Ten years ago, content was the primary means of monetization for the majority of adult businesses. Today, paid content is still a money maker, but free content is well into the throws of its reign, leaving content owners searching for new methods of monetization. To effectively monetize those free channels, like tube sites, content owners are under pressure to offer consumers something different, with even more pressure to make them notice what that is. And so a growing number of online entertainment businesses look to dating and cams to give their users a fuller, more interactive experience.
While the tube market is becoming an increasingly populated field, the number of casual dating sites available is even greater. The result is an ongoing battle to attract surfers to your content, to click your ad. As the digital industries gather speed, the skillset of the typical online marketer has inevitably broadened. Affiliate marketers are now the go-to source for quality advertising campaigns that have the ability to make consumers sit up and notice the additional services, like dating and cams, that content owners or their partners offer. Although dating is a good source of monetization for tubes, why should an individual dating brand choose tubes and affiliates as a traffic source over paid search campaigns? The relationship between tube sites and dating is strengthening by the day, but, like all good relationships, the partnership benefits both parties.
While the tube market is becoming an increasingly populated field, the number of casual dating sites available is even greater.
In essence, comparing paid search to affiliate traffic is like comparing content and dating; they work well together, but they are by no means the same. Whilst each has its own benefit, the two work in entirely different ways.
IS THERE STILL A PLACE FOR PAID SEARCH?
If you’re optimizing campaigns for search engine traffic, the search engine has already done half of the work for you. Anyone who lands on your site via search is already doing exactly that —they’re searching; although consumers looking for casual dating might not know exactly what it is they want (they may still be attracted to more niche ads), they’re searching for an end product. They have the motivation to register to a casual dating site already. Whilst the pressure is still on you to create a compelling ad, the demand for your product already exists.
Regardless of whether or not the search term is adult or non-adult, you’re still able to target (and in most cases, appeal to) a consumer who didn’t set out to look for what it is you have to offer. This is largely beneficial in allowing you to achieve the “not but” effect. If we use dating as an example, your ad tells a surfer searching for “online dating” that, actually, they are not looking for an online dating service but a quick hook-up instead; they are not looking for “sex dating” but “granny sex dating” instead. Even if a consumer clicks-through to a site that wasn’t exactly what they originally saw as their end goal, the original intention still plays a crucial role in generating consistently high conversions from search engine traffic.
The benefit of paid search traffic doesn’t end at high conversion rates; conversion to upgrade rates are also typically much higher than traffic from other channels. Surprisingly, although propensity to pay is greater than can be expected from traffic sourced in other channels, engagement with the site after payment can be lower in some cases.
Based on our findings from driving millions of members to register with the WhiteLabelDating.com platform, we’ve discovered that in some instances paying customers from paid search traffic can be less likely to upload a photo or send a message within the site. In real terms, this means that you need to take extra care when drafting landing pages for paid search visitors. These acquisitions may be new to online dating or whatever the product you’re offering; naturally they had to search for it because they didn’t know what was on offer. Consider that to get a good lifetime revenue from these members, you need to adapt campaigns to provide them with guidance and ensure that you have a good CRM system in place.
This is where paid search traffic can become a lot more expensive if you don’t manage it well. Costs accrue before the conversion happens because you’re paying per click (PPC) so it’s down to you to guide them when they’re on the site. Without the extra attention to detail, this could be costly to your business, with rates from two to three times as much as affiliate traffic for members who only register to your site, but don’t pay. Paid search is a time consuming acquisition method, but it’s rewarding when done well.
AFFILIATE MARKETING: LIKE MATCHMAKING BUT BETTER
The affiliate is the middleman; the matchmaker, if you will. And quality matchmaking is an art. However, whilst a good affiliate marketer is worth their weight in gold, for those inexperienced in working with affiliate traffic, this can be a difficult market to navigate.
Being an attention-seeking advertiser is crucial; where affiliate traffic differs from that of a search engine is that inevitably the tube site surfer is not actively looking for any service other than content at the moment they land on the site. For that reason, tube sites are where affiliate marketers really come into their own. The tube market is becoming increasingly populated, and thus increasingly monetized through advertising; every page is a hub of activity, filled with multiple banner ads laden with images, videos and gifs. Before you can even think about vying for a click, you need to grab the surfer’s attention.
A typical tube site visitor already knows he or she can get adult content for free; they’re already doing it. What’s more, if they’re a frequent user, they may quickly become banner blind so that media buys or banners have little to no effect on them. This is where knowing your traffic sources can make all the difference; the higher the percentage of search traffic a tube receives, the less banner blind the traffic is — they don’t know what else is out there.
To turn traffic into customers, your service needs to promise something unique. As an example, imagine the user is looking at ‘housewives’ content; they see a banner that promises “horny housewives available at short notice.” Who knew? Adult entertainment is about fun; it’s about voyeurism. You have an opportunity to give them something real and quantifiable in a dating or cams offering. They could turn that movie into a real life experience; it’s accountable; it’s relatable.
Interstitial pages are where those promises are made. They lay the foundation for the transaction; “if you want to have sex tonight, you need to upload a photo, be respectful and don’t be surprised if you find someone local.” In these circumstances, detail equates to motivation which equates to conversions. You’re using a pre-sale to fill in the gaps and provide the motivation that search engine users typically have already, except you’re reinforcing it with greater strength.
When the surfer eventually hits the homepage, they’re educated about the product. The preparation from what’s required of them to make their dream become a reality actually means that this user is more likely to upload a photo and engage with the site than a surfer from any other channel. Not only does this mean conversions, but it also enriches the site experience for other users.
Paying per engagement from affiliate traffic is exceptionally valuable; you agree the terms, meaning that you don’t have to pay per click for traffic that won’t convert. It’s important to note that although affiliate traffic users are more likely to engage with the site, they’re less likely to upgrade or convert than paid search surfers.
However, there is a good consistent ROI; despite typically low conversion ratios, acquisitions also come at a fraction of paid search costs. The added user engagement element also provides better opportunities for data enrichment and thus, eventual monetization through customer retention.
FINDING A SOLUTION
Search engine traffic provides a comparatively high conversion rate and it’s far easier to gain traction, but that comes at a cost. There are also smaller volumes available. Comparatively, the quantity of tube sites is huge, meaning that so are available volumes. There are new adult sites launching every day; it’s simply not possible to acquire the majority of the market, whatever your niche, through paid search alone. Similarly, there isn’t enough high-quality traffic available through affiliate or tube channels. If you want to see real success, the best way to ensure a consistent ROI and an enriching user experience is to use both methods of acquisition.
FUTURE OF OUR RELATIONSHIPS
The online entertainment industry is going nowhere, there’s no question about that. As new sites continue to flood the market every day, we can expect it to become increasingly more difficult to acquire traffic with marketers needing to adopt varying and more sophisticated methods. Relationships between tube sites and casual dating will grow stronger and more efficient for both parties, as dating and cams become the monetization method of choice for casual dating sites due to their inherent nature of offering something real and quantifiable.
Likewise, as the online marketplace and adult digital spaces grow increasingly crowded, dating brand managers will become more dependent on affiliate marketers and tubes to drive traffic to their growing niche portfolio of sites. Paid search is here to stay. Sex and desire are human nature; they’re things people won’t stop searching for. Will new methods of traffic acquisition be made available? Undoubtedly — I don’t think I’m alone in saying they’ll be welcome.
Wacek Warszawa heads up global acquisition across all brands at WhiteLabelDating.com. Managing multi-million-dollar budgets and relationships with key stakeholders in the industry, Wacek can be credited for the success of some of the company’s top brands in the casual market and is responsible for growth across multiple territories.