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January 15, 2017

Seminar Program Drives Day 2 of Internext

LAS VEGAS—One of the main draws of Internext is the educational program that on Sunday delivered insights from experts across the adult digital spectrum. More than two dozen seasoned executives took the seminar stage in the Paradise Tower of Hard Rock Hotel & Casino to impart their wisdom on no less than six different trending topics in the tech space. The opening series of discussions covered adult dating, domains, mobile products, live cams, billing and the pot & porn connection, playing to standing-room-only audiences in Festival Hall C, where the industry’s original adult digital conference found its rhythm on the second full day of the 17th annual expo. The day got off to a strong start with the “Power Dating” session led by Sean Christian, the CEO of Revolution Force, the Sacramento-based boutique marketing firm. His panelists included Alfonsus “AK” Kusuma of Madzuma, Brandon McLevis of DatingGold, Igor Komarenko of AuroraGlobal, Charlyn McNamara of AdultFriendfinder and Michael O’Sullivan of The Hubpeople. AK, a 16-year veteran who founded the private affiliate network Madzuma in 2015, may have summarized the heart and soul of the panel best, when he pointed out that relationships can make or break any dealing. “I think the best tools are yourself, your knowledge, your experience and then your relationships,” AK said. “So what converts for my landing page might be great for me this week but then I have to know what converts for the advertisers themselves, which is why relationships are very important. Because we’re not here for quick money we’re here for the long-term.” Christian noted that McNamara, the VP of marketing for FriendFinder Networks, was one of the first media buyers in the adult space. She said the key benefit of managing a network of sites is the ability to customize each promotion. “At Friendfinder Networks all our focus is on the user experience,” McNamara said. “What better way to foster a user than to tailor the landing page to what they’re looking for.” Igor Komarenko, chief marketing officer for AuroraGlobal, echoed the sentiment, saying, “it is very important for people to feel like the brand is local.” McNamara added, “It’s up to you and your testing and your ability to evaluate stats. We at AdultFriendFinder are constantly testing ourselves with traffic sources, different banners and different landing pages with users’ experiences. As much as possible I encourage everybody to test on their own to see what works better.” Christian asked the panel to close with their views on the state of the dating sector. “Mobile is going to be huge,” AK said. “It’s going to continue to grow.” Michael O’Sullivan remarked, “It’s going to be more niche more of the time. If you can provide a lot of solutions in a lot of different niches in the adult space there’s plenty of room.” Brandon McLevis, the chief operating officer of DatingGold, concluded, “I would like to see more blending between mainstream and adult. There is only so much adult traffic available, but there is a plethora of mainstream.” A quartet of go-to guys commanded the stage for “The Domain Game” panel, as Jimmy “Wizzo” Foreman (JuicyAds), Brad Mitchell (MojoHost) and Steven Winyard (ICM Registry) fielded questions from moderator Colin Rowntree (Wasteland) about whether the once lucrative domain industry still holds revenue potential. While some say top-level domains are dead in the water due to the massive drop-off of type-in traffic, the panel analyzed the pulse of the domain game in this mobile-first age. “The top-level domains that are gonna be successful are the ones Google shows love to. It might not be forever but right now Google controls the internet,” said Wizzo, the 17-year industry veteran currently with JuicyAds who has done consulting for various billing companies, traffic networks, pay sites, affiliate programs, tube sites, dating and cam programs during his prolific career. Winyard, the main board director and vice president for ICM Registry, owners and operators of the highly successful Top Level Domains, .xxx, .porn, .sex and .adult, reminded that “a domain is only one reason that makes any website run well.” “There’s about 200 reasons why what makes your website successful; the domain is what you call your shop,” Winyard said. Rowntree drew laughs when he confessed to owning BowelBlaster.com. “What was I thinking?” he said. Mitchell, the CEO of Mojo host who owns about 400 domains, noted, “everyone always has to take stock of what their traffic metrics are and have a good monetization strategy for their domain portfolio.” “Really, the most important thing today with domains—the value is in what you develop into your domains. The original content is king.” Wizzo recommended, “if you’re looking to pick a domain name, don’t get too creative because you want customers to come back.” “They need to be able to remember simple words. It has to be easy to remember no matter what TLD they’re on,” Wizzo said. “The number one thing is…is this something that I would remember? Your domain is your brand, it’s a very important part. But it’s not more important than what your brand represents.” Without question, one of the most anticipated panels of the weekend was the “The Pot & Porn Connection” that was moderated by Stewart Tongue, owner of EngineFood and founder of WeedStoreReviews.com. The panel included Nigel Williams (Mint Chip Media), Actual Mike Ackerman (Actually Helping), Tom Hymes (MG Magazine), Lauren MacEwen (7Veils) and attorney Corey Silverstein. Dishing out lots of red meat, the group discussed the booming, yet tricky business of monetizing legal marijuana. Silverstein said there are now 28 total states that either allow recreational or medical marijuana use, yet there are many complicated questions surrounding the business of it. “It’s going to be a very busy couple years in terms of litigation,” Silverstein said. Tom Hymes, the editor of a cannabis trade monthly, said “all cannabis laws are local.” “It’s a patchwork of laws and layered over that are the state laws. The most important point for people if you’re looking to get into the industry is that you can do so legally,” he said. Tongue, without no pun intended, added “nowhere is the legal stuff more hazy than with billing.” Silverstein said that one of his legal colleagues in the audience, Larry Walters, created LegalPotLaw.com, but Facebook prohibited him from advertising the site on the social network. Nigel Williams is the founder and CEO of Mint Chip Media, the only search and display ad network for the cannabis industry, and Mint Chip Agency, a creative branding and digital marketing agency for premium brands in the cannabis industry. He said “the level of risk varies greatly state by state.” Hymes, meanwhile, said the cannabis industry is “a monster.” “I’ve never seen anything like it. In adult whoever has the best programmer wins; in cannabis whoever has the best chemist wins,” he said. “It’s still an immature industry. There aren’t established relationships between retailers and vendors. But there are extremely sophisticated black market ones.” Mike Ackerman, whose Actually Helping is among the first payment processors for companies and stores in the legal marijuana industry, has already signed on to provide billing services for several major brands in cannabis. He predicted before end of Donald Trump’s first term that marijuana would be medically legal everywhere and recreationally legal for “half of the US.” The mobile seminar featured an all-star group headed by Joey Gabra, managing director of mobile billing specialist, Affil4you, with panelists that included Ovidiu Necula (AuroraGlobal), Christoph Hermes (SaltyMobile), David Vince (Exoclick), Andy Wullmer (SexGoesMobile) and Yannick Ferreri (PornDoe). “Certain products work really well with mobile billing,” Gabra said. “It caters much more to the quick impulse buy.” The group noted there is very little existing fraud with mobile billing. “Mobile is changing all the time,” said Vince, the senior publisher account manager for Exoclick. “It’s important to keep up with what’s going on. Carrier billing is changing all the time. Things can change overnight.” Christoph Hermes, the founder of SaltyMobile, added, “Each country is different and there’s a huge difference between adult and mainstream. What is successful today can be super unsuccessful tomorrow.” The live cams panel included remarks from Shirley Lara (Chaturbate), Shay Efron (ImLive), Yuval Kijel (Streamate), Jeff Wilson (Flirt4Free), Jim Austin (Stripchat) and Alex Lecomte (JuicyAds), who moderated the group. Lara, the chief operating officer for Chaturbate, said her company started in 2011 and has grown to more than 300 employees with an Alexa rating of about 130. “As opposed to having a pay site with pre-recorded content, each cam show is very different,” Lara said. “The live-cam experience is very unique. It’s the personality that shines that makes the users stay.” Efron, VP of sales, marketing & business development for ImLive/PussyCash, said that “getting a user to a cam site should be his final destination.” “Users spend more than other vertical in porn,” Efron said. Yuval Kijel, who manages Streamate’s new affiliate program and white-label builder, Cambuilder.com, agreed, saying “cam users, they stay forever. It’s not like a dating site where they stay three, four, five months. We have users from the moment we started.” The group agreed mobile represents the future. “Mobile rocks. Everything we do is mobile first for a few years,” Efron said. “if you are not in the mobile vertical you can close and go to the beach.” Kijel said, “It’s a blessing for all of us. It expanded the exposure for cams…Our 2017 is focused entirely on mobile, bringing new developments for our affliiates, for our models and obviously for users. It could be features. It could be applications.” Meanwhile the billing panel brought out resident experts such as Gary Jackson (CCBill), Frank Gannon (Epoch), Jeffrey Rosenweig (SegPay), Jonathan Corona (Mobius Payments), Wendy Nelson (Netbilling), Karen Campbell (OrbitalPay) and Mike Ackerman (Actually Helping) for a thorough discussion on understanding the numerous options for billing.   The evening festivities included the Internext Pajama Party in a private penthouse suite in the Paradise Tower sponsored by AWE, AdXXX, Paxum, Stripchat, Terpon, Epoch and Datetronix. On Monday, five more seminars will commence at 11 a.m. and the show will culminate with the keynote address at 5 p.m. by Gregory Clayman, the president of VS Media, parent company of Flirt4Free. Clayman will speak in Vinyl. The annual GFY Awards will be the main event Monday night in the same spot. For additional Internext coverage, click here.

 
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