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New Tool Tracks Online Media Consumption 71

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the what's-hot-before-it-gets-cold dept.
Carl Bialik writes "Technology and market research company BigChampagne is introducing a measurement tool called BCDash to let media companies quickly track how people -- legally or illegally -- use their products online. BigChampagne said BCDash will bring together data from AOL, Yahoo Music, iTunes, and Wal-Mart, along with estimates of illegal file sharing activity for specific titles. It's meant as a marketing tool, the WSJ reports: 'Media companies have often been caught flat-footed when a video or song takes off online. By the time they try to capitalize on it, the opportunity often has passed.'"
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New Tool Tracks Online Media Consumption

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  • by Shadow Wrought (586631) * <shadow,wrought&gmail,com> on Tuesday March 14, 2006 @01:37PM (#14917855) Homepage Journal
    along with estimates of illegal file sharing activity for specific titles.

    It will be interesting to see how realistic their estimates are, or if every man, woman, and child on the planet is thought to bw trying to download Ashlee Simpson's latest wailings.

    • by donnyspi (701349)
      I their estimates will be about as reliable as Windows vs. Linux TCO studies I read about in computer magazines.
    • BigChampagne: "We estimate 15-billion illegal copies of Britney Spears latest album have been downloaded."
      RIAA: "Our losses this year due to piracy amount to 1500-trillion dollars, we need stronger laws!"
      Congressman: "That'll be another 10 billion in campaign contributions, please."
    • For quite a few years record labels have been buying information from Big Champagne [dmusic.com] to help them decide what songs to push on the radio. For some strange reason [sarcasm], the labels are reluctant to talk about they use Big Champagne to "predict" their next big hit.
  • O RLY? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by vertinox (846076) on Tuesday March 14, 2006 @01:39PM (#14917879)
    along with estimates of illegal file sharing activity for specific titles.

    And how pray tell will you acheive this?

    Root kits that phone home? IP logs from torrent sites? Or a magic 8ball? Or perhaps the good old fashioned dartboard?

    Hrmm... Either they are commiting questionable practices or they are pulling magic numbers out of places where the sun don't shine.

    I tend to think it will be the latter since it will be cheaper and no one who buys their service will be able to prove them wrong.
    • Re:O RLY? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by AKAImBatman (238306) * <akaimbatman AT gmail DOT com> on Tuesday March 14, 2006 @01:50PM (#14917972) Homepage Journal
      And how pray tell will you acheive this?

      1. GNUTella networks send the data through many clients before it reaches its destination. By monitoring this traffic with a modified client, one can get a reasonably good sampling of what users are searching for and/or downloading.

      2. Unless the torrent is private, anyone can connect to the server and all kinds of stats on the number of seeds and leechers.

      I'm not up on how Kazaa or eDonkey work, so I won't comment on those. But the very nature of these networks do make it possible to obtain useful stats.
      • GNUTella networks send the data through many clients before it reaches its destination. By monitoring this traffic with a modified client, one can get a reasonably good sampling of what users are searching for and/or downloading. [...] But the very nature of these networks do make it possible to obtain useful stats.

        Gnutella networks do not work like that. Queries and query hit messages go through the Gnutella mesh network, so it's possible to get some kind of sampling of what people are searching for as wel
        • 1. You will not see all of the searches that go through the network.

          2. You will only see a tiny, tiny fraction of the hits resulting from the searches that you do see.


          Neither one of these is relevant. We're talking about aquiring a statistical sample of what the populace is looking for. Having a set of nodes on different factions of the network can get you plenty to do a statistical analysis. Especially if you setup a few SuperNodes.

          If all of the above happen, you may see a PUSH packet when someone tries to
    • Re:O RLY? (Score:2, Informative)

      by MattskEE (925706)
      As already mentioned by others, GNUTella networks are fairly easy to monitor, and bittorrent sites usually post statistics, and could easily be monitored with a modified client.

      Also, IRC, where a lot of files start their meandering paths across the internet, can also be monitored. The technology behind IRC search sites like PacketNews could be used to monitor how many people in how many channels are sharing your file, and in some cases, when files are requested with triggers in the main channel, you can
    • Pretty easy, really. Log onto any torrent search engine, look at the files, and count the number of seeders and leechers of any one file. Since bittorrent is the largest filesharing system, a sample of this data would provide a pretty good gauge as to the popularity of a particular file at any one time.
  • by skayell (921119) on Tuesday March 14, 2006 @01:40PM (#14917884)
    So, how are they going to come up with those estimates of illegal file sharing. And how can I best skew their data? I wonder if I could get all slash-dotters to go along with a massive download of Milli Vanilli songs just to throw them off?
  • I mean, c'mon. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Douglas Simmons (628988) on Tuesday March 14, 2006 @01:40PM (#14917887) Homepage
    I, for one, welcome our web behavior-tracking overlords. Seriously -- as a consumer I have no problem with data being harvested about what I do. It just might cause an ad broker to pop a relavent one in front of me leading to buy something and boost my quality of life. Where's the downside? Machines looking over my shoulder and putting me into pie charts? As a web publisher, I'm glad to know the demographics my access log reveals as I for example pump up traffic from my top referrers as they'd be the most efficient for my time/dollar.
    • Re:I mean, c'mon. (Score:5, Interesting)

      by drooling-dog (189103) on Tuesday March 14, 2006 @02:36PM (#14918368)
      It just might cause an ad broker to pop a relavent one in front of me leading to buy something and boost my quality of life.

      I often try to increase my quality of life by buying stuff, but usually my purchases fail to do so in any meaningful sense, or for any significant length of time. A friend of mine claims that I will never find happiness this way, and should seek other ways to improve the quality of my life. He is a Buddhist, though, and I am an American. I am also a consumer, and what is my destiny if not to consume? Clearly if I am consuming and yet remain unfulfilled, my failure must be in the consuming itself. My other friends, who are Americans and not Buddhists, suggest that I am perhaps not buying enough stuff, and that if I strive to consume more I can eventually find happiness. Perhaps these "targeted ads" of which you speak are just the thing to show me the way to more and better consumption?

      • I would suggest finding a dedicated Producer so that you, the Consumer, can have enough stuff. Beware that you will need to provide a solution to the classic Producer-Consumer Problem [gmu.edu]. As to that, I would suggest either a semaphore, monitor, or some kind of message passing with your new-found Producer. Best of luck to the both of you!
      • And did totally "pwning" the parent poster bring you lasting happiness? ;)
           
      • Purchases can genuinely increase your quality of life if chosen intelligently. Good medical care can save you much needless pain. Travelling to foreign countries is surely a meaningful life experience. Paying for sports clubs or social groups like dance classes can improve your health and widen your circle of friends. Sure that extra-large TV may not do much for you, but it's simply wrong to imply that no consumption can improve your happiness.
    • I don't know if I want details of my personal consumption details made public - I don't want even more adverts for things which aren't quite what I'm interested in - but if this includes things like downloads from MySpace [myspace.com], it might bring more music to the attention of the record labels as something worth investing in, which would be good in my opinion. I'm not sure if it would make the record labels' jobs in selecting who to sign easier due to being able to do a lot of it online or harder due to the increa
  • by mary_will_grow (466638) on Tuesday March 14, 2006 @01:42PM (#14917905)
    Media companies have often been caught flat-footed when a video or song takes off online. By the time they try to capitalize on it, the opportunity often has passed.

    Umm, think maybe its because there was NO USE FOR THEM?

    When all is said and done, our economy, our government, ourselves, we all will have dedicated massive amounts of time and money subsidizing Sony's dead profit model. How come we can do that, but we can't throw amtrack a nickle or two?

  • by RunFatBoy.net (960072) on Tuesday March 14, 2006 @01:47PM (#14917940)
    My issue is that if you want to track my habits, track my purchases, my downloads, etc, then make the data available to me as well.

    It'd be great to see a geographic breakdown of where my friend's band is most popular. It'd be fairly novel to see musical trends e.g. a resurgance of raggae downloads in Brooklyn.

    If you're going to track my data, at least make the results available to me as well.

    --
    Jim
    http://www.runfatboy.net/ [runfatboy.net]
    • I'm going to copyright my emule usage. Then the RIAA can expect a nice lawsuit when they try to use these stats.
    • If you're going to track my data, at least make the results available to me as well.

      Your data doesn't belong to you, didn't you read the EULA? But I'm sure you can have it for a price...

    • I guess that means even you don't know what you're doing?

      "I swear mom! I was stoned when I went to that porn site! I don't even know what porn is!"

      Honestly, what good would it do if you were shown what data is collected? So you could correct it, and thereby make it even easier for companies to know more about you? (It's not like correcting your credit report so that you can get that $5000 loan you need.)

    • Better still, if you're going to collect information on me and resell it, pay me, dammit! Why is it that in the capitalist economy in theory everyone gets paid for the value they produce (in theory, I said...), but when we produce value by generating user data and that data gets sold and resold, why aren't we, the originators of that value, ever paid? Pamela Samuelson of Berkeley Law School wrote a very good piece a few years back arguing that if we're going to extend intellectual property rights to damn ne
  • bad statistic (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ExE122 (954104) * on Tuesday March 14, 2006 @01:48PM (#14917951) Homepage Journal
    What the companies fail to realize is that you can't use free or "illegal" file sharing/downloading as a marketing statistic to calculate your losses or even market potential.

    There are people who download TONS of free and/or illegal movies, games, music, etc... but its not like all those people would be paying for them if they weren't available for free.

    I think all that these stats do is give fuel for Microsoft, Metallica, and Disney to convince ignorant judges and lawyers to sue the pants off some 15 year old kid.

    Am I alone in thinking so?

    --
    "Man Bites Dog
    Then Bites Self"
    • Re:bad statistic (Score:5, Interesting)

      by hal2814 (725639) on Tuesday March 14, 2006 @01:58PM (#14918060)
      Though I see your point, I could understand wanting to see what people are downloading illegally. For example, something like this may have given Fox a little more of a clue that people were still interested in Family Guy before its Seasons 1 and 2 DVD release. FG was all over the P2P networks ever since it was canned the first time around. If I worked at Fox and got an inkling of how popular that show was on P2P, I might've done something to speed along its revival.
      • If I worked at Fox and got an inkling of how popular that show was on P2P, I might've done something to speed along its revival.
        Don't they have the internet at Fox then ?

        WRT to illegal downloading stats, all the media firms have to do is go to a torrent site or download the relevant software, and they'll see whats happening.
        In fact I can't believe that they haven't done this already.

        • I'm sure they had the Internet back then but I doubt they knew how to get such information or even that such information was out there to be gotten. Downloading TV shows wasn't as common then as it is today.

          "all the media firms have to do is go to a torrent site or download the relevant software, and they'll see whats happening."

          Yeah, I know BitTorrent is popular and all, but it's not the only P2P system in town and it didn't have nearly the presence back then (after FG's 1st cancelling, between seasons 2
      • Re:bad statistic (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Reziac (43301) * on Tuesday March 14, 2006 @04:55PM (#14919535) Homepage Journal
        I had a related thought... as soon as the content owners notice that FileX is the hot download of the day, they could announce that FileX is available FROM THEIR OWN SITES, for a nominal charge -- and they can guarantee that it's a good file and available immediately.

        As word spreads, they'd become the FIRST place people look for media downloads, and would make a killing on micropayments. What's more, this could be automated, and after the initial setup, would be effectively free of all costs other than bandwidth. It'd be like free money falling on their heads, with all the marketing done BY the customer base.

        Yeah, some of these legally-downloaded files will find their way to P2P networks, but so what? Who'd waste time scrounging P2P, and hoping to get an intact and correct download, when for 10 cents you could get the real thing, guaranteed to be a good file AND free of legal threats??

        And the piracy issue could be largely eliminated by offering affiliate programs, frex:

        1) you host the files and provide the bandwidth, and you get NN-percent of the payment for each file. And to thank you for hosting the files, you get free personal use of the content.

        Or 2) for folks without adequate servers of their own, these affiliates could provide a web portal that links to the content owner's server, and get some smaller percentage of the payment.

        If the content owners did all this, P2P piracy would largely dry up overnight -- it wouldn't be worth the effort for average folks, and getting in on the gravy train would attract a whole lot of the people who presently collect and distribute huge numbers of files just because they CAN, not because they have any real use for them.

        • Re:bad statistic (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Thing 1 (178996)
          I completely agree with you.

          The problem is, the content middle-men will never agree with you. They want a huge cut of a huge number, not a tiny cut of a tiny number -- or even a huge cut of a tiny number.

          • Actually, the middlemen want 100% of ANY number, and don't want ANYONE else to have ANY cut. In their eyes, all of a small pie is better than the same absolute numbers as a share of a huge pie.

            Some people can't "win" unless everybody else loses. :(

    • The "I wouldn't have paid money for it, so it's not really a loss to the publishers" argument is fairly old, and I used to buy into it. However, it's flawed. The question isn't whether you would have paid money for the stuff you pirated, it's whether you would have spent money on *something* if you didn't have the pirated stuff.

      Example: It's Tuesday night, and I'm bored. How about a couple of hours of computer gaming to pass the time? Excellent! Perhaps I'll make a quick run to the store and pick up Q
  • by Celestial Avenger (826964) on Tuesday March 14, 2006 @01:55PM (#14918026)
    BCCrash, the program that eliminates BCDash's tracking capabilities.
  • 'Media companies have often been caught flat-footed when a video or song takes off online. By the time they try to capitalize on it, the opportunity often has passed.'
    The reason the media has "taken off online" is because it is easily accessable and quickly 'obtained', not because it is locked into DRM or worse in CD format on a store shelf.
    • by AKAImBatman (238306) * <akaimbatman AT gmail DOT com> on Tuesday March 14, 2006 @02:19PM (#14918221) Homepage Journal
      I think you're missing the point. One of the most valuable statistics to the entertainment industry is what is popular in the "underground" at the moment. That popularity is often a good indicator of what can be successfully marketed to the general public. Or as a friend of mine used to say, "By the time a music track goes mainstream, it's popularity at the clubs I go to has already come and gone."

      The purpose of this tool is to harness internet downloads to find out what might be highly marketable, and what isn't. And if they can get geographic data on its popularity, they'll even be able to target their marketing in the appropriate areas.
  • New? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Saeed al-Sahaf (665390) on Tuesday March 14, 2006 @02:03PM (#14918096) Homepage
    So this combination of cookies, product phone home, and data mining, is new technology how?
  • for example, if a music video is watched more in one part of the country or a song is played more on a particular music service. That information might alert a band that they need to add tour dates in a particular area, or flag a promotion opportunity on a certain Web site....BigChampagne has clients such as movie studios, record labels and television companies.

    This seems to be somewhat self-fullfilling with the power of advertising, and will help the huge corporate media to get bigger and more powerful
  • by Weaselmancer (533834) on Tuesday March 14, 2006 @02:14PM (#14918174)

    Anybody remember the MTV Total Request Live Devo prank? [72.14.203.104] TRL allows you to phone in what you want played on the show. Most popular vote gets played. Fark and a few other websites tried to get Devo's "Whip It" to get played - sort of like an online version of a flashmob.

    We could do something very very similar here with something as simple as a dinky little Perl script.

    All it has to do is hit your favorite P2P network that's being monitored, and make a request every so often. If you space out the requests and get a lot of people doing it, the net won't flood but the harvested data will be skewed.

    I wonder what the reprecussions would be if Big Media discovered the most downloaded movie of 2006 was Brazil and the most downloaded song was Jocko Homo?

  • the total universe they portend to be projecting to. So are they going to 'sample' data from the peer-to-peer networks as well as collect from the big boys and when they're done with their sample, what is the total project going to extrapolate to?

    From their site: BigChampagne collects a great deal of information about media consumption both online and offline through our partners. We also employ our own patent-pending systems for observing peer-to-peer ("P2P") file sharing and searching.

    This info is
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Did anyone else read this as a story about new songs from Tool?

    Well then, nevermind...
  • Media companies have often been caught flat-footed when a video or song takes off online. Or quite the opposite. The flat-foots often try to catch the illegal filesharers.
  • I originally read this without the rest of the title and decided that someone had leaked the new TOOL album and Slashdot was posting about it. Guess it's kinda on the brain right now.
    • I originally read this without the rest of the title and decided that someone had leaked the new TOOL album and Slashdot was posting about it. Guess it's kinda on the brain right now.

      Hey, good thought! I've been wondering when this comes out. I see the date is May now!
    • I thought the same thing. This 10,000 Days album is just WAY too hyped. By the way, it comes out in May, and the alleged track listing is as follows:

      1. Vicarious
      2. Jambi
      3. Wings For Marie (Pt 1)
      4. 10,000 Days (Wings Pt 2)
      5. The Pot
      6. Lipan Conjuring
      7. Lost Keys (Blame Hofmann)
      8. Rosetta Stoned
      9. Intension

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