Torrenting has a reputation for infuriating artists and terrifying advertisers, but BitTorrent is hoping a new suite of products can rehabilitate the company’s image by luring publishers interested in the legal side of file sharing.
There’s nothing inherently illegal about BitTorrent’s platform, which makes it easier to move large files from one computer to another using minimum bandwidth by breaking down and distributing files in small chunks. However, the file-sharing system has long been associated with Internet piracy, an association that BitTorrent’s chief marketing officer (CMO), Jascha Kaykas-Wolff, believes isn’t fair. Even though the BitTorrent platform is used by illegal torrenting sites like The Pirate Bay, the company is not associated with such sites and is making an effort to help the public understand the separation between illegal torrenting and BitTorrent.
“We have always been on the opposing side of piracy,” says Kaykas-Wolff. “There’s an open-source version of the BitTorrent protocol that’s being exploited, but there’s nothing inherently illegal or infringing about the protocol.”
The file-sharing system and the company share the same name, but BitTorrent hopes two new products, Sync and Bundle, will help to clear up the confusion. BitTorrent Sync is a peer-to-peer file synchronization tool akin to Dropbox, while Bundle uses BitTorrent’s file-sharing technology to allow publishers to distribute a combination of free and gated content. Kaykas-Wolff calls Bundle the company’s “bright and shining star” and believes that this will be the product that will finally change the way advertisers and artists alike see BitTorrent.
Bundle offers marketers more space to create unlimited content. The system “isn’t just about streaming video. It isn’t just about streaming music files. It’s about giving the immersive experience. This is a very unique proposition for creative brands.”
Bundle also gives advertisers access to a wide audience. BitTorrent boasts 140 million monthly users, mostly male techies 18 to 24 years old, a notoriously difficult-to-reach demographic.
GE is one of the first major brands to advertise with BitTorrent. The company recently created a Bundle with musician Matthew Dear featuring a song made from the sounds of thousands GE machines like turbines and medical equipment. The campaign has been largely successful, especially with BitTorrent’s built-in audience, who downloaded the song more than 1.5 million times from BitTorrent. The same song was downloaded just 38,000 times on competing platform SoundCloud.
In the future, Kaykas-Wolff hopes to see Bundle used for all types of publishing, from short films and branded video content to books. The company will also soon allow artists and businesses to sell their content directly. Currently, the site has a gate that allows brands to collect e-mail addresses from potential customers. But soon, Bundle users will have the ability to “create content and charge whatever they think they should be able to charge.”
Kaykas-Wolff is confident that Bundle will change the way the public views the company. “When folks first heard what an mp3 was, it was ‘Oh my gosh, be afraid of it’ because it was being misused, but then the point of view matured, and all these businesses figured out how to make tons of money off of it.”
Now, BitTorrent is betting on businesses figuring out the same thing with Bundle.
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