Who knew? As reported in today's Times, it seems that online porn consumers, makers, and actors aren't achieving Pareto efficiency after all! And yet, neo-classical economics be damned, the non-classy offerings keep crowding in despite the shrinking margins:

It is an unusual twist on the Internet-transforms-industry story.... [I]nitially, the digital age led to a kind of mainstreaming of pornography by providing easy and anonymous access online.The spread of high-speed Internet access promised even further growth. Instead, faster connections have simply allowed people to download free movies more quickly, and allowed amateur moviemakers to upload their creations easily. Perhaps counterintuitively, the market continues to be flooded with new video releases, both online and on disc.

Do people just irrationally like seeing themselves on the AOL? Or is there a method behind the madness?Trump-level retards in the industry are apparently pursuing a futile strategy centered on, you guessed it, mise en scène :

"We use good-quality lighting and very good sound," said David Joseph, president of Red Light District, a production company in Los Angeles that has made films like "Obscene Behavior."Mr. Joseph said his company did not waste its time, or that of the viewers, on unnecessary plot lines. "There's not a whole lot of story — it's basically right to the sex, but we're consistent with the quality," he said, noting that the company is also careful to pick interesting backdrops. "We use different locations, rooms and couches."Red Light's sales have dropped more than 30 percent in the last two years.

Yes, it turns out giving away sample porn doesn't necessarily build brand loyalty. Ahh, but enter stage left the Steven Levitt of Freakin'omics:

Manny Ulele, the founder of a Las Vegas-based video production company and Web site, said the use of these teaser videos was turning the online pornography business into something of a science. (That is not his real name, but one he uses for business purposes.)...Over all, he said, his Web site has around 10,000 customers paying $30 a month to download or stream video clips."The perception of the consumer is that there is free porn," Mr. Ulele said. "But most of it nowadays is controlled." He added that he and other operators understood what length of video clip, and what kind of clip, would hook viewers. "We've been fine-tuning it for years," he said. "We're able to determine exactly what works and what doesn't."

That's right, Manny Ulele's technique takes years to master.For Pornographers, Internet's Virtues Turn to Vices [NYT]