If you fret, like David Pogue of The New York Times, that post-Avatar 3D just isn’t catching on in homes, no worries. Penthouse and Playboy entered 2011 in a race to create the first three-dimensional porn TV channel. This is key because where pornography goes, other media follow.
Porn has been at the forefront of media for centuries. The daguerreotype, the first major photographic technique, was invented in 1835, and only 17 years later an estimated 40 percent of the photos sold in Paris were of nudes. Hot sales of risque books in the 1870s — more than 100,000 porn stories were bought each year in New York City — helped the publishing industry take root in America. Porn even decided which type of VCR you owned in the 1980s, after a Sony Beta and JVC VHS tape format battle. (Sony tried to prohibit porn on its tapes, JVC didn’t care, and the rest was history.) Which brings us to our century. Video formats have been stuttering online for a decade, but testing and enhancements by porn sites, competing furiously to give users the best viewing experience, helped refine the Internet streaming technology which allows you to watch clips at Hulu and CNN.com now.
So what could happen if Hugh Hefner and friends push porn into TV’s third dimension? No one admits to buying a $400 box just to watch sex, but innovation in the erotic arena could intrigue enough that device sales begin to scale. Analysts predict the piddly 3.2 million 3D TVs sold globally last year may grow to 91 million by 2014, but only if enough 3D content is produced to entice viewers. It’s no coincidence that the primary demo for porn and tech gadgetry is men in the prime of life. So if your hubby buys a 3D set for the basement, be proud — he’s likely an enthusiastic early adopter.
Image: Mi Pah
We could debate all day whether this photograph of a topless woman cupping her breast is simply photorealism of cancer self-examination or the explicit depiction of sexual subject matter with the sole intention of boosting newsstand sales. Reader’s Digest is still the best-selling magazine in the U.S., with circulation above 10 million; when such a conservative pub takes its top off, you know magazine publishers are feeling pressure.
The real story of course is how sexual stimulation is the ultimate fallback in grabbing human attention, no matter how much we think we’ve evolved. Humans are still mammals awash in hormones. The Family Safe Media watchdog group estimates there are 68 million daily searches for pornography online, accounting for 25% of all search engine requests. Provocative nudity has been used to sell products since at least 1871. There’s nothing new here; just ask the 1930s’ Rockford Varnish Company. Good luck, Reader’s Digest, getting that circulation up.
Ever think of the adverse impact of your marketing? Porn offers insight. Really.
Economist Daniel Hamermesh notes that a California assemblyman has proposed a 25% tax on pornography — at first, a seemingly good way to raise money for state coffers until one follows the logical consequences downstream.
I don’t expect sales to be reduced much if porn prices rise … Hamermesh says. But demand is only one side of the market: A tax only in California gives producers an incentive to move their operations elsewhere. And that could create a net loss in revenue for the state.
Ah, unintended consequences. This plays out in marketing when an incentive designed to spur demand or change behavior ends up doing something else. Back in the 1960s, for example, the state of Vermont banned billboards to beautify the landscape … which led to a rash of bizarre, giant roadside sculptures designed to attract attention to businesses. Marketing offers, coupons, discounts, and loyalty programs can all backfire if you are really guiding customers to do the wrong thing.
So when stimulating demand, think about porn. If you push too hard in one area, your customers may move somewhere else.