In 2015 Paysites Focus on the Hunt for Traffic Sources

Alex Henderson

The adult membership website model made a long list of webmasters rich in the 1990s and 2000s. But in recent years, the paysite sector has become increasingly challenging. Paysites find themselves competing with everything from free adult sites to webcam sites, which have turned out to be one of the most lucrative sectors of the adult entertainment industry. Nonetheless, some webmasters continue to turn profits with the membership paysite model. And in 2015, paysite trends to watch out for range from increased mobile/wireless optimization to an abundance of niche marketing to more inclusion of micropayments.

Sarah Jayne Anderson, affiliate manager for Larry Flynt’s, stressed that in 2015, webmasters’ marketing challenge goes beyond simply making their content more mobile-friendly — they will need to proactively take a multi-device approach.

In 2015, niche-specific paysites that have something special to offer will have a competitive advantage in the paysite market, [T]here is now an expectation, especially from younger consumers, that content should be free. -Peter Acworth, founder and CEO of the BDSM giant

Consumers, Anderson predicted, will use multiple devices in 2015: Someone viewing content on a desktop in the morning might be viewing content on a smartphone in the afternoon or evening, and paysites will need to take all of those devices into consideration in 2015.

“As an industry, we should pay attention to how virtual media consumers are increasingly expecting a seamless experience between their devices,” Anderson asserted. “For example, if I started watching a movie on Netflix on my desktop and then stopped and moved to my tablet, phone or even Roku, the account will remember where I left off with the movie. Mainstream leaders aren’t treating their customers as desktop versus mobile: they know the same customer moves between devices on the one account, and increasingly, so will (the adult industry). The better we take that into account now, the easier it will be to stay relevant.”

2014 was a year in which niche marketing played an important role in the adult paysite sector. Many webmasters, realizing how plentiful standard vanilla heterosexual erotica is on membership sites, catered to specific niches. and continued to be leaders in the gay market, and maintained its portfolio of high-quality gay paysites. Other niche-minded webmasters catered to anything from MILFs and cougars to BBWs to BDSM. And paysites that were niche-driven in 2014 will continue to be niche-driven in 2015.

Peter Acworth, founder and CEO of the BDSM giant, asserted that in 2015, niche-specific paysites that have something special to offer will have a competitive advantage in the paysite market.

“The business continues to be affected by the fact that there is now an expectation, especially from younger consumers, that content should be free,” Acworth observed. “I think the tight niches of the suite are somewhat protected by their uniqueness in their tight niches. We aim to continue to stay in those tight niches as a result. We are also moving to a new content distribution platform in early 2015, which will allow us to repackage and bundle our portfolio arbitrarily based on tags or other attributes of shoots, and thus, better optimize conversions from incoming traffic.”

Acworth added: “The paysite membership business continues to be tough. I think you’ll see companies focusing on better analyzing their data to optimize their traffic buying and using content to leverage sales of other products and services.”

In 2014, adult content provider Webmaster Central cited a 34 percent increase in activity for the BBW niche. And Webmaster Central CEO Andy Alvarez predicted that niche content will continue to reach its select audience in 2015.

“Having very specific niche sites is a great way to capture a member base that is not being satisfied on megasites,” Alvarez explained. “I think BDSM will continue to be a hugely popular niche. Our amateur/reality content was the most searched type of content at Webmaster Central. We have built many amateur niche sites for our clients.”

Although micropayments have been popular in mainstream e-commerce, their potential for adult e-commerce has been hotly debated among paysite owners. But Alvarez said that webmasters should not rule out micropayments as an option in 2015.

“The paysite model will continue to evolve in the face of the tube sites,” Alvarez said. “The hottest trends specific to paysites are smaller micropayments for additional upgrade services and content such as Webmaster Central. We are seeing many customers using Webmaster Central as a one-click upsell, which allows them to charge less on the monthly membership and still make more money.”

In 2015, the adult industry will no doubt see many webmasters becoming even more aggressive in their mobile/wireless promotions. And Alvarez said that the days of webmasters being able to thrive without mobile traffic are over. “I think mobile sites will be the rule and PC-oriented paysites will be the exception,” Alvarez explained. “Almost 50 percent of our traffic now comes from mobile devices. That trend is not changing.”