BitTorrent Tries To Attract Marketers With Bundles Program And Partnership

bittCan BitTorrent – often regarded as the de facto file sharing protocol for online content piracy –achieve the legitimacy to attract brand advertisers?

While that remains to be seen, the company took a step toward improving its ad offering when it unveiled a partnership with Adzerk on Wednesday.

Adzerk, which works with publications like social news aggregator Reddit and programmer-focused blog StackOverflow, will now power display ads for BitTorrent Media network, which includes the BitTorrent and μTorrent properties. The company also will power BitTorrent’s Bundle program, through which publishers and artists can upload and distribute their work for free or with a pay gate in place.

BitTorrent will also use Adzerk’s APIs to promote this program, which BitTorrent Chief Content Officer Matt Mason hopes will attract advertisers.

“For advertisers, this is uncharted territory,” he said.Everyone else in the space, Netflix and others, has been in the business of building cathedrals where the price is high. We’re building a bazaar where the prices are set ad hoc by the creator themselves.”

But is BitTorrent sharing the data generated through those Bundle downloads with publishers and artists?

“Once a bundle is published, the publisher can see details around things like location and purchase data,” Mason said. “But that data doesn’t get shared back to BitTorrent.”

Mason emphasized that this philosophy – in which consumer data is owned by the publisher – is different from the way Spotify, Netflix and other content streaming sites operate. 

Though BitTorrent won’t monetize the download data, the company takes 10% of Bundle revenues, with the remaining profit going to the publisher or the artist. And Mason said BitTorrent uses that revenue to run the Bundle ecosystem.

It makes sense that BitTorrent is pushing its Bundle program to reassure advertisers of its legitimacy. While BitTorrent publishers are generally musicians, filmmakers and independent creators, the company really wants to attract brands, most of whom are reluctant to advertise on a site commonly associated with illegal file sharing.

“Bundles are a safe place for advertisers to be because all the content is legal, licensed and uploaded directly from the content creators themselves,” Mason explained. “We’ve never been in the business of selling ads around any content that wasn’t legal or licensed. We strongly condemn piracy.”

He emphasized that BitTorrent properties are “a safe place for advertisers to be.” In 2014, singer, songwriter and Radiohead frontman Thom Yorke debuted his album on BitTorrent – a “great initial experience” for the company. The album had 4.4 million downloads.

“Now it’s about improving pay gate, improving the ecosystem and opening up the bundle system to more publishers,” Mason said.

“Adzerk’s focus is to enable native advertising,” Adzerk CEO James Avery said, claiming the company serves about a billion impressions daily across all its clients. “What BitTorrent’s doing with Bundles is a great example of native advertising. They have a native unit they’re running that’s specific to them and that uses our native API to build innovative native products.”

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