When a mainstream website publishes the occasional article on Joanna Angel or Savanna Samson and Internet surfers make a point of reading that article, the mainstream site gets more hits — and more hits can mean more advertising.
One of the hottest mainstream websites of 2005 and 2006 has been the San Mateo, Calif.-based video-sharing site YouTube, which is a hotbed of sex-minded content despite having a no-nudity policy. YouTube is not the Internet's only mainstream video-sharing site; there are many similar sites, including DailyMotion.com and Sharkle.com, but YouTube is, by far, the one that enjoys the strongest buzz. In July, a New York Post article claimed that YouTube's value could be as high as $1 billion.
Founded by CEO Chad Hurley, CTO Steve Chen and advisor Jawed Karim in 2005, YouTube has a wealth of material that is relevant to the adult industry. Search the word porn at YouTube and thousands of clips appear (the number was close to 16,000 in late August). A Ron Jeremy search on YouTube on Aug. 31 turned up almost 90 videos; with Jenna Jameson, the number exceeded 200 that day. And when the word fetish was searched for on YouTube, 4,474 videos came up. Despite having all that erotic material, YouTube enforces its no-nudity policy and will remove videos containing nudity. Regardless, plenty of adult performers and adult webmasters are finding YouTube to be a good promotional tool even without the ability to show nudity or explicit sexual acts.
Jeff Booth, president of the Los Angeles-based Erotic University and a keen observer of adult-industry trends, stresses that for a resourceful adult star or adult business, YouTube's no-nudity policy shouldn't be a problem.
"People in porn don't have to post hardcore sex to promote themselves on YouTube or any similar sites," Booth said. "People have a fascination with porn stars, and there are ways porn stars can promote themselves other than fucking. They just need to find a good hook."
Booth pointed to California gubernatorial candidate Mary Carey as a prime example of an adult star who has been using YouTube as a promotional/marketing tool.
"Mary has used YouTube to promote her Mary Carey for Governor campaign, and she used it to promote her appearance on 'The Daily Show,'" Booth said. "If porn stars want to promote themselves on YouTube, they need to come up with something clever like singing or like having their own reality show. Porn stars don't have to take their clothes off to promote themselves on YouTube."
And there are many other examples of people in the adult industry who post titillating material on YouTube without violating the site's nudity prohibition. A tickling fetish website, for example, might promote their site by posting a trailer on YouTube; the trailer might show a scantily clad woman being tied up and tickled, but you won't see her nude until you visit the tickling site itself.
Booth speculated, however, that he doesn't envision YouTube going after adult industry advertisers in a big way. He predicts that most or all of the advertisers YouTube will be seeking are mainstream companies.
"The problem is that if you get a lot of adult advertisers, you run the risk of driving away your mainstream advertisers," he said, adding that when most adult companies put together advertising budgets, they tend to focus on adult publications rather than mainstream publications and preach to the choir.
Booth contends that YouTube's policy of removing nudity from the site is something that, ironically, contributes to its popularity among porn fans.
"The fact that YouTube will yank nudity from the site is one of the things that drives people to it," Booth said. "YouTube can take the moral high ground and say, 'We don't allow nudity. If you post nudity, we're going to take it off the site.' But at the same time, the fact that it is going to be on the site for a short time before it gets yanked is going to drive more people to the site quicker. So in other words, please put the porn up so we can yank it down."
YouTube, however, should not be confused with PornTube.com, an adult website that provides links to quite a few other adult websites. PornTube.com's homepage is neatly organized and compartmentalized; the adult-oriented categories range from "hot blondes" to "black booty" to "sexual enhancement."
Unlike YouTube, PornTube.com (not to be confused with PornTube.net or the pay-per-view adult site PornTube.co.uk) is not a video-sharing site but rather an adult entertainment directory that is helpful to porn fans who have specific tastes and interests.
Booth noted that YouTube is reaching the demographic that porn companies need to reach the most: the 18-34 demographic, or as he calls it, "the wired generation." Historically, the adult industry has been very technology-minded, and Booth stressed that because that demographic is so tech-savvy, porn companies must keep abreast of popular sites like YouTube.
"Porn always drives technology," Booth said, "and it's important for adult companies to market to the new generation. This new generation gets information differently from older people; they get their news and information from the Internet, and the marketers at porn companies need to exploit that. The so-called wired generation isn't getting their news and information the way their grandparents got their news and information."
YouTube has been receiving more and more attention from mainstream publications, although Booth contends that it is only a matter of time before the interest in YouTube cools off and another website becomes America's hottest video-sharing destination.
"YouTube is like MySpace in that it is one of those sites that came in and really grabbed the market," Booth explained. "There are other sites that are similar to YouTube, but right now, YouTube is the one that everyone goes to. But eventually, the next new pretty, shiny thing is going to come along and grab people's attention."