Pi­rate booty? Start-ups see new ad mar­ket in il­le­gal down­load­ers

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - MEDIA& MARKETING - JES­SICA TOONKEL

A SMALL num­ber of US-based start-ups are har­vest­ing data about the hun­dreds of mil­lions peo­ple who il­le­gally stream movies, TV shows and mu­sic in a bid to cre­ate a new ad­ver­tis­ing mar­ket.

Whether ma­jor brands are will­ing to pay for the op­por­tu­nity to mar­ket to con­sumers who steal con­tent – an in­dus­try taboo to date – will de­ter­mine the fate of this cot­tage in­dus­try.

The new busi­nesses mea­sure and track the dig­i­tal foot­prints of il­le­gal down­load­ers. While the con­cept is still in its in­fancy and has been greeted with scep­ti­cism among some me­dia in­sid­ers, a hand­ful of firms are mak­ing early in­roads.

The big­gest of these star­tups, Tru Op­tik, signed a deal ear­lier this year to share its data with New York me­dia agency Mind­share, a di­vi­sion of GroupM, which is owned by WPP, the global ad­ver­tis­ing and pub­lic re­la­tions com­pany.

Three-year-old Tru Op­tik has as­sem­bled a data­base of the 500 mil­lion peo­ple who il­le­gally view or share shows and movies via BitTor­rent and other file-shar­ing plat­forms. That data is com­bined with other user data, in­clud­ing the web­sites they visit, zip codes and pur­chas­ing his­tory.

Mind­share uses this in­for­ma­tion to bet­ter iden­tify new gen­res of movies and shows to help its me­dia clients ad­ver­tise to fans of these gen­res, said Sameer Modha, who over­sees cus­tomer data strat­egy at Mind­share World­wide.

For ex­am­ple, Mind­share re­cently no­ticed from the data that there is a fan base for shows and movies from sev­eral dif­fer­ent gen­res, in­clud­ing West­erns and sci­ence fic­tion, that all fea­tured “pro­tag­o­nists who are iso­lated in some dystopian al­ter­nate re­al­ity.”

Mind­share can use this cus­tomer seg­men­ta­tion to help me­dia clients mar­ket rel­e­vant shows and movies. But Modha stressed that Mind­share does not ad­ver­tise di­rectly to il­le­gal view­ers, and said that un­der­stand­ing their be­hav­iour is not the same as pro­mot­ing it.

Some ma­jor in­dus­try play­ers, in­clud­ing the Na­tional As­so­ci­a­tion of Broad­cast­ers ( NAB), told Reuters they find the en­ter­prise dis­taste­ful but have yet to take any le­gal ac­tion against this new ap­proach.

Tru Op­tik’s chief ex­ec­u­tive, An­dré Swanston, says the com­pany does not en­dorse or con­done piracy.

Its data­base al­lows brand ad­ver­tis­ers to reach these down­load­ers – iden­ti­fied by IP ad­dress and other anony­mous data points, but not by name, ac­cord­ing to the com­pany – with tar­geted ads on the web­sites they fre­quent.

No ads are placed on sites where pi­rated con­tent is shared or on pi­rated con­tent it­self, ac­cord­ing to the com­pany.

“I don’t think it’s le­git­imis­ing these peo­ple be­cause these are al­ready le­git­i­mate con­sumers,” he said, not­ing that the il­le­gal down­load­ers also are heavy buy­ers of me­dia.

“By pro­vid­ing me­dia com­pa­nies with bet­ter au­di­ence data and the abil­ity to mar­ket to these view­ers, Tru Op­tik be­lieves it is help­ing clients mit­i­gate piracy and bet­ter mon­e­tise its con­tent,” Swanston said. – Reuters

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