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.’

Google launches a campaign about news connections

The search engine is using archival footage to convey what Canadians are interested in.

Google Canada and agency Church + State have produced a new spot informed by research from the search giant that suggests it is a primary connector for Canadians to the news that matters to them – a direct shot across the bow of the legislators presently considering Bill C-18.

In a spot titled “Connecting you to all that’s news,” the search giant harnesses archival footage reflective of many of the issues Canadians care about deeply, including the COVID-19 pandemic, climate change, truth and reconciliation and the war in Ukraine, to demonstrate the point that many Canadians turn to Google as a gateway to the information and news they’re seeking.

“From St. John’s to Victoria and everywhere in between, when Canadians want to understand or get updated on the most pressing topics, Google connects them to the news sources that provide it,” says Laura Pearce, head of marketing for Google Canada. “All of us at Google are proud to be that consistent and reliable connection for Canadians to the news they’re searching for.”

In some ways, the goal of the campaign was to tap into the varied emotional responses that single news stories can have with different audiences across the country.

“News may be factual, but how people respond to it can be very emotional,” explains Ron Tite, founder and CCO at Church + State. “Importantly, those emotions aren’t universal. One news story can create completely different reactions from different people in different places. Because of that, we simply wanted to let connecting to news be the focus of this campaign. We worked diligently to license a wide variety of actual news footage that we felt would resonate with Canadians.”

The campaign can be seen as a statement by the search provider on Bill C-18 – the Online News Act – that is currently being deliberated by a parliamentary committee. That legislation seeks to force online platforms such as Meta’s Facebook and Alphabet’s Google to pay news publishers for their content, echoing a similar law passed in Australia in 2021. The Act has drawn sharp rebukes from both companies, with Facebook threatening to ban news sharing on its platform.

Google Canada is not commenting on whether this new campaign is a response to C-18, but it has been public in its criticism of the legislation. In testimony delivered to parliament and shared on its blog, Colin McKay, the company’s head of public policy and government relations, said, “This is a history-making opportunity for Canada to craft world-class legislation that is clear and principled on who it benefits.” However, he noted that C-18 is “not that legislation.”

The campaign launched on Oct. 24 and is running through December across cinema, OLV, OOH, podcast, digital and social. Airfoil handled the broadcast production.