In this article, we will show that sometimes the marketing expenses you make can indirectly favor piracy and pirates. Let’s review some desired effects of marketing, in order to understand how pirates can benefit from it.

Awarness rates: brand recall and brand recognition

The most important indicator in the field is brand recall, which is the percentage of people who will spontaneously mention your brand when asked “what brands in the industry do you know”. The increase in this awareness rate is an interesting indicator of the effectiveness of advertising expenses.

The difference between pre- and post-spending aided awareness rates, called brand recognition – where consumers will pick your brand out of a list – will support the findings of the brand recognition exercise.

Increased desirability : positive and negative effects

Thanks to this increased awareness rate, your product becomes desirable. In theory, this should increase sales – which it does at first. But your product, now more looked-for and better known, is also much more likely to be pirated – since there is now a market for your work, pirates will be interested in it.

Advertising expenses hijacked ?

Publicité pour un jeu vidéo légal utilisée sur un site pirate

This report, conducted by the group Digital Citizens, shows that through advertising and subscriptions, the revenues of the largest piracy platforms are estimated at $2.34 billion per year. According to the report’s editors, as with any illegal market, these figures are probably grossly underestimated.

The report also sheds light on another – much lesser-known – phenomenon,  advertisement hijacking.

Indeed, brands first send a flow of money to legitimate sites; the ads are placed by specialized companies on sites targeted by the client. The ads on these legal sites are then taken over by pirate sites and applications, but this time the link redirects to an illegal “clickbait” type link or malware.

Paying to degrade your image

Your image is precisely what is targeted by marketing expenses. The consumer’s experience is greatly diminished by the presence of your product on pirate sites, as there is no quality control for this pirated content. If consumers mostly experience your product in a pirated version, they will get a false image of the quality intended by the creators; an influx of negative reviews online can result. You will have paid to promote a product, and if your products are available on pirate sites and applications, the money you invested in promotion will ultimately pay for negative reviews, of a product quality that does not reflect reality.

Is there no such thing as bad publicity?

infographic money circulation in online advertising

Some argue that any publicity is good publicity, and that if people talk about your movie or album, sales will increase. For others, any illegal download is a sale you could have made. The truth, as is often the case, is probably somewhere in between – some of the pirates are indeed lost prospects, and they should be your focus.

This Australian ORIMA report from 2021, for example, confirms figures published in 2016: 40% of identified pirates would buy the content they pirate if they could not find illegal content easily and quickly.

Anatomy of a pirate

Awareness of the dangers of piracy is essential,  but it is also interesting to use some of these marketing expenses to understand and profile this segment: pirates are often high-income, culture enthusiasts. The ORIMA report cited above shows that the segment of the population that pirates the most, very counter-intuitively, is made up of people who earn more than 80k AUSD per year. 42% of these consumers pirate regularly – so it seems hard to believe that price is a factor.

Focusing on pirate sites and placing ads to target the segment of these potential customers you identified can be a creative solution to increase your revenue. Our classic recommendations: monitoring and removing illegal links and search results still need to be undertaken, though, in order to make the illegal version your product is harder to find.

The combination of these actions – removing illegal content and a proactive search for new customers on pirate sites – will allow you to regain control of your marketing expenses.

If you need a specialized company, do not hesitate to contact us; we are the Canadian leader in the intellectual property protection.

You will gain access to the expertise of our teams, and our specialized tools to offer the best possible protection to your products.

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