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September 08, 2018

Artificial Intelligence Takes Center Stage at WMA 2018

AMSTERDAM, The Netherlands—In a special presentation that could’ve been the keynote address of any digital conference in the country this year, Sky Sebnicki said Saturday the power of machine learning is driving the future of technology—and its potential seems boundless. The Chief Technical Officer of the Seattle-based live-cam powerhouse, Streamate, delivered an inspiring solo session titled “Artificial Intelligence and the User Experience” as the educational track at the 14th edition of Webmaster Access flexed some muscle at the Doubletree by Hilton Centraal Station. On a cloudy, 60-degree afternoon in the heart of the Dutch capital, Sebnicki detailed the numerous ways the largest tech companies in the world apply cutting-edge Artificial Intelligence to capture your digital footprint, improve their products, innovate and profit. Calling its impact “the fourth industrial revolution,” Sebnicki said AI is comprised of an entire field of building machines “that think like humans, leveraging algorithms that make the machine learn.” “Functionally, intelligence is pattern recognition,” Sebnicki explained, noting that Google was among the first tech giants to go deep into the AI game; Amazon followed soon after that. “Intelligence predicts patterns.” Sebnicki oversees the product and engineering efforts at Streamate. Prior to joining the company, his career spanned more than a 15 years leading technical efforts at mainstream tech firms such as ebay and Symantec, and small startups like netric and giveacause (groupon).  Sebnicki noted how Watson, a question-answering computer system developed by IBM capable of answering questions posed in natural language, defeated legendary Jeopardy! champions Brad Rutter and Ken Jennings—in 2011. “But no one taught it how to play Jeopardy! All it did was read 29 million Wikipedia pages and it taught itself how to play,” Sebnicki said. “And the machines are now actually teaching us. It’s a complete paradigm shift.” He offered examples of how machines can be taught to understand and predict “the known world,” such as speak foreign languages and even detect negative movie reviews. Sebnicki revealed that “deep learning”—a subset of machine learning that refers to artificial neural networks—“is all the rage right now.” “It closely approximates the way the human mind learns,” he said. “But the interesting thing about deep learning is it has no theoretical limitations; give it enough data and enough time and it can figure almost anything out. We as biological machines are limited by the bandwidth of our senses. Our senses have limited bandwidth. We get about 50 gigabytes per second. That’s the max we will ever get and some of us optimize it to different levels. “Some people learn faster than others but for the most part that’s about all we get out of it. A machine—because we’re growing double every two years—the capacity for this bandwidth is also doubling every two years.” Whether we realize it or not, AI has become influential in many people’s daily lives, Sebnicki said, pointing to the ride-sharing app, Uber. “With Uber the price you see, no [human] user has ever entered it in,” he said, noting the prices are automatically calculated through sophisticated algorithms derived from several factors. He said at Streamate his staff uses AI to monitor trends in analytics, forecast revenues and increase their operational efficiency. Some tasks that used to require entire teams working on them now take Sebnicki less than a minute to accomplish because of AI tech. Sebnicki discussed how AI is being used for Generative Content, such as creating fake humans that are indistinguishable from real people; and also the ability for machines to create authentic-looking, rendered videos that could give new meaning to the term #FakeNews in 10 years. He said that institutions that “promote creative innovation” will be well-positioned to thrive in the current AI-driven universe. One audience member asked Sebnicki how long before there could be computer-generated, artificially intelligent cam models. “It could be in as little as two to three years and as many as five or six years. It depends on the investment,” Sebnicki suggested, noting that mainstream companies in Japan will be using computer-generated humans in customer service applications within a year. Webmaster Access showed its range Saturday, delving into the model side of the adult digital sector with the packed “Do It Yourself” clips panel that explored the enormous impact of custom clip sites. Panelists Sam Nguyen (Pornhub), Andrea Fioriniello (ModelCentro), Petra (FreeOnes) and Juan Galan (Cliptopia) discussed how adult models in this new era of adult entertainment are taking control of their own destinies by shooting their own content and then monetizing it with various blue-chip platforms. Some of the most enterprising models earn more than six figures annually without being involved in the traditional porn studio system. Nguyen, who manages the Content Partner Program and Model Payment Program for Pornhub, brought almost seven years of experience to the session. Based in Montreal, she noted her company recently launched ModelHub, a clip site that is also integrated through the traffic behemoth that is Pornhub. “I always tell the model to really concentrate on the metadata because that’s how people find you,” Nguyen told the packed room at Leeds 1. “That’s how you get new fans.” Nguyen noted that “highly searched key words” in the title of your clips and a strong social media game are essential components of success in 2018. “I think when you start out it’s really important to engage with your fans,” Nguyen said. “Constantly hustle and promote your content.” Andrea Fioriniello, who leads business development for ModelCentro, FanCentro and the affiliate program, MCProfits, echoed Nguyen’s sentiment, saying engagement with the end user is key when it comes to marketing your content. “I’m asking you what you want because at that point I will make you more happy than just going on my site and see all my content,” said Fioriniello, a five-year veteran who works closely with models and content producers who are using their platform to create membership sites and also monetize their social media—especially Snapchat. He encouraged experimentation when it comes to producing clips. “You never know at the end of the day which clip will make you more money,” Fioriniello reasoned. “Sometimes you might have a five-minute, really raw clip and that will make you more money than if you have staging, lights and a special camera and it’s 20 minutes long. It really depends on how you market that clip.” Fioriniello also suggested that models consider leaving trying something new on occasion so they don’t become stagnant in one area. “Once they set up their niche and they’re comfortable they should also go outside their comfort zone because maybe the end user does not expect from you something different,” Fioriniello said. “So maybe they will like it because you are doing something completely out of your comfort zone.” He also emphasized that old-fashioned hard work never hurt anyone on his platform. “You don’t make money just sitting around,” Fioriniello added. “You need to put the work in. You need to promote every day. You need to update your content. You need to post content every week at least.” Juan Galan, affiliate manager for Cliptopia, recounted how one of their cosplay models used to produce shorter clips that were priced low at $5 or $10, but she wasn’t getting any traction. “So she decided to change her strategy and she started releasing free teasers and then she started producing longer videos and pricing them around $20 to $40; and she told us that for her this is working much better than actually doing cheap clips and short clips. Petra from FreeOnes pointed out that models can improve their chances of success by reaching out to platforms directly and asking for help. “Because we will be happy to tell you how to be successful on each platform,” Petra said. “And reach out to other performers. There’s a lot of performers who would be happy to take new people under their wing.” She said understanding and capitalizing on the affiliate model can also increase your visibility. “The professionalism increases when you know the marketing techniques, you know where to get your traffic and you start building those relationships with affiliates that want to help you out,” Petra said. “Because if you’re making money, we’re making money.” Cliptopia’s Galan agreed. “It’s important to build relationships with your models.” “We try to organize weekly calls with the new sign-ups on our site,” Galan said. “We have a really good relationship with most of our models because they know who we are. They can talk to us with no problem. We have a Discord channel just for communicating between us, because they’re your clients in the end. So you have to create a good relationship with them to keep them happy, to keep them posting new content.” “You don’t want to learn that they’re unhappy on Twitter,” Pornhub’s Nguyen added, noting it’s especially crucial to stay connected to the top models on the platform. “Reach out to them daily if possible.” With something for just about every attendee on tap Saturday, Webmaster Access hosted a pair of high-stakes seminars about two of the most important issues facing adult entertainment today. A distinguished panel of execs engaged in a thoughtful discussion about the “State of Age Verification” ahead of the looming Digital Economy Act in the U.K. Tim Henning of ASACP moderated the panel that included Steve Winyard (AVSecure), David Cooke (AgeID), Vince Charlton (AdultWork), Rudd Apsey (VeriMe), Alastair Graham (Xcreds) and Murray Perkins (British Board of Film Classification). Speaking before a standing-room-only crowd, the group shared their knowledge about how to prepare for the U.K.’s Digital Economy Act, which is expected to go into effect later this year. Designed to protect children and vulnerable groups of people from easily accessing “harmful content” online, the legislation may have the power to affect adult entertainment consumption worldwide, as other nations are watching and waiting to see the results of imposing, stricter internet regulations. “Non-compliance is not a place you want to get to,” said Steve Winyard, the CEO of AVSecure, which provides a premium age-verification solution with a special focus on consumer privacy. AVSecure sponsored the 2018 Seminar Program at WMA. “Compliance is straightforward and easy.” Murray Perkins, the head of the DEA for the BBFC, emphasized “this is not an anti-porn measure,” it’s about protecting kids. “It’s extraordinarily serious and you do not want to be on the receiving end of enforcement,” Perkins said. The group said Sweden, Spain, South Africa and France all could be among the next wave of countries implementing similar legislation. “All eyes are on the U.K.,” Henning added. Veteran adult industry attorney Michael Fattorosi moderated the “Understanding the Impact of FOSTA-SESTA” panel about the potentially far reaching effects of the U.S.’s Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act (FOSTA) and the Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act (SESTA). The panel included two-time AVN Male Performer of the Year, James Deen, who owns JamesDeenCash, and AVN Hall of Fame producer/performer Porno Dan Leal, the CEO of Immoral Productions who has been living and working in Budapest since 2016. Billy Watson, owner of FabulousCash, joined the session, too. “Any website that exists—except for a static website—falls under FOSTA,” Fattorosi said. “That’s how broad this law this is.” Porno Dan Leal noted that when FOSTA passed he had to stop shooting his notorious Fuck A Fan series due to the new risks that would’ve been associated with producing it. “I’m the first person to close a site,” Leal said. “This has the potential to change the way porn is shot. I will probably never produce another scene in the U.S. again.” Since technically “everyone is at risk” who owns an adult website, Fattorosi asked how many audience members would consider blocking U.S. users from accessing their site in order to avoid the law. No one raised their hands. “If you want to do business with the U.S., you have to comply with U.S. law,” Fattorosi said. The first panel of the morning, moderated by media buying and cryptocurrency expert Eric Helsel, focused on the cryptocurrency phenomenon. Helsel, a respected authority in online marketing with a track record of monetizing traffic and developing products, led the panel less than two hours after getting off a plane following his transatlantic flight. He was joined by Intimate co-founder Reuben Coppa and Alex Bluck from SkyPrivate and Adult.fund. Helsel reminded attendees that cryptocurrency is still “very young.” “In my opinion it’s still in a puberty level,” Helsel said. “It doesn’t know what it is. It’s trying to figure itself out and figure out what the market will bear.” Helsel said unlike other technological innovations over the past 20 years, “adult is chasing” on this one. “We shouldn’t get all that excited about crypto in adult,” he added. “If we were the leaders for crypto, we’d be focusing on things besides privacy tokens.”  Coppa said he believes in the technology that fuels cryptocurrency. “I’ve been investing in the tech for five years. I think the tech is great. The markets are crazy and they’re hard to predict,” he added. “Unless you know what you’re doing for the longer run, it’s unregulated and it’s carnage basically. But the technology that underpins it is real and is going somewhere.” Coppa added, “It’s about adoption—like any other product. You have to get the consumer to use it; incentivize them and they’ll come eventually.” The last seminar on Saturday was the first of its kind, as Mindgeek Affiliate Manager Adam Levy presented “The Rise of Adult Gaming,” sharing a remarkable story about the rapid ascent of Nutaku—the Montreal-based heavyweight’s groundbreaking gaming vertical. Nutaku is a hentai game portal that receives more than 25 million North American customers a month and close to 100 million visits per day, making it the most visited English-language adult gaming website on Earth. “We have more page visits, longer stays and the lowest bounce rate compared to all the competition,” Levy told the audience. “We have more games coming in now than ever and we’ve been mostly focusing on intake of Android and mobile games.” Built from scratch, the Nutaku platform in only three years has become the largest F2P (Free-to-Play) browser and downloadable gaming platform dedicated to 18+ games; it has cultivated more than 100 partnerships with development studios; and it has international investments to game studios and developers north of $13 million dedicated to game development. Ten million is going toward the Latin America market—an untapped goldmine of opportunity. Levy told attendees Nutaku is already the No. 3 product in Mindgeek’s portfolio, trailing only Brazzers and Pornhub. He also revealed that Nutaku will hold the first-ever Lewd Gaming Championships, a groundbreaking adult e-sports event, in November for players of its war-themed game, “Tits & Tanks.” “It’s going to be streamed on Nutaku and possibly some other platforms,” Levy said. “We have 24 seats for the competition. It is a player-to-player style game. We opened it to players within the ‘Tits & Tanks’ game, so we have a leaderboard, giving them a long-term goal within the game and their reward is a seat at the championship. “So this is a nice way to get players involved in a game. But you give a real nice long-tail reward. We also have a couple [seats] that will be raffled off to the general public. All they have to do is put in their email. So we have a nice mix of avid gamers and maybe regular gamers.” Saturday night’s WMA social activity was none other than the annual GFY party at the rooftop SkyLounge at the host hotel. The educational program will continue with an international flavor on Sunday's final day. Click here for additional coverage of WMA 2018.

 
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