Technology puts ‘lock’ on digital content

A deal reached last month between Cinram International, a leading manufacturer and distributor of videocassettes, music CDs, CD-ROMs, and DVDs, and BroadCast Software, a developer of solutions that thwart would-be pirates of digital content, promises to have far-reaching implications for marketers...

A deal reached last month between Cinram International, a leading manufacturer and distributor of videocassettes, music CDs, CD-ROMs, and DVDs, and BroadCast Software, a developer of solutions that thwart would-be pirates of digital content, promises to have far-reaching implications for marketers bent on integrating direct and interactive marketing methods.

Under the terms of the deal, Cinram has been appointed sales and marketing representative for BroadCast’s electronic content sales and distribution (ECSD) technology.

The technology allows content publishers and distributors to compress and ‘lock’ content on Internet servers and hard media, such as CDs.

By using so-called ‘digital wrapper’ technology, content publishers can provide customers with electronic files or discs containing a sample of content – a software demo, an audio track – that is open to them. Only by purchasing the ‘unlock’ code can they gain access to the balance of the content.

If used properly, the technology promises to be a landmark in the integration of direct and Web-based marketing, says Garson Hoffman of Toronto-based Cinram. ‘Everybody is fighting for a piece of this huge ocean called the Net and we are helping them complete transactions very simply.’

The exciting opportunity for e-marketers is in the area of disk deployment, says Hoffman. ‘Marketing services, distribution fulfillment, content – all delivered, on disk, to an identified target market. The recipients have a limited sample of electronic content and can access the rest of the content by buying the unlock code.’

Here’s how it might work: A software company specializing in children’s games could use direct mail to send units of a new application to select postal codes in Canada. The eight-year-old girl of the house pops the disc into her PC and gets a ‘taste’ of the game or related content. She likes what she sees and asks her parents to ‘unlock’ the balance of the content by calling a 1-800 number or ordering the unlock code online. This example works in a completely Web-based electronic model, too.

‘Using our technology, pretty much every house with a PC and a CD-ROM is a target,’ says Hoffman, whose own company is developing an online store. The company is currently working with a tax software firm whereby it’s taking the discs and sending them to up to 1.5 million households.

‘It’s push marketing and we anticipate a high level of success with it.’

Hoffman says his ‘digital wrapper’ technology is timely, particularly when music publishers would like to distribute their product over the Internet without fear of having their product pirated.

Industry and technology watchers say it’s exactly the kind of technology that content publishers need to take back some control.

‘This certainly has the potential to be a tremendous enhancement,’ says Charles Van Horn, president of the Princeton, N.J.-based International Recording Media Association. ‘These are enhancements that can move more product and content and it’s a good synergy between the Internet community and manufacturers of packaged media. This is what manufacturers have to do.’

The Cinram/Broadcast agreement is perhaps the latest development in so-called digital rights management. While DRM is technically an ‘after-sale’ copy protection measure, Hoffman says they are closely allied.

In a recent report from New York-based research firm Jupiter Communications, ‘Copyright and Intellectual Property: Creating New Business Models with Digital Rights Management’, principal analyst Aram Sinnreich says those using DRM should recognize the collection of data as tantamount to generating direct revenue.

By setting permissions on content when it is first distributed, he says, owners can take advantage of online pass-along to effectively target and provide incentives for new customers.

‘Perhaps most important,’ he writes, ‘DRM is an excellent tool for market research and customer data mining, both at the one-to-one level and at the broader market level.’

From Karen Howe’s dining table: Creativity, COVID and Cannes

ICYMI, The Township's founder gathers the best of the best campaigns and trends so far.

Cannes Base Camp

By Karen Howe

I’m attending Cannes from the glory of my dining room table. There’s not a palm tree in sight, yet inspiration and intel are present in abundance.

Cannes Lions is a global cultural pulse check. The social course correction in the wake of the murder of George Floyd and BLM has delivered far greater diversity in the judging panels as well as the work. And we are all better for it.

I’m proud to say that creativity defeated COVID, which speaks to its power. Great work and big ideas flourished, despite unimaginable odds.

The work from the past two years spans a vast emotional range. From the profundity of Dove’s “Courage is Beautiful” to the hyper exuberance of Burberry’s “Festive,” they are opposite ends of the spectrum, but each answered a need in us.

Take note, the ascendency of gaming cannot be understated. Smart brands have embraced the channel. It makes sense, because gamers participate to meet others around the world, not just to play. And they represent a huge and powerful community. That’s why QSR Wendy’s gamified their iconic gal in RPG’s Feast of Legends.

Burger King sponsored the unknown Stevenage Football Club, transforming the team into online heroes and vaulting BK into the fray at the same time. Once again, the brand embedded itself in culture.

The birth of gaming tourism arrived when Xbox snuggled up to travel guides and created a brilliant baby: a travel guide for gaming worlds. It, too, embedded itself in culture.

From the standpoint of social good, Reporter Without Borders showed how it worked with Mindcraft for its “Uncensored Library” to bypass press censorship, with Minecraft providing a loophole to a space where young people could be educated. It provided youth with a powerful tool to fight oppression: truth.

COVID changed us in unexpected ways. We learned how to pay attention again and there was a notable lack of 30-second commercials. Instead, longer format content thrived. Apple’s WFH was seven minutes long. Entertainment reigned king, so we find ourselves returning to our advertising roots.

Seeing competitive brands form partnerships was one of this year’s other great surprises. The brilliantly simple “Beer Cap Project” by Aguila to reduce binge-drinking saw the brand reach out to competitive beers to join in. Aguila put incentivizing (keyword: free) reminders to drink water, eat food and get home safely on its bottle caps from all sorts of fast food chains, ride-share co’s and H2O brands.

On a personal level, I’m so proud of Canada again this year. Given that it was two years of work from all over the world being judged, even making the Cannes shortlist was an accomplishment. Canada is herding in the Lions in tremendous numbers – and it’s not even over. Fingers are crossed.

KAREN-HOWE-PIC-higher-rez-300x263Karen Howe is a Canadian Cannes Advisory Board Member and founder of The Township Group