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FEATURE

The Party's Over

The Party's Over

May 29, 2004
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" The party's over – all that remains to be seen is who will stay to help clean up, and who will be stuck with the bill. "

I've written before about "the end of the gold rush," but today, it seems that we've gone beyond all that, and if asked for a sound bite, the quote would be "the party's over – all that remains to be seen is who will stay to help clean up, and who will be stuck with the bill."

It's not that opportunities no longer exist, it's not that money can no longer be made (even in "the same old ways"); but the meat has definitely been stripped from the bones, and all that remains on the plate of pornographic prosperity is a few crumbs and a little gristle – a far cry from the abundant feast the online adult banquet once was...

The reasons are simple and myriad: increased competition, increasing costs, lowering prices, an uncertain regulatory climate coupled with the imminent threat of renewed federal obscenity prosecutions, billing issues and credit card processing woes such as implementing the required steps needed for chargeback reduction and escalating bank fees – the list goes on and on...

While these factors encompass the day to day business concerns of adult Webmasters, there is another very serious issue that is wildly compounding these challenges; and an issue that is far harder to address: the changing nature of the porn surfer.

Today's surfer – your prospective customer – is no longer simply a new AOL user firing up his browser for the first time, typing "free porn" into Yahoo! and joining the first site that catches his interest. Although many of these folks are still coming online, they are not nearly as abundant – or naive – as those who have come before them (if you'll pardon the pun).

Today's porn surfer is more likely to have several years of experience; experience that has taught him where to click, and where not to. Experience that has taught him about TGPs and how you really don't need to pay any money in order to obtain all of the porn you could possibly want. Experience that has shown him the importance of canceling his trial within the allotted time, and the ease with which his charges can be disputed – and reversed.

This savvy consumer will not be impressed with a site made up of the same old content he's seen for free for the last half-dozen years, and since he (or she) has likely been filling their hard drive full of porn for quite some time, the demand is for something new and unique. Fulfilling this demand for fresh, exclusive and compelling content is one of those "escalating costs" the industry faces. Heck, when even TGPs are demanding unique content on listed galleries, you know the writing is on the wall for the little guy who's trying to run a legitimate operation (as opposed to simply stealing someone else's "unique" content).

A Silver Lining
While the long-term prognosis for the little guy isn't nearly as bright as it once was, there is still room for innovative products, services, and sites to make wheelbarrow's full of money. But it isn't going to be very quick, or easy. There is a bright side, however, but it's more for the consumer and not the Webmaster...

You see, the end result of "the big shakedown" in our industry will be an overall increase in the quality and professionalism of the remaining sites. More interactivity, better features, fresh, exclusive content, frequent updates, and high-end design – all of which will come together to produce top quality sites – competitive sites that will also be available for previously unheard of prices.

I hope that this week's little rant doesn't discourage you, but instead inspires you onward and upward to greatness. It had better, as the days of profiting from mediocrity in this business are just about over, and the only room remaining in the future is for those capable of erotic excellence. See you on the other side. ~ Stephen


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