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Porn Analytics

When You Are Horny: Porn Analytics’ Use of Data to Know You Better

Fun Fact: The Fantasy World of Pornography Knows More About Your Sexual Desires Than Your Wife or Girlfriend. While You Think ‘Entertainment’ Porn Analytics is Being Processed for a Better User Experience.

 

Humans consume incomprehensible amounts of data each day, and a decent slice of this information pours out from the media outlets around us. Sports, television, internet radio, or even social media apps occupy large amounts of our day and time. But there’s one industry with one brand in particular which has quietly swept up almost all of its own market share and instantly monopolized its entire sector through ingenious, data-driven approaches. This is an industry which routinely accounts for 5-15% of all Internet sites (out of over a billion sites currently live) and whose top dog scored 42 billion site visits in 2019 alone, racking up 115 million visits a day. It’s a business with a notoriety for sleaze, manipulation, and the objectification of women…but in reality, is comprised mostly of tech nerds and business execs. We’re talking about the world of pornography, and its star player, PornHub.

 

 

More Data-Driven Marketing Related Content from HVMA:
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► Using Identity Resolution To Create A 360-Degree View Of Your Customers
► How To Be A Better Leader – Data-Driven Decision-Making
► Omnichannel Marketing – The Ultimate Marketing Pathway

 

*Connect with us on LinkedIn HVMA Social Media LinkedIn Profile
*More Data-Driven Content from HVMA: Are you ready to get a ROI from social media?

 

 

Now, you might be thinking, “What the heck? Am I reading the wrong article?” Nope! Porn has established itself as one of the most-watched genres on the Internet and doesn’t stem from a streaming giant such as Netflix, Amazon Prime Video or Hulu. Porn sites collect more user data than Netflix or Hulu. Explicit videos and movies have made their way well past the red carpet and landed huge studios the opportunity to rake in millions by feeding off of the one thing those other media conglomerates can never really attain—your truly personal data. Now, this might sound scary at first—but isn’t that honestly what you’re doing every day when you’re logging on and watching for a few minutes after the wife or kids are asleep? Accessing the Internet through Facebook and Gmail collect information and user data as your peruse through their sites…so why wouldn’t porn analytics exist?

 

They would, and they do. Sites like PornHub collect and utilize your online habits and user data just as much, if not more than most major social media channels—and that’s saying something, considering the hot seat Facebook and Google are currently in. So, why is this conversation not being had? We tend to easily forget that porn sites operate just as intelligently and that the implications of porn analytics may be more sinister than we may want to believe. Below, we explore the methods that the biggest name in porn has used to garner billions of views a year through an essentially perfect system of content generation and marketing.

 

Porn Sites—Intelligent, or Invasive?

Think about this. Every time you finish a Netflix episode or Spotify song, the platform suggests related content and curates mixes or playlists of shows or songs that they somehow automatically know you’re going to like. As if they’ve studied the subtlest movements, when you pause, where you linger on a scene, your user preferences, and the data you create as you watch and move through the platform. And that’s because they have! In the modern age, personalization is key. Streaming services gather and transform your viewer data into invaluable insights from which they can then identify key opportunity areas to exploit. These aren’t necessarily negative; they can influence business decisions and even creative decisions, such as the content itself. This “algorithm argument” was something Netflix admitted to in the creation of its original show, Maniac.

 

At this point, you’ve probably guessed it—massive porn sites which you routinely visit now wield their own fair share of knowledge and power in their operations process. PornHub transferred 6,597 petabytes of data in 2019—and that’s just one site. All of these porn analytics contain massive amounts of sensitive information, including search queries, digital footprint tracking, audience metrics and analyses—personal data that shouldn’t be in the wrong hands. These companies can track metrics such as playback time, rewind points, the sequence of multiple videos watched and particulars within those—such as video content factors which captivated audiences. This could relate to the clothing actresses wear, the types of sexual activities taking place, and even the order within which a user transgressed the site until they, well…finished. Just like we’ve learned about the big tech firms, online user data is PornHub’s currency. So it would only be fair for us to assume and hold them to as high a standard and to treat our data with care. Right?

 

A “Brief” History of PornHub

In order to understand the magnitude and complexity at which PornHub and porn analytics operates, one must understand the backstory and key individuals who go with it—and who sparked the intelligent, data-driven approach to a historically slow-moving industry. Psychology Today recalls the year being 1997 when pornography began the digital migration onto the Internet. The big problem was that there was little to no transparency regarding viewership, statistics, and detailed information within the audience base. Government agencies, public groups, scholars and journalists all speculated. But the information that was available, was often misleading or incorrect—often times contradictory. Fast forward to 2005, when Roger Mougalas coined the phrase “big data” and the entire world changed. Business trends started prioritizing identifying their customer and data analytics above everything. It wasn’t until 2017, when the pornography giant PornHub abruptly released a trove of site analytics and metrics. The world’s most popular porn site, it turned out, had gotten their porn data collection, user experience and robust revenue systems nailed down pat. How did they do it? You might need to think: porn analytics.

“Streaming is not just about distribution of content, it’s also about communication,” says Kal Raustiala, a professor at the UCLA School of Law and International Institute. “When you stream a video or listen to a song, you are sending back information that can be measured.” The company to master this art was none other than MindGeek, a Montreal-based firm with an interesting history. In the late 1990s, tech entrepreneur Fabian Thylmann created NATs, software that was the framework for pay-per-click advertising engines and advertising commission structures for site owners who wanted to host ad space. After making millions, he bought Montreal-based adult web firm Mansef, who had just developed PornHub. He changed the name of the company to Manwin, then finally MindGeek.The innovator then fused his own click-tracking technology with stolen digital pornographic content to allow users to upload whatever videos they desired and subsequently monetize off of the ads that ran alongside them. Using porn analytics and metrics, PornHub ruled over the industry by wielding knowledge as power.

 

Today, even without Thylmann on the team, MindGeek remains the world’s largest porn company. It acts as a holding firm for major production names and sites such as the PornHub Network, RedTube, and MyDirtyHobby. In spite of the lewdness of it all, MindGeek has in fact pushed the envelope of innovation for creating a highly efficient feedback loop that also feeds large revenue generation. Rather than hiring unsavory characters, as is stereotyped of figureheads who work in the porn industry, Thylmann initially focused his efforts on hiring the best tech talent in Montreal to build the site and the brightest designers to create the content.

Brandon Reti, Director of Mobile at that time explained, “The content was filmed in the valley and never Montreal, and there was really a separation there which was important…I don’t think they would have been able to recruit as many people as they did if people were really on set. You were hiring tech nerds, people to program, business intelligence analysts.” Fabian himself once remarked, “If you walk into their offices today unless you stumbled on the wrong floor, you would not notice what they do.” Overcoming the obstacle of reputation in the realm of pornography was only the beginning of MindGeek’s vision for a serious, tech-driven machine.

 

Recycling Your Kinks To Keep You Watching

Much of MindGeek’s success can be attributed to their ability to create fine-tuned, tailor-made content in-house. The firm’s edge lies in the platform’s ability to take user porn data, (porn analytics) dissect it to understand that audience profile on a deeply personal level and then re-advertise their pornographic preferences or sexual tastes back to the viewer, ensuring the greatest number of clicks, views and therefore, revenue. After all, you can’t go wrong if you’re giving the person exactly what they know they like/want in the first place! Plus, the demand for sex will never go anywhere—it’s universal. Essentially, MindGeek has ingeniously captured us by selling us back our wildest, most ideal fantasy after understanding the kind of places our minds can go. This, of course, can take one down a few different roads…giving us a method by which to expunge those sexual energies and consume material contingent to those needs, but also a platform to feed that hunger, and ultimately fuel a dark addiction.

 

Take it straight from the experts’ mouth, though—Lynn Comella, associate professor of Gender and Sexuality Studies at The University of Nevada believes that the world of adult entertainment is just that: entertainment. “It’s helpful to take step back and think about a company like MindGeek like we would any other monopolized streaming media entity,” she remarks. After all, these porn sites operate to control and manipulate the flow of information amongst one of the Internet’s largest captive audiences. Within a digital landscape teeming with subscription models and firms who incessantly demand more from users in exchange for premium experiences, PornHub has taken quite the different approach.

 

Creating an account or profile on most porn sites is free, and only requires your name, date-of-birth and gender…or so we think. Although sites like PornHub claim they don’t mismanage your porn analytics – personal data – or invade your privacy, neither incognito mode nor their false promises can stop them from harvesting your IP address, browsing data, tracking search queries, and even keyboard strokes—all very sensitive sets of information. The good news? MindGeek doesn’t sell any of this private data and in fact recycles its porn analytics in a number of ways, explains MindGeek’s vice president, Catherine Dunn. Users can watch a virtually unlimited amount of porn without even having to make an account.

The tradeoff? They are provided with sexual fantasies and experiences that they can’t find anywhere else, as they subconsciously allow the site to access their user data. The intelligence which directly influences these tube sites’ video creation. Now, studios no longer have to guess what kinds of positions, scenes or situations people fantasize about. They can analyze viewer behavior on a granular level and, quite literally, call the shots.

 

As time passes, the real payoff is secured when the user ultimately subscribes for premium, personalized content to fit their desires. This “data-driven authorship” approach allows major studios to tailor-build content for viewers to draw in the paying customers. Through processes such as A/B testing multitudes of videos, implementing machine learning and artificial intelligence to enhance the workflow, the rapidity of porn’s manifestation has exploded. Remember, they’re dealing with mining millions of views’ worth of porn analytics, and over thousands of A/B tests to identify variables which procured the highest viewership.

MindGeek harvests these key highlights, incorporates them into the scripts (perhaps they feature certain actresses like Stormy Daniels, who was one of the top searches of 2018) and develop videos or movies which directly appeal to mass audiences who are all, erm, into the same stuff! This way, people can instantly find exactly what they’re looking for because PornHub’s data team already did the work to place that content in front of them.

 

How Porn Is Redefining The Future of Sex and Tech—Yes, You Read That Right!

 

It’s abundantly clear that pornography studios are amassing millions of dollars and reinvesting them into their productions by using a highly intelligent and data-driven approach to fuel their business growth, particularly in an industry which has historically been tough to break. By producing shorter, more robust and specific videos, they provide the ultimate satisfaction for the user within a reasonable timeframe. MindGeek and PornHub have perfected the adult film creation and transmission processes. People only spend about 10 minutes on PornHub at a time as it is (Quartz, 2018). Through allowing user-generated content as well as multi-million dollar productions to flourish equally, the system presents its range of offerings to propel itself at no additional cost. And by utilizing ad revenue streams as well as paid subscription models by giving the user what they want, they have established an unprecedented bond with their user base—one that can provide for diverse sexual needs across a variety of demographics. For parents, this means no longer worrying about time constraints or kids needing attention…and for gentlemen on the go or who travel frequently, this platform provides an outlet for a basic human need.

 

Ironic as it is, porn is in fact as productive as it is destructive. PornHub operates one of the world’s most sophisticated analytical operations for digital data that caters more towards users over ad firms. As Quartz remarks, MindGeek’s bandwidth exceeds both  Facebook and Amazon’s, and in spite of the nature of its business, has blossomed more so away from the limelight rather than in it—unlike the standard giant tech firm. Adult entertainment has also been quietly propelling the turbines of various technologies and modern society’s understanding of sex itself. In a 2017 story from The Cut titled “PornHub is the Kinsey Report of our time”, Maureen O’Conner wrote: “The streaming sex empire may have done more to expand the sexual dreamscape than Helen Gurley Brown, Masters and Johnson, or Sigmund Freud,” referring to the prominent and highly respected minds in the fields of sexuality and science. Internet surfers who peruse through porn sites may in fact be rewiring their own minds and perceptions of sexuality within their own lives…for better or for worse. People having access to diverse forms of sexual expression is good—until that begins to distort the idea of sex without context or appropriate education.

 

 

More Data-Driven Marketing Related Content from HVMA:
► The Future Of Personalization in Digital Marketing
► Using Identity Resolution To Create A 360-Degree View Of Your Customers
► How To Be A Better Leader – Data-Driven Decision-Making
► Omnichannel Marketing – The Ultimate Marketing Pathway

 

*Connect with us on LinkedIn HVMA Social Media LinkedIn Profile
*More Data-Driven Content from HVMA: Are you ready to get a ROI from social media?

 

 

Historically, porn has also been one of the major early adopters of groundbreaking technology for the time period; whether it was VHS, instant messaging, online retail or video/cam streaming. Porn didn’t necessarily invent these technologies, but definitely helped them take off quicker. Shira Tarrant, a professor of Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at California State University explains that “technology and sexually explicit material have always gone hand in hand. If it wasn’t for the titillation factor…it would be easier to view [porn] for what it is: a thriving business that should be a part of “media literacy,” in the same way that social media or fake news is.” A polarizing viewpoint from an unexpected expert! Through finding out what its users want, Spotify, for example, has wielded the power of AI to process, analyze and extract key opportunities from big data.
Netflix invested over $8 billion into original content in 2018 alone—so it’s no surprise that adult studios are purchasing up the competition, ingesting droves of porn analytics, creating in-demand content, ensuring a steady flow of consumers by offering free uploads and definitely ensuring they like what they see. Of course, the cycle repeats as they pull them back as repeat customers and, ultimately, conversions. At this point, the only way to push the envelope further is to immerse the viewer in the experience even more—and that’s just what sex tech firms are doing.

 

The future of porn lies in virtual reality, or VR, artificial intelligence, or AI, and a new domain within the industry dubbed “sex tech”. Bryony Cole, founder of the Future of Sex podcast, defines the term as “any technology designed to enhance sexuality.” This can include sex-bots (which are a rampant problem in areas like Japan, which now face a birth rate crisis) dildos with orgasm sensors and video games which allow you to actively partake in the character’s plot decisions. These newer and newer iterations of technologies will no doubt come equipped with more advanced, more accurate systems of data tracking and sex analysis to ultimately provide users with the most immersive world to live out their deepest and darkest sexual desires.

 

Think about it…Porn analytics can already build you a better profile than Facebook or Google…they’ve got the data game downright. They’re definitely listening to your needs and requests every time you log on and type in that secret fetish you harbor— just know the implications of your words and the power that they carry.

 

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