Last November, a man by the name of Jon Jacobs pocketed almost a half a million dollars in a real estate deal - $335,000 to be exact. Considering the astronomic prices paid for land and buildings in today’s market, that amount of money would hardly rate a mention in a local newspaper. The reason Jon Jacob’s tidy windfall has garnered the attention of the national/international press is because the property he sold is virtual. Jon Jacobs made $335,000 dollars selling the real estate he owned as a member of an online role-playing environment. In other words, somebody paid this dude a buttload of cheddar for shit that only exists in a game.
Stop me if you’ve heard this but did you know that the economy is currently experiencing a period of suck? That’s right. And I’m betting you’ve also heard that the adult Internet industry is going through hell and everybody’s pointing to the shitty economy as reason #1.
|"It’s not that people have stopped liking porn. It’s not the net is flooded with terrabytes of free smut. It’s not that the world economy is in the crapper. It’s all of that plus the fact that we’re not the only working web thing anymore."|
Common wisdom points to runaway sources of free porn, such as tube and torrent sites, as reason number 2.
Reason three varies but some cite unoriginal content while others claim shady signup tricks by sponsors are to blame. This writer will add to the mix the fact that the Internet and its users have grown up and I will explain further in this next paragraph:
Back in the mid 1990s, when the World Wide Web first caught fire, Internet pornographers were the first to successfully incorporate the technology with financial profit. Our initial success wasn’t just about delivering a product that people wanted, it was also very much about delivering that product successfully.
The adult Internet adopted and developed the right techniques for the medium.
For example, the Thumbnail Gallery Post was a perfect compilation of traffic generation, passive advertising and low bandwidth, fast-loading content. Movie gallery webmasters learned to create pages of clips that played seamlessly on a majority of browsers without taxing the user’s dial up connections.
A good decade before the tube sites, porn paysites were capable of streaming full-length dirty movies to their member’s 56K modems. Our industry perfected payment processing and the affiliate webmaster model. We were live chatting with each other and sharing our knowledge and services long before social networking came into being. Ultimately, at one time, the Internet porn business was the only thing that actually worked smoothly in an otherwise glitchy environment.
It’s not that people have stopped liking porn. It’s not the net is flooded with terrabytes of free smut. It’s not that the world economy is in the crapper. It’s all of that plus the fact that we’re not the only working web thing anymore.
Porn is awesome but it’s just another form of entertainment and the non-adult arm has overtaken us when it comes to distracting the masses via their computerized devices. In terms of maturity, the web has become a functional adult that has grown out of its masturbatory phase.
Just the same, I go back to the factoid at the start of this article. Some dude made a huge amount of money selling real estate that’s made of pixels and bits and server space - in a freaking game. And he’s not the only one. Millions of people are paying for access to and ownership of stuff that’s as socially vital as a coffee drink. Despite their horrible financial circumstances human beings will always find ways to justify non-essential expenses.
We all deserve a treat now and then, especially when money’s tight. People buy virtual merchandise and adult entertainment is as justifiable an expense as is a suit of magic armor from some MMORPG. The hard part is locating and targeting the surfers who prefer dirty pictures over a patch of virtual farmland.
My advice is to start thinking and marketing like a game site.
Treat your sponsor’s content as precious and learn to tease with your samples like they do with those free memberships at Second Life or WoW. Show your surfers what they’re missing and make them drool for it. Show pics and clips but never give away the prize. Let your users know how safe and easy membership makes their experience. Scare the shit out of them by telling horror stories about how tubes and torrents expose them to viruses and lawsuits. Let them know all the bells and whistles that come with paid access. Try to find sponsors that offer hard-to-replicate content like live feeds, adult video-chat and social networking with real horny humans.
Surfers will buy porn. It’s just harder to sell it to them because today’s Internet offers thousands of other forms of entertainment that work as well as cybersmut once did, back in the day. Sure, the economy and the tubes are a problem. But our real, long term, competition is an Internet that’s finally become the ultimate entertainment delivery system.