Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Free is the new mantra of marketers

According to a report in Ecommerce Times, 'free' seems to be the new mantra that companies are following to market their products. Electronic Arts, for example, has made the FIFA 07 soccer video game available free online to users in South Korea, while the game costs 50 Europe's in Europe. In an area where piracy is so rampant, the company has made a smart move by giving away its original version at no cost, sidelining the piracy runners. Once users are hooked onto the games, the company offers them updates and upgrades at nominal costs. So far, Electronic Arts has sold 700,000 enhancements to the game. It's been a strange journey for marketers, who have been fighting piracy for so long, and have now cut through the entire pirated goods market by reaching customers directly.
After spending millions of dollars over the past decade fighting the free exchange of their products over the Internet, some media companies are now yielding.

The best way to get something in return, they are deciding, may be to accept that consumers want to play but few seem to want to pay. If enough of them join the game, there can still be a payback -- either from consumers themselves or, increasingly, from advertisers.

"Free is the new paid," said Kenneth Parks, chief operating officer of Brilliant Technologies, which is developing a service called Qtrax, which will provide free music -- legally -- to Internet users.

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