NEW YORK - A report from the Adult Internet Market Research Company, an independent firm, has made big news in recent weeks. The firm issued a press release on July 2 stating that "an unforeseen and surprising beneficiary of the Economic Stimulus Plan" was the adult online industry.
It made for some interesting headlines, especially since the days leading up to a holiday are notoriously slow news times for mainstream publications. Major newspapers and magazine immediately picked up on the press release, publishing story after story about it. The topic has been covered in the Los Angeles Times and the Atlanta Journal Constitution, as well as by overseas media outlets in India, England and Australia.
But it seems there are some problems with some of the statements and claims made in the press release, not the least of which is that many in the adult online industry say it's a bunch of hooey.
When asked if he had heard about people spending their stimulus checks on Internet porn, Yo Adrian of Radical Cash was succinct in his response.
"They are? Ha ha," he said.
Adrian said Radical Cash, which operates the sites Night Invasion, I Love Black Girls and San Diego Latinas among others, have seen no increase in joins since the checks, sent out as part of President Bush's plan to "boost the economy and encourage job creation," started going out earlier this year.
"We've actually been stuck at a certain point for a few months now; can't seem to break through it," Adrian said.
"June was worse than May," Lightspeed said. "We always see a drop in June, but it was more pronounced this year - even with Jordan back - so I don't see any truth to that report."
Biggy from Melissa Midwest's site was little more emphatic with his observations.
"This is just another irresponsible sensationalist journalism story aimed at creating views to their publication, with no factual evidence, because they know sex sells," he said. "In times of high oil, high unemployment, I'm sure everyone is rushing to spend their money on adult content. We have seen nothing of the like, and given our years of experience, we know more about the business than they do."
That's a far cry from the statement made by Jillian Fox, a spokeswoman for LSGModels.com, one of the sites that reported figures to AIMRCo.
"In a June 15, 2008, survey to our members, 32 percent of respondents referenced the recent stimulus package as part of their decision to either become a new member, or renew an existing membership," she is quoted in the release.
Kirk Mishkin, head research consultant for AIMRCo, said many of the sites surveyed for the report state 20 percent to 30 percent growth in membership rates since mid-May.
Mishkin, who could not be reached for comment, leads AIMRCo, a nonprofit organization "that specializes in gathering, interpreting and distributing data on the online adult market," the company's press release states.
AIMRCo states it conducted its research through "surveys, interviews, and information analysis" and attempts "to assess trends and opportunities in the Internet market capitalized on by adult paysites, affiliate sites, and traffic trading sites. Using our connected network of over 400 paysites and 2,000 affiliates/traffic trading sites, we gather the data necessary to make informed market trend assessments."
It all sounds pretty impressive. But Mishkin doesn't give any concrete stats or information on the methodology used in the study about economic stimulus checks. And AVN Online columnist Tom Johansmeyer has blogged about the problems. Johansmeyer also has not been able to contact Mishkin for comment on the release and the study. And he noticed that while AIMRCo claims to have been around for a few years, the domain name for the AIMRCo.com site was registere with GoDaddy on June 17, 2008.
"I took a look at LSGModels.com and MoreyStudio.com, and they look like low-rent adult sites at best," he added. "Don't get me wrong; they may be above-board businesses (they probably are). But, they are not major adult Internet powerhouses. Of course, neither has listed contact information.
"So, we are left with the question, is AIMRCo's research real? Not likely."