As the brains and machinery behind uTorrent and the Mainline BitTorrent clients, BitTorrent Inc. is the market leader in consumer focused, peer-to-peer file-sharing tools.
Combined, these clients enjoy around 170 million active users per month, a massive userbase that’s unrivaled in the marketplace. In total, BitTorrent Inc. serves a cool 200 million adverts to its users every single day.
But despite these impressive numbers, revenues for BitTorrent Inc. remain modest. As previously reported, the company sells its worldwide traffic for just 7 cents per 1,000 views, one of the lowest tiers in the ad industry.
While the situation is complex, one of BitTorrent Inc’s problems is how some view the company as being closely tied to piracy. For many, when people download a pirate movie or album using BitTorrent, that means that somehow BitTorrent Inc is involved, but that has parallels with holding Mozilla to account when people use Firefox for nefarious purposes.
In response, BitTorrent Inc has tried extremely hard to reposition itself not only as a software vendor but also as an artist development and promotion platform. A successful play here could help to boost those low-cent views to something carrying more value. The company hopes that a new appointment will play a part in that.
In a job listing posted a few hours ago, the San Francisco based company reveals it’s searching for a new Sales Director to drive media demand across Western Europe.
Responsible for the company’s publishing network across desktop, mobile and web-based platforms, the successful candidate will be expected to establish and develop relationships across the advertising spectrum and “grow company presence across all geos.”
But perhaps of most interest is the requirement for the individual to put in place a strategy to “optimize revenues” by getting a better return on available advertising space.
Part of that will be achieved by meeting with agencies and trading desks but the underlying strategy here is to attract reputable companies or, as BitTorrent Inc puts it, “drive demand from major brands.”
And when targeting major brands, BitTorrent Inc. wants to go straight to the top.
“Inclusive activities are meeting with all agencies for major holding companies for relevant brands, industry events, trade shows, ad clubs and social participation,” the company explains.
But while branding is an excellent way to get more for a product, it is very likely that the BitTorrent ‘brand’ will have already appeared on advertisers’ radars, and not in a good way either.
Despite the company’s efforts to distance itself from piracy, the entertainment industries are putting significant resources into ensuring that big companies do not pump money into the piracy ecosystem, whether that’s by placing ads on blatant piracy sites or via platforms that help to enable infringement.
And it’s very clear that groups such as the RIAA view BitTorrent Inc. as an enabler of such infringement. Last summer Brad Buckles, Executive Vice President of Anti-Piracy at the RIAA wrote to the company with a plea for it to get serious over piracy.
“The software client applications developed, marketed and distributed by BitTorrent Inc. facilitated approximately 75% of at least 1.6 million torrent based infringements in the United States upon which a notice was sent in 2014,” Buckles wrote.
“[If not endorsing piracy] is indeed your business philosophy, then we believe it is only right and proper for BitTorrent, Inc to take steps to reduce their facilitation of infringement.”
So the company is left with somewhat of a dilemma. Should major brand advertising be secured, that will soon appear in uTorrent alongside infringing downloads being carried out by tens of millions of users. As a result it won’t take long for the entertainment industries to pile pressure on the brands to withdraw.
On the other hand, if BitTorrent Inc implements some kind of anti-piracy system to inspire confidence with the brands, a large portion of its 170 million userbase will get very serious about moving to other platforms. That will drastically reduce both eyeballs and revenue while ensuring that current advertisers reach fewer people than they do at the moment.
There’s a tipping point in there somewhere but either way, it’s clear that whoever takes on the new role at BitTorrent Inc. will have their work cut out to bring on the brands in today’s climate.