Numbers show dot-XXX sites are a sham

Summary:New data from ICANN and six months of dot-XXX traffic in stat sites reveals the TLD is an oversold bust.

Remember when we were told .xxx sites would be such powerful traffic-magnets for wankers worldwide that newly-minted dot-xxx porn webmasters would need to tell their bank accounts to bite the pillow because the sites' .xxx trafficdollars would be so huge?

Turns out the numbers aren't adding up.

I, for one, am completely shocked to see that a year into .xxx going live, and almost six months into .xxx sites being developed and open for business, that new numbers show dot-xxx sites to be veritable ghost towns.

I guess that's more like ghost red light districts.

As you may recall, the dot-xxx domain was widely opposed by everyone. Well, except those set to profit from it.

Common sense screamed from the high hills that no one in their right mind would trade a serviceable .com for a .xxx - it seemed like swampland to people who already had decent homes.

Still, ICM Registry (.xxx's profiteers) hawked the properties as hot for traffic merely by their namesake. They also spent a few dimes on commercials to scare non-porn registrants into landgrabbing their names or brands.

Meanwhile, ICANN trotted off to the next exotic destination for their weird secret-handshake Masonic gatherings, or whatever it is ICANN's staggeringly rich members do at their summits - while they began to profit off of .xxx, the first of the anything-goes .TLD's they'd approved.

According to Domain Name News,

Earlier this month ICANN and the ICM Registry released .xxx domain registration stats and the magic number was said to be 215,835.

Out of all those registrations 132,859 are adult-oriented and a whopping 82,976 are non-adult defensive registrations, domains of celebrities and sensitive uses, and those ICM Registry [has] reserved.

After these numbers were released, DomainSherpa interviewed ICM's charming Stuart Lawley and pinned him down on numbers.

According to Lawley, currently 27,555 dot-xxx sites are developed and up and running after six months of the TLD's full release.

Before you blink away the WTF in your eyes, let's take a look at where those sites rank in the grand scheme of things - and how they stack up against their .com twins after half a year of business, SEO and propagation.

Right now the only public analytics stat site indexing anything with a dot-xxx extension is Alexa. Again, after six months one would think that Compete.com would be able to cough up a result for anything.xxx, rather than a confused return and sorry no results.

So we look to Alexa (a subsidiary of Amazon) - not perfect, but good enough for government work.

Mike Cohen (DNN) writes,

We would not have thought that only 61 domains in total would be ranking inside the top 1,000,000 most visited sites in the world.

That number was suppose to be exponentially higher by all accounts even a few months in, which we now are well into 2012, however reality says otherwise.

Indeed. DNN's Alexa numbers are US, not global, but those numbers suck, and not in the way were were hoping. Despite the fact that these sites are indeed indexed by Google, the sticky stampede promised by dot-xxx's pimps never arrived.

The king of dot-xxx - is casting.xxx?

The number-one, top ranked dot-XXX website is casting.xxx (51,549).

Domain Name News compares the .xxx rankings to .co - it is another recently launched extension, and this provides context to see how a new TLD ranks.

Set aside the top ranked t.co for the advantage it has for saturation as Twitter's URL shortener, and we see that the second most popular is tempo.com (4,441).

Oops, that's nowhere near anything dot-xxx. Looks like sex (porn) doesn't necessarily sell after all - or naturally, organically bring in the traffic simply for being porn.

Okay, so that's how dot-xxx domains look in the grand scheme of things. Crappy, and the license to print money we knew ICM and ICANN were cooking up.

But for me, the real rub (no pun!) lies in comparing porn websites that made carbon copies of their .com's in .xxx form from the beginning.

Even insider trading doesn't make dot-xxx successful

Here's a little fun fact I discovered when looking for the very first .xxx websites to be published, and specifically those that made exact copies of their .com porn presence.

ICM had a very special private period (before anyone could claim their sites) where they sold extra-prime domains to handpicked companies: and during their "Founders Period" they sold several domains for "well into the six figures."

It was during this exclusive and lucrative Founders Period that they sold casting.xxx and orgasms.xxx.

Now, casting.xxx is the top ranked dot-XXX domain, and orgasms.xxx is third.

Casting.xxx and orgasms.xxx both say they are owned by "Really Useful Ltd." (it is not the Andrew Lloyd Webber organization) but the porn company's real name is Ruseful.

This company also owns kiss.xxx, fakeagent.com, danejones.com, vivjones.com (not the site of singer Viv Jones) and a few others. They plan to make kiss.xxx a version of their site lesbea.com.

Aside for the many, many questions raised by this information, for our purposes it's crucial to know that porn site danejones.com was made into a carbon copy of itself on orgasms.com - literally among the very first of the dot-xxx sites to get snapped up.

Suffice it to say, I've been writing about, getting to know the people and entities behind, and closely following the online porn industries for fourteen years. I've never come across danejones.com until recently - and under problematically suspect circumstances.

Anyway, how successful is the dot-xxx version of danejones.com?

Alexa tells us danejones.com is 33,261 - and orgasms.xxx is 67,751.

For effect, I endeavored to look up orgasms.com, but it's out of the game completely. On the other hand (keep your mind out of the gutter), orgasm.com is at 3,497 while orgasm.xxx is at 2,811,275 (no data).

No wonder mainstream porn's business plan was to do as little as possible with dot-XXX.

Yet there is one overlooked element to parsing bits that add up to the fact that no one visits dot-xxx websites.

Maybe the real reason no one is going to dirty .xxx sites is because it's wrong.

Maybe dot-xxx is a failure because all the complaints and political positioning of family groups, abstinence education and moral majorities is finally paying off. The population of the world is becoming clean.

Yeah, right.

Topics: Social Enterprise

About

Ms. Violet Blue (tinynibbles.com, @violetblue) is a freelance investigative reporter on hacking and cybercrime at Zero Day/ZDNet, CNET and CBS News, as well as a noted sex columnist. She has made regular appearances on CNN and The Oprah Winfrey Show and is regularly interviewed, quoted, and featured in a variety of publications that inclu... Full Bio

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