Online Pornography: Why Men Are Visual, Women Are Textual
Based on the Experian Hitwise sample of 10 million U.S. Internet visitors, porn ranks as one of the most popular categories of online content. As of last week, the porn category accounted for 7 percent of all online traffic. To put that in perspective, online porn sites two times as popular as educational sites, three times as popular as sports content and six times as popular as health and medical content.
While the volume of online adult entertainment is impressive, the category is steadily declining, down from 10 percent of all visits in November 2008. While the volume of visits are down, the amount of time we spend on those sites is steadily increasing, averaging seven minutes and 35 seconds as of the first week of November 2009, compared to seven minutes and six seconds a year ago. The advent of free online adult videos is most likely responsible for this trend.
When we think porn, we often jump to the conclusion that this is a male-dominated category. One of the more interesting trends is the increase in female visits to the category. As of the first week of November 2009, more than 30 percent of all porn visitors in the United States were female. But when we look at habits of women versus men, the difference between the sexes couldn't be clearer.
While men visit free adult video or "tube" sites—sites that provide something visual in the form of entertainment—women have an entirely different interest. One of the persistent differences between men and women (both online, as well offline) is that men tend to have stronger interest in visual content, while women are more likely to consume content in text.
One of the most popular categories of literary erotic sites is adult fan fiction—think trashy novel meets Web 2.0. These sites, which run the gamut from straight sex to more kinky, fetish stories, are entirely populated by stories written by visitors to the website. The leading site in this category is AdultFanFiction.net, with visitors that are predominately 18- to 24-year-old women.
On visiting the site, you'll notice that content ranges from complete erotic novels written by users to sexed-up versions of existing stories, such as Stephenie Meyer's Twilight series. There is even erotic fiction based on J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter series.
In writing this post, I may have spent too much time reviewing content for this article. But with the surge in popularity in the written form of online adult content, if my wife asks, I can honestly say that I've been visiting these sites for the articles.
Bill Tancer is an Internet trend analyst, columnist and author of the New York Times best-seller Click—What Millions Do Online and Why It Matters.