opinion

Paysite Power: Porn Packaging

AJ Hall

Millions of people are online every day. Most of them have access to widely accepted payment methods and each is interested in specific things. Despite the nonsense being spewed on message boards, a lot of people don’t want to join a big all-you-can-eat generic porn site and be it free or not, a lot don’t want to browse tube sites hunting through thumbnails trying to find what interests them. Far more people are open to the idea of buying adult content than we think – but only when it’s presented to them in the right way.

Obviously for someone to buy anything, they first need to be able to find what they’re looking for. It sounds simple enough but when I tried to put it into practice it proved far more difficult than expected.

What I found from exclusive producers and dozens of top studios only served to confirm that our industry is caught up in a self-destructive cycle of catering to mass consumption rather than catering to actual consumer interests.

Sure, we all know that free and paid porn is extremely easy to find but how easy is it for a customer to find what they’re really into or what they’re curious about?

I set out with the purpose of seeking out content that appealed to specific common fantasies, curiosities or viewing purposes. The goal was to find a paysite to join and download videos.

After putting my jaded porn industry veteran hat on the table, I got into the mindset of a consumer and started my mission at huge erotic story site Literotica. Aside from some weird inter-species breeding stuff and the super-taboo (and possibly illegal content subjects), it was obvious that several categories were pretty popular among both men and women — yes, women like porn too.

Jackpot! Literotica has tons of stories about seduction and exhibitionism and voyeurism. These were among the top 10 most popular categories so you’d assume these are big porn niches. It should be easy to find several good pay sites yet when I tried to find a site to join I was unable to find a single one. Several minutes into a hunt for voyeurism content all I could find were peeping tom sites. After Googling several different phrases all I got were tube sites and sites with hidden cam videos. Exhibitionism was slightly better but only yielded a lot of obviously fake public sex.

The kicker is that none of the tubes had what I searched for. What I searched for did not appear to exist in a pay site format. I was finally able to find some extreme public stuff after about 10 minutes of searching but even this was not what I had searched for. Imagine a hypothetical porn buying customer, wallet in hand – unable to find a site with the content they’re looking for.

Thinking perhaps I just picked a bad niche, I forged ahead.

What about porn for women or couples? Based on the stories on Literotica, fantasy is alive and well in both the minds of men and women. Heck, my wife likes romance novels and loved watching “Sex in the City” as much as the next girl. What if Valentine’s Day is coming up I want to find some good couples fantasy videos for us to watch? You know – vikings and pirates and hot reality-based scenarios and Fabio romance novel-type shit that all women love. There must be tons of it out there.

A search for variations of terms like “fantasy sex videos for couples” and “erotic fantasy sex videos for women” returned listings for tube sites as all the top results, no surprise here. Just like the last search, it was a result of keyword stuffing, not relevant themed content. Upon hitting the tubes, the content was not fantasy at all but simply had the word “fantasy” in the title and the only on-niche site being promoted was sssh.com which is clearly capturing the lion’s share of traffic from people searching for this kind of content. Kudos to them, it appears they have zero competition.

Oddly enough, for what you would expect to be a far more competitive search “porn for women” the first results were not tube sites or adult sites at all but info sites that included a blog site (the No. 1 listing), Cosmo, a book on Amazon, Oprah, Slate and Yahoo Answers.

Want to know where I ultimately had to go to find porn for women? Cosmopolitan magazine. From there I was able to type-in names from a few of their articles and land on some great paysites – sites I could not find anywhere else. At this point I went from scratching my head to wanting to bang it against the wall.

Surely it couldn’t get any worse … but it did.

This time I broke away from the typical porn buying demographic and now I’m looking for something specific that should be extremely easy to find.

Literotica had a number of “How to” stories that were also listed among the top dozen or so most popular categories. A Google search for “sex education porn videos” returned its results – What a shocker, tubes again! And once again, none of the content shown had anything whatsoever to do with sex education — not at all — in any way. Want to know what I got when I searched “instructional sex videos”? If you guessed rope bondage videos you would be correct.

It’s tempting to say “the tubes are ruining everything” but it’s not an accurate statement. The tubes are only coming up because the sites with the actual content are impossible to find – because paysite owners are clueless about how to position themselves or market their sites in ways that make it easy for people to find them.

For the culmination of my research project I joined Brazzers, Reality Kings and also VideoBox with its 85,000-plus scenes. I searched to the point of exhaustion. I used each site’s snazzy category include/exclude browse features for hours and in almost every possible combination.

What I found from exclusive producers and dozens of top studios only served to confirm that our industry is caught up in a self-destructive cycle of catering to mass consumption rather than catering to actual consumer interests.

There’s a lot of content out there already that fits into multiple niches but it’s not being packaged in a way that makes it easy to find.

What’s clear through all of this is that we’ve become so accustomed to selling scenes on a page that we’ve forgotten why people buy adult content in the first place. There are more people watching porn today than ever before. All we need to do to sell to them is make it easier for them to find what they’re looking for.

If the content is out there, why is it so difficult to find? I believe answering this question could be the key to turning things around for a lot of paysites suffering from declining membership sales.

AJ Hall is a 12-year adult industry veteran and the co-founder and chief executive officer of Elevated X Inc., a provider of popular adult CMS software for the online adult entertainment industry. Elevated X powers more than 2,000 leading adult sites, has been nominated for industry awards 11 times and won the 2012 XBIZ Award for Software Company of the Year.

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