opinion

The Closing of the Old School

Stephen Yagielowicz

According to Wikipedia, the slang term “old school” can refer to anything that is from an earlier era, although it generally implies a vintage of at least 15-20 years.

“Depending on the context and intent, the term can imply a high regard or respect, or be a pejorative,” states the Wikipedia website. “When used to imply a high regard for something, ‘old school’ is applied to things perceived to be of timeless style, wisdom, or quality, or with wide acceptance in earlier times and continued value in the present.”

But what about the pejorative use of the term, to indicate that something is outdated, obsolete and without “continued value in the present” — is the use more typical of today?

When it comes to the economic viability of adult websites, the answer may be “yes.”

While some experienced webmasters may still be earning revenues from pic-posts, link lists, TGP submissions and other “old school” marketing techniques, change within the industry is undeniably escalating, with some operators benefiting more than others.

This may not necessarily be a bad thing, because many past practices have become decreasingly profitable, so fresh approaches are required to satisfy jaded porn consumers.

Although there is no lack of affiliate managers ready and willing to explain how their particular program converts like it is 1998, the relative lack of affiliates willing to listen is evidence of how difficult sales (and payments for those sales) may be to come by.

Another indicator is the recent spate of high-profile domain sales, including the initial premium names offered by .XXX. But that’s another story, because it’s the aged dot com domain portfolios that have come onto the market, with literally thousands of “excellent” names being purged from their owner’s “someday” list, in a last ditch hope to profit from what may be an otherwise parked or unused domain, or long-lost opportunity.

.XXX plays a role in this as well, as its Sunrise period doubtlessly provided the needed motivation for many speculators and others to revisit their domain name inventory lists.

Will the new TLD (or some of the recently transferred .com names) be developed into websites that will open a new school of thought and provide the eye-opening, cutting-edge visitor experiences that are needed to revitalize porn sales today, or will it become another copy-cat subdivision, where all the properties are identical to their neighbors?

Only time will tell, but it is clear from looking at stats, reading adult message boards and eyeing your bank account that the old ways are no longer working and the impact also extends into the billing, content, coding, design, traffic and other industry segments.

They say that it’s hard to teach old dogs new tricks, partly because we are so set in our ways. Add in the stresses and emotional toll of operating for years at “Internet speed” and it becomes clear that changes are needed for many of us: evolving in a progression from yesterday’s familiarity to tomorrow’s uncharted opportunities.

Continuing education is part of attending this “New School,” as forward-looking folks seek to separate themselves from their former competitors — many of whom are now struggling helplessly, stuck in the tar pit of our rapidly receding digital past. It’s not about forgetting the lessons of that past, but of improving upon the knowledge that we have gained over the years.

Like many of you, I fear teetering on the edge of that tar pit, hoping not to fall in. During the coming year, I’ll be kicking it up a notch or two (or three), trying my best to excel in this new school, wherever it takes me. As part of that process, I’ll share what I am learning with you here at XBIZ, because keeping up with all of the latest tools, techniques and technologies is a vital part of graduating from the new school — as is doing your homework. Stay tuned!

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