What's hotter than a porn studio in the middle of the Mission that caters to every carnal whim you could imagine? A porn studio in the middle of the Mission that caters to every carnal whim you could predict using Big Data.
Just imagine it—a Netflix style recommendation engine, only with "Critically-acclaimed Greasy Auto Mechanics with Strong Biceps" instead of "Canadian Independent Road Trip Moves." Forget "Golden Globe Nominated Tear Jerkers." How about "AVN Nominated Spankings?" Welcome to the future of internet porn: Data science.
Kink.com is moving into analytics, according to KQED, because porn is the new music industry. Plenty of people want to consume its content—but nobody wants to pay for it. Although the San Francisco-based site had 205 million page views last year, it saw its profits decline for the first time beginning in 2011. Says Peter Acworth, its founder, "We’re suffering what happened to the music industry a while back. It’s becoming much easier to get content for free and people are less apt to want to pay for it."
So how does a cutting-edge pornographer disrupt the social graph or whatever—given the proliferation of free internet porn? Well, there's a few ways. Acworth has hired a team of data scientists to build a recommendation engine to push content that would appeal to users based on their browsing habits. He's also building a "lifestyle brand" with community events like a tuxedo and gown-clad spanking party that KQED's reporter witnessed. There are also webcam shows, which can provide customized content for a price.
In other words, kink.com is doing exactly what every media organization in the world—from the Chronicle to Mother Jones—is doing. Except with naked people. Which, you know, makes a lot of sense. Maybe we should look into that?