Switch Hitting

Juan Figueroa
I was once asked, "Don't you have to be gay to do gay site promotions?" My answer was a resounding "No." There are many opportunities within the gay or straight market for webmasters and affiliates of any sex or sexual orientation to increase their revenue and earn some extra cash. Recent tests have shown that just adding a subtle link to a straight site can attract a curious customer without offending the not-so-curious surfer and, in exchange, might even increase revenue.

In the past, attempts to unify straight and gay webmasters/programs resulted in a very low success rate. Webmasters or programs that did succeed in overcoming the boundary that separated straight and gay programs opened the doors for those in the business who were hesitant or uncertain. Some programs that began as straight sites now include gay sites and are well accepted in the gay porn community, bridging the gap between straight and gay and shedding that once-doubtful mentality.

What is the origin of this doubt? Is it a fear that straight men would be perceived as gay if they were to promote gay products? Possibly. Perhaps there are webmasters who just can't conceive of the idea of two men having sex. Mind you, I am not on a "homophobic, gay-bashing" protest, since homophobia has nothing to do with this viewpoint. I am simply saying there may be straight men who don't understand homosexuality. In this business, there are men who are proud to be straight, just as there are men who are proud to be gay. However, when it comes to running an online adult business, some standards should be discarded if one is to achieve the full benefits and success that come from offering products to a diverse mass of porn seekers.

It is more difficult for a premier gay site to promote straight products because its member base is gay and they have no interest in straight porn. But straight sites have the advantage of raising the level of promotions and sales by including some featured gay links that might appeal to those members who are curious enough to venture into the site. We all know that the majority of porn is viewed through the eyes of men who are straight, bisexual or gay. Interestingly enough, research indicates that about 50 percent of young adult men may not be telling the truth about their sexual orientation.

Another research study concluded that out of 64 male university students 55 percent were reported to be homophobic, 45 percent deemed nonhomophobic and all were reported to be heterosexual. In the study, the subjects were asked to watch some gay pornography while their penises were monitored for tumescence (the study of the swelling of sex organs). This method of determining sexual arousal and sexual desire has been widely used in treating pedophiles and to confirm whether therapy was eliminating the sexual arousal associated with children.

More than half of the homophobic men (54 percent) experienced definite sexual arousal with a 12mm increase in penis swelling. Another 26 percent experienced moderate arousal with a 6-12 mm increase in penis swelling. Twenty percent of the men experienced no sexual arousal. The study further revealed that nonhomophobic men responded with the following arousal levels: definite (24 percent), moderate (10 percent), and nil (66 percent). Based on these results, one might conclude that if these men are turned on by a little bit of "man-on-man" action, the obvious choice is to offer them a taste of what they secretly desire.

Now that the hardcore facts have been presented, you're probably wondering how to capitalize on this eye-opening information. Well, there are pros and cons relative to affiliates who market both gay and straight sites, some of which I've outlined below.

Some Pros
The gay market is an explosive market that still needs more exposure. Utilizing both straight and gay content creates balance for a program. If both do very well, then the combination of straight and gay creates unity and provides the surfer with a multitude of options. Other programs may witness this success and strive for that same marketing scenario themselves. This is evident when you see many programs take advantage of, or imitate, a unified program, such as TopBucks.

Some Cons
Those who attempt to incorporate straight and gay sites into their program should consider that much research should be done in order to successfully accomplish this task. As they read site descriptions, product copy or blog text, surfers can often tell whether a site was designed or marketed by a gay or straight person.

Based on my research and personal business knowledge, I encourage straight webmasters and program owners alike to implement a touch of gay action to their websites.

Juan Figueroa is a marketing and account manager for TopBucks.