Mobile: We Deliver Anywhere?

Q. Boyer

In seeking to exploit the potential of the mobile market for adult entertainment, companies are faced with myriad concerns, including legal issues, third-party content policies like Apple’s ban on adult content in its App Store, geographic variations in device and operating system market penetration, tremendous variations in infrastructure and support for mobile data transfer and the assorted headaches of optimizing billing and transaction processing across a divergent global market. Each of these concerns informs how a company approaches mobile content distribution – or should inform how they how they approach it, at least.

When asked what mobile content distributors should be mindful of in terms of serving diverse individual markets, Cherry Media CEO Julia Dimambro told XBIZ the answer is: “Grading levels, grading levels, grading levels! It really is that simple.”

Referencing the old adage that “content is king,” BitterStrawberry sales director Gian Carlo Scalisi noted that “targeted quality niche content is even better.”

“Direct billing for hardcore (content) is just not possible in many of the most lucrative mobile territories around the world,” Dimambro observed. “Once you’re working with restrictions, such as your content being banned if the model’s thumb is hooked inside her bikini bottoms or her bikini bottoms ride up a little showing more of her buttock, you can imagine just how much your business strategy has to change in order to effectively monetize that particular territory.”

Karel de Beule, co-founder of Kimia Solutions, added that when developing content for the mobile consumer, mobile operators “have to understand that the mobile experience is a five-minute user experience.”

“This is very important for mobile tubes where a short video content should enable a 5-minute snack experience that delivers two main advantages: service adapted to the specific user experience on a mobile device and easy to create up - and cross - sale opportunities,” de Beule said, adding that the cross- and up-sale business model is different in the mobile environment than the traditional desktop arena, because “in mobile, it is difficult to upsell in a free content environment as the high-quality concept (HD/premium content) loses its advantage on a cellphone.”

In a sense, the limitations of the mobile environment also present an opportunity, particularly within geographic markets wherein there is little to no support for mobile video, and relatively little free mobile adult content for paid content distributors to compete with.

Luiz Martinez, founder and CEO of Cool Mobile, notes for example that in many Latin American countries, his company cannot sell hardcore content, but Cool Mobile has had significant success selling non-explicit content like bikini photography. “People like it, and buy it,” Martinez said – a possibility that might seem remote to many hardcore content-focused distributors in the U.S. The key, Martinez said, is to take advantage of what is possible in any given country or region, rather than being deterred by what isn’t allowed.

“We optimize not only for the different mobile devices, but the content too, for every country,” Martinez said, adding that depending on the market, the company might focus on selling video, stills, live cams or dating, based on what is permitted by the relevant carriers, as well as what consumers in the market have responded to in the past.

In creating and marketing mobile properties, be they apps or mobile sites, it’s also important to know what not to do, whether the mistakes at issue are related to design, encoding, or crafting intuitive navigation and operation on the consumer end. According to Terry Jackson, CEO of AdultModa, his company sees many companies making the same mistakes today that they made when the adult mobile market first emerged as a viable source of revenue.

Jackson listed “poorly designed and unenticing ad creatives, sites/apps not working or crashing, too many clicks around the site/app before the user gets what they want” and “complicated billing mechanisms” as the most common errors he sees on the part of adult mobile content distributors and marketers.

“Mobile users in developed markets probably use their devices more than they use desktop or laptops these days,” Jackson said. “They are very accustomed to using email, Facebook, apps, and any number of other everyday software on their devices. So they expect an easy and seamless browsing experience on their devices. If you can’t provide that with your product you are already travelling uphill.”

Reporo Commercial Director Ben Kierle emphasized that it’s crucial for webmasters and content distributors to “keep in mind the global market, and ideally have a site that works across multiple territories.

“There is no point promoting an Android app in a country which has no Android traffic,” Kierle said. “It’s why using a product such as our Campaign Planner is absolutely crucial. It allows webmasters to check out our traffic across a huge number of variables to suit the product they are looking to promote. We allow advertisers to compare countries, ad type, niche, device class (Featurephone, Smartphone, and Tablet), device model, device OS, and even screen width, and see what traffic we have had available in the last month, or yesterday. Without this depth of information an advertiser is just gambling with their ad spend; they are relying on secondhand information from an account manager, as opposed to raw data based on yesterday’s figures.”

Referencing the old adage that “content is king,” BitterStrawberry sales director Gian Carlo Scalisi noted that “targeted quality niche content is even better.”

“Mobile content can be developed, acquired or repurposed from existing sources,” Scalisi said. “But in all cases, it must be designed with the right model and deployed on appropriate mobile devices to capture the users’ interest and increase retention.”

Understanding what the right model is, Scalisi added, boils down to “knowing your customers, their pain points and interests, so you can deliver fresh, localized and relevant content, and apply that insight to your mobile content strategy.”

In terms of emerging content trends, each of the experts contacted by XBIZ noted the difficulty of accurately predicting what’s on the horizon in a market that moves as quickly as the adult mobile market, but opined that these future content trends are likely to reflect developments in mobile technology and related technologies, like augmented reality (AR), 3D, and devices that are already being hyped, but have yet to hit the consumer market – like Google Glass.

Dimambro is enthusiastic about the possibilities for the adult entertainment industry represented by both Glass and AR, but noted the overriding requirement of adhering to locally-relevant regulations and applicable law. In other words, by the same token that it is futile to try to sell Android apps in a country that has no Android traffic, it won’t prove fruitful to try to sell mobile porn in markets where one cannot bill for porn, mobile or otherwise.

The good news, Dimambro said, is that the restrictions on any given geographic market also help take some of the guesswork out of determining what manner of content to sell within that market.

“We see that territories where network operators allow regulated adult services, the audience want content as extreme as possible,” Dimambro said. “Where the territory has 3G or 4G and smartphone penetration is optimal, users want VOD services as opposed to video clips or downloads. Again, success is so dependent on a good knowledge of each territory, its marketing/traffic options, its billing possibilities and the local regulations, we tend to see that this naturally defines content trends.”

Of course, even with the rapid pace of technological development in the mobile space, there are some trends that can be identified, and to at least a certain extent, relied upon to sustain for at least enough time to make them work acting on.

“One of the biggest trends we are seeing is that as tablets and smartphones are becoming more widely available, the content users can access becomes much more like the content they are used to consuming on the desktop web,” Jackson said. “Interactivity on mobile devices is becoming commonplace. We can also run rich media ads, so webmasters can run really exciting interactive ads that tie in nicely with the service they are promoting.”

At the end of the day, distributing mobile content is not that different from distributing content for desktop users; it’s a matter of understanding the customer, not as an individual, exactly, but as a composite of that user’s preferences, behaviors, devices of choice and restrictions that flow from where the customer is located. Many of the challenges facing marketers and distributors of mobile adult content should be familiar to longtime members of the adult Internet industry, as they are analogous to the decisions and dilemmas one faced in the early days of the Web, defined by browser types, bandwidth availability and evolving standards that must be tracked and adjusted to on a continual basis.


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