Getting Gay At Internext

Rainey Stricklin

The gay audience is one of the most sought after demographics in today’s adult Internet industry and at Internext Expo in Las Vegas last week, a few experts gathered at the Gay and Lesbian Webmaster panel to discuss the state of the market segment and its future.

The panel, moderated by Fredrick Lane III, featured Caryn Goldberg from Specialty Publications, Rob Novinger from C1R, Morgan Sommer from Cybersocket, Lisa Turner from Bad Puppy and stand-in Aly Drummond from Python Communications. They assured the audience that the gay market was thriving.

“This is the first year, during the holidays, that we didn’t see a drop in sales or membership,” said Rob Novinger. “It’s phenomenal.”

According to Bad Puppy’s Lisa Turner, high-quality extended video is in hot demand. The 30-second video clips just aren’t satisfying the audience anymore.

“We’re seeing a big rise in demand for streaming and downloadable video content,” she said. “It’s a very hot commodity.”

Cybersocket’s Sommer said that across his sites, one of the most popular searches is for gay foot fetishes. Goldberg said the “underwear” and “jock” marketing were holding strong on her properties, and Drummond said Python is holding strong with gay reality content.

Many “straight” companies have long been promoting gay content, realizing early on what an ideal audience the gay male market is. Lately, however, the industry has seen quite a few companies who’ve largely ignored the segment trying to jump on the bandwagon and get a share of the wealth.

“It’s very hard to break into that group, that ‘gay mafia,’” said Drummond. “It’s a big issue. There are a lot of people who have balked at going anywhere near the gay market and frankly, it’s their loss.”

The panelists agreed that a key element that makes the market segment so attractive is loyalty. If you can figure out how to get that consumer to join your site, he’ll likely stay.

“It’s all about having a brand,” Novinger. “You have to separate yourselves from everyone else.”

“It’s a more challenging market, but when you get them, you get them,” said Drummond. “It’s been proven over and over again. Be loyal to that market and reap the rewards again and again.”

Sommer said he has noticed and increase of companies that identify themselves as “gay-friendly.”

“Part of building a better community and broader corporate identity is building ethical relationships with each other,” he advised

The panel agreed, without argument, that gay market is strong, and will continue to grow in the future, despite new laws and pressure from Washington.

“Right now what we’re seeing is the more extreme stuff being come down on,” said Fred Lane, adding “Gay sex isn’t considered extreme anymore.”

He went on to say that the Bush administration was targeting child pornography, bestiality, etc., and that he hadn’t seen a case involving the gay and lesbian market.

Sommer encouraged the audience to work on protecting the industry’s rights, but at the same time, take a stand against the illegal and potentially harmful element.

“We like porn, we want to promote it and protect our right to sell it, view it and make it,” he said, “But also take an active stance in protecting children.”