For many years the adult entertainment industry has been dominated by discussions of niche content. Much of that discussion stems from the fact that sales ratios are best when properly targeted traffic can be sent to a site featuring the specific kind of content that each click desires. Put simply, nobody makes maximum dollars sending softcore centerfold porn clicks to a website about extreme gay BDSM, or vice versa.
However, as the industry continues to evolve, the trends for analyzing niches, the ability of companies to amplify niches and the way niches are being folded into larger network offerings have fundamentally changed.
The adult market is so much more competitive, and there is so much content available for free that you have to make an effort to stand apart from the crowd in ways that go beyond the content. -Q Boyer, Pink Visual
“Niches are the first step to monetizing traffic,” said Kalyn Sanders, affiliate manager of Penthouse and Cams.com. “Niches have always been around, they have just become much more specific over the last few years. Having a niche shows that you cater to a certain demographic of people and the more you cater to your customers the more likely they are to join or retain for your sites. The key is to find a niche you fully understand because that way you’ll have a sense of what your clients actually want. AdultFriendFinder is a great example, because while it appeals to anyone looking for sex, dating, or swingers in the adult dating niche; it also provide dozens of more detailed sub-niche sites for our affiliates to monetize with narrowly defined and properly targeted traffic.”
“I believe any niche can be hot at any time, it just depends on how much work you put into growing your user base and of course the quality of your content,” said Sanders. “In fact, some might say which niche gets hot is a function of how well the marketer pushes a specific niche, not the other way around. Some of the top niches that I have found success in recently are Shemales, BBW, BDSM, and Cheating Housewife content but your own results will depend largely on which niches you know best.”
That leads to the critical change that has taken place. In years past a demand for content would be sparked by some element of pop-culture and then production would begin by studios seeking to fill a void, or webmasters finding existing content to scratch the itch of traffic they found for any particular niche. Now according to many experts, that dynamic is changing and the producers are becoming the spark by generating quality content and using creative marketing techniques to draw interest to their particular style.
“Content and niche in general is not a demand product, it’s a cyclical entity that goes through regular cycles — as we have seen with Amateur now coming back to what it was in the early 2000s — Amateur and GF are the same niche essentially,” said Mpahlca M of ZTOD.com. “When a new cycle of a niche starts, it starts on free sites and then content producers try and match that demand. In the past what has happened is webmasters have just looked at inventory of existing content to match that demand. I believe that is still usually the case. Pay or subscription based sites fill a role by selling a single type of product, whether that is Pornstar, Amateur or GF and they are largely unable to adapt to new demands for content in any real way. In the past, free sites with submissions and regular updates provided subscription site operators a means to evaluate what was selling. Now most of those operators are too slow or too stupid to adapt to ad buying over affiliates, so they have even less information and are completely unaware of what is moving in terms of niche content. Niche in itself is no more or less important than understanding your business as a whole, having quality software and hardware systems along with a real business model.
”Many industry insiders agreed that having even the best quality content only matters when it is being marketed properly. “Creating content for specific niche areas is still advantageous, but these days I think it’s less about what you do than how you do it,” said Q Boyer, director of public relations, Pink Visual. “The adult market is so much more competitive, and there is so much content available for free that you have to make an effort to stand apart from the crowd in ways that go beyond the content. For example, if you want to make inroads into a competitive niche sector like big boobs, you can’t just slap up some videos and picture sets of buxom women in action and expect to rake in the dough; you have to make the visual presentation compelling, the user interface has to be intuitive, your data delivery has to be reliable, your price has to be competitive — the list goes on and on, but you get the point: it’s not just about the content, it’s about the entire experience for the user.”
Echoing that sentiment was one of the fastest growing online adult marketing companies, with plenty of experience helping niche content producers to maximize their visibility online. “It works both ways,” said Erwin de Boer of Manica Media. “Niches sell and general porn sells as long as you find ways to stand out from the crowd. Even if a niche area is fairly overpopulated (like Mature for example) new sites still have a good chance of survival if they are done right - but there is more to it than having great content alone. Look at our recent deal to take over PornXN online as part of ManicaMoney.com. They have terrific content in many exciting under-saturated niches, but our production methods are bringing it all to life online in ways that make it much more marketable for affiliates.”
In years past the view was that niche porn sites were meant to serve boutique audiences with very focused desires while general pornsites were meant more for people interested in browsing around to find something new. Now, smart companies are providing parallel niche and network tours to utilize the same content for either marketing method. “At PaperStreetCash.com we cover both angles for our affiliates,” said Amar of PaperStreetCash. “We offer 14 different niche tours in very specific categories starring name brand starlets and hot new amateurs filmed in the highest quality videos, but we also have the TeamSkeet mega-site available to combine all of our brands into one general porn network gateway to satisfy fans who want quantity more than any narrowly defined segment of the content universe. That way our affiliates, who know their own traffic best, can choose which method to monetize and make the most money per click from packaging our content in the ways that best suit their own business needs.”
The practice is not new to one of the most popular general porn sites of all time. “VideosZ.com offers our fans more than 12,000 complete DVDs of studios quality content. We have always segmented our entire collection with powerful search and browsing tools — so while our site has thousands of videos in virtually every niche imaginable, our fans can always find exactly what they want and the user experience can be tweaked by each member to highlight the specific models, studios, categories and scenes that they enjoy the most. Essentially, within a few days of logging in, most fans have turned VideosZ into their own personal niche site by tagging and making favorites of the content they want to see the most and filtering the entire user experience from their own unique point of view.”
As general porn sites and free porn sites continue to refine their ability to provide a nichespecific user experience, exclusive content producers are finding new ways to generate content that will keep their fans emotionally invested in their own brand as a style within a specific niche. “There will always be a demand for niche content and in my opinion it is even more important now than before to deliver high quality, niche specific content to a targeted audience on a frequently updating basis,” said Mark Blazing, operations manager of BlazingBucks.com. “Fans have an insatiable appetite for the kind of content that fits their fancy and even the best free sites simply can’t compete with the highest quality content starring the best new models and fan favorites when fans know that your site is the only place they will be able to find them first. Throated.com for example isn’t just another deep throat site, it has its own unique style that appeals to many fans on a new join and recurring basis.”
Even companies already believed to be the preeminent brand of a specific niche are looking beyond the boundaries of a label to drive consumer interest rather than feed an organic outcry for particular content. “People think BurningAngel.com is niche, but I’m not really sure I see it that way,” said Mitch of BurningAngel.com. “Great content is what we are actually all about, that’s why you can’t just throw up any tattoo porn site and say it’s niche to be successful ... you have to have the content and performers capable of mesmerizing an entire audience of fans. The kind of content people dream about before hand and fantasize about after they have seen some of it. We recently partnered with Gamma to improve our visibility online and to allow us to focus on what we do best — create fantastic content that fills a void, not just for fans of our own ‘niche’ but also as a method of turning more people on to the Burning Angel style of sexual entertainment, which expands the number of people into the niche and refines the definition of the niche over time.”
“We’ve found is that while the niche market is significantly smaller than the non-niche adult market, consumers of niche content are willing to pay premium fees for it and remain loyal, paying consumers for longer periods,” said Hector Camacho, product director of Next Door Entertainment. “In other words — the niche consumer has a higher member value. We’re also noticing that some niches are becoming more prominent in the mainstream adult market ... consumed by a wider demographic. What may have been a taboo a few years ago is no more because consumers have evolved. And, yes, new niches are and will continue to emerge for the considerable future. As leaders in the adult industry, we will need to embrace these new niches and be able to offer them to a diverse consumer base with varying wants and needs. And while certain niches may initially only appeal to a smaller yet valuable market, its an evolving one and content producers will need to be ready.”
Some studios specializing in certain niches have also noted that the most important aspect of their style may be something less applicable to other categories of content.
“Model interaction is the key to being successful in the solo girl niche because guys view the girls as their interactive girlfriend and want to get to know their more candid side along with what they see in the main content videos,” said Kellie of PacinoCash.com. “Our new sites XoGisele.com and MadisonLain.com were planned well in advance, and we waited to launch them until everything was in place for our solo girl models to connect with fans as soon as they sign up. You only get one shot at a great first impression — that goes for the model, the site interface, and your network as a whole. So no matter what niche you are in, but especially when you are selling the persona of a solo girl online as a fantasy girlfriend, it is vital to make sure interactivity is a fine tuned foundational part of the site right from the start. Every niche is different, but whether you are selling BDSM fantasies or BBWs or whatever else, there are motivators that help sell your niche to fans and that is where your focus needs to be strongest.”
Of particular interest in speaking with insiders about the future of content marketing was the notion that niches no longer universally get hot or cool off anymore. While some may say one niche is doing well or doing poorly at any given moment, others may be making serious bank while seeing the opposite niche trends as a matter of marketing more than anything else. Put simply, content makers who specialize in one niche always tends to do well in the market they are passionate about and tend not to do nearly as well with other offerings.
For example, a few webmasters felt the amateur market is cooling but veterans with nearly 30 years of experience in that niche see it differently. “Amateur is not cooling off. It might appear to be the case, but in reality, it is the so called amateur that people also call reality porn content that is cooling off,” said Farrell of Homegrown.com. “Real amateur is heating up like never before. What happens is a phenomenon I have witnessed for years. Eventually the average porn enthusiast becomes completely bored with the soulless repetitive fucking that hallmarks that style of quasi-amateur fare.”
Another company with extensive experience in the market also agreed.
“Amateur content continues to do very well for the HustlerCash Network with sites like Beaver Hunt.com and BarelyLegal.com,” said Sean Holland, vice president and general manager of the LFP Internet Group. “To me those kind of core niche offerings in the amateur, lesbian and microniche markets will always show growth if they are marketed properly. Drilling down even more we have seen super tight conversion numbers in the big cock black market while recently the big boobs ratios have been in steady decline as many of our buyers seek more athletic fantasy centerfolds. Of particular note, there is a good sized market that remains very loyal to porn megastars like Lisa Ann, Asa Akira and Jesse Rogers — even as some webmasters falsely believe the last true pornstar was Jenna Jameson. Often what a fan wants is more a discussion than an edict and the sites that open that kind of implicit dialogue are the ones that will continue to do the best.”
Back in the day slow production schedules and a paucity of a particular kind of content made it hard for companies to keep pace with demand. Then technology and popularity made the pace of producing exciting content much faster, but the demand for specific niche content accelerated as well. Now, with much better access to user metrics, years of experience producing quality content, far better fan interaction and a massive back-catalog of content available - studios are not only quickly filling any voids in the marketplace, they have also become the primary driving force in the creation of new niches and popularity of existing ones. Rather than starting from the point of asking ‘what’s hot and would sell’ some savvy industry veterans have instead been operating from the viewpoint of asking ‘what can I produce so well and with enough frequency to drive interest to it organically.’ The result is a tail wagging the dog scenario where porn producers are now helping fans to enjoy new specific styles of content and luring people to manufactured trend rather than only trying to determine which specific kind of content fans might enjoy if they were left to their own devices.