Internet piracy can provide valuable marketing statistics

Internet piracy is often viewed negatively, but a recent article in The Economist suggests that its statistics can be useful to companies looking to market and promote their products and services.

Internet piracy is often viewed negatively, but a recent article in The Economist suggests that its statistics can be useful to companies looking to market and promote their products and services.

BigChampagne, for example, conducts media consumption research by tracking the ways people watch, stream, and download various forms of popular entertainment. The company compiles information regarding data that is both legally and illegally shared over platforms like iTunes and YouTube, analyzes the location of the file sharing, and compiles reports for its subscribers, providing information on what media people are consuming in certain areas.

Why does it matter?
Looking at piracy data can provide an opportunity for communications and marketing pros to learn something new, says David Lowey, SVP and senior partner at Fleishman-Hillard. Though PR pros often hunt for any data point they can get, it is important to make sure the data is meaningful and relevant, he adds.

"You might find that type of data is something that you check daily," Lowey says. "But you might find it's something you look at only every 30 days to act as a validation point against other data sets that you use more frequently."

Eric Garland, founder and CEO of BigChampagne, says a large number of marketing and PR pros have signed up for his company's services recently, mainly to gain more intelligence about what is happening online to provide clients with better information.

"The way we view all of this Internet activity is really as an opportunity to get a much more granular... intimate look at what entertainment properties are popular," Garland says.

Five facts:
1 Rhapsody, which previously only sold songs encoded with anti-piracy software, now sells unprotected songs playable for an unlimited number of times.

2 For each song bought legally, 20 songs were illegally downloaded, according to the 2008 digital music report from IFPI, which represents the recording industry.

3 In 2005, the major motion picture studios represented by the Motion Picture Agency of America lost $2.3 billion to Internet piracy, according to the MPAA.

4 The Economist article said media consumption statistics gave Red Light Management the geographic locations and names of 7.5 billion songs swapped in 2007.

5 IFPI's 2008 digital music report found China as one of the biggest sources of illegal downloads, with a digital piracy rate of more than 99%.

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