opinion

Mobile as a Moneymaker

Bob Johnson

Despite wishes for that magic bullet that will instantly rocket a webmaster’s mobile operation into instant success, the truth is that when it comes to the adult arena — content that’s old — is new again.

And that doesn’t mean content that’s dated, but rather certain niches that have been traditionally strong on websites are now also working for their mobile brethren.

We found that our customers wanted the same fullfeatured experience on mobile that they could get on a desktop or laptop. -Monique N. Woodard, Gamelink

This not-so-startling revelation does begs the question however of whether content drives the mobile marketplace, or is the novelty of the devices themselves that have users thumbing their way to their favorite porn sites?

It’s a burning question for mobile mavens considering figures like Juniper Research’s estimation just last May that predicted mobile adult subscriptions would reach nearly $1 billion by 2015.

Although the answer to whether the content itself is more important than the allure of a new gadget is still sketchy, most mobile pros draw an analogy to the early days of Internet porn. Then it was just the novelty of having online porn that drove the market, but as the adult web matured, discriminating users began seeking their favorite sites and kinks over the next big thing.

Pink Visual, a constant tech-forward company, that’s been in the mobile game since 2008 virtually adapting to every facet of the burgeoning market from free content to paid, is a proponent of quality content as the once and current primary draw.

Director of public relations, Quentin Boyer supports the claim and says his company has found that the popularity of specific kinds of mobile content mirrors what is ‘hot’ for other methods of content delivery.

“At least where Pink Visual’s data is concerned, we don’t see any indication that mobile users are all that different from ‘fixed web’ users in that sense. In fact, there’s a great deal of crossover use at this point; many of our mobile customers still use their desktops to access content, as well,” Boyer says.

Netherlands-based Jaques Pijman, CEO of AdultContent.nl agrees and says content that’s popular on the Internet translates seamlessly to mobile. But he does see a few new “model and bikini” niches emerging, especially in porn-skittish countries like China and India.

But if forced to select one broad category of content that is more popular with users than others it would have to be reality, or at least anything that doesn’t look like canned, high-production quality video.

Boyer says he thinks there’s a bit of trend on the user side towards more amateur, or at least amateur looking, content. “It’s not that surfers don’t want to see standard, professionally produced porn anymore; it’s just that there’s been an upsurge in interest in things like ‘ex-girlfriend’ and self-shot content.”

Webmaster Central vice president of sales and marketing Joel Kapchuck echoes Boyer’s take and adds that his amateur and mature content offerings with an emphasis on POV — like “secretary and boss” content is leading the pack.

But he tempers that view saying that a new trend is starting to emerge — likely a result in the recent “mommy porn” frenzy. “We are starting to see a switch in popularity the style of porn being watched. In the past we use to see more reality (fake) porn, now we are starting to see passionate, sensual porn being more popular.”

And fresh faces are always being requested from both straight and gay users, Kapchuck reveals. He adds swinger material to the mix and gay ex-boyfriend content to what he sees as burgeoning trends.

Dating and social networking also has its place in the mobile arena according to Dating Factory CEO Tanya Fathers whose sites are attracting younger (18-25) users than ever before. She attributes the rise in this segment to easier search options and profile viewing capabilities.

Last May, the company began offering its white-label partners access to mobile-optimized versions of all of their dating websites, a sure sign that the dating segment is growing in the mobile space.

Narrowing down the most popular content is fairly easy for the leaders in the market, but what’s more intriguing is whether users seek and buy particular types of content or is it a function of the novelty of on-the-go accessibility.

One thing’s for sure, is that static photos alone, albeit except for a few celebrity photos, is easily trumped by video feeds. Jesse Adams, CEO of app provider and mobile content provider MiKandi says that the company’s not seen a rise in specific content niches, but rather how the content — especially video — is being delivered.

He says based on his experience in the adult app market, customers gravitate towards video content that is optimized for mobile screens and live interaction, such as live cam apps and “virtual girlfriend” games.

“Video continues to remain the most popular kind of content, especially as devices and Internet speeds get faster. Because of the larger smartphone screens and tablets, we’re seeing interactive content growing in popularity,” Adams notes.

Juniper Research’s stats seem to agree. In a recent report the company said live video chat will triple by 2015 and will make up more than half of mobile content revenue.

Webmaster Central jumped on that wagon earlier this year adding live sex feeds to its mobile platform where webmasters could give their members access to performances from top industry talents like Lisa Ann, Sophie Dee and Tori Black for as little as $50 per show.

And company president Andy Alvarez reveals that the company also has plans on releasing ways to deliver mobile video ads. “All of our clients will be able to run ads within the videos themselves in which they’ll have 100 percent control. This will work great with VOD programs, live cam sites etc., so they can inform the viewers about new movies for sale and upcoming live shows.”

But even when the content hits the mark, it’s got to be easy to view.

Boyer reveals that Pink Visual’s future plans include staying in synch with the mobile use trends on the consumer side — and that translates into discovering how users want the content delivered. “Naturally, we will watch the trends in terms of popular types and categories of content, as well, but in my opinion the real difference where mobile is concerned is the medium, not the niche,” Boyer maintains.

GameLink product Marketing Manager Monique N. Woodard oversees the company’s mobile initiative and believes that there’s a psychological element to how the user interacts with mobile content.

“The up tick in the amount of time consumers spend streaming vs. downloading is directly related to the rise of mobile and has really changed the definition of what it means to ‘own’ a movie, she says. “Today, ownership of a piece of content is not necessarily a DVD that you might hold in your hand or a file that exists on your computer. Consumers have come to expect unlimited and unfettered access to digital media that exists in the cloud so that they can access their entire collection of content no matter what device they choose to use.”

Woodard notes that when GameLink released its Stream-to-Own product, it was one of the first to give VOD customers a new way to experience movie ownership and ushered in a new type of content ownership and consumption that translates to its mobile plan.

Moving to cloud delivery earlier this year, GameLink now streams video from 16 global data centers with a “Global Quality Guarantee” that Woodard says has increased customer satisfaction and overall retention.

“We found that our customers wanted the same full-featured experience on mobile that they could get on a desktop or laptop. When we rolled out our pay-per-minute (PPM) product on mobile, user adoption was immediate and the feedback we’ve been getting from customers is that they love being able to use their PPM minutes wherever they want — on the computer, on a mobile phone, or on a tablet,” Woodard notes.

Pink Visual’s Boyer also points to cloud accessibility as being as crucial as the content itself. He says the company’s PVLocker.com site is very mobile friendly, noting that all of the site’s content is encoded to work with all major mobile devices, including tablets, and any content that a user uploads to his/her own locker is transcoded upon upload to be accessible in a cross-platform way.

Also a fan of cloud delivery is Pijman, who says as mobile gets more popular, users will seek new “personalized” niches that appeal to fantasies that they don’t want to view in their living rooms.

“It seems inefficient these days to have all your content, as a user, on all your devices. Not only does it take up too much memory or disc space, but cloud technology gives users the ease of storing content centrally and then get access to it, on any device, on-demand whenever they choose. Cloud will be a rapid growing technology for the near future and will became a household name for users very soon, if not already,” Pijman says.

So does all of this intelligence about what content works for mobile, and the investment in research and development of cutting edge technologies pay off?

And what about developments like HTML5, that’s poised to give consumers more powerful devices, along with geo-targeting that give companies a key to segregating certain content for certain user destinations?

Webmaster Central’s Kapchuck thinks the tech advancements are important and notes that to detect the location of a client device in the past, one would typically have to inspect the client IP address and make a reasonable guess as to the where that device was located. He says, however now, “As part of the HTML5 efforts, the W3C has developed a set of APIs to effectively allow the client-side device (i.e. your iPhone 3G+, Android 2.0+ phones, or even your conventional desktop browsers) to retrieve geographic positioning information with JavaScript.”

MiKandi, which launched its Mobile Theater last March, also sees the trends skewing to how content is delivered to mobile devices. Adams notes that customers expect quick and convenient access to personalized content, which is no small feat on mobile.

“Technology is moving very fast and there can be an overwhelming number of fragmentation and compatibility issues for new and old companies. Fast and convenient may sound like common sense for mobile, but only a few adult companies have been able to tackle this challenge effectively and stay on top,” Adams says.

And for those that can “stay on top,” is the payoff worth the investment?

Pijman says yes and has seen “ amazing conversion ratios” from his mobile client webmasters, citing one of the largest contributors to be mobile billing where users can buy a subscription, or pay a one-time fee with just “one click” on their mobile screen. “More then 13 countries support this method currently,” he notes.

Kapchuk adds that Webmaster Central pushes 30-35 percent of its content to mobile platforms per month — and it’s rising. The executive says if a user can’t get the content on his old outdated laptop for some reason, he’ll try his new Android phone.

New mobile apps support the surge. MiKandi’s Adams says the majority of the company’s traffic and registered users are coming from mobile devices. “We continue to gain tens of thousands of new user per month and generating over a million plus app downloads monthly,” he reveals, adding that MiKandi in June saw more than 30,000 unique content search terms for mobile apps.

Apparently good content variety breeds more purchases. GameLink’s Woodward maintains that the more opportunities you give a consumer the more they’ll buy. “Some sites have made the choice to go with a limited catalog or only offering certain product types on mobile while we’ve taken the strategy to not limit their mobile experience and offer our customers everything on mobile that they can get on the nonmobile site. For instance, when we released mobile pay-per-minute (PPM) (which was the last of our products to make it over to mobile); we saw that immediately customers started to consume more PPM because now they could use their minutes on so many more devices,” Woodard notes.

But the question remains as to whether it’s the content, or the novelty of mobile devices that’s driving the business.

Fathers says the “end number of people is still the same,” as they migrated from PC to mobile.

But Boyer believes it depends on whose hype you’re referring to. “Anybody who says mobile is ‘making sales rain’ like they did back in 1998 is overstating the case. A more reasonable way to put it is that consumers are increasingly using mobile devices for web browsing and content viewing, so companies are seeing more mobile traffic hitting their sites.”

But he advises that it still makes sense for mobile warriors to focus their attention on serving surfers’ content wants and needs — whatever they may be — and says; “to do otherwise is to ignore a very important user trend, and that’s something I don’t think online adult companies can afford to do in the current market.”

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