In this episode I talk about how we have a not so surprising industry to thank for the acceleration of many innovations we take for granted today. And I share the advice I once gave to one of the biggest players in the space.
Excerpt from the Guardian:
1980s, the internet was frequented by four types of people: government officials, university students, tech geeks like me and adult content seekers. According the Guardian the online adult industry has its roots in the bulletin board systems (BBS) that evolved separately from the internet in the 1980s. They gave way to Usenet newsgroups and free FTP (file transfer protocol, a format for exchanging files over the internet). Users talked about things they had on BBSs and in the newsgroups, then traded the files online.
“The earliest adult content sites on the net were FTP sites run for free from college campuses, especially MIT for some reason,” said one early watcher of the web who asked to remain anonymous. “All the free sites shut down under escalating traffic load in 93-94. Of course they were all rampant copyright violations, and lots of people stopped carrying the newsgroups because of the huge amounts of bandwidth and storage space they required.”
The early sex sites needed to respond quickly to massive use because when a server went down and lost traffic that meant lost revenue. Although not necessarily credited with inventing these technologies, adult webmasters were the first to figure out how to put them to profitable use. As the businesses became more sophisticated, the online adult content industry had an accelerated course in the pitfalls of making money on the web. Overloaded servers, difficulties with video streaming technology, credit card processing – all the problems that web businesses struggle with today were handled in short order by the adult webmasters.
Technical challenges like video streaming and keeping a server live in a tide of traffic weren’t the only innovations early adult webmasters had. They were also quickly learning how to stimulate traffic and profitability. Two other developments in use today, pay-per-click banner ads and real-time credit card processing, the heart of many content sites, were developed by these early webmasters.
So I had been watching and living through this and always made a point of watching the gambling and adult industry because what they do always foreshadows what will happen in the mainstream. You want to be innovative and have an edge in business and marketing just watch those two industries and you’ll always be ahead of the game…. anyway imagine my shock one year when I was approached by one of the multi billion dollar players in that industry for a CMO role … they used a recruiting firm and the company had a respectable parent company name that I wasn’t at first able to connect the dots about yet…
Anyway so the recruiter set me up with the CIO and CEO of this beast of a company … this was 2011 and the Adult industry was facing a zillion existential threats … this is an industry that search engines had stopped allowing paid search, the organic search had restrictions, the social media channels didnt allow advertising, the tube streaming sites were taking the industries original content and streaming it for free and the industry couldn’t do take-downs for copyright infringement fast enough, you cannot get apps in the app store so they were the first to figure out how do things like bypass the app store and stream on devices like the ipad literally the day after it launched…any way … I ended up having a great conversation with them and I told them that I couldnt work for them but I would be open to doing some work essentially brainstorm on a blueprint for a survival… I wont share all the ideas but one was I remember telling them that the actors were the key …. seeing them as partners and their following as part of the GTM … it was similar to what I had learned at Points.com … people get obsessed with collecting certain points… and become loyal to X program… so we marketed Points.com through the program… in the same way the production houses needed to rethink how they worked with the actors…. social media was key… Instagram had launched the year before and though the industry couldn’t advertise …on social media you could scale reach without advertising…. so before the Instagram Model and influencer marketing as we know it to day…. anyway …. thats story of how I almost worked with the porn industry… I got an offer from Micrsoft for the 3rd time and decided to take that instead…..
According to Complex Magazine here are the THE 10 WAYS THE ADULT INDUSTRY MOVED TECHNOLOGY FORWARD:
The last is innovation is my favorite marketing tactic that is near and dear to my heart because it is the first type of marketing I did in the 90’s my 1st gig for a technology company was building and affiliate program.
As legend has it, Jeff Bezos, CEO and founder of Amazon.com, chatted with a woman at a cocktail party about how she wanted to sell books about divorce on her web site. After that exchange, Bezos pondered the idea and thought about having the woman link her site to Amazon.com and receive a commission on the book sales. This was the impetus for creating the “first on the Web” Amazon.com Associates Program.
In February 2000, Amazon.com announced that it had been granted a patent (6,029,141) on all the essential components of an affiliate program. The patent application was submitted in June 1997, which was before most affiliate programs but not before PC Flowers & Gifts.com (October 1994), AutoWeb.com (October 1995), Kbkids.com/BrainPlay.com (January 1996), EPage (April 1996), and a handful of others.
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