trends

Hidden Gems: Digging Deeper Into Traffic Ecosystems

Stewart Tongue

As adult content continues to evolve from the glory days of its time as a product for monetization into a valuable marketing hook for other products to monetize, the proliferation of new ad networks and the variety of ad services being launched each week is quickly creating a dizzying array of options for media buyers seeking to maximize their ROI on every ad spend.

Many of the biggest names in traffic networks are extensions of large tube sites and venerable paysite networks or aggressively promoted CPA companies seeking to bridge the gap between former affiliates and high value offers on qualified leads.

I can assure you, since I work with a decent number of mainstream ad networks… many have an ‘adult wing’ or white label focused on the adult space, traffic, publishers and advertisers. -Barefootsies

However, there are also a growing number of “boutique ad networks” that savvy brokers, publishers and advertisers are adding to their traffic portfolios as well.

“I can assure you, since I work with a decent number of mainstream ad networks… many have an ‘adult wing’ or white label focused on the adult space, traffic, publishers and advertisers,” Barefootsies said on XBIZ.net. “You have a lot of these companies like Manwin or Mindgeek ... that started their own stand-alone ad networks to monetize their in-house traffic.

“I am sure that this is being done for a number of reasons, but separating their legal liability is what always comes to mind when I see that. However, it could be improved efficiency along with developing new markets and such as well.

“Lastly, many people based on the forum discussions, even in something as simple as email, are not really monetizing their assets to the fullest effect. Past clients’ data and their emails are moneymakers, assuming you know how to make them pay. You need to think outside the box of adult and what some of these things are worth overall. I assure you the big guys are. In short, not everything is what it seems on the surface.”

“The adult ad space has, at most, 10 ad networks worthwhile dealing with whereas the mainstream space has closer to 500,” said Sebastian of Adultmoda.com on XBIZ.net. “The volume of traffic and competition within mainstream are considerably higher, and consequently so is the complexity and sophistication of the networks. With the mobile space, which is my specialty, the volumes are a lot higher mainstream thanks to apps, which completely passed the adult market by. With some app companies that no one has ever heard of regularly delivering billions of ad impressions per day.”

Some see a lack of innovation as an opportunity for newer more narrowly defined ad networks to gain a foothold within the adult traffic marketplace as well.

“The adult space is of course driven by competition, but to a far lesser extent than mainstream so it does not require them to advance technically at the same pace as mainstream,” explained Sebastian. “Coupled with the fact that the bulk of adult traffic consists of essentially one type — tubes, which as we know are controlled by a handful of people — what incentive is there to create a network to rival mainstream?

“The more targeted and sophisticated a network becomes the more expensive it potentially becomes to run. So while advertisers will pay more for the highly targeted traffic they need, it could cost more for the network to provide it.

“For example real-time bidding is now well established in desktop mainstream and on it’s way to becoming established on mobile. While I know there are a few networks in adult that already offer it, I am guessing that it will be at least 18 months to two years before the adult space embraces real-time bidding, if it ever does at all.

“In short, adult networks are behind the curve when compared to mainstream. Sad, but true.”

There also has been consistent growth in contextual marketing methods, thanks in large part to Google’s decisions to recede from the adult marketplace abruptly last year. The decision by Google to no longer allow adult companies to bid on adult keywords as part of the AdWords system left a significant gap in the marketing methods of many adult brands, large or small. Combined with the recent fervor over Google’s tracking of consumer search habits and capitulation with government agencies seeking to mine data, the time may now be ripe for Google’s search supremacy to face some much steeper challenges.

According to a Comscore report released in April of 2014, Google held a staggering 67.6 percent of all search market share. Bing was a distant second at 18.6 percent and Yahoo was the only other two digit participant with a 10.1 percent share of the search market. Those gaudy numbers have long lead to anyone seeking to make waves in the search market being told that they are “too late” to develop any real traction … but that has changed profoundly now that Google is actively cleansing some of its search terms of any adult listings and prohibiting Adword buys on all adult keywords.

The big splash recently came from Boodigo.com, a new fully functional search engine that encrypts user data to protect consumer privacy, allows merchants to buy traffic from BoodiAds in a familiar keyword based manner and focuses on delisting piracy sites that would otherwise cannibalize many adult traffic results.

“If Google thinks it can abandon adult industry clients with impunity, they are likely to be surprised by the speed and depth of our growth,” said Colin Rowntree of Boodigo.com. “Our traffic, mainstream media coverage and uptake by advertisers has surpassed all of our in-house projections so far and the high quality traffic we are providing to our clients is now causing many to view the recent Google policy changes as a blessing in disguise.”

Boutique search engines aimed at individual markets, in adult or other verticals may have an important role to play as search traffic starts to become more fragmented thanks to Google faltering under its own massive weight by trying to please everyone all of the time and thanks to new technological changes like the growing number of narrowly defined domain name extensions coming to market each day.

Ironically, while Google has chosen to provide all kinds of personal data about consumers to spy networks and government spooks, they are also obfuscating data so that merchants who do get traffic from them are unable to use the information that should come along with that data.

In the past, the keywords used by search uniques were readily identifiable by site owners seeking to improve the user experience on their sites to match the desires of the traffic that was visiting them. Then Google decided to make the majority of that data unavailable. Paysite owners quickly adapted and began using Google Adword campaigns as a way of recouping some of that data since bids on keyword traffic remained trackable at that point.

Now, with Adwords off limits in adult, it is getting increasingly more difficult to determine what exactly Google search users are looking for when they arrive on your site. That of course is creating another opportunity for forward thinking business owners and boutique traffic providers.

“We believe that contextual targeting advertising will be every day more important for publishers and advertisers,” said Marcel of MySearchTraffic.com on XBIZ.net. “If somebody is looking for big boobs webcam sex, send him to big boobs webcam sex, it’s that easy. Send the user to the products where they are really looking for with real-time bidding on keywords. More revenue for the serious publishers that really put time and effort in their website. Give access to advertisers to the search information and visitor behavior so they can update their products and sites. Use search information and behavior for retargeting advertising/mailings.

High-quality bot filtering and click-fraud detection so advertisers only pay for real visitors. Cooperate with other ad networks so advertisers have benefit and we all share. More sales for advertisers means more content.”

One thing has become increasingly clear at the start of 2015. The days of fearing Goliath are finished, as several companies and many of their clients appear to be gathering the kinds of slings and stones that have historically lead to the downfall of behemoths who lose their edge, fail to innovate or simply become content with the status quo.

Traffic of every kind is available online, and these days buyers are climbing over the barriers around each walled garden to discover alternatives that often provide traffic on a smaller scale but with far better per capita ROI consistently as a supplement to large networks or replacement for arrogant mainstream monoliths.

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