Porn’s New Marketing Tactics | Financial Times
Jason Maskell sips green tea at a cafe in London. The bespectacled and dressed entrepreneur has just run after a meeting in the House of Lords. If it conjures up an image of respectability and establishment, that’s exactly what Maskell is banking on.
Because the entrepreneur is a veteran of the adult industry. He tries to launch adultXfund (AXF), a crowdfunding platform for the industry, and is in talks with the Financial Conduct Authority. A former makeup artist, he fell into the industry by accident after being offered a position on the set of a pornographic film. “It led to other business opportunities and it grew from there.”
His visit to the House of Lords was part of the Digital Policy Alliance, a multi-stakeholder body that represents the internet and tech industry, to discuss new online age verification proposals for industries such as gambling, tobacco, alcohol and adults. industry. Founder of Adult Lifestyle Media Company, which creates adult content for mobile, web and DVD platforms, Maskell believes it is important to put “two cents in the spotlight” on the subject.
The idea for AXF came after an attempt to raise funds for an adult studio and distribution company on a mainstream crowdfunding platform failed when the owners got cold feet. Crowdfunding, Maskell had hoped, would provide an alternative source of funding for banks, which in his experience were very finicky when it came to lending to entrepreneurs in his industry. Last year, he says, his bank withdrew his business account. “Moral standards” was the reason given. Morality has been on the banks’ agenda since the financial crisis, he said.
Maskell hopes his own platform will receive the green light soon. It is intended to fund all kinds of products and services, from lingerie and toys to distribution, websites and DVDs.
The adult industry figures are impressionistic at best. Most of its constituents are private companies or freelancers who are not required to disclose their figures publicly. A survey conducted by trade organization Xbiz.net in 2012 estimated annual revenues to be $ 5 billion globally, which includes DVD sales and rentals, member-based websites, video-streaming. demand, live webcams, mobile and pay-per-view movies via cable and satellite.
Nonetheless, the industry has taken a hit. DVD sales and rentals have declined due to piracy and the wide range of free online offers. “The market has evolved. The adult industry has been very proactive in terms of innovation. Over the past few years it has had to change in response to free content, ”says Steve Winyard, vice president of ICM Registry, which owns and oversees the .xxx domain name. So-called “tube sites” – free video sharing websites like PornHub and YouPorn – rely heavily on content aggregation and ad selling due to the volume of visitor traffic.
Profitable entrepreneurs are optimistic about the future of the industry – all agree they need to work harder to promote their content. Social media, mobile technology, and the expansion into areas like live webcams and online dating (or, to be more precise, connections) are key to sustaining revenue. Like other areas of the publishing and entertainment industry, digital disruption has had a profound effect and brand building is essential to be a viable business. As with mainstream media, the disruption had a ripple effect on the rates paid to content providers, in this case artists and models.
“The market is wet; Where before you can make a movie and sell it, you now have to break it down into six or seven revenue streams – DVD, online, mobile – then you can create license agreements in different countries, ”Maskell explains.
“It’s not like it is, but there are still tons of people making money,” observes Mark Spiegler, an Los Angeles-based talent agent for female pornstars. “Making porn isn’t that expensive,” he adds. “If you can’t make money, you’re not very good at it.”
The former day trader entered the industry after his cousin asked him to invest in a film he was directing. He started his agency in 1999 and believes that women need agents because they have “short working lives” and need to maximize their opportunities. The competition is fierce, he says. “In the old days, girls fell into porn. On the Internet, many women watch porn and aspire to be stars.
The dark side of such renowned research was highlighted in Netflix’s recent documentary Hot girls wanted, which shows the belly of the amateur porn industry. He portrayed five teenage girls, leaving home in search of a new life. Very quickly, they go from elation to exploitation before being stranded, to be replaced by a new generation of volunteer candidates.
Maskell divides the porn industry into five genres: the real amateur (“the guy who takes a camcorder – or nowadays a smartphone or an iPad – and films him and his wife, or whoever else in it). a hotel room”); amateurs filmed by professionals; gonzo (“taken with portable cameras, very in front but taken professionally, well edited”); the high-end, big-budget (“artists – they’ll spend a lot of money”); and the rarer epic film (they could follow the script from “Pirates of the Caribbean, spend hundreds of thousands of pounds to rent helicopters ”).
He insists that the majority of viewers’ tastes are relatively mild: “A lot of them want good quality products, good sets and good locations, well shot, well edited, beautiful performers. All that hard and horrible stuff, they don’t want that. Most of the time, that’s not what sells. There is a small niche that can go to extremes, but that’s not what people are looking for. ”
LiveJasmin.com was launched in 2001 by Hungarian entrepreneur György Gattyán and in 2012 a more traditional sub-brand, Jasmin.com, was introduced. Initially, the website had a basic design and streaming technology, but over the years it has evolved for mobile consumption. Starting with 100-200 models online at any given time in the early 2000s, Jasmin.com now offers 2,000 to 3,000 live streams per second year round and over 1.5 million registered models (including 400,000 assets), according to the company. He says he has 50 million registered members. The way it makes money is by paying per minute for private live chats and a subscription for the models’ premium channel content.
Károly Papp, Managing Director of Docler Holding, the holding company that owns Jasmin.com, sees the future in “brand awareness and engagement.”
The money, Maskell notes, is “behind the camera – you make more money if you own the content, rather than if you just play.” Nonetheless, he says, smart artists are diversifying and expanding their brands. “They can go into more mainstream businesses or set up their own label or website and earn money from it.”
Social media is essential to building the brand. Twitter, many entrepreneurs note, is much more laissez-faire than Facebook or Instagram when it comes to delivering fairly self-explanatory content. Mark Hassell, director of marketing and sales at Paul Raymond Publications, a UK publisher of magazines, both digital and print, such as Mayfair and Men Only, believes Twitter is a double-edged sword. “I’ve been doing adult stuff for 10 years, but I’m shocked at what you can see on Twitter. If there is all this free stuff on Twitter, why would people pay for it? ”
Nonetheless, he sees social media on the whole as a boon to the industry, providing a gateway to paid content and helping his business tap into a younger demographic. The most famous stars are highly followed by social media and, like Hollywood actors, see these channels as a way to engage their audience.
Print magazines and DVDs have rebounded over the past year, Hassell says, with consumers worrying about shocking content or being watched by internet companies. “People are afraid of the Internet, especially free tube sites. They know their cookies are tracked. People can buy magazines and DVDs and throw them away. ”
He also believes the backlash of men’s magazines – men’s lifestyle magazines featuring female nudity, such as Loaded (which Paul Raymond Publications owned for a while) boosted sales of the top material. range. “The fact that the middle market is visible to children has generated a lot of reactions. Adult magazines had a clearer differentiation. “
Ultimately, Spiegler thinks the porn industry is a lot like everyone else. “There is politics and infighting,” he says. “It’s like in high school with ashtrays. There is a lot of gossip.
Photographs from the book ‘US’ by CJ Everard