opinion

A Plan of Attack

Stephen Yagielowicz
With 2010 rolling in, many adult operators are taking a fresh look at their current offerings and the overall economic environment, and trying to develop out-of-the-box approaches to selling their wares. While this process often yields ideas about evolving the type of website, for example, turning a popular free site into a premium subscription website, for perceptive operators, the process goes beyond the venue presenting the message and reaches into the message itself.

This can occur on many levels and in many ways; perhaps the most basic of which is presenting the message that “high quality adult entertainment is worth paying for.” In this context, we are not talking about using those exact words as part of your sales pitch, but of moving away from dumping premium content on to the marketplace in hopes of “driving traffic” through free sites, including TGPs and tubes. Sure, you can “drive traffic” this way, but today, it is much better to focus on driving sales — and when you are trying to sell with one hand what the other hand is giving away free, sales are an uphill battle.

In this example, the concept of “the message” revolves around an indirect rather than direct form of communication, i.e. if there were no more free porn sites then consumers would “get the message” that they need to pay for their choice of premium entertainment. In that utopian context, the glut of “legal” (read “licensed”) free porn on the Internet would evaporate, leaving only the pirates to distribute free porn and to face the consequences of doing so when it involves copyright violations.

Although I have noticed a drying up of some of these free porn channels, which may be reducing the amount of adult material available gratis, the quality of the remaining erotica seems to be improving. For example, a quick scan through the archives of your favorite TGP may result in seeing a lot of parked domain pages or other indicators that the content is no longer there and the original poster now gone. Balance that with the amazing HD clips displayed on newer galleries, especially some of the new sponsor provided FHGs that make use of the heavily discounted catalog offerings from defunct or dying studios — free content which is superior to what many sites are trying to sell.

Operating this way is not “a competitive advantage” where you can boast that your give-away porn beats your competitor’s best offerings. It is industrial suicide, reinforcing your customer’s belief that online porn (like most online media) is not something that needs to be paid for — or is worth paying for.

By re-molding the customer’s beliefs about the value of online adult content, we can relegate the wanton distribution of free porn to the exclusive province of pirates and hobbyists. This may seem silly, but it is just what a group of the most powerful mainstream media entities, headed by Rupert Murdoch and his News Corporation, is out to do within the online news arena. Forget being able to Googleup the news for free: if Murdoch has his way, you will need to buy a subscription or make a micro-payment for access to a given article. Sure, some bloggers will still steal the news and offer it freely — but that is a matter for the courts — not for consumers.

This re-valuing of the worth of media will not be easy or legality-free. Take the music industry and its hamhanded efforts to curb piracy, when it launched a two-pronged approach that publically pursued pirates including moms and minors, and caused thousands of dollars in judgments against people who are unable to pay; all while revamping its business models. Now, instead of having to buy a whole CD of terrible tunes simply to get the one-hit wonder produced by a band, you can download that one track.

To bring that example into adult, a webmaster that licensed a DVD could try to sell that DVD in its entirety, or he could split that DVD up into its component scenes and then sell those scenes individually. This is not something new of course, but it is not as widespread as it could or should be. In fact, it seems that many of the sites that offer individual scenes do so freely, typically operating as a tube site.

This of course brings us into the legitimate use of free content as a traffic draw for ad-supported websites and other consumer offers. The downside of this approach is in trying to profitably attract and retain advertisers when many of your competitors have the same idea, which only leads to lower rates and a glut of available inventory. Clearly, you need better, more innovative ways to drive your marketing message.

Part of extending your message in innovative ways is to gain as comprehensive a base of knowledge as possible about the target audience, its needs, desires and “hot buttons.” When multiple buttons are pushed, such as “hunger” and “getting special treatment,” a synergistic marketing approach is possible.

For example, in an effort to reach its market, Burger King sponsored “Watch the VGA’s Your Way” coverage of Spike’s annual Video Game Awards, allowing visitors to the VGA website to select their own camera angle. This capitalized on Burger King’s long-standing “Have it your way” promo while providing a free, premium level service (a customized viewing experience) for its young, techadmiring audience. Doubtless, many viewers who took advantage of the online viewing offer later dined at Burger King, where the debate over the award’s winners and losers ensued.

Burger King did not give away its product, nor did it give away the content — but it did sponsor the packaging of the content in a way that promoted its product. These are not merely semantic subtleties, but the key to the success of its marketing campaign. If you can emulate that example, then your plan of attack for 2010 could come to fruition.

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