BitTorrent Woos Advertisers and Publishers

Filesharing company fights association with piracy

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BitTorrent, the popular peer-to-peer file sharing platform, is attempting to battle its association with piracy while pursuing publishers and advertisers, Digiday reported earlier today.

While BitTorrent is supposedly responsible for as much as 35 percent of all Internet traffic, most people associate the brand with illegal file sharing of copyrighted materials. BitTorrent is asserting, however, that such a characterization is unfair. The company points to its use by record labels and broadcasters to release music and shows legally. As Digiday pointed out, even the UK government used the platform to release information to citizens about how tax money is spent.

BitTorrent is releasing a suite of new products aimed at publishers and advertisers. The company claims its massive reach (170 million monthly users ranks BitTorrent ahead of Pinterest and Spotify), especially with a younger audience (63 percent of that audience is under 34, half in high school) makes it an ideal platform for marketing.

But, as James Fox, CEO of Red Peak Branding told Digiday, "It is going to be a tough road for BitTorrent to convince marketers that it is a legitimate platform to do business with."

However, he added, the right brand, seeking to capitalize on BitTorrent's counter-cultural positioning, could do well with the platform. "In the same way Dov Charney used Vice magazine to be the Vogue for his American Apparel, some clever brand owner may want BitTorrent to be the media placement of choice for their product or service. BitTorrent would be a great place to create buzz around a new video game or even a new album release," he told the publication.

The company does seem to be generating some interest in those departments, having worked with Madonna, Marc Ecko and Moby. It also recently agreed to a deal with General Electric, allowing a song created by Matthew Dear for a recent campaign to be downloaded via the brand's Bundle. Since launching on August 27th, the song has been downloaded 1.5 million times.

In addition to Bundle, which allows brands or publishers to offer users content to be downloaded in batches, BitTorrent also recently unveiled Sync, which allows users to share unlimited content across devices, and Bleep, a new chat service. According to BitTorrent, Bleep offers a decentralized connection allowing users to send information without fear of being snooped on.

With recent revelations about the flaws of cloud security, BitTorrent, a longtime champion of a free and private Internet, is an increasingly enticing option. While it may be an uphill battle to change perceptions of the site as a haven for piracy, marketers and publishers may find it the platform intriguing as well.

@ErikDOster Erik Oster is an agencies reporter for Adweek.