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BANNERS bearing lewd phrases like “Pussycash” and “Want filthy mobile dollars?
” belied the unprovocative topics that quickened the conversation at a swish London hotel recently.
The foyer was abuzz with talk of “click-through ratios”, “conversion rates” and “monetising traffic” at XBIZ EU, an international conference on how to profit from pornography.
Big changes are afoot in the global adult entertainment business.
Subscription revenues are flaccid and sales of erotic DVDs have fallen by 70% across the industry in the past five years, reckons Steven Hirsch, the founder of Vivid Entertainment, who is something of a Bill Gates of porn.
His strategy has been to focus on specialised products like celebrity sex tapes and pornographic parodies.
Other big brands like Hustler and Playboy have chosen to diversify, and now trade on their names as much as their naughtiness.
The recent launch of the internet domain, whose addresses went on sale in September, betokens the industry's new respectability—although the decision comes at the end of an acrimonious debate that exacerbated criticisms of the internet's governance (see article).
But the ease with which the internet gratifies people's appetite for porn has—at least so far—eroded their willingness to pay for it.