And Fairfax's cluefulness doesn't stop there:
Fairfax says it also advertises to BitTorrent users, sharing the revenue they generate from converted pirates with the BitTorrent platforms.

"We then bring [the video content] over here and we advertise on BitTorrent that it’s legally available on our platform, and then pay some revenue share based on it. That’s worked quite effectively," Sutton says.
Again, this is so obvious -- catching people at the point where they are thinking of downloading unauthorized files and converting them into paying users -- that it's crazy that it's not standard practice. If they weren't so prejudiced against such file-sharing sites, media companies would probably be beating a path to their door for the incredible commercial opportunities they offer. Instead, they keep lobbying for harsher enforcement laws that not only penalize current and potential customers -- never a good idea in the long term -- but that will throttle this flow of unique market research.

Follow me @glynmoody on Twitter or identi.ca, and on Google+



Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    icon
    fogbugzd (profile), Oct 25th, 2012 @ 7:13am

    I wonder how long it will be until we see the studios seeding torrents and paying people to download their products in an attempt to skew torrent data.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
    icon
    Jeff (profile), Oct 25th, 2012 @ 8:29am

    Cue the trolls

    but... butt... Pirates!!1!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3.  
    icon
    Ophelia Millais (profile), Oct 25th, 2012 @ 8:38am

    Cynical me, I've just assumed that the media companies are already doing market research on file-sharers. It doesn't mean they aren't also trying to stop the file-sharing. "Thanks for the market insights, guys. Oh, by the way, you each need to pay us $3500 per work infringed, or we'll see you in court."

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4.  
    identicon
    out_of_the_blue, Oct 25th, 2012 @ 8:43am

    No, you're overlooking rather severe cultural effects.

    "file sharing is providing some of the most reliable market research you could hope for" -- You'll be hard pressed to find on file-sharing sites any music files that aren't hipster, heavy metal, nerdish, computer-geekish in general. -- In particular, "country" music is almost unknown. My guess as to why is that those types don't understand computers.

    Anyhoo, what's visible in file-sharing is a quite narrow segment of overall US and world taste. I'm sure to be contradicted, but skimming The Pirate Bay should set you right. In part that's because US pop culture dominates.

    Point is file-sharing sites reflect little except US pop culture, so it's not really adequate for market analysis.

    Bottom line is that no, file-sharing doesn't really help marketing, particularly if the notion of getting it all for free spreads. Your notions start with the same wacky premise and then you hope to make it true by believing really hard, is all.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 25th, 2012 @ 8:52am

    Re:

    It only works because traditional media already made it famous.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 25th, 2012 @ 8:53am

    Re: Re:

    Tried to add troll HTML tags. Failed. I am ashamed and stupid :(

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 25th, 2012 @ 9:07am

    Re: Re: Re:

    Classic troll.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8.  
    identicon
    Lord Binky, Oct 25th, 2012 @ 9:14am

    But it's not about doing thing's efficiently of effectively, or even good business or making profits.

    These companies care about doing what's right! That is why they have to fight piracy, because it's wrong.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9.  
    icon
    Keroberos (profile), Oct 25th, 2012 @ 9:17am

    Re:

    Butt pirates? Hee hee hee...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10.  
    identicon
    out_of_the_mind, Oct 25th, 2012 @ 9:17am

    Re: No, you're overlooking rather severe cultural effects.

    "In particular, "country" music is almost unknown. My guess as to why is that those types don't understand computers."

    Ignorance is bliss.

    OOTB is as blissful as they come.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11.  
    icon
    Forest_GS (profile), Oct 25th, 2012 @ 9:18am

    Re: No, you're overlooking rather severe cultural effects.

    " In particular, "country" music is almost unknown. My guess as to why is that those types don't understand computers."

    Lol, that's a good assessment. (I prefer no-voice music myself, classical and videogame)

    Just think, if the copyright owners sold access to a torrent they owned, they would have next-to-free data transfer in costs. Of course it would be 99.999% profits, so no more $20 DVDs or $49 games, new.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12.  
    icon
    Baldaur Regis (profile), Oct 25th, 2012 @ 9:19am

    Re: Re: Re:

    From The International Trolling Foundation, 2006 rev 2011, pp 567-572:
    ...until such time as W3C adopts "emotitags" such as 'troll' or 'sarcasm', suggested usage is as follows:
    a) No opening tag.
    b) Closing tag placed on separate line, sans brackets, comprising backslash combined with tag, e.g., '/Troll'.


    /pedantic asshole

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13.  
    identicon
    Lord Binky, Oct 25th, 2012 @ 9:21am

    Re: No, you're overlooking rather severe cultural effects.

    If your in the business of selling things to people, file sharing sites are quite good for market analysis.

    If you're into selling country music to people, then the lack of country music on file sharing sites, would suggest that those are not a good avenue to advertise on for your target market.

    Oh, and there are many other file sharing sites with different files. Did you search pirate-bay japan in japanese? They may have more Japan pop culture than the US directed english sites. There are many facets to the internet, many of which are limited by languages.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14.  
    icon
    Zakida Paul (profile), Oct 25th, 2012 @ 9:35am

    Re: No, you're overlooking rather severe cultural effects.

    Idiot being an idiot yet again. Listen up folks, this is what in breeding gets you.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 25th, 2012 @ 9:40am

    Re: No, you're overlooking rather severe cultural effects.

    "You'll be hard pressed to find on file-sharing sites any music files that aren't hipster, heavy metal, nerdish, computer-geekish in general."

    I see, but are you actually searching? Or just looking at what's popular? Also, what file sharing sites are you searching? There are genre specific sites, there are general search sites, etc.

    See what I'm getting at here? What you find is determined by where and how you look. And not finding something DOES NOT necessarily mean there is a lack of interest in said product.

    "In particular, "country" music is almost unknown."

    I just looked at a bunch of random sites I've heard of or read about. Know what I found? LOTS of country music. So again, where are you looking and what are you looking for. I found some insanely old stuff, recent releases, and everything in between.

    "My guess as to why is that those types don't understand computers."

    You know what I call that comment? Projection. YOU don't understand computers, nor people in general.

    "Anyhoo, what's visible in file-sharing is a quite narrow segment of overall US and world taste."

    If you're a U.S. citizen, yes. However, there are sites aimed at certain areas of the world, which you may not know about based on your location. So again, where you're looking and what you're looking for will determine what you find or don't.

    However, whatever is popular in the U.S. or particular global markets will almost always be found on any site in general. This isn't news. (Except possibly to you.)

    "I'm sure to be contradicted, but skimming The Pirate Bay should set you right."

    You're sure to be contradicted because you're only looking at one site, and because you're usually wrong on nearly every single thing you speak about. As is the case here.

    "In part that's because US pop culture dominates."

    Actually, no, it doesn't. However, it's easy to see why you would make that assumption.

    There is a vast and thriving Bollywood market. Know where you'll find most related movies and what have you? In India. Know where most Bollywood related websites are found in, unless you happen to know about, India.

    See, again, you not knowing about something DOES NOT mean it doesn't exist. It merely means you aren't aware of it, but due to your glaring lack of knowledge you present "facts" and make declarative statements about things you know nothing about and couldn't be more wrong about.

    "Point is file-sharing sites reflect little except US pop culture, so it's not really adequate for market analysis."

    Actually, they reflect much more. A quick trip to any file sharing site and actual searching will show you what people are looking for, a look at the comments will review even more.

    Namely, that a large number of things people want aren't available in formats they want them in, aren't available in their location, and for a rather surprising number of products... just not available at all (legally).

    That tells you quite a bit about what the market wants, and it's surprisingly not just U.S. pop culture.

    "Bottom line is that no, file-sharing doesn't really help marketing, particularly if the notion of getting it all for free spreads."

    Actually, it doesn't tell you much if that's all you're looking for/at. "People just want it free." Who doesn't? But it tells you what they want or what they're looking for, again, just cause you can't see it doesn't mean it's not there.

    In fact, file sharing sites could be a good market indicator. What is popular? What isn't? What formats are most commonly found/asked for? Etc. All those things are quite helpful in market research. I'm not even in marketing and I realize the importance of all that.

    "Your notions start with the same wacky premise and then you hope to make it true by believing really hard, is all."

    Again, what we have here is you projecting something that is more indicative/representative of yourself than anyone here, much less Glyn (who wrote the article).

    May I make a suggestion? Take your head out of your ass and realize there is much more going on, in general, than you are aware about. Then, realize that your lack of knowledge/insight is nothing to be proud of and get a f*cking clue before commenting and dismissing things, just because you can't see the uses for them.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16.  
    icon
    James Burkhardt (profile), Oct 25th, 2012 @ 9:41am

    Re: No, you're overlooking rather severe cultural effects.

    I can find plenty of country music, including small names and old stuff.

    A relative lack of country compared to say, heavy metal, suggests that yes it is not as popular on the site, and that is market research! If it only represents American views, then you know have excellent American Market research!! If IPs can be used to track pirates (which they can't, but the gatekeepers do so lets follow that logic), then they can even study deeper data and find what is popular in what regions! How is that not US market research?

    And given that an Austrialian company is studing this data, they clearly see a market benefit even if only "American Culture" is represented.

    He isn't just "believing the same wacky idea", he is pointing you to a direct, real-world example of a way to use "those freeloading pirates" that has only been alluded to in recent months.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17.  
    icon
    Mason Wheeler (profile), Oct 25th, 2012 @ 9:46am

    Re: No, you're overlooking rather severe cultural effects.

    Really? I never had any trouble finding country music on file-sharing sites, back when that was the only way to get music online...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18.  
    icon
    Zos (profile), Oct 25th, 2012 @ 9:55am

    how precisely does one "advertise on bittorrent that the content is available on our legal platform?" i've seen this piece a few places, and no ones gone into any detail on that.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19.  
    icon
    James Burkhardt (profile), Oct 25th, 2012 @ 10:05am

    Re:

    While not someone who has done it I imagine its not really on bit torrent itself. On the torrent linking sites. Find the biggest torrents and inject yourself on the commentary. I checking the quality and any issues of the torrent, and see that a full quality easy to access copy is available. you wont get 100% conversion, or even 50% conversion, but from people like me, conversion is possible and even likely. There are likely better ways of doing it, but I am not a marketing guru.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20.  
    identicon
    Mr. Applegate, Oct 25th, 2012 @ 10:59am

    Re: No, you're overlooking rather severe cultural effects.

    out_of_the_blue:

    You sad: "Point is file-sharing sites reflect little except US pop culture, so it's not really adequate for market analysis."

    No the point is, once again, that you really have no clue what you are talking about.

    Even if one accepts your notion that file sharing on reflects US pop culture, it is still a valid tool to use for *gasp* that market.

    Once again, do you even bother to do ANY fact checking?

    A quick search of ONE P2P search site shows more than 50,000 mp3s with identified as County Music.

    Latest data I have seen shows about 30% of File Sharing is US based. With Germany, other parts of Europe, Asia... all following. File Sharing is world wide, with about 90% of it occurring in developed countries (no real surprise there).

    I can easily find Japanese, German, French, and other music on P2P. Here is another big surprise, a lot of other countries like US pop music.

    Using your logic, I assume radio, MTV... don't help marketing either, because lets face it, that is a way to listen to music for free.

    "Your notions start with the same wacky premise and then you hope to make it true by believing really hard, is all."

    May I recommend that you print this out in large type and tape it to your monitor. Make sure you read it every time you think about posting.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  21.  
    identicon
    Milton Freewater, Oct 25th, 2012 @ 12:45pm

    Re: No, you're overlooking rather severe cultural effects.

    "Anyhoo, what's visible in file-sharing is a quite narrow segment of overall US and world taste."

    This post is not your strongest effort. It's very poorly researched, and you have missed the entire point of what Glyn is saying.

    Glyn is taking about picking up TV shows based on international success and using Bittorrent to gauge that success. You're talking about ... country music, for some reason.

    The most popular music files on torrent sites are international pop-dance music, mirroring Hot 100 charts. And BBC shows are extremely popular in the US, to name one obvious example of very many.

    There is one really obvious explanation for why marketing departments AND lawyers look at Bittorrent. The concerns aren't mutually exclusive. But now I'm arguing both sides.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  22.  
    identicon
    Kelly, Oct 25th, 2012 @ 2:26pm

    Research like this validates my belief that a sizable number of people who pirate something do so due to lack of legal availability of that song/show/movie/game.

    Too bad that the **AAs seem bent on suing people who'd rather be legitimate customers than in adapting to the new reality.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  23.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 25th, 2012 @ 3:16pm

    Re: No, you're overlooking rather severe cultural effects.

    In particular, "country" music is almost unknown.

    I checked around on few file sharing link sites and found that just everything else, it very easy to find unlicensed country music downloads if you know what you doing.

    http://www.rlslog.net/?s=country+music&sbutt=Go
    http://my.softarchive.net/search/?q=c ountry&x=0&y=0
    https://kat.ph/usearch/country/?categories[]=music

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  24.  
    identicon
    NakkiNyan, Oct 26th, 2012 @ 2:38am

    I keep trying to make the same argument to foreign companies that see shows fan-subtitled in torrents. They should find the famous subbers, download the episodes, burn disks with those subs and sell them in the country that applies.

    Those subs are usually better than professional and 100% FREE. More companies need to add up the loss, subtract the marketing they don't have to do, subtract the analysis costs, subtract translator and timer costs and cut out the "middleman companies" with all the lawyer costs involved there and the lawyer costs involved in suing torrenters only to find they are little old grannies with open Wi-Fi. I bet all those costs would make the loss minimal or a wash in the end.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here
Get Techdirt’s Daily Email
Save me a cookie
  • Note: A CRLF will be replaced by a break tag (<br>), all other allowable HTML will remain intact
  • Allowed HTML Tags: <b> <i> <a> <em> <br> <strong> <blockquote> <hr> <tt>
Follow Techdirt
A word from our sponsors...
Essential Reading
Techdirt Reading List
Techdirt Insider Chat
A word from our sponsors...
Recent Stories
A word from our sponsors...

Close

Email This