Tapping into P2P

IllegalvsLegalWhile Radiohead is not revealing the financial and download results behind the October 2007 digital-only release of their record, In Rainbows, new information and data has been released that sheds some light on the total distribution of the album. (For more detail on Radiohead’s digital distribution for In Rainbows see my October ’07 post covering its release).

A just released joint study by peer to peer monitoring firm Big Champagne and the UK licensing and royalty outfit MCPS-PRS, showed that more than 2.3 million illegal copies of In Rainbows were downloaded in the first four weeks after its release. This number far exceeds the estimated 1.2 million total downloads from the much hyped inrainbows.com. You may recall that Radiohead allowed fans to set their own price for the album downloaded at their site, including, free.

It now looks as though Internet users preferred to download the album from P2P networks like BitTorrent or Ares, rather than the band’s owned and operated destination. With 300+ million active P2P users across the globe that are used to having immediate access to all types of media in an instant the process of sharing an email address to get a link to a legitimate download may have proven too large an obstacle.

From a marketing perspective, P2P holds some interesting and challenging potential.

The P2P market is a huge and active audience with more than 300 million users conducting 1.5 billion search queries per day and sharing countless media files. Outside of standard monetization in search queries there is opportunity in P2P for seeding branded content, film trailers and attaching brands to music and artists in a ‘commissioned’ download.

On the analytics and research front, the data that some P2P applications can provide marketers is astonishing. I have seen media and artist preferences by query volume down to the zip code, user profiles based on media scanned within users file sharing folders and point-to-point mapping of a seeded file.

While there has been some press coverage for early P2P ad campaigns with Coca Cola and Nike many advertisers are still leery of moving into this emerging marketing channel. Measureability, distribution controls and privacy issues will remain challenges that need to be addressed if this opportunity is to grow.