Selling content to the Kazaa generation – a new dawn for adland?

Old school piracy from AsiaPac
Saw this nifty piece by Eric Pfanner in the IHT the other day talking about how content providers are adapting to people and markets were ‘free’ (as in pirated) is the norm. EA, an increasingly arrogant and lame games publisher by all accounts (i do not own a console and so cant really argue but thats what people tell me), has decided that while it will happily charge Europeans €50 for it is more than cool for South Koreans to download it for free.

Piracy of the game had been rampant in Asia but EA realised that giving it away for free enabled it to charge small amounts of cash for add-ons that would give advantages to players or otherwise enhance their experience. Since May it has sold 700,000 bits to the 5m who have downloaded it. A wisened gaming vet I work with suggested that the old monopolist’s trick of dumping product when the competition gets rough may have something to do with matters but it still is a bold move on EA’s part. Best to give away the thing people are pirating and offer them paid ways to make it better than just ignore reality. Strategies that go with the mood of consumer behaviour have a better chance of success than those that seek to modify it…

Around the world the content companies who until recently were content to sue children, programmers and grandmothers into nothingness are now looking at ways to let people get ad-supported free music files. Now, with PVRs et al there will be very few places where advertisers can be assured of a captive (and possibly attentive) audience. They still are error-prone (no iPod compatibility??! What?!) but at least are trying. Its no magic formula but these companies need to find ways to make money from people who are used to ‘free’ stuff that does not involve solicitors. Wise admen should step up to the crease and work to offer compelling content of their own to support the rest.


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