Lessons From XXX: What Porn Can Teach Us As Bloggers And Marketers

Yes, that's right. There are things we can learn from the world of online porn. Check this out, and yes, I'm going to want your input at the end of this post. :) See, online porn has long been a trend setter in the world of online marketing. What you see them doing eventually becomes mainstream (they also make mistakes that we can learn from). For example, the evolution of online video was driven very much by the world of porn. In an indirect way, the growth of broadband probably was driven by this... because, well, in those days, why else would somebody need high speed except for porn? ;) People like Brad Gosse might refer to that as the "good days" of online porn. Money was flowing. They were setting trends. Then, it all changed...

Yes, that’s right. There are things we can learn from the world of online porn.

Check this out, and yes, I’m going to want your input at the end of this post. 🙂

See, online porn has long been a trend setter in the world of online marketing. What you see them doing eventually becomes mainstream (they also make mistakes that we can learn from).  For example, the evolution of online video was driven very much by the world of porn. In an indirect way, the growth of broadband probably was driven by this… because, well, in those days, why else would somebody need high speed except for porn? 😉

People like Brad Gosse might refer to that as the “good days” of online porn. Money was flowing. They were setting trends.

Then, it all changed…

The Moment Porn Changed

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Brad Gosse is a nice guy, and I recently had the opporunity to listen to him speak at the Underground Seminar. Today, he has several online businesses (not porn related) and has done quite well for himself. He got his start, however, as a major player on the business end of online porn.

During his talk, he pointed out that online porn has historically been 2-3 years ahead of the rest of the internet in terms of trend. What you see them do, you’ll eventually see go mainstream.

But, not so much anymore. What changed?

It all changed the day somebody decided to attract leads by posting a tiny bit of free content. You know, some small collection of porn photos given away for free as a way to attract people into a paid product. Today, this happens ALL the time, and that’s the point…

A little bit of “free” evolved into a LOT of “free”. Various suppliers of porn were competing for how much free stuff they were giving away. Then, this evolved into video. More and more free porn video clips were being published. The cost of bandwidth of all of this was extremely high and Brad shared that, at one point, he was paying as much as $30,000 per MONTH for his hosting.

In the world of internet marketing, we’re familiar with the idea of “moving the free line”. I believe it was Eben Pagen who came up with that phrase, but it essentially means that you’re giving more and more stuff away for free as a way to get people into your paid stuff.

In the world of porn, they pioneered the idea of moving the free line. It became increasingly cost prohibitive to do it. Not only that, it just progressed (driven by competition) to the point that, today, nobody needs to pay for anything.

See, of course I know NOBODY here ever looks at porn (cough! 😉 ), but there is so much free content out there that nobody needs to pay for anything. Just throw any adult term you can think of along with the word “tube” into a domain, and you’ll probably end up on a porn site with TONS of stuff.

So, let’s draw the parallel….

When Moving The Free Line Backfires

So, the lesson found in online porn is that they moved the free line so far that they basically committed business suicide. Today, it is all but impossible to get people to pay for online porn. There simply isn’t any need.

Let’s now look at our more mainstream world of blogging and internet marketing. Marketers are, today, giving more and more away for free. Bloggers do it all the time and are taught to do exactly that. We’re all basically conditioned to give everything away.

This model works, obviously. We all love free stuff and many bloggers (including myself) have built up our brands and popularity by giving away lots of free content. And it isn’t as if that doesn’t work. I’ve made a lot of money in this business and the marketing side of my business is driven almost exclusively by the distribution of free content.

But, Brad pulled no punches in his talk at Underground. He warned about the danger of moving the free line too far. He said it happened to the world of porn, and he sees it happening in our world now.

People are increasingly skeptical of paid offers today. Many people don’t buy awesome products because they think they can find what they need out there on free blogs. We are, collectively, molding a market where people expect free. That’s not good for business. Not only that, people don’t really value free stuff. They’ll SAY they do, but when it is free, they don’t really take action and they become information connoisseurs. Probably kind of like a porn addict, in some ways – no sex, but they keep looking. 🙂

At what point does it go too far?

And, is it a bad thing or not? There is a VERY valid point that the Internet wouldn’t be where it is today were it not for the free sharing of information, and I agree with that wholeheartedly. However, when it comes to making money at it, does it begin to backfire at a certain point?

Perhaps not if your business model is primarily driven by affiliate marketing. Plus, there is also the idea of reciprocity – give things away so people are more likely to buy from you when the time comes.

But, there is a tipping point there. In some markets, I believe we’re nearing that tipping point now.

Today’s Porn Business Models, And The Lesson Therein…

So, today, you can’t really sell porn content very easily. The audience simply has no need to buy because there’s so much free stuff out there.

Brad says that, today, the big trend is in live, streaming video feeds. In other words, dudes are paying not only for higher quality videos, but also for live, streaming videos. Webcam feeds of adult performers is now pretty popular, and even sites which sell content are now doing this streaming thing.

So, what’s the lesson?

People don’t pay for content. They pay for ACCESS.

The volume and quality of recorded content is so high that it has commoditized. However, access to a person is, by it’s nature, a limited resource.

Brad also told a story of one lady who did live, streaming stuff… literally nothing more than snapping scantily clad pictures of herself on her cell phone in the mirror, and posting them online. She developed a huge following and all these dudes were offering to buy her gifts. They were sending her all kinds of gifts, including Ipods and other electronics.

In other words, they felt like they were insiders in this girl’s life and they had access. And, of course, being the horny old men they were, they thought they had a chance or something. 🙂 Hilarious, really.

But, it shows that people will pay for access. How many times have you bought an online course because access to the instructor (the “guru”) was the real selling point?

Here’s What I Want You To Do Next…

Obviously, my interest here isn’t in the world of porn. However, Brad’s point about that world being a bit like looking into the crystal ball of our own world was quite interesting. And, the lessons are there.

So, here’s what I’d like you to do right now:

  1. Post a comment below and share how you think YOU could apply the idea of selling access rather than simply content. The idea here is to help the community of readers here on this blog. We’re all after the same basic things, I’m guessing. 🙂
  2. Share this post with your friends on Twitter and Facebook if you think it was valuable and a good read. I’d appreciate it. 🙂

I’ll see you in the comments…

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Responses

  1. Its like a pay-per-click scenario.  People are always complaining having all this kind of household expenses and like, but still they can afford to buy porn access just to satisfy their libido..

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