Behind Boodigo: Interview with Colin Rowntree
Colin is a website and content producer who specialises in the adult industry. He has experience in the creation and development of production studios, websites, paysites and platforms for credit card billing. He was inducted into the AVN Hall of Fame Founders Division in 2013.
Colin is part of a small team that created the adult search engine Boodigo.com, in response to the failure of mainstream engines to address issues of privacy and stolen content. The site went live in September 2014 and is designed as a platform for users to get fast and relevant results from their searches. The focus is on quality ‘adult’ content and a range of pertinent subjects- from porn to the legalisation of marijuana. The addition of a ‘Boodigo Search Widget’ and chat service ‘Boodicall’ are on the horizon. We asked Colin some questions surrounding the creation of his adult search engine Boodigo.
On to the interview!
Can you summarise for us in a nutshell what your ideas were when creating Boodigo, where did you see it going, what was the aim?
Being a website and content producer in the adult industry since 1994, I’ve been through many challenges in dealing with mainstream distancing itself from “porn”. This has been everything from credit card billing, to hosting and mainstream media avoidance of our industry. What happened in each instance is that the adult industry developed its own infrastructure for billing, etc to minimize reliance on mainstream corporate entities.
What began to transpire about 2 years ago was it became increasingly obvious that mainstream search engines, specifically Google were on the road to isolating adult search results to primarily Wikipedia, Ladies Home Journal articles with sex tips, etc., with the following results being primarily links to Tube sites that, due to stolen content, significantly harm the adult industry. The example I like to use of this is a keyword search of the word “blowjob” on Google. The first 4 pages of SERPs are a strange mixture of mainstream women’s magazines and free ‘tubesite’ listings which harm the adult industry. Not until you get to page 5 is “The Art Of The Blowjob”, a legitimate site that produces original content that is kept in a member area, listed in the SERPs.
The second motivating force was user privacy concerns. More and more, Google and other mainstream search engines mine SO much surfer data in order to monetize via advertising offers. That’s perhaps all well and good for someone searching for a pair of brown shoes, but just NOT okay for people searching for porn that are concerned about their private viewing habits and tastes being discovered by their spouse, friends, church choir colleagues, employers and so on.
These factors lead a small group of us that have been in various parts of the adult entertainment industry to decide to build a search engine “by and for the adult industry”, and one which truly protects user privacy at all levels. Development began in 2013 and the site went live on September 15th, 2014 to great media exposure, enthusiastic surfers, and happy porn content producers (Boodigo is very selective in allowing only 100% legal tube sites that have ways for adult studios and websites to get traffic back to be listed).
Have you had any previous contact with the porn industry? What was that like? Tell us about it.
Yes. in 1995, my wife and I stumbled onto the early internet with a simple website that was promoting people to request us to send them our kinky clothing and BDSM gear mail order catalogue. It became obvious very shortly that although a lot of folks were coming to look at the semi-nude photos of pretty gals in leather lingerie, no one was interested in ordering a catalogue. The idea came to us to “hide” the naughty photos in a secret directory which, in order to get the url, a surfer needed to give us $10 with a credit card number they could fax to us. the morning after we did that switch, we woke up to $130 in orders sitting in the fax machine in our home office. Wasteland.com was born.
Since that time we developed a full production studio, network of adult pay sites, an affiliate program, credit card billing platform and a host of other gizmos and gadgets, including the first “porn for women” site, Sssh.com that my wife launched with a group of women photographers, writers and film-makers in 1999.
In 2013, I was inducted into the AVN Hall of Fame Founders Division, an honour that my wife also received in 2014 for her achievements.
What kind of factors are you taking into account when returning search results?
Many factors are weighed in the search order results ranging from age of site, to proper html and meta coding and structuring, to site speed and other factors which indicate that surfers will get fast and relevant results from their queries.
What were the biggest challenges you can across designing a media rich search engine?
Actually, Boodigo is NOT media rich. It looks pretty much like earlier versions of google, bing and yahoo in their search areas. Our reason for doing this is not to contribute to media piracy, or expose children to adult imagery on our site.
How are you finding the uptake with advertisers & also uptake with traffic?
On the advertising side, it’s a slow process to start from scratch, but one thing that has really helped us was Google’s banning adult content in their AdWords platform. As our keyword bidding platform, boodiads.boodigo.com, is very similar in structure to Adwords, it was a very easy transition for adult advertisers that were thrown out of google adwords a few month ago to come over to BoodiAds to run their campaigns in an adult-friendly environment.
Traffic uptake has been a slow but sure buildup as surfers become aware of Boodigo. Our largest advances (aside from mainstream media coverage) have come from social media and mainstream search engines (how ironic!)
Do you see yourselves competing with some of the big ‘tube’ sites?
Not even a little. That’s comparing apples to oranges. Tubes are offering free video content (much of which is stolen). Boodigo offers quality and relevant search results for everything from adult blogs, to photo and video legal sites, as well as other “adult topics” like legal marijuana info and resource sites. Boodigo, while a great place to find porn, is also a great place to find other adult-oriented info and content. Hence, our new subtitle, “A Search Engine For Adults”.
You’ve now almost partnered up with a marijuana dispensary review site – Is this all part of your image or is this what you want to offer your users? unmonitored access to the searches they feel are (at this time) socially unacceptable.
Again, our new subtitle, “A Search Engine For Adults”. Adult is not limited to porn. Some adults also like legal weed and other things that are not for children. So, you hit the nail on the head with “unmonitored access to the searches they feel are (at this time) socially unacceptable.”
“My niece uses Google all the time, she loves it. She is 13” said Rowntree. “I am glad there is a safe search engine for children and the NSA spying on her isn’t a huge deal (yet) since she is a minor. However, when an adult wants to find something the training-wheels need to come off. Boodigo is to Google as the Internet was to AOL. Adults are tired of being treated like children, and children already have Google if they want to search for something. You don’t cut steak with a butter knife. Why would you search for adult content and info with an engine made for children?”
Are there any further services you guys are going to be adding in the future?
Indeed there are! Our current development project is a free adult blog hosting platform. This arises from yet another google incident last week in which the announced all adult material blogs were going to be “hidden”, but within 48 hours, they reversed this policy after scaring the hell out of thousands of bloggers that have been on that platform for years. No one needs to be hosting their blogs in a volatile, rapidly changing TOS environment, so we are building a safe haven for them that will simply require our Boodigo Search Widget be on their sidebar so we can benefit from their visitors and followers.
After that, many other ideas, but the most entertaining one is an encrypted IM chat service which, of course, will be named BoodiCall