Moving In on Mobile

Stephen Yagielowicz

It has been a few years since the mobile adult entertainment rush began in earnest — past the heady days of the Mobile Adult Content Congress and the heated debate over on- and off-deck content approaches; the launch of sites and services targeting early adopters; the revamping of traditional online adult affiliate programs to serve a mobilized audience; and the rise of the Smartphone app.

During this preliminary period in the growth of ubiquitous mobile communications and media consumption, many approaches have been tried — and some have been found to be lacking in traction amongst consumers. Indeed, the initial buzz surrounding the vast opportunities for adult content providers in the emerging mobile market has given way to virtual silence, as many affiliates (and by extension, site owners) have not seen the profits they had hoped to earn. Others, however, have made some substantial money in this field.

Tight localization is not only the key to success, but failing massive, widespread brand-building capitalization, also the limiting factor to a site’s growth.

It is against this mottled backdrop that I wanted to examine some of the more popular and more current offerings being presented to mobile adult entertainment consumers — in this case, offers targeting the iPhone, one of mobile’s most popular platforms; as well as pitches for the iPad, Android and Windowspowered devices.

Rather than a review of any particular program, I would like to provide an overview of several of the more common types of adult offer and how they approach the market:

Paysites Gone Mobile.One of the first entrants onto the adult scene, traditional premium websites offering pre-recorded photo (and in some cases, video) content were “optimized” for viewing on mobile devices — often providing a tremendously “dumbed down” user experience in comparison to their desktop-bound counterparts. Add in to this category the early WAP sites and other projects that targeted pre-Smartphone caliber devices, and it’s easy to see the sort of tentative mediocrity that characterized the first generation of regular websites, brought to mobile devices by designers and marketers struggling to deliver compelling visual excitement on a low-capability display device.

Despite the challenges, some strong contenders grabbed a foothold in the marketplace where they remain today. Adult powerhouse Pink Visual’s popular TopBucks Mobile affiliate program come to mind as a symbol of continued excellence.

It’s not just the big players that are bringing the adult paysite model to mobile users, however, as today, legions of WordPress-powered websites, including affiliate blogs with premium sections and solo-girl websites, are using increasingly sophisticated and featurerich plugins and themes to deliver what is an occasionally stunning viewer experience — doing so without any technical expertise required, or budget-busting overhead incurred.

A Live Girl (or Guy, or Couple, or…) in the Palm of Your Hand.While common attempts to bring adult entertainment to mobile devices, such as the paysite models explored above, sprang from a viewpoint of the platform as a television, computer, or photo album in the customer’s pocket; the advent of streaming video and faster data connection speeds allowed the use of the phone for what it was intended to be — a tool for live, voicebased communications — delivering the personalized impact of live phone sex, now coupled with the added motion and emotion of visual interactivity.

Live video chat services (mobile or otherwise) are on a somewhat different playing field than regular adult entertainment from a consumer psychology standpoint, whereas one involves typically solitary “porn” use, the other is more of “a date,” where solitude (at least from the perspective of the customer) is not a factor. Certainly, the sexual aspect is most dominant, but the emotional involvement can take on a life of its own — and lead to considerable profits for marketers delivering this experience “anytime, anywhere.”

Webcams.com, for example, offers a robust mobile version of its desktop cam site, as do most of the major players in the chat market — some of which are using today’s frontfacing cameras to provide two-way mobile video, where both the performer and customer can see each other — which may not always be desirable, from a “turned on performers will always perform better than frightened or laughing performers,” perspective.

Localized, Socialized and Sexualized: the Next Generation of Mobile Adult.Sometimes, however, the two parties engaged in mobile live video chat are not scared or disgusted by one another; rather, they want to hook up — right now, in person, for sex.

Take Facebook-style social networking; add unrestricted two-way mobile video chat; and use localization services to pinpoint other users on a map of your area; and you have a surefire recipe for fun and fornication that appeals to a wide variety of demographics.

With these forward-looking services, tight localization is not only the key to success, but failing massive, widespread brand-building capitalization, also the limiting factor to a site’s growth. For example, New York City would provide a much larger market for such services, than say, Portland, Ore. — and although programs could easily profit from both markets, one program trying to fully capture both cities would need deep pockets indeed.

This is how we find mobile adult entertainment in 2011 and beyond: while advances in technology will doubtless usher in new products, services and service expectations, it may come down to a matter of overwhelming budgets and market dominance to deliver on the promise that these devices bring. In other words, while the little guy may still be able to occasionally turn a profit on the fixed Internet, grabbing a slice of the mobile pie (especially domestically) may become ever harder, as the big boys grab up their share.

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