Back to Basics

Stephen Yagielowicz
A recent XBIZ poll reveals that nearly 37 percent of respondents (the largest group) believe that the best way forward is to go back to basics — a strategy that isn't as basic as it may outwardly appear. Let's take a look at some of the factors and considerations that may impact on this fundamental movement.

While the novelty appeal of online adult entertainment has come and gone, and with it, the impetus for many of the industry's former revenues, there remains a core user group that is still ready, willing and able to pay for porn. The key to future profits will lie in identifying the how, when, where and why of these prospect's interest and then satisfying those desires. For many operators, this will mean adopting a more holistic approach that brings marketing efforts back to basics.

Consider that the demographics of this desirable user group may range to the older side, where the more well to do customer that might prefer to view porn using Blu-ray discs on a big screen television might also enjoy the benefits of a premium membership to a high quality subscription-based website.

The quest for quality drives this customer — as does the quest for something specific — an ongoing, unsatisfied search for some elusive content type or another. Whether that one model which reminds him of that girl back home from his youth; or a depiction of a sex act so freaky and rare, that the only way she'll get this material is by paying for it.

This customer is also likely not a noob, but an experienced surfer that knows about TGPs and Tube sites, Persian Kitty and The Best Porn. They've joined sites and been ripped off — but they keep coming back for more, smarter and more sophisticated than before. This customer knows to cancel his trial membership right after he joins. He'll use a download manager to suck up your members area and then sign up for another trial a few months down the road, just to get your updates.

He may also be the kind of consumer that shows brand loyalty; and who will not only remain a member for months on end, but also become an active participant in your user communities, and offer constructive feedback on your site and content. These top-tier porn consumers, however, are seemingly fewer and further between these days — and increasingly falling into the hands of an ever smaller number of large scale adult vendors.

Although amateur / solo and micro-niche sites may still profitably appeal to specialty surfers' actively seeking this material, after all, when something is in demand, it will sell, and its consumers will find it. The evolving realities of adult traffic flow today will prevent smaller operators trying to market generic pre-recorded porn from gaining any significant traction from new initiatives.

So where does that leave us?

By getting back to basics and presenting offers of quality products in such a way as to appeal to a more conservative user base, adult operators will be able to reach not only the widest audience possible, but also the most profitable one.

As part of this elemental movement, operators should evaluate their websites with a critical eye to ensure that myriad factors are all up to par and competitive with the top offerings in related markets. This includes the size and colors of the site, the clarity of its text, the overall effectiveness of its call to action, along with the ability of customers to pay in the manner of their choosing.

This does not mean that you should use all the bells and whistles in the book, as some Tube sites are notorious for doing, since feature overload can be a common hindrance to impulse sales, when those features distract the prospect from taking your desired action. Remember, less can be more when trying to quickly reach and influence a prospect with an attention deficit and many other entertainment options.

How do you stand out from the crowd then? Isn't a show-stopping presentation the best way to rise above the noise and get your message out there?

While compelling presentations are at the heart of going back to basics, it's vital to consider that the higher the technical requirements of the display platform, the smaller the overall audience will be. When a site requires fast Internet connections, high-resolution displays, JavaScript and other non-standard or user-optional technology such as Flash and Silverlight, or tons of memory to process your site's actions, then progressively fewer and fewer visitors will be able to enjoy the full viewing experience.

There's also a performance hit associated with digital one-upmanship that can render an otherwise effective design moot in its ability to convert. For example, while jQuery and other advanced scripting solutions can produce a mind-blowing array of interactivity and usability enhancements, the toll on processing power can virtually cripple all but the most robust of CPUs and easily crash the visitor's computer or other access device.

This is where going back to basics in a design sense makes sense.

Take Google for example. It's one of the world's most popular websites and online services, yet it offers one of the web's simplest designs and a clutter-free interface that is used by millions of people daily — to the point where the word "Google" has become a term widely used in common parlance.

If your content was as in demand as are Google's search results (its "content"), then you too could successfully market such an austere website. That is not likely, however, so some balance between plain white and gee-whiz needs to be found — and if you come up against tough choices ask yourself "what will be most comfortable for the viewer?"

For in the final analysis, making the prospect comfortable enough to trust you with his credit card or other billing information is the bottom line of getting back to basics.