As the online adult industry continues to mature and companies seek to differentiate themselves from their competition, it seems going bigger is believed to be better. Industry insiders had some interesting things to say about the assumption that size is a necessary component of paysite success. How size should be defined was a more complex question than it first seemed and a vital one in helping to answer the question: Does size really matter, or is it just an expensive way of fluffing yourself?
One respected insider with years of experience in both the gay and straight arenas of the adult online industry is PuppyCash.com marketing and advertising manager, Lisa Turner: "I do think that the gay adult market has been more size oriented for far longer than the straight adult market. Having been in the online adult industry as long as Badpuppy.com, our eyes have witnessed the birth of just about all of the adult sites online back in the early days, as well as the demise of many along the way.
"The difference [between the successful ones and failures] is that most all of these companies have simply combined their own sites, which used to be solo stand-alone membership sites — with many recycling the same content, with different front ends and layouts. Whereas the Badpuppy Network encompasses over 60 separate membership sites that the user gains access to along with Badpuppy.com. Each of these other sites are owned, operated and updated by that company, with all different content types, themes and niches which really opens up an opportunity to convert any user and their tastes. My feelings are that as the technology has changed, it's made all of us have to change. With the extreme growth of users surfing the web on cable and broadband connections, I've seen most all adult sites, both Gay and Straight, jump on the high bandwidth bandwagon, offering more content, far larger file sizes and tremendous content archives."
While it is well known that bandwidth costs are plummeting and surfers continue to transition toward faster and faster connections including the new FIOS service from Verizon, that probably explains why the thirst for size has accelerated in recent years, but hasn't going bigger always been a key element of many site owner's business models?
"We update Twistys five times per day and as a result, we can now boast one of the best retention rates in the business," said Business Development Manager Kevin C. of Twistys Cash, an adult affiliate marketing business that has prospered since 2001, long before the drop in bandwidth overhead pricing took place.
"I don't know of many other single sites that update as often as we do. With a current roster of 2,026 models and a massive database of 913,577 photos and 17,232 video clips, size definitely matters."
While the enormous archives of Twistys Cash may have some thinking that putting up a site with a giant archive is the way to go, perhaps the constant and frequent updating over a consistent period of time which resulted in that giant archive is what matters more to surfers than the pure archive size itself.
So, can a winning business model really be defined as just loading up as much content as you can get your hands on as fast as you can and making it all available to consumers in one giant collection? If it were that easy everyone would be wealthy by now, wouldn't they? For those in the know, it seems size is often only a tool toward getting their primary sales pitch across.
"As the adult web industry matures, consumers learn to differentiate the best from the worst offers on the market," said ProfitX.com's Sam Phillips, a chief executive with an extensive background in the website design segment who is now banking on the launch of a fully interactive mega-site. "This is proven by the popularity and success of review sites, which allow porn consumers to comparison-shop before making a choice. Top sites across the board are usually those that offer the most amount of content, in the widest area of niches, within a site structured to be hassle-free. Big is great, but you have to use your size well. This is one of the reasons we released VideoSexperts.com, our new interactive DVD download site. By offering multiple formats and multiple speeds of video in many niches, and allowing members to have more direct control over the content that is added as the site evolves, we aren't just providing a lot of size… we aim to be sure we are providing a lot of the size that our customers actually care to see."
With many existing sites moving toward networked members areas and new non-exclusive DVD download sites spawning at a rapid pace, some believe that webmasters are concerned with the wrong kind of size completely.
"We have a lot of data from our previous promotions before we started Perfect Gonzo, and it showed us that network access does not improve retention as much as people think it does," said Eman of PerfectGonzo.com. "For us, it's the size of the video that matters most. That's why we are the first sponsor program offering our members true 1080p, 1920x1080 high-definition video formats to choose from on all of our sites. We are convinced that does more for conversions and retention than having higher quantity but lower quality offerings and our decisions are based on our numbers, not assumptions."
As a result, file sizes and formats are getting bigger at Perfect Gonzo but each of their sites remains an exclusive content stand-alone product without network access to or from any of their other members areas.
Some programs see their fastest-growing niche revolve around the size of the talent but in a new way. Toni, the owner of FetishHits.com, explained: "We have always believed bigger is better. It shows in our entire business model. In the past six months we have expanded the size of our network by adding many additional sites in many niches. In fact, we are so committed to the idea of going larger that we have even started filming larger models. Check out BBWHunter.com and see for yourself — size does matter and our BBW niche-leading site is proving it for our affiliates every day."
As more and more DVD production companies transition to the online market by launching their own official web offerings, the issue of size is the focus of some of their decision-making as well. A few months ago Zero Tolerance launched Zero Tolerance On Demand, and they believed right from the start that even their premium brand content would not be enough by itself to satisfy an increasingly finicky consumer.
"When Zero Tolerance On Demand launched, we paired it with access to the 3rd Degree Films official website as well," explained Clement of ZTOD.com. "Even as we went to market with an exclusive outlet for all of that quality DVD content we knew that it had to be only the start of our studio-direct network."
With so many huge players offering surfers options in VOD, cams and subscription-based content, as each expands its archives daily, one may wonder whether too much is ever enough. Some argue that smaller companies are still at a competitive advantage, even though their members areas are less robust, because of the personal touch they can offer in support of both surfers and affiliates. Smaller programs in the same business as huge competitors often rely on their ability to adapt more quickly to market forces and to service their affiliate base more closely.
Large programs like AdultRevenueService.com are well aware that size is only successful when it is properly combined with top tier service, however. JohnV, V.P. of Sales and Marketing for ARS had this advice for affiliates: "Do your homework in regard to researching programs, their products and services. Ask around. Use the top industry message boards and forums to gather your information, test the different programs and their offerings and go from there."