opinion

AVS - Is The Sky Falling?

Lee

With the recent announcement from several of the large AVS systems, including Free Age Card, Sex Key, and Gay Passport (plus speculation on and off the forums stating that Mass Pass was also aware of this happening) that they will no longer allow webmasters to use the terms “AVS, Adult Verification Service, AGE Verification Service, or Access to thousands of other sites” – what does this hold in store long term for AVS webmasters?

Quite simply, it looks at first glance as if these changes have something to do with the speculation surrounding VISA and AVS systems from a few months ago. In fact, these changes have been on the horizon for some time now, however, until yesterday webmasters seemed to be unsure as to what, if anything will be changing.

Even though the speculation has been circulating for some time, one of the first AVS systems to invoke these new rules, Sex key, came out with the following statement: “While we knew changes were coming, we just now found out what we believe are the new requirements. With this new information, we are trying to comply as quickly as humanly possible.” quickly followed by “We felt it was better to give people a chance to modify their sites this weekend rather than to not be in compliance Monday. - Craig Tant.”

One thing is certain, there WILL be a lot of unhappy webmasters over this. So apart from the added workload for webmasters, what other issues is this likely to bring up in the immediate future? Well, again, based on the rumors, and I should stress that this is all they are up to this point in time, we can expect one or more of the following items to happen to the AVS model as we know it:

1) VISA starts to charge the AVS companies the $750 fee to process memberships.
2) VISA starts to charge individual webmasters the $750 fee to use an AVS service.
3) AVS Systems cease to exist.

So, lets break each of the above items down, and see how it will have a long term effect on both AVS webmasters, and the adult industry as a whole.

AVS Companies Charged the $750 VISA Fees
In itself this isn’t a big issue that we should be immediately worried about, after all the AVS company will be the one footing the bill, and with the amount of traffic and sales that these programs get, $750 is a relatively small pebble at the foot of a mountain. That being said however, some of the smaller AVS systems might end up having to close because they can’t afford the fees in much the same way that some amateur pay site owners had to close their affiliate programs.

Webmasters Charged the $750 VISA Fees
This is the option that I am most concerned with, after all, with thousands of AVS sites being built each day and being submitted to literally hundreds of AVS companies, the potential cost of this could run thousands of dollars for individual webmasters.

Of course, with this expense there also comes some benefits. The immediate benefit that comes to mind is that a lot of the dishonest webmasters will refuse to, or be unable to, pay this fee – and that in itself will lighten the strain for the rest of the industry.

There is also the possibility that webmaster’s may need to pay this fee for each and every AVS they submit to, which, in itself will not only harm individual webmasters, but it will also see the rise, and dare I say it, fall of some of the smaller or less profitable (from a webmaster’s point of view) AVS companies. No doubt if this did ever happen, the likes of Cyberage, UGAS, Global Male Pass, et al will be unaffected, as they have enough of a webmaster following and traffic base to be able to ride this potential storm out.

AVS Systems Cease To Exist
This is potentially the worst case scenario, and whilst I will be the first to admit that this is VERY unlikely to happen, the possibility needs to be looked at. What happens to all of the sites you have in the AVS systems? What happens to all of your rebills? What happens to all of that AVS traffic?

I would say for the most part, changing your sites from an AVS to the free site model won’t be such a big deal for webmasters, however, the financial losses to individual webmasters and companies could run into hundreds of thousands of dollars a month. With these financial losses, will more webmasters leave the industry or, will they start TGPs and dilute traffic quality even further?

Speaking of traffic, we all know by now that AVS traffic is qualified, potent traffic, but what will happen when this traffic, should the AVS’s be closed down, hit the adult web again? Quite simply, the long-term effects of such a force could have positive and negative effects ranging from pay site membership sales rising to the onslaught and proliferation of free porn being searched for again - good news for TGP owners.

As you can see from the above, all of the speculation, rumors, and facts, speak for themselves, in so much that if you are an AVS webmaster, then you NEED to start diversifying your business model to ensure that even if the worst doesn’t happen, you are still able to be profitable online.

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