Paysite Power: Refinining the Biz

With every new year we kick off, the big question always is, “What will be the next big thing?” The start of a new year signifies different things for people. For some it’s an opportunity to start fresh, for others it’s simply about carrying on where things left off. But for many, the new year will start full of energy and renewed vigor.

So what will be the next big thing?

Collectively as an industry we are quickly coming to realize that less is more and that a product that’s in demand and can find its target audience still commands a nice premium even when competing with free tubes and piracy.

The answer, in my opinion, surprising as it may sound, is ... nothing. I believe nothing will be the next big thing, and we will actually begin to take a step backwards – in a good way. If I had to assign a word to it, the word would be “refinement.” I believe we will see a continued refinement of what an adult website is and what the user experience is all about. We’ve seen the same refinement in everything from Google’s offerings to Amazon’s brilliantly simple mobile purchasing process.

Where We've Been

First we pioneered and created with a blank canvas. Then we dazzled and entered a period where glitz and glam and novelty and shock value ruled. Then developed things we didn’t need, things no one cared about but site owners and affiliates and that catered to the 1% and not the 99 percent. Throughout most of this we pushed technology to no avail and the benefit of the expense and the effort just wasn’t there. Finally we realized we didn’t need uber-creative, fancy sites with dozens of features; we just needed to focus on the product and the user experience and offer the “right” features that add value for members and help us squeeze more money out of every content buyer.

Where We're Headed

We’ve already begun the process of scaling down, or dare I say dumbing down of, adult sites and focusing on the customer’s wants and needs instead of the wants and needs of affiliates or site owners. This will lead to a kind of refinement and simplification that will make adult sites more efficient business machines than ever before. I believe we will see production ramp up again as companies cease to fear moving away from traditional download models in favor of promoting the use of more modern technology that delivers adult content to personal devices and brings it into bedrooms in ways we would have never imagined 10 years ago.

What it Looks Like

The Internet has reached maturity. Now that use has become commonplace, web users are habitual and have been trained over years of use to expect and respond to specific things.

Designs will become cleaner, smaller and leaner overall. The adult aesthetic is gradually moving the way of other media and presenting customers with quality products and subtle reinforcement of sales hooks and triggers instead of trying to ram the message down the viewer’s throat using visual means in an attempt to stand out. Collectively as an industry we are quickly coming to realize that less is more and that a product that’s in demand and can find its target audience still commands a nice premium even when competing with free tubes and piracy.

The product itself hasn’t changed much but delivery methods and video delivery technology is improving and is better equipped to allow site owners to cater to users on just about any device, with any screen size, big or small.

Of course we can expect to hear new buzzwords and talk of trends and the latest and greatest but based on cycles, we’re still a year or two away from anything major and standards are still what they’ve been over the last couple of years and getting better with refinement. For a large number of adult companies, the next big thing is simply catching up and moving their businesses toward a point where they’re up to today’s standards and are more readily able to adapt to what comes next.

My monthly articles in 2014 will focus heavily on specific ways that paysite owners can optimize the user experience and how to present sites and content in ways that attract customers and keep them coming back.

Where I hope to leave readers with as we enter a new year is an open mind. Begin actively thinking about streamlining and how to repurpose your current paysite assets to make them fit within the constraint of what online users have grown accustomed to.

For many site owners this will be a big departure from past thinking and may produce some growing pains but in the end, the changes will be worth it.

AJ Hall is a 12-year adult industry veteran and the co-founder and CEO of Elevated X Inc., a provider of popular adult CMS software for the online adult entertainment industry. Elevated X powers more than 2,000 leading adult sites, has been nominated for industry awards 11 times and won the 2012 XBIZ Award for Software Company of the Year.