opinion

Paysite Power: Niche Producers Still Killing It Sales-Wise

A.J. Hall

For at least a decade it’s been no secret that unless you’re one of the few mass-production giants, the niche porn market is where it’s at. Even the leading studios have changed things up and moved away from the standard boilerplate scene in favor of catering to hot niches currently trending.

We could safely call niche producers the silent killers of the adult entertainment industry because they represent one of the most often underestimated groups who are still killing it sales-wise despite competing with tubes and cam networks for customers.

If there’s one thing I see a lot of my Elevated X CMS customers doing wrong it’s continuing their narrow focus and ignoring closely related sub-niches they can easily dominate.

The reasons for this are multiple but much of what I’ve seen as the provider of the software many popular niche sites owners use to manage their web sites points to the increasing strength of sub-niche markets.

This is one area where I believe the proliferation of tubes and free porn and live cams has actually been helpful. It wasn’t obvious between 2008-2012 when all of us were in some state of panic mode. Now that things have stabilized it’s easy to see the development of a long-tail distribution model among niche operators.

Along with this we’ve seen the granularization of many of the most popular niches and the forming of sub-entities or what we’d more commonly call sub-niches. It wasn’t intentional.

This had to happen in order to maintain decent traffic and sales levels. It didn’t take long for everyone to realize that a general purpose “interracial” porn site was not going to compete with the big tubes for eyeballs be it on-site or by way of Google traffic. Narrowing the focus and concentrating on new terms to create a much larger, more focused audience has allowed niche site owners to compete with tubes and to use them as a tremendous resource to drive sales.

It all boils down to the law of supply and demand. If you go to the biggest tube sites looking for “interracial porn,” you’ll find more than you could ever need. But if you’re looking for amateur interracial, cuckold, breeding, BBC hot wife or basically any sub-niche content that’s not mass-produced video containing porn stars, something really interesting happens: You get a much smaller fraction of the results.

What’s even more amazing is that the results you do get come only from a small group of niche producers and every video is branded to their sites and/or has a banner or a link to the site underneath. Unlike the broader niche content, if you want to see a lot more or a lot better quality content, you only have one option - go directly to the production source and pay for it.

This is how I see most of my highly successful niche clients doing things. The approach is one of diversification and it can work for a lot of sites.

If you’re producing content and selling online and are wondering how the interracial porn example above applies to you, it’s actually pretty simple. The concept of longtail is basically that you’re focused on selling a smaller volume of a hard to find item. If you’re one of just two manufacturers of a specific size bolt for example, you may not sell more bolts than Home Depot or a major home warehouse chain but you’re still going to sell a shit-ton of that specific bolt.

How it translates to adult content or paysites lies in production. If a husband and wife run their own swinger site and they go from swapping and group sex videos to inclusion of videos where the wife is one-on-one 1 with other men, the husband is made to watch, the wife is blindfolded and surprised with a new partner … that content just went from covering one or two highly competitive niches to covering up to several less competitive ones, and with even more variations of tube and search traffic as a bonus.

Let’s examine how this works using the above example.

To start, someone would go to a tube and click a category or search. Or, they would Google “swingers” or “swapping” or “group sex” which would most certainly land them on a tube under one of those category headings.

In either case they would see thousands of videos which are mostly generic “fake swinging” and staged pornstar videos with some real swinging videos peppered in. The site in question would have promo content show up somewhere in that mix where it may seldom be seen.

Once the site is granularized, however, content people are searching for more intently and more seriously (yet obviously less frequently) will show up almost 100 percent of the time. Someone looking for “real wife swapping” or “amateur swinging BBC” is almost guaranteed to come across the content.

The more sub-niches the site spans, the more chances it has to be seen in ways that present it as more unique and make it obvious that the only way someone can see a lot more of it and in good quality is to visit the site and pay.

Think of it in terms of qualified traffic. It doesn’t matter how many people see your site if they’re not potential buyers. The money is made by getting the people to the site who are most likely to purchase.

The same rules apply to any major niche. Years back when I had female body-building site clients that was all they promoted … muscle babes. Now their sites showcase every granular sub-niche of the female muscle fetish possible and in some cases entire spinoff sites are dedicated not just to posing and flexing but to wrestling, domination, fantasy scenarios and various other aspects.

The beauty of this approach is that it’s one that just about every producer can take while still catering to the wants of their current fan base.

If there’s one thing I see a lot of my Elevated X CMS customers doing wrong it’s continuing their narrow focus and ignoring closely related sub-niches they can easily dominate.

Gradually expanding into sub-niches is like picking low-hanging fruit and offers low-risk growth opportunities. Diversifying without abandoning your primary niche while creating more long-term marketing potential is win-win for any paysite, and it’s something I hope to see more of among my own customers and pay-site operators on a whole.

AJ Hall is a 15-year adult industry veteran and CEO of Elevated X Inc., a provider of popular adult site CMS software. Hall has spoken at industry trade shows and written for several trade publications. Elevated X software powers more than 2,000 leading adult sites, has been nominated for more than a dozen industry awards and won the 2012, 2014 and 2015 XBIZ Award for Software Company of the Year.

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