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.
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:
"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?"
Fairfax says it also advertises to BitTorrent users, sharing the revenue they generate from converted pirates with the BitTorrent platforms.
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.
"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.