opinion

Paysites: Extensions of Proven Practices Drive the Sector

Q. Boyer

Each year around this time, print and online publications alike become so jammed full of predictions that you can hardly throw a rock without hitting an article guessing at what the year to come will bring. As I’ve never been one who is able to resist peer pressure, below you’ll find my stab at paysite prognostication: a set of trends that I believe will take hold in 2013 — or that should take hold, anyway, for those who want to grow their bottom line.

As you will see, these aren’t exactly “new developments” so much as they are extensions into the broader adult market of practices and approaches that some companies have been engaged in for some time now. As is often the case, a small set of companies (or even a single individual) blaze the trail through innovation and experimentation, and then the rest of us fall in line once we’ve seen that their experiments have proven successful.

As consumers become ever more jaded about professionally produced pornography, true amateur porn is growing in popularity.

DEVICE-SPECIFIC OPTIMIZATION TAKES CENTER STAGE:

This one might sound familiar to those who have a good memory and who have spent more than thirty seconds in my presence at any adult trade show, because this is one I preach to anyone who will listen: The money in the current market is in finding the optimal way to deliver content to specific, popular mobile devices. Even the most mobile-resistant members of the industry must by now realize that the iPhone was a game changer for the consumption of mobile content (Right? Please say yes.), and those who moved quickly to serve the smartphone market when it started to explode a few years back have been rewarded for their decision. Going forward, even more paysite operators will see the light, and offering tablet-optimized versions of one’s sites will become an absolute must for anyone who wants to remain competitive in the paysite space.

DIVERSIFICATION OF REVENUE STREAMS:

This might sound counterintuitive (or even contradictory), but I strongly suspect that in 2013, crafty paysite operators will be making a serious effort to develop revenue streams outside of selling content, or access to content. Part of the impetus for diversifying revenue streams will be the collective recognition of a sadly obvious fact: Consumers simply aren’t joining subscription paysites in the same numbers and proportions that they once did. As a result, paysite owners need to find other ways to generate income, be it through advertising, lead generation, data mining or some other means of producing ancillary income.

CONTINUED DE-EMPHASIS OF AFFILIATE MARKETING:

Unfortunately, I think this one is going to prove as true as it will be heartbreaking to many people who come from the ‘web side’ of the adult industry: Paysite owners are going to continue to de-emphasize marketing through their affiliates in favor of purchasing traffic from brokers, and working directly with feeder sites that sell their traffic on a flat rate and/or prepaid basis. As someone who got his start managing free sites, and spent years working closely with webmasters to build TopBucks into the powerhouse it became, it brings me no joy to make this prediction … but it is what it is. The market has shifted, and such a huge percentage of adult web traffic has consolidated into the hands of relatively few that I simply can’t see things returning to the way they were in the Good Ole Days.

PROS PLAYING AMATEUR:

As consumers become ever more jaded about professionally produced pornography, true amateur porn is growing in popularity. Whether or not they can actually successfully mimic the aesthetic and tone of the real deal, adult producers are going to continue to do their best to create professionally produced porn designed to appear amateurish. This practice has been in play for years, of course, dating back even to pre-Internet times, but my hunch is that more and more producers are going to go this route, looking to capitalize on certain less-than-encouraging market developments — like the popularity of so-called “revenge porn” sites — as best they can.

SELLING CONTENT EVERY WAY IT CAN BE SOLD:

To be honest, I’m shocked by the number of paysites out there that only allow consumers to purchase their content in one way: by subscription. In 2013, I believe we’ll see many more sites add a pay-per-scene option, as AbbyWinters. com did in December. At Pink Visual, we launched PVLocker.com in 2011, and what we’ve found is that it is an appealing option for a diverse range of consumers. Some simply don’t like the subscription billing model, others are fans who only want content featuring certain performers, some even have active subscriptions to one of our membership sites AND a PVLocker account. In other words, at the end of the day, the site isn’t cannibalizing our subscription revenue, it’s simply adding to it.

Diversifying your revenue, optimizing your sites for the most popular mobile devices on the market and selling your content in just about every conceivable way it can be sold can’t hurt.

Q Boyer is a longtime online adult industry vet who leads communications efforts for Pink Visual.

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