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What Pornhub can teach marketers about big data

Fallout 4, the latest instalment in Bethesda’s game series was released on November 10th and was one of the most anticipated game releases this year with 12 million copies shipped at launch. This may be unremarkable for the majority of people. However, the good folks over at Pornhub, one of the world’s biggest porn sites, saw a huge drop-off in traffic in the hours following the release.

The overlap in interests may seem intuitive but for the majority of brand owners changes in consumer behaviour aren’t so easily explained.

Pornhub did their due diligence to make sure the drop off in traffic was causation, not just correlation. They overlaid their data with the affinity data that Google analytics can provide and saw that among their 60 million users, many are interested in gaming. When they confirmed the overlap in consumer interests they looked at usage patterns to accurately derive behaviour and make reasonable assumptions.

“Compared to an average day, we saw a slight 5% increase in traffic among gamers in the early morning hours from 3-4 am. At this point we assume everyone’s download completed and the gaming commenced. Starting at 5am traffic began to drop, down as much as 10% from 7am till noon. In the afternoon traffic returned to normal, but after 6pm it dropped again when we assume that 9-5 workers arrived home and fired up their games. After midnight it seems like everyone finally took a break, and traffic jumped as high at 15% above daily norms.” – Pornhub analytics team.

So What can marketers learn?

Pornhub are focused on insights and share this data frequently. As a business they understand 2 things all marketers can take heed of;

1.    Context matters:

When we examine consumer behaviour it’s unrealistic to look at it in a vacuum, yet that’s what many of us do. Sales figures, changes in usage patterns, footfall fluctuations are all things that are valuable data sources but mean nothing out of context. To really understand why changes are happening within the business it’s vital to look at the broader context and the trends that are impacting the world and our consumers, not just our figures and not just our industry. The links may not be so obvious but overlaying data that is external and consumer driven with internal data will give a more robust assessment of what’s actually happening. To do this, the brand team need to seek external perspectives from their market insight teams and partners.

1.    Know your consumers:

Taking the time to really look at your consumer data means looking beyond the behaviours in relation to your brand and truly understanding the people. Behavioural or demographic segmentations will only take you so far. To know your consumer segments well enough that you know what to look for when changes occur means understanding segments as people. This goes beyond pen portraits and means enlivening the segments for everyone in the organisation.  Only when you live with your customers, meet them, talk to them will you know them well enough to explain why they do what they do and how your brand can be relevant in their lives.

 *For those of you who haven’t heard about Pornhub before, they are the 56th most popular website in Ireland and with visitor number increasing 77% between 2010 and 2014 their data gives a robust view of behaviour.  Some of the learnings they provide are a fascinating insight into people behaviour. 

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