A cornerstone of the online adult entertainment industry, premium membership subscription sites, aka paysites, have made literal fortunes for both owners and affiliates alike over the past decades.
Although many adult paysites have stagnated since the global recession of the late 2000s, due both to the economic downturn and to a devaluation of content in the face of free fare and rampant piracy, other sites have persisted in swimming against the tide — by being adaptive, creative and fluid in their evolution in order to retain favor with consumers.
We see the future dominated by the sites that are run with the understanding that the users are king. —Jack Lawson, Cherrypimps
CherryPimps’ Jack Lawson told XBIZ that the current state of the adult paysite market is not only very strong these days, but growing.
“We see today’s customer[as being] even more committed to our brands, as they see the commitment we have to them,” Lawson explains. “Our core audience isn’t the user looking for free porn — it is the user looking for a quality product that delivers day after day, week after week.”
This commitment to consistency is one of the factors that separates successful paysite operators from the “also rans,” and reflects the market’s maturity. Another reflection of that maturity is seen in how popular paysites (at least those that are not run on autopilot) are embracing today’s mobile and socially active audiences — and doing so not as a nicety, but as a necessity.
Gamma Entertainment Sales Director Joel Drapeau says that the paysite market has reached maturity, at least on the desktop side — while mobile traffic continues to grow in both importance and volume, driving adaptation and innovation for today’s professional operators.
“It remains a challenge to convert and generate [mobile] revenues on the same level as on the desktop,” Drapeau explains, noting that “As a whole, there are less players, and the ones remaining are bigger and more structured than those of five or six years ago.”
Drapeau told XBIZ that the general quality of adult content has increased over the years, with advances such as high resolution and now 4K video, good lighting, story driven plots, and more.
“We are less and less into the ‘amateur with a video recorder,’” Drapeau says, “and more into full fledged productions.”
As for today’s paysite trends, Lawson sees quality presentations as separating the good from the bad.
“The trend toward increased and enhanced engagement, higher quality and better delivery is continuing strongly,” Lawson explains. “You have to be ready to evolve your product to make your users happy, or they’ll find someone who will.”
One major trend affecting paysites today is the increasing sophistication of affiliates, who are employing new techniques and tools to obtain greater success in driving targeted traffic and in generating revenues for themselves and for their sponsoring paysites.
John Mauser, Too Much Media’s director of sales and marketing, told XBIZ that he does not expect any significant changes in adult affiliate marketing through 2016.
“In order to be successful in affiliate marketing you need to gather as much data as necessary to make educated business decisions,” Mauser explains.
“Gone are the days of just throwing things on the net and converting.”
“The process always remains the same for affiliates,” Mauser adds. “Find products that people want, and provide the necessary information and direction to introduce them to the products so they convert into a sale — so little has changed for affiliates in that regard.”
Mauser says that for paysite programs or businesses in general, having the ability to gather actionable data and knowing how to utilize it is a key to success.
“We have seen many companies move towards more centralized platform solutions, such as our NATS and NATS for Networks platforms, to consolidate, track, and analyze this data while managing their network in a unified solution. Each solution provides various features, but the emphasis has always been about the data,” Mauser concludes, asking “If you don’t have the data, how can you productively increase your business?”
On the subject of what the future may hold, consolidation and refinement are key factors going forward.
“I think we will see more and more mergers and acquisitions and, unfortunately, less of the smaller mom-and-pop sites,” Drapeau predicts. “Bigger programs have the ability and staff to monetize every aspect of their websites and to optimize their traffic. This might be a challenge for smaller companies as they have to choose based on priorities that make the most revenues.”
“We see the future dominated by the sites that are run with the understanding that the users are king,” Lawson concludes, bringing the conversation full circle.
While the paysite market has changed dramatically and continues to evolve, proclamations of its death are premature, with serious operators and affiliates still making serious profits, while consumers benefit from better, more engaging porn — a trend that will likely continue for the foreseeable future.