Come One, Come All

Stephen Yagielowicz
One of the most important tasks currently sitting on my plate is the laying down of the next year's editorial schedule for XBIZ World magazine — a chore / privilege primarily focusing on what each month's "special section" will be.

If I get it right — if despite changing market conditions, rapidly evolving technologies and a developing legal environment, I can lay out 12 relevant topics this far in advance — topics that will still be relevant a year-and-a-half from now — then my readers will make more money; operate more safely and efficiently; and enjoy a real competitive advantage over those folks that don't read XBIZ World.

If I get it wrong, well, we'll have some cool party pics in the back, with at least one nice set of tits for your enjoyment…

While some of you might have considered that last remark flippant, it really speaks to the core of my dilemma: relevancy. You see, what is relevant to one reader / operator may be of no concern to another — especially in an industry as diverse as ours. No mere question of balance, such as "how many pages of pics?" or "what ratio between shots of known 'players' and the aforementioned nice tits?" the question of relevancy strikes at the heart of the changing needs of my readers.

For example, take the "affiliate program" — companies that may have a few years ago relied 100 percent on affiliates as traffic sources, may today actually receive less than 10 percent of their traffic from affiliates. Their informational needs are very different today than they were even two years ago — and their needs will be different again next year.

Do you care about increasing traffic to your website? Going mobile? Shooting web-centric content or delivering it via new distribution mechanisms such as memory chips? What about copyright law and content piracy? What about server technology, scripts or the latest Photoshop plugin of use to porn peddlers? Heck, maybe you're even interested in the latest "hot" wines and cheeses, as some of our competitors seem to think. I'll get a dozen chances to hit or miss, while trying to benefit as many of you as possible.

This is all "inside baseball" as they say, but I use it to set the stage for what's really on my mind: the total diversity of players in this marketspace.

You see, as part of the relevancy discussion, the questions of defining who is part of the adult industry; who is making money; and who is likely to profit in the future all arise — and despite the forces of convergence, the face of the industry still ranges from the top-tier corporations down to the lone gallery submitter or search engine maven toiling in isolated obscurity — but still making money in adult.

Although there is nothing new to this industrial stratification, the overall feeling I get today is that many of these groups are increasingly isolationist, "doing their own thing" and not sharing as openly as they once might have. At the same time, other levels are trying to open their doors as widely as possible. This presents the problems of trying to target niche audiences with very specific needs, while drawing on an informational pool that may not be as willing to reveal all of its secrets as it once so generously did. The "coopetition" that online adult was once so remarkable for has been largely replaced by pure competition — and in some ways, that trend has diminished our "nobility."

These changes are the natural course of business, however, and not at all limited to the realm of adult entertainment.

In a recent blog posting at XBIZ entitled, "Business Is Business," Webbilling's JoeD offered some sage words of wisdom on the current scene in online adult, and he also discusses the broader Internet and some of its more interesting evolutionary processes. Take a few moments to read it; and then ask yourself; "Why indeed does AOL not own the world?"

Some of the lessons of AOL, which are amply mirrored in the adult space, include the fact that even with a compelling product or service offering; a nearly competition-free marketspace; and a hyper-aggressive marketing campaign that eliminates all competition, a company may still end up as little more than a historical footnote in what was once a market space that it "owned."

But does that mean that they're not making money? No, it's just that their focus has broadened into other venues and opportunities; either as the cause or result of their toppling from the throne of online access — an arena which was once its core business.

These same dynamics of change are being played out across our industry and with operators of all shapes and sizes. What's of interest to me as a TGP or blog owner isn't likely going to be of interest to you as a billing company owner; likewise, a guy running a tube site may not be as interested in learning about employee handbooks tailored to adult companies as are some of our other readers.

My job is to see the TGP owner incorporating elements of a tube site; charging an access fee and thus needing to know about billing services as well; and then growing to the point where staffing issues require formalized policies — while trying to create a worthwhile read for all involved at every step of the way and beyond…

Now that you know how I'll be spending my weekend, here's your chance to influence the process by letting me know what topics you'd like to see covered by XBIZ in 2010. Add a comment below, or drop me an email — but regardless of your input, wish me luck in coming up with the tools and information that we'll all need to succeed.