From Whence the Traffic?

Q. Boyer
It’s December, which means it is prognosticating time again — time to dust off our crystal balls and project what trends may come in the New Year. Nowhere is this game trickier than with respect to the rapidly changing Internet sector, where today’s hot tip is tomorrow’s old news.

In the world of adult webmasters, the crucial question is, as always: where will I get traffic? Traffic, that lifeblood of web marketing, is an elusive quarry, one with little allegiance or reliable routine. Ask any major TGP/MGP operator from years past, and they will tell you all about how fickle a mistress Lady Traffic can be.

So, where will we find traffic in 2010? The outlook has news both good and bad to balance, and while seeking to predict what sources will dominate with particular precision is a pipe dream, there are some general assertions supported by data that reduces somewhat the guesswork involved.

The More Things Change...
While there is certain to be shifts in the sources of porn traffic, there are certain areas of stability that can be relied upon. One of these (relatively) sure bets is that search engines, and Google in particular, will continue to be a major jumping-off point for porn consumers, and newbie porn consumers in particular.

It has long been assumed that as the Internet porn market ages, and porn surfers become more savvy, search engines will steadily become a less relevant source of adult traffic. While there’s some truth to this, the theory tends to underestimate the importance of two factors; the entry of truly new surfers and consumers into the market, and the most likely place where those newbies will begin their search for porn.

Any guy who has been surfing porn sites since the ‘90s is unlikely to find a need to Google “blowjob” in order to find what he’s looking for. But many of the newcomers to the market will inevitably turn to the search engines for help — which keeps the search engines relevant, and continues to make SEO worth the effort — at least for those who excel at mastering the algorithms and attracting the spiders.

Crossing Over
While its age-restricted and perpetually stigmatized nature make porn a difficult product to advertise outside of directly adult arenas, indirectly marketing to a non-porn audience is far more feasible. The best way to get your adult sites and products in front of eyeballs outside of the adult market is to draw the attention of the mainstream news and entertainment media. To accomplish this feat, it helps to keep one eye on the news, and to seek out opportunities to inject your brand into the conversation, so to speak. Political scandals, celebrity misbehavior, sports personalities run amuck — all of these are of great interest to the mainstream media — and by positioning yourself within the story you can garner some great exposure for your adult brands.

This is not to suggest that it is easy to get mainstream media attention, and certainly it is an area where caution is advised; but given the success that brands like Vivid and Pink Visual (ahem!) have had in getting coverage, expect to see more companies joining in the fun in 2010.

The Mobile Shift
As hard as it may be to believe (and as self-serving as you may find this prediction, given that I work for a major distributor of mobile porn), one of your most lucrative traffic sources in 2010 is one that you already have at your disposal, but may not be putting to its best use: namely, your own site(s).

The reason I assert this is that even as you read this paragraph, a small but still significant percentage of the traffic that is arriving at your sites is getting there by using a mobile device. Whether it is an iPhone or a Droid, a MyTouch or a Storm, mobile consumers are coming to you for their mobile porn, and 2010 will bring a sharp increase in that trend. While many mobile skeptics point to the fact that “fixed” web traffic remains far more plentiful than mobile traffic, the data on mobile consumers argues strongly for making this sector a major area of effort in the year ahead. Mobile consumers are (for the time being, at least) statistically more likely to purchase memberships than their fixed web counterparts, and retain better as subscribers, as well.

As new smart phones hit the market, and prices for web-capable phones drop, the mobile browsing market will continue to expand. As a function of that expansion, the mobile porn market and the revenues from it will increase, as well.

Another crucial point to understand about the adult mobile market: like all windows of opportunity, this one will close on you if you fail to move quickly to take advantage of it. This is not to say that there will be no money in mobile three, six or even twelve months down the road, just that you will find marketshare much easier to come by before the rush to adopt on the merchant side of the coin hits a fever pitch, and the number of competitors becomes much larger than it is currently.

Amateur Content (The Real Deal, Not That Corporate Amateur Crap)
This one is more of a hunch than a trend pulled from data, but my gut tells me that 2010 will see expansion of a practice that is so old, you can’t really call it a trend: production and distribution of true amateur content, including “self-shot” content produced by smart phone users, will continue to be a major area of consumer interest.

Unlike the bulk of tube site content, which is simply professional content ripped and uploaded by users (or the owners of the tube themselves), what I’m talking about here is legitimate self-produced content, created and uploaded by true amateur producers.

Interest in such content will never completely supplant the market for professionally produced porn (we professionals sure hope it won’t, at least!), but 2010 may well be remembered as the year of the “true” amateur, and webmasters would be well advised to incorporate true amateur content, and self-shot in particular, as a categories to promote heavily in the new year.