Mobile Porn: An Overlooked Market

Jan 19, 2016 11:15 AM PST

LOS ANGELES — The recently concluded 2016 XBIZ Show offered an illuminating educational series, where top adult industry experts revealed the current state and likely trends of key market segments.

As might be expected from such a tech-forward industry, adult is optimistically pinning its future hopes on the explosion of virtual reality, but a more mundane (and often overlooked) common denominator emerged from these discussions — the vital need to ensure that everything being marketed online is fully optimized for mobile purchasing, delivery and consumption.

The evidence was clear in three of the first seminars, which focused on mobile, traffic and cams; with the latter two panels continuing the conversations begun by the first panel. In other words, traffic was heavily dealt with in terms of the mobile market, as was the live cam arena.

While VR porn was mentioned in passing in these panels as a potential “someday” profit center, true mobile compatibility is a requirement today (and will interface nicely with tomorrow’s VR offerings) — but the adult industry has been uncharacteristically slow in embracing mobile, despite multiyear growth and the countless dollars already collected from mobile-powered consumers.

Let’s take a closer look:

In 2016, mobile devices are the globally dominant platform for Internet access and web surfing, having surpassed traditional desktop and laptop PCs. Google has of course noticed this, and in response lowers the ranking of sites that are not “mobile compatible,” further complicating the efforts of adult marketers seeking traffic from the search giant. On the webcam front, consumers aren’t just taking their cam show viewing on the road, broadcasters are now toting their “studio” with them in the palm of their hand — adding variety to their performances and building a deeper connection with fans.

Most of the experts consider the fast growing tablet market to be part of the desktop arena, so when we talk about “mobile” we’re really referencing smartphones (and to a lesser extent, feature phones and the next generation of wearable technology), with the two main monetization channels being apps, and mobile compatible websites; with the former now being the province of fully responsive websites that adapt themselves to the access device’s display capabilities and characteristics.

This responsiveness must extend to the mobile purchasing process, where truly flexible forms minimize friction in the payment cycle, especially in locations, such as the U.S., where direct carrier billing to the customer’s phone account is not available. Likewise, some regions where carrier billing is available to adult merchants severely limit content options — banning even bikini shots. Responsive payment forms don’t just grow and shrink to fit a viewport, they are easily navigable and usable on the smallest screen.

On the advertising and distribution front, all major adult ad networks offer traffic segmented by carrier, device, geo-location, operating system, Wi-Fi use and numerous other parameters, making exposure a matter of budget and media buying know-how.

From there, it’s a choice of producing apps or mobile websites (or a combination of both), as your delivery strategy of choice.

Apps have an advantage of bringing users into a captive ecosystem, where advertising, up-sells, tighter personalization and ongoing consumer loyalty are readily cultivated; but for adult-oriented apps, these benefits come at a major distribution disadvantage, where the primary platforms (Apple’s App Store for iOS devices and Google Play for Android) shun all things sexual. Third-party channels such as MiKandi’s popular app store help mitigate distribution woes while opening new markets, but pale in comparison to the official outlets in terms of visitor volume.

The mobile web provides universal accessibility, and broader compatibility, but with less personalization or access to device-specific feature sets — such as GPS (a great addition to strip club and hookup apps), and unique gesture controls, which enable one-handed device operation — a boon for porn punters.

Other consumption considerations can include using a purely HTML5 deployment with MP4 and WEBM videos for the greatest level of cross-platform compatibility, and an underscoring of the importance of truly responsive designs, based on the knowledge that many consumers surf and make purchases via mobile devices, but often return via a large screen desktop to consume content.

Keep in mind that those who remain on their mobile devices rather than viewing their porn on a desktop may incur hefty bandwidth charges unless they are on Wi-Fi, making optimized images and videos vital for a faster, less expensive user experience.

The important takeaway is that mobile is no longer a sideline, but the mainline.

Regardless of mobile’s profit potential for adult marketers, many website operators, especially those who are still slaves to legacy infrastructure, treat this opportunity as an afterthought. Consider this your invitation to the profit party — join your peers and boost your riches by serving 2016’s mobile audience.

To see how your site stacks up, click here.

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