Alongside the annual reviews from Google, Twitter and Facebook, one of the most interesting round-ups for me comes from Pornhub. It’s certainly true that porn is a significant part of what people spend their time consuming online – the latest Ofcom data suggests that the average adult in the UK reports watching 2 minutes of adult content every day – assuming that this might be under-reported by people who don’t want to admit to it, it is clear that porn is big business online. And consumes a lot of time.

So as well as an interesting insight into how people use Pornhub, the annual review of data also gives an insight into how we access content online.*

First of all, some basic data. Every minute in 2018:

  • 64,000 people globally visited Pornhub – a 13.5% increase on 2017
  • 2 hours of new content was uploaded to Pornhub – almost twice the amount of content added in 2017

And when people are there, the number one thing they searched for in 2018 was Stormy Daniels – the porn star and alleged mistress of Donald Trump before he became President of the USA. The second most searched for term was Fortnite.

This is interesting as it clearly shows the impact that mainstream media and culture has on our porn searching and consumption habits. The cross-over of key video game or movie moments and releases also reinforces the fantasy element of how adults consume porn online –

The impact of mainstream events can also be seen clearly when we look at what leads to a material decrease in traffic to Pornhub. On New Year’s Eve (for example) globally traffic was down 44%; in Sweden traffic dropped 69%. In Sweden on Midsummer (a national holiday) traffic was down 22%.

And this is also true of entertainment and sporting events. When Harry and Megan married in the Royal Wedding earlier in 2018, traffic to Pornhub dropped by 10%. During Apple’s live event in September, traffic from iOS devices dropped 11%. But the biggest drop was during the football World Cup final between France and Croatia. During the match traffic from France was down 55%, and from Croatia down 66%.

Key external events and holidays have a material impact on Pornhub’s usage. And we should expect to see the same for any content we create as brands and advertisers. There are times when people’s minds are elsewhere (or where they are busy with family at events) and a material decrease can be expected for their consumption of online content during these periods.

Finally, Pornhub data gives us insight into device usage. 72% of all traffic to Pornhub is from mobile phones (and over 80% is from all mobile devices). This is a good reminder that mobile doesn’t necessarily mean ‘on the move’ but is a more personal and direct way for people to consume content, and in some markets is the overwhelming way that content is consumed – 90% of traffic in India comes from mobile.

The developments in content creation for sites like Pornhub will, therefore, be very mobile-led. Developed for mobile screen sizes and potentially for portrait screens, not landscape ones. We’d also expect to see more experimentation with content formats that are designed for individuals to consume alone – 3D sound through headphones, point-of-view content.

Whilst it is easy to dismiss porn or not think of it as a source of insight for content much of these developments will be followed by other content online that is not yet so heavily mobile-led. Where porn content goes we can expect other content to follow.

It’s easy at this time of year to get overly obsessed by rankings of the best-branded content on YouTube, and other such lists. But looking at the content that people choose to watch, that they spend large amounts of time hunting out, and that is innovating in format and production is a real source of insight for brands. It helps us to better understand how people consume content online and the implications of this for production of content that is sticky.

* Note this link takes you to the Pornhub insights post about the data – the post is generally safe for work although I wouldn’t necessarily recommend searching some of the terms used on a work computer

Matt Rhodes

About Matt Rhodes

Head of Digital Strategy for work. Marathon runner and charity trustee for fun.

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