LOS ANGELES — Day One of the first-ever virtual XBIZ Miami began with a lively variety of panels on simultaneous Talent and Industry tracks that offered tips, tricks and advice — and plenty of camaraderie — on a wide-ranging list of topics, from examining the rise of premium social media to maximizing paysite membership retention, and managing self-care in lockdown to the creation of live hentai camgirls.
Kicking off the Industry Track’s first-day educational series was a look at the business of premium porn production and monetization, with “Paysites in Demand: Harnessing a Rise in Traffic, Maximizing Member Retention.”
Moderated by Wasteland’s Colin Rowntree, himself one of the first paysite operators, the expert panel included Clement from Bang.com; Kenny B of YourPaysitePartner, sponsor of the seminar series; Louis Montalvo of Paper Street Media; and Darrell B from Wankz; along with Dee Severe and Jimmy Broadway from Severe Sex Films, for a well-rounded reflection of all levels of content creation and monetization strategies.
Starting with the premise that the COVID-19 pandemic has left much of the world stuck at home and seeking an escape from reality through entertainment, Rowntree laid a roadmap of how attendees can get their share of the increase in adult traffic while better positioning themselves for an uncertain future.
Rowntree advised attendees to maintain a smart shooting schedule that takes into account how much content is in your inventory, both to maintain consistent release intervals during lockdowns and production holds and to balance budgetary needs, and noted that once you get a fan base, people expect to see your new stuff when they come around to buy it. He also noted the need to maintain positive relationships with tube sites as they are a necessary part of today’s paysite ecosystem.
These were all topics that received considerable attention during the discussion, as did a wide range of other relevant issues.
Speaking to the need for smaller shops to stick to what they know best — making porn — Dee said that one of the secrets to their success was in finding folks that like to sit in front of computers all day and then splitting the revenues with them; to which Broadway agreed, adding, “don’t be afraid to outsource some of your grunt work.”
“More is not always better, so, we rather focus on producing our niche content,” Dee Severe said, with Broadway advising attendees to “Shoot what turns you on and learn how to work with your platforms.”
As to how much content is enough for today’s demanding audiences, Kenny B said that to participate in his network, sites must post at least four-to-eight updates per month, which is only one per week — and that doesn’t leave anything in case of production interruptions. For comparison, he noted that big sites such as Bang.com will update several times per day, but was quick to pragmatically add that “there’s only so much production you can do.”
“When it comes to ‘high-end versus amateur,’ there’s no wrong answer,” Kenny B explained. “It depends on your audience and what your budget is.”
Given the financial and other constraints facing producers in 2020, savvy paysite operators are (re)turning to their existing libraries — and those of their colleagues.
“We digitally remastered some of our fan-favorites and also entered some strategic partnerships for adding content to boost our retention,” Darrell B said. “Shooting VR leaves no room for error and compelling storylines are vital. It’s important to keep your users’ expectations consistent.”
“We have over 70 exclusive sites and shoot a ton of content,” Montalvo said, and revealed that the network’s large library still wasn’t enough. “We had to think outside of the box to come up with a different approach to giving our customers what they want.”
“Tubes also created a new funnel of users for us,” he added. “We had to learn how to monetize them.”
Bang’s Clement agreed with the others regarding the marriage of tube and paysites as part of 2020’s premium porn ecosystem and noted that most of the content on today’s tubes is provided by the studios and amateurs — and that there’s still money to be made.
“It’s all about being original and doing something different,” Clement explained; and as an example, revealed that Bang “reallocated much of its production budget to take advantage of the surge in traffic due to the COVID lockdown,” to find a silver lining in an otherwise grey cloud.
While this expert panel made clear that at least for professional paysite operators there is still money to be made in the premium porn market, the reality is that you can have the best product in the world but it will still fail if no one knows about it — leading to the industry track’s second panel: “Ad Tech 2020: Latest Advances in Traffic Monetization for Advertisers and Publishers.”
“Ad Tech 2020“
Moderated by XBIZ’s Stephen Yagielowicz, the panel’s industry insiders represented an immense wealth of knowledge covering all aspects of traffic generation and monetization in 2020, featuring Rainey Stricklin of JuicyAds; Edward Austin of the Squren Ad Network; Morten Due of TrafficHaus; Andy Wullmer of Traffic Partner; and Vivek Khandelwal from iZooto.
Setting to explore the newest trends and tactics driving profits for advertisers and publishers competing in today’s fast-evolving landscape, Yagielowicz cited Adobe’s recent prediction that the advertising technology arena will grow exponentially over the next three years and sought insights into current examples from the adult market.
Austin pointed to the success of using server-to-server (S2S) post-backs to build sales funnels and to track the passage of visitors through them. His company customizes the coding it uses based upon each client’s infrastructure as a way of complying with the evolving standards of Google and others and sets it to be triggered on a variety of user interactions based on a client’s needs. He emphasized the need for remarketing and re-monetization, as well as the need to build key performance indicators (KPI) and to set goals to stay on track.
As a media buyer specializing in landing pages, Austin explained that re-monetization is a great way for advertisers to resell traffic back to the networks and noted how new ad formats such as sticky tabs are providing unique opportunities for visibility.
Stricklin said that Juicy also offers S2S as a basic pixel-tracking tool for landing pages and will work with clients to optimize their results, underscoring the personal touch that is so important to success — especially for newer advertisers and publishers.
Due cited the importance of S2S technology as a way of tracking a site’s users without personally identifying them — a vital consideration in the face of evolving privacy laws such as the GDPR and California’s Consumer Privacy Act.
Another timely topic was how the growth of ad blockers has changed the market.
Wullmer told the audience that his company provides anti-ad-blocking tools that are developed in-house — including special white label sites that are only available to creative affiliates — illustrating how all parties need to go “the extra mile” in 2020.
Bypassing ad-blockers and Google restrictions due to their opt-in nature, Khandelwal said that push-notifications (along with chat and email) are ideal ways to combat the increase in bots and fraud while driving user engagement and building a fan base.
“Opting-in for push notifications may be the first positive step a prospect takes on your site,” Khandelwal explained. “But is the offer the right thing for the user? Is it timed properly? Is the call-to-action worded nicely?”
Wullmer is also a believer in opt-in and double-opt-in emails and push notifications and said the company’s A/B tests have shown that it’s more profitable to cross-sell members’ area traffic than to try to keep those members from seeing other offers.
Due echoed the need for having a proper email flow and upselling to internal products before pairing up with advertisers and noted the importance of having a systematic approach to presenting offers to not hit users up with everything at once. He also said that while interstitials remain strong, popunder ads may make a comeback as Google seems to be relaxing its restrictions.
The newest trends in programmatic advertising, native and immersive ads in adult along with experiential marketing tactics, as well as the impact of 5G technology on the equation were also discussed; as was the universal need for fraud detection, with the panelists agreeing that it was vital for “every click to be one that you can use.”
For advertisers and publishers alike, the takeaways from this session were that the targeted traffic you need is available now and there are experts to guide you along the way to a stronger future.
“State of Content Production“
The last Industry Track panel on Monday was “State of Content Production,” sponsored by YourPaysitePartner. The moderator was VR specialist Anna Lee, director of 2049 Entertainment, and the panelists were the Free Speech Coalition’s Michelle LeBlanc; Adult Time’s Patrick Alonso; Girlfriends/Penthouse’s Moose; Pervout.com’s Lance Hart; and Bellesa/Mile High Media director Jacky St. James.
The panelists discussed the many changes and adaptations forced on production units in the adult industry by the COVID-19 pandemic. Alonso explained how the Gamma team “in the first two or three days of shutdown started putting together a plan on what to do once production would resume.”
Moose shared that, while his companies were fortunate because they had a back catalog, he and his team were concerned for the immediate livelihoods of crew, staff and talent. St. James, one of the behind-the-scenes filmmakers directly affected by the shutdown, revealed she had retrained as an editor during the first part of the pandemic and was picking up that kind of work now.
The panel’s consensus was that “DVD sales were down but web was up, and that was across the board with most companies.”
The spirit of the group regarding the current situation was a war mentality of survival and adaptation. Hart explained that he went into a specific mode of, “How can I defend my business from this catastrophe?” Moose stressed that “you have to keep your ear to the ground and be ready to change” and “have backups.”
Successful strategies the panelists recommended during the current period included trying to get ahead and produce extra content in order to bank scenes — both Hart and St. James said they believed another total shutdown was forthcoming and were preparing for it — shifting the mindset from, “How can I get around the current restriction to produce like we did before?” to “What can I do now, and going forward?” and keep a close eye on changes.
After some discussion of what production companies were doing to address the issues of racial injustice and workplace harassment onset that had come to the forefront during the pandemic, Hart and LeBlanc spoke about taking a proactive approach to making resources available to a more diverse pool of creators and standardizing forms and protocols for onset behavior.
Finally LeBlanc revealed that the FSC was currently conducting the certification process for three new labs to be added to the PASS system, including one with a nationwide network for STI testing.
“Profiting in a Pandemania”
On Monday’s Talent Track, XBIZ Miami hosted the virtual panel discussion, “Profiting in Pandemania: Examining the State of Camming, Clips and Premium Social Media.”
Hosting this panel was author, entrepreneur and sexpert Amberly Rothfield. Joining her on the panel was Gwen Adora, Catjira and Melrose Michaels. They spoke in-depth about the shift in the porn industry due to the pandemic, as well as how they have found ways to thrive and adapt in the changing times.
Rothfield posed insightful questions to the panel; many questions involved the mainstream normalization of paysites such as OnlyFans. “Online porn isn’t dying,” Michaels stated. “It will never die. But it is shifting into something more trendy.”
The whole panel agreed that diversification is the key to staying relevant, and to always focus on marketing to a wide audience on multiple platforms, such as TikTok, cam sites, SFW social media platforms and more. While they all agreed that it’s very important to be careful of each individual platform’s rules and guidelines, models and performers will always find a way to thrive.
Adora said it clearly, noting “Sex workers are some of the most adaptable people on the planet.”
The next panel on the Talent Track, titled “Fan Engagement: Managing Audiences Across Multiple Platformsm” was an hourlong discussion hosted by Romi Rain with Reya Sunshine, Lux Neon, Lacey Bender and Casey Kisses as guest speakers.
In this panel, Rain delved into questions she had prepared, engaging the panelists in a vivid and in-depth discussion.
“How do you interact with your fans across different platforms?” was one such question Rain posed to the group. “Are you more flirtatious, or aggressive?”
Bender keeps it professional, she explained, but she keeps in mind the buyer’s perspective and needs. “If someone’s flirty, then I’ll be flirty back! I read the viewer, but try to keep it as professional as possible.”
The group explored the challenges of having a prolific online presence, such as privacy concerns, how they handle trolls, if they have outside help running their social media and handling media promotions via multiple platforms.
Upon wrapping up the discussion, they were all able to agree that the key to successful, high volume online platforms is to not get burned out.
Sunshine said it simply: “Keeping it exciting for yourself keeps it exciting for [the viewers].”
“Cabin Fever Lovin'”
The Talent Track panels on Monday spanned a diverse ledger of topics, many of them pertaining to a subject everyone can relate to: the pandemic, and how it’s changed our lives. The third discussion of the day dealt with a more intimate side of this issue.
“Cabin Fever Loving’: Healing self-Isolation with Cam Intimacy” featured camming duo Callum and Cole, Emily Bloom, Lara Loxley, VannaFaye and GoAskAlex and was hosted by model coach and cam model, Nikki Night.
Nikki first asked the group how they feel about attending a convention, virtually. The panelists all agreed that social interaction on any level right now is exciting and refreshing.
“Isolation is like jail,” Cole explained. “Staying connected has mostly been online. We’re quite social and this has been a challenge.”
They reflected on their private lives during lockdown, and how it changed their routines dramatically. It hasn’t been all bad, expressed Vannafey. “One thing that’s been good about quarantine is that I’ve actually been able to dig into my creativity and actually create.” She laughingly explained how she had recently taken up making face masks out of old bras, in lieu of just buying items online.
The group also discussed ways they have adapted to having more time alone.
“A month in, I got very depressed,” Bloom revealed. “It got rough but I found the best course of action was to distract myself. So I started a small garden and I am learning Italian. I’m also reading books, learning how to sew, and I made my own gown for the XBIZ [virtual] red carpet — which you’ll see!”
As far as online interaction, many of the panelists have taken small steps to make the financial challenges of the pandemic easier on their viewers.
GoAskAlex brought up an idea that the whole group enthusiastically supported. “During quarantine, a lot of viewers were lonely or depressed. There was a desire for one-on-one connection, so I began to offer a special rate $1 a minute rate for a Skype show that wasn’t involving anything sexual, just to talk.”
And if you start feeling cramped? Go on a nature walk! “Everyone is really into camping right now,” Loxley chimed in. “You can’t go out and do anything else right now! Bird watching is taking off.”
“How to Create Live Hentai Cam Girls”
To wrap up an eventful and educational Monday, XBIZ Miami’s Talent Track presented one last virtual panel entitled “Chaturbate Presents: How to Create Live Hentai Cam Girls,” hosted by Harper the Fox and her partner, Max Gusman. As the creators of the first-ever live cartoon cam girl, they were delighted to reveal their tech secrets to an inquiring audience.
In the beginning of their adventures into live hentai creation, they didn’t have much of a game plan. “When we started we didn’t have any of the tech knowledge, we started from scratch and you can, too. It took about six months of work, and will probably take you about that long as well,” Max expressed.
Harper corroborated this, explaining, “We were intrigued by [the idea of] virtual cam models as part of the adult industry… there was a big question in our minds of if we would even be allowed to do this, legally.”
They detailed the history of their animation journey, how they introduced their cartoon “Abby” to Chaturbate’s CEO and legal team. Once they went live, it was immediately a huge success, with over 10,000 viewers in their virtual chat room.
Gusman and Fox were eager to reveal the “secret sauce” as they put it — how their audience can create their own live hentai model. They pulled up a diagram explaining the three step process: “First,” Gusman said, “familiarize yourself with Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator.”
They also highly recommended a program called “Character Animator” which gave them access to create a character template, with layering options. Harper laughed as she explained their “original character had 10,000 layers.”
As the questions became more complex, explaining the various cords, microphones, programs and character animation secrets, both Fox and Moose were very quick to explain that it was okay to be overwhelmed with the amount of information they were disclosing. “If you need us to go over this again, just direct message HarperTheFox on Twitter, and we will answer your questions and send you the PDF of resources,” Fox said.
To wrap up the discussion, Gusman revealed his excitement for the future of live hentai cam girls. “We cracked the door open and got in there, and there are a lot of people doing it better than we ever could at this point.”
Fox agreed, chiming in with an enthusiastic, “Go, team!”