Lessons From Porn

By Ursula Terlecki   Photo by Glenn Francis

Inspiration can be found in anything/anywhere and young people should not pushed to the way side. These were two main take aways for me from The Young Influences Conference hosted by Marketing Magazine yesterday.

Before I get into why the above mentioned points were my two key takeaways, I have to start by saying that Shane Smith is even cooler in person than he is in the docs and interviews I watched him in. He’s brutally honest, vulgar, transparent, and obviously very, very passionate.

When Vice magazine established a loyal readership and it was decided it was time to take the mag online (as many mags were establishing an online presence) Shane started to do a bit of research. He quickly noticed that everything online at the time was shit. Content wasn’t engaging, videos were grainy and slow. The only online content that was engaging and done well was porn.

“Everything we learned, we learned from porn. It is the gold standard for online video.” Smith continued by giving a long list of props to that industry: porn pioneered HD video online, it’s the fastest video streaming online, it offers seamless ‘search by category’ functions, it’s figured out SEO optimization and geo-targeting and on and on, he said. Their entire online business model is based on the adult entertainment industry.

In addition to speaking about being inspired by porn and the amout of ‘research’ he and his team had to do to learn the ins and outs of the adult industry he spoke about the importance of engaging and working with young people. The average age of those working for Smith is 26 and the majority of the creatives are in their early 20s. His philosophy is, “if you want to engage with young people, have young people work for you.” He hires people who know the demo best because they are the demo.

Shane then sat on a panel with Sid Lee’s Vice President Justin Kingsley, Telus’ Vice President of Brand & Marketing Communications Anne-Marie LaBerge and founder of Redwood Strategic David Wilkin. Their 45min convo on how to break through the clutter to find a following among today’s young influencers was insightful and funny.

The remainder of the panels and case studies were also very good. Marketing Magazine definitely knows how to put on a great event (with good food and snacks included).

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