Putting tube sites into historical perspective

As a qualifier to my observations about the adult biz, my “adult cherry” was popped when I started my first adult consulting gig in creating a searchable database and shopping cart system for Lee Noga of zmaster.com back in 1996.

Tube sites have certainly caused great irritation to the Adult Industry, from content producers who are seeing their content being ripped off, to paysite owners who are seeing less signups due to free content, to affiliates who are making less money on joins due to the freeloading.

A common retort to the outcry of tubes sites is to “adapt or die”. Some have taken that message to heart to create “legal” tube sites, or what I had thought of a few years ago is a “fake” tube site. A “fake tube site” was not user-uploaded, but appeared to be, but was all legal content. The problem with “legal” or “fake” tube sites, is that the content is usually limited (ie. 3-5 minutes), with the “good stuff” cut off as the teaser to join to see the rest.

With the way content producers are doing fire sales and whoring their content, and the ability to produce new "amateur/homemade" content cheaply, it would seem easier for "illegal" tubes, to eventually clean themselves up and buy and produce all of their content, and then upsell their own paysites like an affiliate who is pushing/converting traffic decides to open their own paysites instead of promoting others).

It’s just like in the "good 'ol days" of ripping content from usenet or copying CD's full of images and putting up a paysite, generate high profits since there was no cost for the content, then after some level of success and critical mass, to then produce their own content and/or license the content to become "legit".

So much technology does get its start in adult and the technology gets tested and used in different/creative ways. DRM is a fun punching bag example as it was touted as a way of controlling content, and many, many paysites bought into that idea. When a member cancelled, you disabled their access to the video. If the member joined again, the videos were unlocked. It sounded like a great concept, until members decided they don’t like that control.

Porn review sites started to identify if a site was using DRM. Surfers then avoided those sites. Paysites saw the recoil to DRM and stripped it out. What should have been the answer was not to use DRM to “control”, but instead, to observe. Each time a DRM video was played, it signals back via silent authorization to play the video. You get the IP, the date/time, and the filename. With this information, you know what content of yours is being played after a member has cancelled. You can then market back to the cancelled member about new content that matches their viewing interest.

Same is true with adapting biz models....start out shady, prove the demand, get legit on the supply = evolution of economics

Illegal tube sites (including youtube) are following the same historical steps.

From my long term perspective, it is ironic that paysites that used to use usenet content inside their members area are now content producers who are crying foul at copyright infringement, but, it just underscores my point about the evolution of a business idea.

Illegal tube sites are gaining the traffic. They are slowly assisting (directly or inadvertently) in the reduction of the legit paysites. Many programs are shutting down or being consolidated.

I see the future where Illegal tube sites will become legal tube sites, where they follow the same business practice of showing full clips and deriving revenue from any potential upsells of products or through paid advertising (ie. Banners).

I don’t like to describe a problem without trying to offer some kind of solution, so here goes:

  • You can certainly go through the DMCA process, that will help to some extent, but the business answer is to survive. Companies are doing this already, they are downsizing, they are spending less on crazy expenses, and the business owners are paying attention to the business.

  • Controlling expenses is the first step. The second step is pay attention to the current members. Find out what they like, and provide more of it. I have seen so many paysites look at members like they were cattle. They can burn them with the xsells, upsells, sideways sells, etc because “new blood” will come to them tomorrow. That was the ‘golden days of adult’ where it was a numbers game and you could be “creative” with how you ran your business.

  • Work more with your affiliates as you both are tied to the same $. Help the bottom 99% of affiliates do more with your program (hint, use t3report.com)

  • Take time to understand your enemy. Checkout those d*mn tube sites, but don’t look at it through the eyes of an owner, look at it like a surfer. What kinds of clips or what categories are getting the most views. Surfers are much more savvier now, they have review boards and message boards to learn/share information. There are tube sites that give them content that they want.

  • Look at the category that matches your content, see what kind of content in your niche are people watching. Use this info as a like a survey, to understand what you should be producing.

  • Label your site with ASACP’s RTA label (http://www.rtalabel.org) (of which I was part of the team to create the label) to prepare for the future defense that you did something to allow adults and children to not visit your site.

Give conservatives the time to catch up to tube sites to cry foul about how any adult or child can easily see porn. Wait for the DOJ to realize that legal adult video and internet companies are not the problem, it’s the illegal tube sites.

“Patience comes to those who wait”.

Tread water by focusing on the biz and making the right choices to last the next 2-3 years. There is still money to be made in paysites. Niched content is certainly doing well. Creating a great experience for the member that offers more perks and more value then what a tube site can offer goes a long way.

Companies who are producing their own content (which is so easy these days with the whole “reality” and “amateur” content) can use their models on the site to provide for some interaction with the members.

Solo girl sites do well because they provide a lot of interaction with their members.

Evolve the business model to give more value, understand what your members want, control expenses, and lastly, love what you do. If it’s just a job to make money, you’ll lose the spark and creative edge to evolve the business model.

Fight the tubal ligation!