AEBN Crunches Data to Shape Content

AEBN has been a leading video-on-demand innovator of adult video online since 1999, and during those 17 years has accumulated a massive amount of information regarding the viewing habits, buying preferences and inflection points that affect a very large segment of the adult industry. What makes our data unique is that our information is accumulated from consumers who actually pay for porn.

There are significant differences between the datasets that apply to users of free content, subscription site users who pay one price for unlimited viewing of a limited content set, and users of our pay-per-minute system where there is a huge library of content to choose from, and the users are paying for only what they choose to watch.

The metrics we obtain from actual customer point of sale decisions show what content people are most interested in and are willing to go get their credit card and pay for.

The metrics we obtain from actual customer point of sale decisions show what content people are most interested in and are willing to go get their credit card and pay for. For that reason, if you are producing adult content or actually pursuing sales, you should take it to heart that these AEBN reports are focused on the same target audience you are seeking to convert with your own sales funnel.

“AEBN is now sharing data directly with our content partners, and we will continue working to provide our partners with detailed stats at granular levels to inform them of what viewers engage with, and to help each studio identify the most profitable segments of their content. We believe that will make it much easier to determine what makes a title successful within our system, and also what is likely to make a video successful with any other paying customer audience as well,” said Jay, an original cofounder of AEBN, who remains actively engaged in day-to-day operations of many aspects of the company.

“Meaningful metrics like which scenes generate the most play events and minutes viewed from a full-length film are already available from AEBN, and when matched to the associated images and metadata describing the scene this data should help our content partners get a clearer picture of which specific aspects of their content within each title most engages our paying users. We are confident that providing our partners with this type of data will assist them in successfully producing the content that paying customers are looking for, and that will empower each to generate more revenue. With other data we also hope to help our content partners better identify patterns and predict trends earlier. When I first spoke to a handful of partners and asked what they thought about us being able to provide them with this type of information, they were eager to participate, so we have now rolled out the first version, and we will continue to develop our capability to provide these useful stats. We have always tried to foster a mutually beneficial symbiotic relationship with our content partners, and we understand that when we contribute to their success, we all win.”

The ultimate result of these efforts may lead to a significant restructuring of the current content landscape. In a data-driven world, near real-time feedback coupled with rich historical data will allow content producers to make more informed decisions about who and what they should produce, with a greater degree of confidence about the likelihood of each new release being profitable based on fully detailed implicit customer feedback.

“As an example, you may be wondering which models, niches, and styles are the most bankable in the business right now. Many tube sites post lists of the most popular performers, studios and scenes,” said Bishop, AEBN marketing and advertising lead. “Companies may find that information useful when deciding what to shoot next or which content to buy but it doesn't paint the whole picture. That data is incomplete. What consumers will click on can be different than what they will pay for and to be a successful content producer or distributor it really helps to know what the consumer is spending their money on. Fans of free content can be converted to buyers when the right product at the right price comes along."

“The large discrepancy between free site metrics and paid customer metrics may be caused by a number of different factors,” explained Matt Gleason, sales and content acquisitions lead for AEBN.com. “The data they offer is fundamentally flawed from a pay-per-play point of view, since tube data is based on free viewing, and what is worth watching for free may differ quite a bit from what customers are willing to pay to watch. In most cases free visitors and paying customers are entirely different demographics. Free viewers also seem to change their favorites less often than paying customers, who rightfully expect a better user experience for their money. The consumers who choose to pay for content, do so for the convenience of easily finding and viewing their preferred content at a known quality — which is quite different from the viewing habits of people who accept ad-based, incomplete, lower quality user-uploaded videos in order to watch for free.”

In fact, according to AEBN data, the monthly Pornstar Top 40 list of most popular models based on paying customer preferences changes a lot more often than comparable free site lists. If we look at the Top 10 Pornstars from in the past three months as an example, you can see how much movement there is among paying customers favorites. (See Chart)

“We know from experience that the names on the Top 100 tend to stay fairly consistent, but there is a lot of movement up and down within those ranks,” Bishop said. “This is somewhat dependent on which new movies the studios are releasing and which stars they chose to cast, because greater visibility definitely helps a model gain traction, but even the hottest new stars only rise to the top for short periods of time unless they can establish themselves by connecting with fans, and that depends largely on how active they are on social media, the feature dancing circuit, and mainstream press crossover work. The list is also impacted by current events, as can be noted in the rise of consumer awareness of Joanie Laurer (aka Chyna) after her unfortunate passing in the month of April.

The data accumulated by AEBN is also used extensively in determining what content is selected for distribution through cable and satellite platforms by ALIGN Broadcasting, AEBN’s broadcast subsidiary.

“AEBN analytics provide a remarkable opportunity for ALIGN. SaleScore is the result. It’s a proprietary methodology of sorting search and consumption data, broadcast buy trends and geo-targeting data which informs a highly successful content strategy,” says Jeff Kreger, president of ALIGN. “Consistent and specific data visibility along with quick deployment of titles enables ALIGN to help make broadcast platforms more responsive to adult consumer demands than ever before.”

“When AEBN decided to produce our own titles under the Candy line (Girl Candy, Hot Candy and Rock Candy), we carefully analyzed the data from our system to determine which factors would give us the greatest chance of success engaging our viewers,” Gleason said. “We feel that approach greatly contributed to the success of those lines, with our gay and straight audiences. Which is the main reason we are now trying to give similarly useful data to our content partners as well.”

In the evolution of adult online content distribution, several different forces have shaped the videos that studios create. At the start, content was largely based on the preferences of the person filming it. Over time, many producers took a misguided step and altered their approach based on the data provided by free tube traffic results. This worked out well for ad networks, CPA networks and the tubes themselves as they acquired bulk quickly. Now, studios are starting to recalibrate their content toward driving actual sales and improving their own ROI with every new release by focusing more on the data AEBN is supplying from paid customer viewing preferences.

In the end, the biggest shift from this approach will be an overall movement toward the tastes of people who pay for porn. “As studios are able to democratize some of their decisions about which performers to work with, what styles to film and what titles to serialize, it’s essential that consumers develop a sense that their dollars are an important part of that silent voting process. Netflix isn’t tracking the viewing habits of people on YouTube to decide what to produce next; they are focused intently on the viewing habits of paying customers. Adult studios should be doing much the same. Instead of pandering to people who won’t pay for anything; no matter how much they like it — give the people who do pay for porn exactly what they want to see next. Current AEBN content partners now have access to the data at their fingertips and new AEBN business partners interested in accessing AEBN data should definitely contact us to get started. The data is easy to use and provides a much more profitable way to decide what to film.”

Bishop is a longtime executive with streaming media site AEBN.