Want to be ahead of other brands in finding that next great digital channel with an untapped audience?
Seriously, you need to keep an eye on how the pornography industry is bringing its content to market. While there will always be debate over whether pornography still drives the internet, the truth is that one out of every seven internet searches is for porn. Porn has also been on the leading edge of new content technology since the introduction of the VHS.
Sex is hard-wired into our brains. It’s probably because it’s literally a matter of life or death, so it’s not surprising that from the time humans learned how to use tools, we started creating porn. Don’t believe us? There are cave paintings depicting couples having sex that date back 11,000 years! Thankfully, we don’t have to work that hard. Can you use the word hard in an article about online porn?
Anyway, the point is that pornography has always been an innovator or early adopter as society has invented new ways to consume content and interact with each other. The reason this industry always finds itself on the cutting edge has more to do with the structure of its audience than it does the nature of the content.
You see, the pornography audience has a lot of elements that allow the industry to learn and react quickly. The reason is that it has niche content that appeals to a broad audience, and that audience is already accustomed to a mix of free, ad-supported, and paid content. It is also unique that porn has been forced to build all of its own infrastructures, mostly outside of what most people would consider mainstream social media because of its explicit content. Places like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube have strict content guidelines that don’t allow porn to exist.
Increasing restrictions on platforms like Facebook has created an opportunity for OnlyFans to become disruptive. In an era of digital marketing that has seen the Influencer and Creator rise as the new celebrity, OnlyFans is uniquely positioned to capitalize. Sure, OnlyFans today is primarily used by sex workers and their subscribers, but it’s the business model that has our attention.
There is a huge disparity in what mainstream social platforms charge for advertising compared to what they share with the creators – with the creators losing out every time. The OnlyFans model is different. It empowers the creator to make money from their content directly from the fans consuming it. OnlyFans takes a percentage of what creators earn and uses it to maintain and grow the platform.
As would be expected, porn was one of the first use cases for this new type of social network. It’s an opportunity for intimate, totally uncensored, and completely authentic interactions. But the demand for connection isn’t limited to sex. In Hulu’s recent documentary “OnlyFans: Selling Sexy,” they talk about the influx of celebrity and influencer OnlyFans accounts. From Bella Thorne to Aaron Carter to Real Housewives star Sonja Morgan — most of these accounts aren’t sharing explicit content at all. Instead, they are using the platform to connect with fans and monetize their brand in a new way.
This celebrity adoption of OnlyFans is where things get REALLY interesting because it is consistent with the pattern of early adoption and then exit for porn. Unacceptable working conditions in the adult film industry-led content creators to an alternative platform that offers them complete control. Similarly, celebrities and influencers who make Instagram millions of dollars in ad revenue seek a platform that gives them control.
The documentary characterizes this migration as a threat to sex workers making a living on OnlyFans. While that might be the case, it also reflects a much more natural evolution of the platform maturing at a time when many creators feel taken advantage of by other social networks.
What does this mean for you? It means that brands should consider working with creators on OnlyFans. These creators have large, engaged, paid audiences that directly fund their content creation, benefiting both the creator and OnlyFans. The arrival of celebrities like Tyga, DJ Khaled, Cardi B, Michael B. Jordan, and Dorinda Medley means that mainstream celebrities are interested in a platform to monetize their brand more directly and have more intimate, authentic uncensored interactions. It’s not too hard to imagine branded content opportunities for celebrities on OnlyFans because they can guarantee the audience’s size and their attention to the content. That’s something that no other social network can quantify for an advertiser today.
If you’re asking yourself, “why would anyone pay to subscribe to a channel to watch a celebrity promote a product, don’t worry?” We did too. It’s not as foreign as it might seem though we do the same thing on cable, streaming, in major motion pictures, and even most music.
Despite being controversial early in its life, OnlyFans is a unique and compelling alternative model for a social network. Instead of algorithm-driven based on behavior, it’s much more user-driven based on choice. That distinction appeals to users who prefer to have more control over the content they’re exposed to. Or at least believe they do. We don’t see the trend of audiences directly funding creators slowing down, and we believe OnlyFans is positioned to make a significant impact in that shift. Our advice to our clients is to get ready to see your brand on OnlyFans; your customers probably already are.