Written by Masters student
Internet is considered to be the game changing invention of the 21st century. It has revolutionised the way how we interact within our societies and gave a birthplace to social media, a platform on which people create, share, and/or exchange information and ideas in virtual communities and networks (Kaplan & Haelein, 2010). Platforms which are currently topping the list of activities on the web (Qualman, 2012). The internet has certainly influence businesses as well; some organisations that were able to understand the societal and marketing challenges grew tremendously while others were slowly running out of business. Porn industry is an excellent example of this statement, with well established businesses closing one after another and rising starts of Web 2.0 such as new www.Xhamster.com(Xhamster) which have been a driving forces behind the technological development and deployment of content sharing social media (Attwood, 2010).
This article is going to focus on the evolution of relationship between internet and porn industry. A new era started by Web 1.0, followed by transformation to Web 2.0 and finally creation of a phenomenon, Porn 2.0. Ultimately the article will analyse new situation of porn industry online and provide an evidence of porn industry turning from porn content provider into social media platform. Lastly the article will describe new internet marketing challenges of Xhamster, the most popular adult content providing website and fill in the contemporary marketing studies who have failed to evolve with the changes of porn and perceive porn as a social media platform.
The role of internet within the porn industry has changed greatly since the first interactions. In the beginning of the Internet the major change was bringing pornography further into the privacy of the home and making it exponentially more accessible (Martin, 2010). This led to a dramatic increase in the covered audience (Bakker & Taalas, 2007). However important to mention is that internet did not create a new audience for the porn industry but rather made pornography more accessible to a former audience (Bakker & Taalas, 2007). During the age of top down approach of Web 1.0 with a few content creators and a vast majority of users acting as consumers the changes of porn industry were not as radical. Many well established offline porn businesses adjusted and moved parts of their business online where they continued selling their porn content. Example for all could be a reaction of Playboy magazine that entered other markets like video/DVD, pay-tv, Internet and mobile phone, and licensing pictures and movie clips from its huge online database (Bakker & Taalas, 2007). However the real revolution of pornographic industry came with a technical advancement of increasing the speed of connection to the internet and transfer to Web 2.0. The business approach of “one-to-many” became obsolete and was replaced by non-hierarchical “many to many” where users talk to other users in non-institutional spaces (Livingstone, 2008). The era of Web 2.0 changes introduces participatory generation of media-making (Paasone, 2010). A media where users collaborate, share, and generate new content, a Web 2.0 websites. For instance users of youtube.com upload their videos and share it with their peers, while other users comment on the content and rate it, making the most popular content easier to access. Another example of Web 2.0 is the website Wikipedia.org where users can create, share as well as edit and erase information. Therefor the websites are in a constant process of making blurring the so well characterising line for Web 1.0 between users and content creators (Mowlabocus, 2010).
What did the Web 2.0 revolution meant for porn? Web 1.0 changed the way how porn was being accessed, and caused many offline organisations to move online. However Web 2.0 pushed the boundaries even further. Broader changes in web use started the new era of online pornography referred to as Porn 2.0 or Netporn (Paasone, 2010). This term refers to an era of youtube.com style platforms offering multiple new ways of interacting with pornography, a period where the former audience became “We the media” (Slayden, 2010). Currently consumer produce their own amateur porn content, they communicate with each other, comment on content and rate it while creating their own favourite lists and promoting the most popular content. Many new features coming with Porn 2.0 are for example, live chats and web camera communication allowing direct interaction without intermediates such as on Xhamster.com. These inventions have diminished the praised marketing communication model of “one-to-many” and shucked the previously though indestructible porn business model (Martin, 2010). Companies such as Playboy or Penthouse, the well-established names porn industry, with magazines hidden under beds of generations of consumers, failed to understand the movement into social media platform and the strength of free amateur porn. They kept the same business model of marketing their products online and offline and slowly started running out of business. The latest evidence is FriendFinder (the publisher of Penthouse magazine) who went bankrupt in September 2013. These businesses have not realised, that Web 2.0 has disrupted the porn industry making their business models, way of communicating with consumers and marketing their products obsolete (Sakthi, 2013)
Internet porn as a social media
What happened to porn is that internet; respectively Web 2.0 has completely changed the revenue streams for business. Two most popular porn websites (Xhamster and www.Youporn.com(Youporn)) did not exist 9 years ago, but these businesses were able to see the shift of control over contend from businesses to individuals and react upon it. Internet in the form of Web 2.0 worked as a disruptive innovation (Bakker & Taalas, 2007). As for example Walkman made it possible to listen to music on the go, internet and respectively Web 2.0 opened up a free porn market created by individuals. This free market then changed the role of porn providers from providing a product to being a social medial platform. Are you asking what is behind the success of these websites? It is the fact of treating internet porn as a social media, hosting streaming material and providing a platform where porn community interacts. Specifically the web page Xhamster, the 52nd most visited website in the world (Alexa, 2014), allows visitors to create an account and encourages them to engage with other consumers and producers via profiles, comments and introductory videos (Attwood, 2010).As well Xhamster offers dating services; porn stories, games and live webcams. Thus Xhamster is not in the business of marketing and selling porn content but in the business of maintaining a social media content providing platform such as youtube.com. In the second part of this article we are going to look into the new world of Porn 2.0, take Xhamster as an example and understand the marketing of social media porn content provider.
The second part of this blog post and the bibliography will be published on 11th of August.