Seeking to unlock the keys to a successful paysite infrastructure in 2017, XBIZ asked some of the adult industry’s most experienced paysite operators, “What innovations do you see in paysite design, functionality and presentation?” Their responses distill an immense amount of experience into some actionable strategies that all paysites can use to innovate their designs:
Bishop from AEBN told XBIZ that providing users with a great experience as well as great content are among the major contributors to success.
Finding unique ways to engage users and providing multiple paths to explore, discover and access content that they may not otherwise have found through traditional aebn.com search and browsing options is an interesting and ongoing challenge driving website evolution. -Bishop, AEBN
“Finding unique ways to engage users and providing multiple paths to explore, discover and access content that they may not otherwise have found through traditional search and browsing options is an interesting and ongoing challenge driving website evolution,” Bishop explained. “Being able to browse content and interact with the site in vastly different ways at any given time promotes a sense of ‘open exploration’ and allows individual users to find the method of content discovery that ultimately suits them the best.”
Bishop says words such as “gamification” and “personalization” are used a lot, but often not incorporated successfully — although they are fundamental concepts that should ultimately bolster a site or brand’s success if implemented well.
“With continued advances in machine learning and Big Data, it is becoming easier to create dynamic sites that deliver a more customized and personalized experience for each user by analyzing huge datasets in real-time,” Bishop added. “The use of these technologies for predictive analysis to identify and capitalize on emerging trends much earlier can be a major factor in the new formula for success.”
Todd Spaits from YanksVR told XBIZ the next version of the Yanks members’ area will be focused on optimizing content discovery.
“Having a library that spans 15½ years means that searching linearly can be time-consuming, and tags, while useful, can still be hit or miss,” Spaits said. “Our innovation will be to use graphs, charts and other data visualization tools to further connect content pieces that are related, and which may span a decade or more. In this way, people will discover more, find more favorites and spend more time looking around the site — spending more money in the process.”
Vette Nation’s Vicky Vette told XBIZ the switch from Flash to HTML5 is “a biggie” she can’t wait for.
“So many browsers are making it difficult to even use Flash these days,” Vette remarked. “A lot of people who watch cam shows now get a black screen when they try to watch shows because browsers are disabling Flash. As soon as there is a cost-effective stable alternative, we will rewrite our cam software.”
For his part, Clement from Bang.com said the design itself is becoming irrelevant, noting “it’s all about the UX and the usability of your website, to make content easily accessible, and in a safe environment.”
Wasteland CEO Colin Rowntree takes this approach, telling XBIZ his “primary focus at the moment in this area is getting all sites in fully responsive designs and getting everything that is mission critical on SSL.”
Beyond technical innovations, growth in business models and practices also plays a role, even if it is not always an easy path to travel. For example, James Deen told XBIZ that as an industry, “we have a tendency to not work well together.”
“For instance, I believe, if we were all able to agree that we should make every free page ‘PG-13’ until members age-verified and opted into seeing adult product, we would be harassed less by the government, be able to reinvigorate the membership model and be able to ensure that no one who didn’t want to view porn, or shouldn’t be viewing porn, was viewing our content,” Deen explained. “However, the second [someone] decides they want to get all the traffic by offering free porn, then it fucks up the system and everyone else has to join that structure or flounder.”
Deen lamented “there are too many ways to make money off traffic instead of content for people to not hurt the content model.”
“I don’t see us evolving,” Deen concluded. “I see us all rushing to figure out how to survive in a dying market opposed to taking a step back and analyzing what it is that will create long-term viability for our industry.”
Of course, one of the beauties of the industry is the diversity of opinions among stakeholders.
CrakRevenue’s Jean-François Laverdière noted that paysites have evolved a lot over the last 20 years.
“Nowadays,” Laverdière explained, “this technology has evolved to such an extent that [it] allows us to focus more on the user experience and actual UX-specific/related details that make all the difference for the end user.
“Building a paysite with ‘mobile first’ in mind has become a no-brainer since three-quarters of all users now watch VOD on their mobile device,” Laverdière added. “VR porn is also here to stay, especially amateur-themed VR content; while scenes have become breathtaking and video quality seems to get better and better by the day, thanks to folks shooting in 4K.”
CrakRevenue’s Maxime Côté told XBIZ that affordable technologies for webmasters and paysite owners, including newer, easier payment solutions and other tools, have come on the market, influencing these sites’ direction.
“There’s been an explosion of adult content management systems that are more readily accessible now to novices than ever before,” Côté said. “These content management systems are highly customizable, which opens up the door to a countless number of opportunities and possibilities in terms of [landing pages], tours and tests.”
Côté noted that over the past decade, rumors of VOD and paysites declining in popularity and dying have been widespread, but exclaimed “that’s why it’s never wise to listen to gossip!”
“As everybody can see, paysites are evolving steadfastly,” Côté concluded. “They remain as strong as they were two decades ago, thanks to the continuous evolution of technology and the sheer volume and variety of content that is now offered.”
Jesse Garza, Kink’s senior marketing manager, underscored that paysite design may not be much of a factor.
“Simplicity is key for me — let the content take center stage,” Garza told XBIZ. “Functionality, including the ability to dig in and discover the content they love and are here for, that they may not otherwise have been able to find, is paramount.”
Garza said that as far as presentation goes, every user is different, and has unique tastes.
“Some like flash and tons of data about a scene or a model, some users would be happy with a black page and a video box,” Garza explained. “Finding that happy middle ground that isn’t overly complicated and distracting, but still allows the super fans to get their info fix [is what’s important].”
Kenny B. of YourPaysitePartner.com said he finds it amusing people are still talking about responsive sites being innovative, telling XBIZ “it’s been the norm for a couple years now.”
“I’m happy to see a lot of paysites moving away from the tube-style tours and back to using larger pictures and graphics,” Kenny B. said, adding, “One thing we’ve been working on is adaptive streaming and extremely detailed search functionality.”
“Fluidity and ease of use have become the standard throughout the industry,” said Rocky Andrews, Lucas Entertainment’s marketing and affiliate relations manager. “Overly complicated code and displays have become less impressive and read as outdated.”
Yannick Ferreri, head of business development for Porndoe Production, told XBIZ the company has a very skilled team, which of course took some time to build, saying “it is gelling like never before.”
“With this, our look, functionality, performance and turnaround is starting to hit unprecedented levels,” Ferreri said. “We are able to continuously improve, and sometimes apply standards to our processes other paysites seem to have adopted.
“Pre-rolls on products for uploads, for instance, were not nearly as popular, but with our vast library, we needed to do so to ensure that individuals understood it was a PDP product, but with its own identity,” Ferreri added. “Now, two years later, almost every single product has a pre-roll and tends to update them more often with even more editing and animation involved.”
The range of responses illustrate the many challenges and opportunities available today for paysite owners seeking ways in which they can innovate and stay ahead of the game, and where a focus on the basics can be more important than having a glitzy approach for the sake of glitz alone.
Another lesson is that in the push to drive paysites using Big Data, porn companies are learning much more about their patron’s habits — with resulting privacy concerns — but that’s a story for another day.