Friday February 24, 2017

Porn-o-nomics: How one director is making a fortune by defying conventional wisdom

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Online pornography has fallen on hard times. Piracy is up while film production and salaries are trending down. Billions of people are watching worldwide, but all those clicks aren't exactly lining the pockets of the people who make the content.

This may have been true for Greg Lansky at one time in his career, but not anymore. Lansky has launched a successful new brand in each of the past three years, and as he tells Day 6 host Brent Bambury, he's doing it by defying conventional wisdom.  

"A signature move of our company is to disrupt the market. I think it's healthy for someone to come in and be like 'hey, maybe things aren't supposed to be that way. Let's change them up'," Lansky says.
 

"We put our heart into it because I felt that the opposite was the smart thing to do," he says. - Greg Lansky, producer and director of adult content

"When we started, the industry was completely demoralized and all the so-called experts said that's it, adult brands are dead. No one is going to make new content," says Lansky.

Now 34-years-old, Lansky proved them wrong by launching Blacked in 2014.  Tushy and Vixen followed in 2015 and 2016 respectively. Vixen won best marketing campaign and best new imprint at the 2017 AVN awards.

16 AVN awards in 2016

Lansky's websites won 16 AVN awards in 2016. (@GregLansky)

Lansky says the difference is quality. He's brought a big-budget mentality to adult entertainment and he sees the trade as an art form rather than simply filming people having sex on camera.

"We focused our brands on all the little touches I felt customers were missing. Things like sound, image quality, story, shooting with the best possible equipment and the best talent in the business," he says.

Instead of cutting back and cutting corners, Lansky set budgets that were extremely expensive for the market at the time.

"We put our heart into it because I felt that the opposite was the smart thing to do," he says.
 

Dragging the industry up with him

In an era of tube sites and free, pirated pornography, Lansky's sites are bringing people back to subscriptions. Blacked, Tushy and Vixen are some of the most talked about brands in the industry and some of the most watched adult film content in the world.

And it's not just customers that have taken notice. Other companies see what he's doing and are now moving their businesses in that direction.

"People in other brands have looked at us and realized they need to step up their quality because these guys [Blacked/Tushy/Vixen] are killing us," Lansky says with a chuckle.

Originally from France, Lansky moved the U.S. 14 years ago. His 12 years in adult entertainment helped shape a business plan that extends beyond sexually explicit films.


​Lansky's unusual social media strategy

In today's marketplace, business flows through social media but Lansky says finding a place for brands is tricky. While Twitter allows adult content (for now), Instagram and Facebook do not.

While he could have let the door close on him, instead Lansky made another unconventional choice.

"About a year and a half ago, I decided that we were not going to have any adult content anymore on our Twitter, even though it was allowed," he says.

The revised strategy meant creating an extension of their brands that would be digestible, watchable and enjoyable to people who don't necessarily want to look at raw adult content.


Vixen Marketing

Greg Lansky's latest company, Vixen, won best marketing campaign at the 2017 AVN awards. (@GregLansky)

"It's about lifestyle, not necessarily about graphic adult content," he says.

Lansky's point is simple: if you want to watch adult content, it's not hard to find. But if you like his brands, his style of photography, the editorial content and the people associated with them, then you can have all that without the nudity.

Keeping a safe-for-work stream means extra work for his teams but it keeps him engaged in the social media world.


The obstacles to growing a brand

Websites use traffic to measure success and Lansky's sites get a lot of traffic.

"We get more than 20 million unique visitors every month and we control all the distribution from A to Z.  We're not dependent on anyone else," he says.

Yes, Lansky and his teams control their own brands and the distribution but he'd like to see that change. Unlike other lifestyle brands, which is how he sees his companies, Tushy, Blacked and Vixen are limited to the web.

Greg Lansky

Greg Lansky accepting the 2016 AVN Award for Director of the Year (Drivenbyboredom.com)

"It'd be great if Apple could one day open the door to adult content but I don't see that happening in the near future," Lansky says in reference to the App Store and iTunes.

"Apple is probably the most conservative company you could be working with."

In the '80s and '90s cable companies created a space for adult content to exist, but Apple, one of the most dominant media companies of this era, doesn't allow anything remotely adult content-related on their App Store.
 

Can porn go mainstream?

For now, Lansky says cooperation with Apple is completely out of the question, but there are other avenues to enter the mainstream.

"I do think we could pitch a company like Netflix a series or a movie. That's something I've been talking to my partners about," he says.  

DV1863756

Lansky thinks there is room for adult content on streaming services like Netflix. (AFP/Getty Images / Jonathan Nackstrand)

"If it's not just adult content, but there is great imagery, great storylines, great photography, then yes, I do think adult content can evolve into something else, other than being stuck on one site and being labelled 'porn'."

To hear Brent Bambury's conversation with Greg Lansky,download our podcast or click the 'Listen' button at the top of this page.

And check out out all four episodes of our series "Porn-o-nomics."