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Using P2P to Distribute Branded Video

  |  February 24, 2009   |  Comments

Some peer-to-peer networks, once shunned for facilitating piracy, are now becoming legitimate.

When planning a distribution strategy for brand content, it's often helpful to put yourself in the mindset of a content creator rather than a marketer. Indeed, successful brand content must be able to hold its ground next to the unbranded content that's out there. If you're confident your creative is entertaining, informative, and useful to your audience, you should treat that content like any other content creator might --and stop thinking of it as advertising!

That said, one area that continues to be taboo for most brands and marketers is P2P (define) content-sharing platforms. Yet content creators and network TV are starting to see the power of this medium beyond its piracy heritage and to harness P2P to promote new and existing content. So, does it deserve a second look when considering your brand content distribution strategy?

To help answer that question, last week I spoke with Jun Group CEO Mitchell Reichgut to help diffuse some myths around the medium and discuss what has made the P2P content-sharing platforms attractive to some conservative brands, media agencies, and entertainment companies over the last three years.

Christine Beardsell: Briefly describe Jun Group and what you offer brands and content creators.

Mitchell Reichgut: We all know interruption-based advertising is less and less effective. The bar for marketers is higher and branded content is the logical next step. But once you've created new content, you have two choices today: upload it to sites like Metacafe and YouTube and hope for the best, or pay for placement -- which essentially defeats the purpose of getting away from interruptions in the first place.

With Jun Group, content can reach millions of people via P2P networks, such as LimeWire and Acquisition -- and we do it organically. Our distribution system works like SEO [search engine optimization], bringing our clients' content to the top of P2P searches.

CB: What benefits are there to P2P over more traditional online distribution outlets?

MR: For one, P2P users are highly influential. They often experience the entertainment first, and then shape the opinions of others. Our research has shown time and again that the best-selling entertainment is the most shared on P2P. And the opposite is also true: if your content isn't on P2P, it's not likely to sell.

Also, unlike typical post-and-pray tactics, we guarantee large numbers of downloads. We can do this because we're constantly analyzing P2P searches. But the most important reason to use P2P is that it's noninterruptive. If you've taken the time to create great branded content, why lower its perceived value by positioning it as yet another interruptive ad?

CB: Some people would argue P2P is interruptive, even spam-like. How do brands optimize organic discoverability without tricking their audience into downloading something they don't really want?

MR: There are certainly spammers on P2P. We really best serve brands and content creators by giving their consumers what they want in the way they want it. That means we never try to fool them. We don't mislabel our content, we don't use DRM [digital rights management] protection (which is perceived, correctly, as spyware), and we always use the correct file types and encoding procedures.

CB: How measurable is P2P content in comparison to online Web video? Is there anyway to track beyond download?

MR: We track every download and provide a wealth of backend information: How many viewers watched to the end, how many watched more than once, where they came from (down to the city or town), and we even provide comments and ratings. We do this by logging each IP address that downloads from us, the same way it's done on Web sites. This provides an accurate accounting of downloads, and our clients only pay for downloads delivered.

In addition, each user has the ability to share files they've downloaded. We call this pass-along. We track it by scanning the network and recording when our content is shared by other hosts. This provides an estimate of the number of users sharing the files we distribute.

CB: What about all of the negative press around the medium? How do you ensure clients that their content won't be seen next to incriminating content?

MR: Legally, P2P networks are just like the Web. They are totally legitimate, and our clients' content only appears in preapproved searches. This allows us to attract very targeted audiences and keeps unwanted content off of the results. In some cases, we can also increase the intensity of our delivery, which can push unwanted content below the fold.

As with online media, there is no way of completely doing away with unwanted content. Our technology is very powerful, though, and it gives content creators and brands the chance to play in one of the most influential and exciting spaces.

CB: There was a lot of chatter this week about the Pirate Bay trials in Sweden. Will the outcome of that trial affect your business?

MR: No. Pirate Bay and BitTorrent function differently than the P2P networks we operate on. In fact, it's a completely different space. Each time someone downloads a file using BitTorrent, he or she is also uploading little pieces of it to others. This makes huge files download quickly. But BitTorrent users find files via links on Web sites, such as Pirate Bay. On true P2P networks, users search for each other's files without having to visit a Web site or other central directory.

The attention given to Pirate Bay and other sites is understandable: They enable users to share millions of files without permission. P2P networks have the same capability, but there is no "Pirate Bay" at the center of it. It's as if 450 million people decided on their own to break the rules and to write a set of new ones. The consumer truly is in control.

The good news for content creators and marketers is that there's a new world of opportunity awaiting those who accept this fact.

Join us for Search Engine Strategies New York March 23-27 at the Hilton New York. The only major search marketing conference and expo on the East Coast, SES New York will be packed with more than 70 sessions, including a ClickZ track, plus networking events, parties, training days, and more than 150 exhibitors.


Christine Beardsell

As vice president, group creative director of Digitas's brand content group, The Third Act, Christine works across all brand teams to lead the creative innovation of motion media content. She has a unique and varied set of skills that weaves media, tech, and channel smarts to inform deep interactive experiences for clients such as American Express, Samsung, and IHG. At the advent of the digital revolution, she established Digitas' Final Cut Pro media lab and has since scaled it across offices.

Christine has a BFA from The Cooper Union School of Art in New York City, where she focused her studies on motion media, interactive design, and photography. Her work in the industry has contributed to top honors including silver and bronze Cyber Lions, a Caples Award, an OMMA Award, New York Festivals Awards, ECHO Awards, and The One Show Awards.

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