trends

Looming on the Horizon: Traffic Experts Discuss Emerging Trends

Stewart Tongue

It’s often said that traffic is king, but that statement only becomes useful in the context of a discussion about the best ways to acquire traffic. Knowing how valuable it is doesn’t earn you anything, unless you also know where to get it, how to acquire it and the best ways to monetize it as well.

That’s why XBIZ World got in touch with several of the top traffic minds in the industry, to discuss what they see looming on the horizon and to glean information that should help you make decisions about your own traffic strategies in 2015 so that you can stay ahead of the curve without being crushed by the adapt-or-die consequences of relying only on what used to work in the past but may have become stale in the present.

Web traffic has been stagnant for quite some time with mobile taking the reigns and dominating the space.

“We are seeing a stagnation of the volumes of desktop traffic in favor to the rise of the importance of mobile and tablets: the preferred device for consuming video content,” Richard Cottrell, global sales director at ExoClick, told XBIZ. “One of the largest growth areas for mobile traffic is coming from the APAC zone. Some interesting insights come from Online Publishers Association / Frank N. Magid Associates who looked at what consumers use mobile devices for in 2014: 99.5 percent access content/information, 63.1 percent access the Internet, 62.1 percent check email, 49.2 percent listen to music, 46 percent play games, 41.7 percent download and use apps, 15 percent make purchases, 15 percent read a book. On the ad format side publishers are beginning to be much more open to testing new non-standard ad formats and solutions including native advertising.”

“Web traffic has been stagnant for quite some time with mobile taking the reigns and dominating the space,” explained Andrew R., senior sales executive at Grand Slam Media. “However, web traffic is resilient and still plays its part in the grand scheme of adult traffic.

“While web traffic may be on the decline in English-speaking countries, now the ever-expanding markets for LATAM and Asian-speaking countries are blowing up as more users in these countries seek out adult content on web-based devices,” he told XBIZ.

Of all the Asian countries, by far the most dominant will be the emergence of China as a consumer base online.

“Traffic Force recently opened an office in China and the results we are already seeing from it are amazing,” Ross of TrafficForce.com told XBIZ. “So much so that we are guaranteeing any adult website that has Chinese traffic a 100 percent fill rate with great products for their traffic.

“We have been fortunate to find some people in China who are not afraid to advertise on porn websites, and it is paying dividends for our business. China will only get bigger. The firewall is a very real thing, blocking many adult sites every day, but there will always be interest in porn in China. With more than 1.5 billion people, there is a huge market for us all to monetize.”

Andrew from Grand Slam agreed, “China is booming right now! The space is growing at a rapid rate as the government eases restrictions, affiliates find new offers to promote in the space, and as the amount of Internet users in China increases, it leaves a wide-open market available for the taking. I see it continuing to strengthen as the volume of users increases, but as a result, rates will correct and be more inline with other country rates and the glorious days of cheap CPMs will be over sooner rather than later.”

There was definitely a consensus among insiders that the explosion of interest in Chinese traffic is happening right now, and that the window may close quickly as pricing normalizes and advertisers enter the market.

“China should hit a plateau within the next 18 months as advertisers saturate this market with gaming offers,” Nigel Williams, vice president of AdXpansion.com, told XBIZ.

Another factor at play is the lack of content readily available to target the Chinese market. While market forces require immediate action, production timelines tend to go longer than most publishers would like.

“China is an interesting story, mostly because they have moved closer to the rest of the world, while maintaining their rigid standards and ethics,” Jay, founder of JuicyAds.com, told XBIZ. “It’s inevitable that the market will be converted well into the future but to me it seems like a huge missed opportunity by many companies that aren’t producing better products and services for the region for purchase online or sold through web advertising.”

“China is heavily regulated with porn being made illegal since communism rose to power in 1949,” Cottrell reminded. “There are penalties for purchasing, producing and distributing porn, as well as the fact that the rise in Internet usage has become very problematic for the government to control. There is a widespread use of proxies which means that even banned sites become accessible which in turn shows ad impressions in the Chinese market. For our mainstream segments we are seeing a rising demand for Chinese traffic.

“The key here is to advertise products and services, which are permitted, and due to the phenomenal size of this market advertisers are working hard on finding better converting offers all the time. We expect this trend to continue and demand will keep growing. Some adult site owners have looked to China to stave off the ‘summer slow down’ that many have felt in the past as porn purchases tend to trail off while the weather is nicer and people have access to more leisure time away from their desks.”

Another factor on many webmasters' minds in May is the significance of a perceived summer slow down each year. “In our experience coming into summer, web traffic starts to tail off somewhat and we see a lot more mobile/tablet traffic coming to our sites,” said Ross of TrafficForce.com.

“The main months for this are typically July and August; around the time families take vacations. Smartphones are only getting better, as are mobile optimized porn sites. It used to be that the summer slowdown was a very real thing in our industry, sales took massive hits and users simply didn’t come to sites like they did the rest of the year. Nowadays, with the rise of mobile, tube sites and the ad market, users are still coming to our sites but their viewing habits are evolving toward something that is easier for them to sneak away from the family for a little bit and get in their porn fix.”

“Yes, more people are going outside and enjoying the nice weather, but people are still lonely, and they still look for dating opportunities even though they spending less time inside,” said Andrew. “They are still enjoying adult content at the same frequency, this doesn’t change.

“The ability to go outside more and not be confined to ones home in the winter is one of the only differences, but the adult industry has weathered the storm of these behavioral changes since the beginning of the Internet. From experience, most summers the traffic market actually increases and we have some of our best months on record.”

So, if China is finally in play and the summer slow down has finally gone away, is it all good news for the industry in 2015, or are there other forces at work creating a drag on revenue? Last year people were predicting mainstream companies would soon be buying the bulk of the ad space on adult sites, especially in light of the results Eat24.com publicly reported. However in the last month Nielsen announced it would be pulling all of its ads from Twitter due to their acceptance of adult content and Google has continued its purge of adult business from Adwords, Adsense and many lucrative keyword organic rankings.

“A lot of people are still thinking that at some point the mainstream world is going to come calling to the biggest porn sites online and strike deals with them. We have already seen it with YouPorn last year, and the more risqué cinema releases,” Ross recalled. “I believe it is just a matter of time until the flood gates open. It will take a couple of big companies to test the waters before other companies jump in, it’s the same as with everything really, the early adopters open the gates for rest of their competitors. We have had interesting conversations with mainstream companies already this year about potential marketing plans, unfortunately I cannot name names due to legal contracts, but if either of the companies we talked with go ahead, it will spark a whole new wave of revenue for the adult ad business.”

Even if the face of recent moves by Nielsen and others, the prevailing view is that it simply makes too much sense for mainstream advertisers to place ads on adult sites, and the data is too encouraging to ignore.

“It’s a brilliant move for mainstream companies and products (especially those targeted at the male audience) to buy on our network as well as others,” said Jay of Juicy Ads. “The traffic is more affordable than the outrageous prices some networks in mainstream charge, and you’re reaching the exact same people at a cheaper price. People have more interests than what is on the website right in front of them at the moment! As porn becomes more mainstreamed, the lines will become further blurred towards acceptance. We will probably never see the mega-family brands embrace our advertising spots, but others will and some already are now.”

So, with so many seismic changes in the adult industry and well-positioned, deep pocketed companies acting quickly to cash in on these trends, what can you do to get in on the action and make the most money from your own digital properties?

For starters, there are always new tools and technologies being brought to market for those who are willing to adapt. For example “there are a lot of new emerging ad types and delivery methods coming to the market, especially in mobile ads, redirects, and pops,” according to Jay from JuicyAds. com “We’re eager to be delivering new mobile overlay ads and other types as people are looking for the best solution for their websites.

“There are so many tips and suggestions to give any aspiring or experienced traffic buyer. I would say to never give up, always keep promoting new and unsaturated things, and above all else — if you want to play to win, you need to promote things with recurring revenue and revshare so that you can ultimately outbid your competition to have residual income. Simply looking at the direct results and ignoring the overall rise in sales is a big mistake some advertisers have made already.”

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