Analysis

What Porn Sites Do With Your Data

In recent times users have become more aware of the way user data is captured and stored for sale to third parties or for help in better content delivery. Sadly, the data collected isn’t always being stored in a safe or ethical way prompting legislation such as the GDPR in Europe to help govern the data storage as much as possible.

Due to their advertising power, we often think the likes of Google or Facebook would be the biggest culprits for storing user data but the reality is that porn sites collect far more data. Whilst sites like Google and Facebook will collect data to better serve ads or increase user time, porn sites on the other hand collect data such as where the user will pause or rewatch certain clips.

Though there are no exact statistics, it is widely accepted that Pornhub is the most popular porn site in the world. It is part a of network sites which attracts over a 100 millions hits daily, owned by a company called MindGeek. That many hits a day can mean one thing – revenue! The industry is estimated at a whopping $100 billion annually.

To put that into context, here are some interesting tidbits from every minute in 2018:

  • 207,405 videos viewed
  • 10,498 hours of video watched
  • 57,750 searches
  • 13,962 user profiles viewed
  • 63,992 visitors
  • 7708 GB of data transferred

We can see that the industry draws very high viewing figures which translates into huge ROI for MindGeek. It also translates into a decent amount of data that can be used for analytical purposes. Delving deeper into the data collection, as with most websites, PornHub, according to their privacy policy, collects the user location, IP address, visit time, and hardware/software the visitor is using. Should the user choose to sign up to a free account, they must provide their name, date of birth, and gender. On the face of things, it may not seem like a lot of data but once registered users tend to download videos, leave comments, search for specific terms etc. Every action is recorded which builds a very detailed picture of the user and their preferences.

According to an interview given to quartz, MindGeek claims to respect the user data and doesn’t sell to third parties. Instead it uses the data to serve better content. More interestingly, it also uses the data to help write future scripts too. From a business perspective, this make sense – better content means more repeat visits.

Most people know that all sites collect some form of data, and how they use that data is debated, but it is interesting to see how companies like MindGeek use the data for their own benefit and to improve the content delivery for their visitors.

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