opinion

The Time Is Now: New Markets, New Audiences, and New Opportunities

A.J. Hall

Nearly a decade has passed since broadband became affordable and online porn consumption became an industry standard, yet adult’s leading studios are still struggling to use the web to its full potential.

If content is King, studio owners should be sitting atop an empire of gold.

From a content standpoint, the canned production format that worked great five and 10 years ago isn’t working as well anymore. The customer this appealed to is now several years older and has been replaced by a new breed of smart consumer.

In a time of wall-to-wall, mass consumption, free tubes and free porn overload, the studios have been lost. A few have partnered with big cash programs and management companies who quickly cannibalized their content, forcing it into the mold used by their pay-site sales machine to squeeze out every penny possible by doing the least amount of work. And perhaps for some studio owners, earning 10–20% of what they could be earning is better than nothing, but others may want to set their sights higher — much higher.

Despite the downturn in recent years, we’re entering a new era. It’s one where erotica and porn are generally accepted and in many circles sexuality is considered a healthy part of human existence. Smart companies are embracing this and more importantly, they’re exploiting the shit out of it.

New markets are emerging. Mainstream culture is eating up graphic erotica novels and cable shows about swinging are the subject of water-cooler conversation. Young adults today find porn to be less taboo. It’s common for women to talk openly about sex toys and adult videos among their girlfriends and surprisingly many are discussing sex in mixed company. More couples of all ages are enjoying porn together as a regular part of the sexual routine.

For studio owners this means new markets, several of them.

There are no DVDs to hide, no more big cable bills to worry about and no parental controls to remember to set. In today’s world everything is kept neat and tidy and completely secure behind a four-digit pass code on a mobile device. It’s ready for instant viewing at any time. It’s happening not on cable or pay-per-view but by way of a set-top box or via an iPad or iPhone and their Apple TV. Highspeed mobile networks and in-home Wi-Fi has opened new doors both technically and sexually.

From a content standpoint, the canned production format that worked great five and 10 years ago isn’t working as well anymore. The customer this appealed to is now several years older and has been replaced by a new breed of smart consumer that isn’t going to pay a monthly fee to see 500 different women get fucked up the ass in the exact same way but on a different color sofa.

The new breed of smart consumers, will, however, pay for fantasy. They will also pay for information, knowledge, and entertainment. They will pay heavily to ease their fears and to fulfill their curiosities. The magic of the internet is that it lets them do this privately and anonymously and this is where the studios reign supreme. It’s what they want. Give it to them.

My company Elevated X sells software that powers pay sites, lots of them. If you’re reading this, chances are we power your sites or those of several of your competitors. After 14 years in the paysite business, in March of 2013 I started a service called Pay Site Optimizer to help people formulate sales strategies and optimize their websites to make more sales. The service was an instant hit. For the first few weeks all I did was analyze websites all day long, including some of my own customers who happen to be award winning studios—and then I ripped them apart. My reports pointed out every flaw, every missed opportunity, every gaping hole (no pun intended) and every way their competitors are outselling them.

I was shocked at what I saw. Every site was basically the same. I looked at just about everyone’s sites and I saw (and didn’t see) the same thing on just about every single one.

What I did see was an abundance of more or less the same content dumped into a library for download. I saw basically a paid tube site with a lot of the same canned content available on the free tube sites being presented in basically the same exact format. It’s no wonder sales are down.

What I didn’t see was more telling. I didn’t see any personality at all. I saw no mention of owners, directors, or anything that made the site feel as if there was anyone behind it. I saw sites belonging to well-known, highly awarded directors with huge fan bases—and not one single mention of the director anywhere on the site. Not one single site I saw formed a connection with the customer in any way and not one single site offered any sales angle aside from mass downloading of content. I saw nothing that tied the site or its content to a fantasy, nothing that appealed to people’s emotions to arouse them or pique their curiosity and make them want to pay.

On all the sites I visited, not one had a welcome video and there was no mention of anything you couldn’t see on any other site. What’s worse, even the studios that do still produce features, scenes for couples and fantasy focused content don’t make any mention of it on their tours and opt instead for (shocking, I know) showing the same exact thing shown on their competitor’s sites and on free tube sites.

So you might ask, why should anyone want to join your website? It’s harsh but the answer is that they don’t. Normally this would be bad news but it’s actually good news. The reality is that people DO want to see your content—they’re just not convinced they want to pay for it. And what I’m about to tell you will make you happy. There are shit-tons (no, that’s not a real word so I have to hyphenate) — I need to repeat it in caps — SHITTONS of people who will pay for your content. Possibly more people than ever will pay for your content if you package it and sell it to them correctly.

A guy wants to fuck his wife tonight with your videos playing on his TV via his Apple TV via Airplay using videos he downloaded onto his Macbook or iPad from your website. A college girl wants to eat popcorn and browse your site with her roommate to learn how to wow her boyfriend. A soon-to-be bride wants to put your videos on in the background during her bachelorette party. Her soon-to-be husband wants to watch them on his mobile phone to learn how to get her to be open to more kinky things. A college kid wants reassurance that girls will be okay with his average size dick. A middle age couple is fantasizing about swinging. A bored husband wants to learn how to introduce sex toys to his marriage. A newly divorced woman is exploring her bi-curiosity and wants to get ideas on how women please each other.

This is your new audience. Put on your best outfit, meet them, greet them with a smile … and take their money.

AJ Hall is a 13-year adult industry veteran and the co-founder and CEO of Elevated X Inc., a provider of popular adult CMS software and Pay Site Optimizer site analysis services. Hall has spoken at industry trade shows and is a contributing writer for several trade publications. Elevated X powers more than 2,000 leading adult sites, has been nominated for eleven industry awards and won the 2012 XBIZ Award for Software Company of the Year.

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