Subscription Paysites: Doomed or Doable?
As widespread revenue declines have gripped the adult Internet’s paysite sector over the last several years, the future viability of the adult subscription site business model has come into question. Many once-thriving affiliate programs have either folded up their tent or have been snatched up by larger, financially healthier competitors who were in strategic acquisition mode at the time.
Drawing on the perspectives of variety of a variety of companies, including operators of some of the web’s longest-running adult paysites and affiliate programs, XBIZ presents a look at the present and future of the paysite sector, as seen by those who play central roles in defining it.
For HustlerCash, the online affiliate marketing branch of a brand that truly transcends the adult industry, its best-selling online content mirrors its top performer in the offline content arena: porn parodies.
“Hustler parodies are still doing great for us,” said Sarah Jayne Anderson, Affiliate Manager for HustlerCash. “We keep coming up with fresh ideas and the members keep coming back to watch them. In fact, they have been so popular that affiliates were asking for a separate site dedicated to them. As a result, there was a great response when we launched HustlerParodies.com earlier this year.”
For long-running affiliate program CECash, 2013 saw an aggressive expansion into animated content, a move that CECash’s Adam W. told XBIZ was a market data-driven decision.
“Based on extensive market research coupled with strong consumer demand we developed and launched a new program in late 2013 called AnimationCash, which features exclusive 3D adult cartoons,” Adam W. said. “For affiliates, this is a home run as they can drive sales with our proven free trial model through eight completely different sites and tours, all of which are responsively designed.”
CECash isn’t the only old-school paysite program that put a premium on animated and 3D content in recent days; Colin Rowntree, owner and founder of Wasteland.com, an adult paysite that took its first orders in 1994, has also benefitted from its foray into the realm of virtual porn.
“Wasteland3D.com, our desktop software 3D game, does very well,” Rowntree said. “It’s free to play, but the conversions to the premium version and in-game purchase of additional BDSM gear, fetish items and clothing is excellent, once the player is gets hooked on the game.”
For BaDoinkCash, a 2012 XBIZ Award nominee for Progressive Web Company of the Year known for its innovative B2B products geared toward affiliate program owners, 2013 ushered in a focus on content, including shooting its own exclusive content and the launch of a new online magazine.
‘Filming our own exclusive scenes has been great and it’s something we haven’t done before,” BaDoink Marketing Manager Sarah Kohl told XBIZ. The best part is our members love it; we’ve had members contact us and tell us how much they genuinely enjoy their memberships to BaDoink, which is great to hear.”
At DDFCash, a program known for its highquality glamour content, the focus of late has been on improving its content delivery mechanisms, including an overhaul of the content search functions across the program’s most popular sites.
Paul, the marketing manager for DDFCash, told XBIZ that the plan for the improved search functionality was to offer a “more robust searching system with three phases of deployment, third phase to launch early next year.”
“The first phase included checking the tagging of all of our models and scenes from 2009 to 2013,” Paul added. “Then we launched a new search tool bar with various options and capabilities so that members can find what they are looking for much easier. The second phase provided an advanced search which allows members to see all the tags on one popup and refine their search deeper. The third phase will feature a Top Categories feature which will display the most sought-after categories for those who want a quick fix.”
In terms of upcoming plans, several of the companies interviewed by XBIZ hinted at significant launches and developments in the near future, but chose to keep their cards close to their vests and declined to offer details. The overall theme, however, appears to be one of embracing new areas of operation and entirely different avenues of revenue generation, underlining the value of having a diverse set of revenue streams, particularly in a challenging market.
“2014 will be marked by the launch of our first major foray into the cam space with our newest program, FreeWebCamCash,” CECash’s Adam W told XBIZ. “This program will also feature a free trial model along with a competitive payout which we are confident will position the program for major and rapid growth. In addition, we will re-launch CECashMobile with all new sites, all built specifically for smartphone and tablet users. What this means for webmasters is a simple-to-implement, high-EPC yielding solution for converting users in an extensive list of countries.”
As for the overall future of the paysite sector, while all of the companies agreed that the market is in many ways tougher than ever, there’s also general agreement that companies and brands that are able to distinguish themselves through the quality of their products and services can still find success using the subscription paysite model.
Wasteland.com’s Rowntree emphasized the importance of providing one’s members with an experience that offers advantages over that of frequenting a free site.
“The paysite sector will continue to be a strong element in online adult as it has a great deal of control over quality of content, message, brand and building customer loyalty for providing high end content in a way that’s easy to follow within a consistent style and genre model – as opposed to digging through random content on a tube and getting hammered with ads,” Rowntree said. “The subscription model does indeed remain viable, but it requires a vast amount of thought and work to keep the members area content fresh and of higher quality than can be found on free sites. The main thing for remaining successful is the paysite needs to feel more like HBO than just another tube-site-of-the-moment.”