Time for a Convergence?

Ian Aaron
Whether you create content, aggregate it or provide another service in the mobile entertainment value chain, the key to success in the mobile adult segment is the same: Quality wins.

Quality means that when consumers view content, it has to be as compelling on an older phone as it is on a new 3G handset. Broad international distribution also requires that a product must travel seamlessly across 1,000 handsets and in more than 20 languages. It’s not simply about downloading to a phone what was created for a home video, DVD or the Internet; it is about “programming for the medium” to create programming that looks great on a smaller screen and to assure that the explicitness level is appropriate for the environment. To accomplish this, our company created a globally accepted Content Standards Matrix that assures the localization of content, social acceptance within a country and the comfort level of the mobile operator.

Quality also means the overall experience for consumers has to be such that they won’t need to do excessive surfing on their handsets in order to find what they want. A mobile WAP site has to have both breadth of programming and depth of content. We have deployed sophisticated technology whereby every piece of content receives more than 40 different metadata fields to help provide the most accurate recommendation engine, streamlining the delivery of exactly what the mobile consumer is looking for.

Quality also relates to how content is branded and marketed. We work with many strong brands, such as Playboy, Vivid, Girls Gone Wild and Digital Playground, to fully integrate our mobile activities, including programming, marketing and promotions into their home video, TV, online and even local publishing efforts. Similar to online, there is an emerging search marketing business on the handset. While recognized brands help to obtain a position on the operator’s deck, search marketing and paid placement may prove to be the ultimate driver of traffic down the road.

The final aspect of quality revolves around innovation. Programmers must keep pace in an environment that introduces a new handset into the market every three days. These new devices have higher-resolution color screens and cameras, broadband capabilities that are approaching DSL speeds and display TV that is not just delivered over IP but also over existing DVB broadcast standards. The adult sector’s responsibility to the brands and operators is to innovate. It is essential to create a compelling mobile TV proposition that is programmed like a cable channel instead of throwing clips in a jukebox. We need to enhance games and applications to take advantage of the new graphics and multi-player capabilities of today’s phones. We need to offer connected services like video chat.

As with home video, cable TV and the Internet, mobile is just another example of how, once again, the adult sector continues to drive the newest technology and services.

With more than 2 billion mobile phones and growing, the adult business has another opportunity to expand its distribution base. For the past two years, we have worked closely with the mobile operators, local social groups and the content providers to ensure that a sound process and enforced access control create a safe and secure environment for adult programming.

Our experience in Europe and elsewhere has shown that a responsible approach has created strong growth in consumer demand for mobile adult programming along with a substantial and valuable content revenue stream for the operators and content providers.

While the focus has been on “After the PIN” age-verified programming, there may be an opportunity for the category to expand to “Before the Pin” services. With the success of Playboy’s collaboration with The Palms Casino Resort, Girls Gone Wild cruises and apparel, Digital Playground’s first theatrical release of “Pirates” and Vivid’s long-term mainstream marketing strategy that includes best-selling books, major market billboards and extensive licensing, the adult industry has clearly merged into pop culture.

If all constituents of the value chain work closely and responsibly together, we may see that there is a much broader market for our business.