Jeff Booth, president of the Los Angeles-based EroticUniversity.com, said that because Internet erotica is no longer the gold rush it once was, American webmasters will have no choice but to seek new opportunities and new potential sources of revenue; part of that, he said, will include reaching foreign consumers.
"The future is global," Booth asserted. "The future is a much bigger market than just the United States. And the Internet is global, so it doesn't make any sense not to target a global market. Companies will need to become more worldly. They will need to understand that there is a big world out there and that America isn't the be-all, end-all anymore, if it ever was. Expanding into international markets is one of the things that will help American adult companies stay strong."
But Booth was quick to add that if U.S.-based adult webmasters want to increase their traffic in Europe, Asia and other parts of the world, they need to do their research as thoroughly as possible. Webmasters, he said, will need to take a close look at the countries they are targeting and find out what types of content they prefer, what their dominant billing methods are, what their linguistic preferences are and what those countries' obscenity laws are like.
Milan, Italy native Moreno "Mo" Aguiari, founder/president of the Atlanta-based TranslationsXXX (a company that specializes in translating adult websites into different languages) and administrator for AdultItaly.com (an Italian-language website for adult webmasters), stressed that localization is a crucial part of increasing foreign traffic. Aguiari said that if, for example, a webmaster's goal is to increase his/her Italian traffic, a website must be as Italy-friendly as possible; this means that an Internet surfer in Italy must have an easy time finding an Italian-language version of that site — and if the Italian surfer finds that site, likes the content and decides the site is worth joining, offering billing methods that the Italian surfer prefers will help close the deal.
"To increase foreign traffic, it definitely helps to offer your content in languages other than English," Aguiari said. "That's a no-brainer."
When asked what countries he has found to be the biggest consumers of Internet erotica next to the United States, Aguiari responded, "I would say Germany is No. 2, and probably the French market would be No. 3. I would also keep an eye on the emerging markets in Eastern Europe; Poland is booming, and Russia is booming."
Booth explained that while credit cards have been the dominant payment method for Internet erotica in the United States, this doesn't mean that people in other countries necessarily want to use credit cards to pay for adult websites. According to Booth, American webmasters who hope to seriously increase foreign traffic must offer billing methods other than credit cards (such as debiting bank accounts) and be prepared to bill in foreign currencies.
"The big drumbeat the payment transaction companies are hitting is that if you're not taking euros, you're losing a lot of money," Booth noted. "When we pay for stuff in the United States, we pay in dollars because we understand what they are and know how much money we're spending; it seems simpler. And people in other countries also prefer to pay in their own currencies."
Because much of Continental Europe is very tolerant of erotica, increasing traffic in countries like Germany, Holland, Spain, France and Italy makes perfect sense for adult webmasters. But Booth pointed out that the challenge American webmasters face if they are going after traffic in countries with very liberal sexual attitudes is that unlike adult webmasters who live in those countries, they are physically located on U.S. soil and are therefore subject to U.S. obscenity laws. An American webmaster who lives in the Bible Belt, Booth said, needs to remember that ultra-explicit content that might increase Dutch traffic or French traffic — content that Dutch or French prosecutors wouldn't consider obscene under their laws — might offend local sensibilities in Alabama or Mississippi and result in a state obscenity prosecution.
Aguiari noted that membership adult sites are facing the same major challenge in Europe and Asia that they are facing in the United States: they are competing with an abundance of free adult websites — and content that isn't generic is more likely to increase foreign traffic.
"A lot of Italian surfers won't pay for content unless they have to, meaning that there are so many free tube sites," Aguiari explained. "A lot of programs don't offer anything special — just blondes with big tits — and why should I pay for that content if I can get it for free on a tube site? But if you have more unique type of content — more niche-oriented content, or amateur content — there is a chance for higher conversions. From my experience, Germans and Italians like a lot of the amateur-type content and niche content — husbands and wives, swingers, whatever — and the more specific content can increase foreign traffic."
Aguiari said that from content to billing methods to foreign-language translations, the adult webmasters who are the least Americentric in their thinking will be the ones who attract the most foreign traffic and have the greatest chances of success in a global economy.
"When Americans go to Europe, they see that America is not the center of the universe," Aguiari asserted. "Each country has pros and cons, and when Americans travel, they realize that. They come back thinking, ‘We've been told that we're the center of the universe, but maybe that is not the case. Maybe there is something else out there.' We live in a globalized economy — and in a globalized economy, thinking globally is going to increase traffic."