Cult of Personality: Mine, yours and ours...

Success – it's what we're all here for.

Except, of course, for those of you who are here just to look at naked people.

In putting together this issue, specifically our feature on personality-based marketing and our annual industry revenue report, something occurred to me.

Those of us who cut our teeth in the online industry, have to some extent, become successful because of who we are, rather than what we produce. It's something that will carry a greater influence on this industry as a whole as the online sector continues to grow.

Whether that's good or bad is up for debate, but the fact is that the online sector is home to a substantial portion of the adult industry's profits - $2.8 billion to exact, and rising. That's 22 percent of adult industry revenue, compared to 28 percent (nearly $4.3 billion) from video sales and rentals, a number that decreased more than 15 percent from 2005. It's quite possible that online revenue could overtake video revenue in two years, if current trends continue, and there's no reason to think they won't.

When that happens, some people in the old guard are going to wonder how. Well, the answers are easy – forward thinking, adaptation, good business sense, willingness to experiment with new technologies, development of new marketing techniques, personality…


It's a wild notion, I know, but let's throw out some of the cadre of similar terms that we will inevitably talk about – marketing, selling, and networking.

The online sector of the industry networks like no one else. You don't often see the big wigs in the rest of the adult industry, or any industry for that matter, getting together for drinks, hob-knobbing over dinner, going to 72 trade shows a year, or turning personal events into industry events.

This method of doing business has given rise to the personality – and I'm not talking about board whores, keyboard warriors or people who get paid to take their clothes off. I'm referring to a personality as someone who carries their own brand independent of a company, someone who, when you deal with them, you know exactly what you're going to get, and you know them, because they are everywhere and they are part of this community.

This, you see, is part of the evolution of the industry.

In the early days of adult entertainment, producers didn't have to brand themselves, they didn't have to have personality, and they probably didn't want to, either. If they did any at all, they were marketing directly to the consumer. Many didn't want to be known, much less seen. Business just wasn't done the way it currently is. That's probably because no one wanted to work with their competitors back then. They wanted to beat them.

That ideology carried over, as studios became the dominant source of revenue in the adult industry, but today, we're on the verge of the takeover of new media.

I think it's pretty clear how all these crazy business practices came about. Some years ago, in the infancy of the adult Web, someone developed something called an affiliate program and decided to change the focus of marketing from business-to-consumer to business-to-business.

No longer was the opinion of Joe Consumer paramount. The opinion of Joe Porno now counted quite a bit too. How to influence Joe Porno to send you his valuable traffic? Buy him drinks, impress upon him what a great guy you are with your outrageous and frank behavior, take him and 10 of his best friends to the titty bar, throw a killer party, or maybe even put on some women's clothing with your program's name on it. You are, after all, a personality.

The online industry has come to work well together. It's almost incestuous, but it's the economic model in which we've thrived.

Not to trip over the chicken or the egg question, but has the industry spawned all of these personalities or have these personalities spawned the soon-to-be largest sector of this industry? Yes, the dominant business model has shaped why we do things the way we do things, but hasn't also the type of person in this industry?

Remember, these aren't your father's pornographers. Online entrepreneurs are typically from a different generation than the individuals who dominate the video sector of the industry. They've grown up in an era where adult entertainment is more prevalent and more accepted than it was the generation before. Most of them are not afraid to stand up and say, 'Hey, I make porno for a living. Look at me.'

Either way you slice it, we are on the verge of the next iteration of our industry, and I just have to wonder if maybe content or traffic aren't really king at all anymore. Hasn't marketing become the one true indispensable aspect of this business?

If you can market, you can surely come by those other things.

So go forth, young man, and sell your ass off. Market your wares to the porn-grubbing consumer. Market your business to your money-loving competition. Market yourself to your fun-loving peers.

Just remember to stay on message, because when everyone starts marketing, selling, networking, talking, and/or developing his or her distinct personalities, you'd better have something mighty memorable to say.