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November 30, 2016

The Men Behind Manhunt's Dude Dollars Program

This article originally ran in the November 2016 issue of AVN magazine. See the digital edition here. After returning to Online Buddies Inc., an international leader in online gay dating, CEO Hector Camacho was tasked not just with revitalizing Manhunt.net and Jack’d, but also with expanding its portfolio of products and services—especially in the gay porn marketplace. “The founder of Manhunt, Jonathan Crutchley, has always been unapologetic about the fact that Manhunt is an adult brand—and understood the synergies between dating and porn,” says Camacho. “Through my experience at Buddy Profits, where I helped grow its portfolio of gay membership sites from 12 to more than 40 successfully, Jonathan was confident that re-entering this market was a good investment.” So Online Entertainment LLC’s new gay affiliate program Dude Dollars was launched, with its first website: ColbysCrew.com, the new studio from the company’s first exclusive model, Colby Jansen. “We knew that the gay porn market was saturated and had some stiff competition, but we also knew that consumers have an appetite for quality and diversity. Anyone can shoot amateur porn—so that’s not the direction we wanted to pursue. Our first major accomplishment was landing an exclusive partnership,” says Camacho, noting what followed was evaluating the market and preparing a vision for the site. “We also knew that the long-term goal would be to build a network of sites under the Dude Dollars program. And, while [Managing Director] Ewan [French] has initially been focused on launching Colby’s Crew, I have been working on additional partnerships and acquisitions to grow the portfolio soon thereafter.” French said that launching the affiliate program was the easy part, aided by experienced designer Donald Campan (“he has a great eye for design”) and a talented tech team. The more time-consuming part, he says, was launching the first membership site—but being involved in all aspects of production to some degree has also been a rewarding process. “I’ve always wanted to work in a startup. In the past when I was working for other companies in the adult industry, I’ve often thought we should be doing things differently, but it was usually too late to change the process—or because of technical limitations, those ideas weren’t feasible,” French says. “In a startup company, anything is possible. It’s been fun being able to think outside the box and create an affiliate program and membership sites exactly the way we want.” For Camacho, signing French was key: “One of my secrets of success while at Buddy Profits and now at Dude Dollars is actually quite simple: Have an affiliate manager that loves what he does, loves the products he is working with and loves to help our affiliate partners. Ewan fulfilled that role perfectly. His role now is managing our entire program, but he is building his team to have similar values and passion for these relationships.” French notes they are looking to grow the team and the number of websites within the affiliate program by potentially acquiring existing sites, launching their own sites and/or forming partnerships with existing sites. “Some people in our industry believe the affiliate market is dying, but that is not what we are witnessing. We strongly believe if you keep your focus on affiliates and treat them right, they will continue to be a significant source of revenue in the long term,” he says. “We have an incredible team of staff who genuinely enjoy what they do, and this is reflected in their work. Our affiliate manager is often responding to requests late in the evening and on weekends because he genuinely cares about the affiliates and wants them to succeed. Our production guys often work extremely long days, sometimes with back-to-back shoots, because they are passionate about what they want to do and only want to deliver a perfect product. That is the difference we can offer.” As for the content strategy, French stresses the importance of doing lots of research to find out what the market needs—then doing your best to produce a product that is exactly what those surfers are looking for. “I don’t believe in trying to provide something that will appeal to everyone, otherwise you end up pleasing no one ... listen to what the market is telling you. Not every site will be a winner. If, after exhausting your marketing efforts, a site still isn’t performing the way you need it to, move on and focus your energy on something that does convert. In the long term, everyone will be happier.” Camacho stresses he has worked very hard over the past nine years to build solid relationships, partnerships and friendships. “I have learned that it is a small industry and that you should never burn bridges,” he says. “We help each other whenever we can, we give each other advice and share in our successes. This has been instrumental as we build a new brand—we can’t do it alone, and are excited with the number of friends who have reached out already.” And the connection to Manhunt—which pioneered gay online hookups—will prove invaluable, on both sides of the new initiative. “With millions of Manhunt users at our disposal, we will have an early advantage with amazing traffic. Not only through the hookup site, but also through our porn blog ManhuntDaily.com. With access to member data, we are also able to gauge what types of content the general gay porn consumer has an appetite for, and we will use that knowledge as we expand our portfolio,” Camacho says. And for those fans wondering, the answer is yes—Manhunt is still around. “The truth is that over the past few years, former Manhunt leadership just didn’t know how the product should evolve and be competitive; and we lost relevancy and market share as a result,” Camacho says. “That is where I come in.” Manhunt is currently undergoing a progressive rebranding—initially focused on upgrading its infrastructure and features focused on hookups, which has been its single core service. The site recently launched a new “conversations” platform and “match” feature that has increased member interaction and engagement, Camacho says. “Looking into the horizon, the plan is for Manhunt to evolve past the hookup space and become the one-stop shop for everything adult: hookup, porn, cams, sex toys, etc. In the past few years, we have not fully embraced who we are as a brand. Instead, looking forward, we will be unapologetic about what our members do on Manhunt—yes, they fuck! But in addition, we will provide them with multiple platforms and services to ‘get off.’” Pictured: A still from ColbysCrew.com

 
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