|Mitchell Reichgut: 'I think the biggest reason people are interested [in P-to-P] is because it's a pipeline into the consumers you can't find anywhere else.'
Why you need to know him: Mr. Reichgut has built a business on helping marketers distribute their content in the peer-to-peer space, which has about half a billion queries a day and 100 million users a month, making it comparable to MySpace. P-to-P is "very, very mainstream," he said. And by distributing content only on the web, marketers are missing millions in the demo that's hardest to reach: young, tech-savvy guys. Jun Group, for example, helped power Coca-Cola's foray into the space -- the beverage giant's sponsored videos with Jay-Z and R-&-B singer Ne-Yo garnered more downloads from file sharers than those videos did on their MySpace or YouTube pages.
Credentials: Mr. Reichgut has 15 years of traditional-marketing experience, starting as a TV art director and copywriter at Grey before falling into web development way back in 1993. He went on to be creative director of Think New Ideas, a big Omnicom Group web-development shop, where he worked on brands such as Budweiser, Continental Airlines, Reebok, Rockport and Sony and ran the interactive division of Bates USA for about five years. Mr. Reichgut founded Jun Group in 2001, thinking the dot-com recession was at rock bottom, and the only place the market could go was up. Jun Group started as an integrated-services company but quickly got hooked on file sharing and "never went back," Reichgut said. Last year file sharing became the single focus of Jun Group.
Give us a P-to-P primer. "The first thing we tell potential clients is: Web is different than internet. And P-to-P file sharing happens over the internet rather than the web. P-to-P software enables millions of people to connect to one another so there's no central server or core directory -- although Napster did have that. But if you download a free client like LimeWire, you can connect to all other LimeWire users and share with them. That's a P-to-P network vs. the web, where you all go to CNN to get content. P-to-P is a very empowering experience for consumers. It's essentially content on demand and the same instinct that drives something like TiVo. People using P-to-P can get the content when and how they want, and then they can share it. It isn't piracy that drives this but that freedom and empowerment."
What's behind the current interest in P-to-P? "The biggest reason people are interested is because it's a pipeline into the consumers you can't find anywhere else. They're the key influencers because they see and hear and experience entertainment first. And through P-to-P you can reach them in a very authentic way."
What types of marketers are most interested? "You see almost all the big entertainment companies looking at it now as a legitimate channel. It's enormous, over 50% of the internet's bandwidth, and here to stay. Using it in a legal sense makes sense for just about everybody. The trick is not to do what's been done to social-net sites and other sites, which is stick ads in it. You have to provide the kind of content people are seeking out in an unfettered way, and brand becomes enabler, not interrupter."
It strikes me that a marketer could put this content out there on their own, like millions of P-to-P users do. So why do they need a partner like Jun Group? "People think, 'Oh, I'll take my content, open up LimeWire and put it out there for the masses.' But because it's decentralized, it's difficult to aggregate an audience. It takes a lot of know-how and technological understanding to be able to distribute to a large group of people."
Do certain kinds of content work best for P-to-P distribution? "You definitely broaden your reach by attaching yourself to popular entertainment properties, but we've also had tremendous success by attaching marketers to smaller properties. We're doing something now with a major actor but a brand-new property. Also, we're seeing more and more searches for commercials. The right kind of commercial is being seen as entertainment. We'll distribute commercials for certain clients, but we make sure to tag them as such -- we won't give a commercial to someone searching for something else. Clients are giving us 90-second ads or ads only shown in a local market and getting seven-figure, eight-figure audiences for them with up to 9% or 10% click-through rates. A lot of the ads are humorous. We've great success with sports stars, and sometimes real low-budget, quirky ads or big-budget special-effect ads do very well."
You mentioned click-throughs ... "Lots of clients are starting to put offers and calls to action and e-commerce ties and promotional ties [into their content]. The work we're doing now is much more integrated. ... If P-to-P is catalyst, then all the sudden all these other tentacles become more authentic."
There are a few other companies in this space as well. What are you doing differently than other P-to-P marketing companies? "We really don't believe in DRM [digital-rights management, software that restricts how content can be used in an effort to combat piracy]. We're adamantly opposed to it because it's against the culture of P-to-P networks. We are all about providing authentic content. Everything we do, we keep two things in mind: one, the consumer, and two, the brand. Those interests can align through branded entertainment in ways traditional advertising cannot execute. We provide the content that users legitimately seek. And our clients can have quality connection to high-value consumers."