Online Adult: a 2016 Forecast

Dec 31, 2015 11:47 AM PST

LOS ANGELES — As 2015 ends and the New Year begins, adult website owners, operators and service providers are expressing optimism, as they look forward to new opportunities driven by technology and the evolution of traditional business models.

For insights from industry insiders, one only need look at the active discussions on the XBIZ.net business and social networking community, which tackle all aspects of the business of bawdiness — revealing the latest trends while unlocking strategies and tactics needed to profit from these changes, and to mitigate any challenges.

One hot-button topic is the potential role of virtual reality in shaping the future of online adult, with the community split over the importance and viability of VR. While early adopters and initial stakeholders are taking a bright-line view of VR, skepticism remains not only over consumer acceptance of VR porn — but over producers’ ability to satisfy the high expectations of immersion and a quality user experience.

This is especially relevant when considering the enormous cost of high quality VR video production that will limit competitive content creation to the most highly capitalized companies; along with questions over porn’s applicability to an all-encompassing VR space — where the view outside of the depicted sex scene is comprised of the carpeting, ceiling, furniture and wall hangings — items of very limited interest to most porn fans.

With these limitations in mind the market-leading companies that can do it right are poised to transform the adult entertainment industry, plus popular culture and the current social structure along with it.

Another hot-button topic is whether or not this pornographic revolution will take place in California, long the world center of adult content creation, because a range of ongoing legal and regulatory issues, perhaps most importantly a requirement for condoms and other protective gear in porn, are hampering hopes of lawful operation in such a challenging, costly and condom-coated environment.

Porn is about fantasy after all, and visible condoms are just too “real,” and thus frowned upon by carnal consumers.

Although there are creative and technological ways to obfuscate condom use, if gloves, aprons, full face shields and other gear is required, there will only be niche producers of “bio hazard porn” (and the ones who try to fly under the radar) left within the state, dramatically reshaping today’s industry.

The changing nature of customer acquisition, data collection and monetization is also widely discussed, with insiders predicting the consolidation of traffic networks, which will have a profound impact on the sources of surfers that fuel the industry — and how information such as email addresses, social media status and other demographics and psychographics can be mined for marketing that may prove more profitable than subscription sales or other traditional adult offers.

This is what mainstream Internet marketers, including the most well-known brands, have done for years — with adult operators now increasingly coming up to speed with data collection, retargeting, and other means of making the most from the visitors they receive, in this ratcheting up of porn professionalism.

The traffic and monetization scene is also being profoundly impacted by the globalization of the Internet audience, where English-speaking Americans are an increasingly smaller minority of users, with growing visits from the BRIC countries and beyond, accompanied by a corresponding decline in per-visitor revenues.

Add to this the massive increase in artificial entities (commonly known as “bot traffic”), which are said to account for as much as 85 percent of the traffic to many adult websites, along with a huge uptick in the use of ad-blocking technology, which is compounded by the phenomenon of surfer “banner blindness,” plus restrictions on search and social media marketing that are driving past promotional practices to the wayside, and it’s easy to see the impetus for change.

There is also the problem of the economy and consumers’ reluctance to part with disposable income — if they have any that is, with many not having the spare cash to spend on porn — especially when it is so widely available for free.

At this point, profitable porn in 2016 and beyond is a matter of passion and professionalism with a focus on personalization and portability — as technology and ubiquitous mobile access are raising the high bar of consumer expectations, which include something warmer, friendlier, and not obtainable for free.  

As expected, the still growing live cam market continues to capture the imagination of spenders who can find an intimate encounter 24/7 no matter what type of partner they are seeking. This positions the cam market as a logical companion to VR, and further augmented by the newest in haptics and teledildonic technology, which is currently redefining the interface of (wo)man and machine.

Inroads into 3D, the adoption of 4K Ultra HD video, increasing mobilization, innovative services, a move to a more secure web, the continued evolution of the affiliate space, and much more are all on the radar for operators in 2016, and setting the stage for executives meeting in-person at Hollywood’s upcoming XBIZ Show, where new deals will be made as players place their bets on the adult industry’s future.

If you are a porn professional who wants to take part in peer discussions about the current events facing the adult entertainment industry and the path it is taking forward, then join us at XBIZ.net. It will be the best move you make for your bottom line — in 2016 and beyond.

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