Mobile Erotica Market Matures In Europe

Alex Henderson

Europe has long been on the cutting edge of mobile/wireless technology. When consumers in other parts of the world believed that mobile devices were strictly for making phone calls, Europeans were also mobile devices for everything from checking Real Madrid and Manchester United scores to getting weather forecasts to consuming adult entertainment. Europe remains a major consumer of mobile erotica.

And companies that are targeting the European adult mobile market have much to think about, from ever-changing mobile/carrier regulations to the growth of phablets to operating system preferences.

On the ExoClick platform, we are finding that in the U.S., there is a 50/50 OS split between Android and iOS. However, in Europe, the split is 68 percent Android, with Samsung being the most popular phone manufacturer. -Ada Llorca, Exoclick

Ema Fulga, affiliate manager for, observed that smartphone penetration continues to grow all over Europe — and it won’t be long before the majority of Europeans who consume erotica will own smartphones.

Fulga told XBIZ: “The most obvious trend is that smartphone adoption is growing, but by how much? According to, smartphone penetration for Central and Eastern Europe is currently at 44.2 percent, set to rise to 58.2 percent in 2017. In Western Europe, 2015 penetration is at 54.9 percent, rising to 64.7 percent by 2017. This is in line with predicted U.S. penetration figures currently at 44.4 percent and by 2017, up to 63.5 percent.”

Fulga cited phablets as an important growth area for the consumption of erotica in Europe.

“The phablet market is about to heat up with the iPhone 6+ going head to head with the newly launched Samsung Galaxy Note 5 and S6 Edge+,” Fulga noted. “Phablets bridge the gap between mobile and tablet video viewing due to their larger screens. As most adult content is now consumed digitally, estimates that almost 60 percent of the U.K. population watch digital video content via any device at least once per month in 2015.

“Mobile devices are playing a significant role in U.K. video consumption as more and more consumers move away from laptops and desktops toward tablets, phablets and smartphones.”

Julia Dimambro, founder and CEO of the Barcelona, Spain-based mobile specialist Cherry Media, stressed that because the regulations of mobile carriers/operators in Europe can vary considerably from country to country, adult companies need to study and analyze each country individually when executing their European mobile promotions.

“Europe is the most mature mobile market in the world,” Dimambro told XBIZ. “Quite a few European countries were offering mobile porn as early as 2002 or 2003. What’s important to note is that because Europe is so established, service providers need to be smart about their mobile strategy to ensure their services gain traction in addition to all the competition.

“Most of these strategies have to be much more localized, territory by territory, and feature cleverly structured services that can be mirrored and adjusted to fit various and ever-changing territory regulations.”

Dimambro added: “After 15 years in adult mobile, the main patterns that we have seen over this time is that mobile is local as opposed to fixed line being global. As mobile porn is regulated in a much more rigorous way than fixed line, this makes the landscape quite hostile — and you need to keep on your toes. Shifts are constant and normally interlinked with changing regulations.”

Ada Llorca, publisher team leader for the Barcelona-based advertising network ExoClick, noted that the U.S. and Europe continue to differ when it comes to the mobile devices and operating systems that are being used for adult entertainment.

Llorca told XBIZ: “On the ExoClick platform, we are finding that in the U.S., there is a 50/50 OS split between Android and iOS. However, in Europe, the split is 68 percent Android, with Samsung being the most popular phone manufacturer. We are also finding that the 300 x 250 banner ad format is more popular in the U.S., whereas in Europe, it’s a 50/50 tie with 300 x 250 and 300 x 100.”

Richard Cottrell, ExoClick’s global sales director, stressed that when adult companies are coordinating mobile promotions in Europe, they need to keep in mind both billing and carrier variations.

“Regarding 3G mobile traffic, you should really focus on billing,” Cottrell told XBIZ. “There are hundreds of carriers all over Europe, and each one might convert differently from another carrier. If you are going to spend money on expensive 3G carrier traffic, make sure you have the best converting product with the best performing billing option for each carrier.”

Cherry Media’s Dimambro observed that when European carriers become more restrictive with on-deck/on-portal adult content, it makes sense for adult companies to look to emerging non-European mobile markets — South America, for example — as new sources of revenue.

“One of the big changes for us has been the shift from Western Europe markets for high revenue potential to emerging territories outside of Europe,” Dimambro explained. “Where the U.K. used to be one of the biggest earning European markets for mobile porn, recent clampdowns have caused a shift in where our revenues from content licensing are coming from. The two standout territories for us are India and South America.” 

Dimambro added, however, that although the market for mobile erotica in Europe can be volatile because of ever-changing carrier regulations, it can also be profitable for companies that are in it for the long haul.

“Going from single opt-in to double opt-in in a certain territory, which is controlled by local regulators or mobile operators, can reduce revenues for adult service providers by up to 80 percent,” Dimambro observed. “The backlash of such a change sees the majority of foreign service providers pull out of the territory and re-focus their efforts somewhere else. But we’ve also seen that those who stay and ride the wave reap the benefits when the market recovers — which it always does.

“The demand for erotica is great enough that eventually, users will gradually double opt-in in order to have continued access to erotica on mobile. And of course, when the market does recover, they have a much bigger market share because there are fewer services to compete against.”

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