Q&A With Oystein Wright, CEO of Mansion Productions
You have to give credit to Oystein Wright, the CEO of Mansion Productions, for the growth and success of the online adult entertainment business — without his vision, the business might not have been the same.
Mansion came on to the scene at the right time 13 years ago, during the ascending height of online commerce, and offered something no other company had — an affiliate management and tracking software, created to make it easier and more profitable.
Wright, in this interview with XBIZ World, gives us a peek into the history of Mansion and the products his company has developed to help this industry profit.
XBIZ: How did you get into the business of creating programs that online adult entertainment companies can use to generate and track sales?
WRIGHT: After working as executive sales manager with the third-party processor, Epoch, from 1996 to 1998 my partner Garry and I saw the need for more automation in the process of running affiliate programs. The earliest versions of affiliate programs were very cumbersome setting up, and they required a lot of manual work in order to deal with the communication with affiliates. Most everything, from promotional tools to generating linking codes that actually worked, emailing affiliates information about new products, banners, and so on, was literally all manual work that required a lot of time and resources. We wanted to change that, so we hired a programmer that had his education in applied mathematics [numerical analysis is the study of algorithms that use numerical approximation (as opposed to general symbolic manipulations) for the problems of mathematical analysis (as distinguished from discrete mathematics)]. And as such, the first version of MPA (Mansion Productions Automation) was born in 2000. It was the first affiliate management and tracking software, created specifically to enhance and make it easier to run a successful affiliate program in the adult entertainment arena.
One of the things that really made MPA3® famous, was the “cascading billing” feature. As the first company we know of, in the world, we had an idea that billing processors all had different scrubbing algorithms, and thus it would make sense to add multiple processors in a “cascade” to see if it would increase overall sales performance. We were right, and the companies that started using MPA3 with its cascading capabilities saw sales surge overnight by 20 percent to 30 percent.
XBIZ: Have you always been interested in computer programming?
WRIGHT: My father gave me the interest for PCs, and how they worked, when I was a child. I still remember the smell of the large mainframe machines of the 1970s, the hole-card machines, and the dot-matrix printers. Programming itself, was never my thing. I am an “idea kind of guy,” and I prefer working with programmers that know how to take my ideas and program it to work accordingly.
XBIZ: Mansion was the first affiliate tracking business in the online adult business 13 years ago. How did you see the need for such software years ago?
WRIGHT: A need for something to work better, plain and simple. I mentioned earlier, there was an acute need for affiliate programs to be managed better, and automated, to make it easier to run programs. The need to add simple features like promotional tools, multiple billing processors (credit cards, checks, telephone billing — now SMS), managing members, affiliates, and so on in one easy to use management interface. When we created the software we actually did it for ourselves only, but soon enough friends of ours in the industry asked us if they also could get a copy of it, and one day they asked us “how much does it cost.” And all of a sudden we went from being an affiliate program to be a software company.
XBIZ: Mansion Productions MPA3 came out way before NATS, which has a similar affiliate tracking software. How do you view NATS as a competitor? And is there a history behind the two companies?
WRIGHT: There is indeed a history behind our two companies. Fabian Thylmann and John Albright, the original owners of NATS used to be a client of ours, using our MPA product back in the mid 2000s. As a client of ours, they had a clear advantage when creating their own version of MPA in NATS, and after being a client for about a year or so time, launched NATS. I could go on and on about their tactics, however, now I feel that it is “water under the bridge,” and companies in need of a quality affiliate tracking and management software should make the choice between our two companies by checking both products before deciding.
XBIZ: Tell me about your products, MPA3 and MAS v2.0. How about customization? How easy is it for clients?
WRIGHT: MPA3 v5 and MAS v2 (CMS) are both made with the intention that the user interface should be as intuitive as humanly possible. Working inside a software, on a management level, should be done in a way that makes your day easier to manage. And in MPA3 v5 and MAS v2 we feel we have accomplished that. Adding content, products, services, or billers is made in a way that even the most basic users of computers will understand it.
There is no need to take a MPA3 or MAS course to understand it, unlike our competition, as it is highly intuitive to work with. On both software MAS and MPA3, we can do customizations to fit your needs, as long as you are on a Pro or Enterprise version.
XBIZ: Which billers are powered by MPA3, and how have they implemented the software?
WRIGHT: In 2006 we made a deal with one of the oldest and most respected billers in our industry, Epoch, and created for them a custom version of MPA3 that now is “Epochstats Powered By MPA3.” Then in 2010 we made a similar deal with CommerceGate, whereas now CGAffiliates is “Powered By MPA3.” Clearly the latter is the more advanced system as it is newer and with the latest technologies applied by us; however, both Epoch and CommerceGate enjoy the power of being on the backbone of MPA3 with all its functionalities for its program owners. Being on a biller version of MPA3 really has a lot of advantages. Firstly, you do not have to host your own program on your own servers – the biller takes care of this for you. Secondly, you get to enjoy all the biller functionalities offered by the biller, all conjoined with the power of MPA3 to run your affiliate program. It truly is a win-win situation.
XBIZ: Is Mansion working on any new features and inititiatives?
WRIGHT: Mansion always works on new features and initiatives. It is the nature of being in the software business – improvements are always welcome. We get a lot of ideas from our clients, and we take the best of them and release them to the public. New technologies arrive all the time, and when we see that it can enhance the productivity for our clients, we implement it.
XBIZ: What sector of the online adult business is driving the market these days?
WRIGHT: There are two kings in our industry, content and traffic. With great content comes great traffic, and with great traffic comes sales. The industry has changed, and unfortunately tube sites with free content has crushed parts of the industry. However, the companies that have exclusive and good-quality content will always thrive. Well-managed affiliate programs with goodquality content will always do great business, as long as the owners behind the companies have good intentions and stellar ethics. The industry will continue to grow, because as you know, new Internet users are still being added every day, and the search for adult entertainment will always be there. How it is managed, and how it is monetized is another story. But overall, content and traffic will always rule our industry.
XBIZ: Where do you live and what's a typical work day like?
WRIGHT: My typical day is a story of its own. As a business owner I do not take much vacation, as I am always at work in some fashion. As my clients are on all continents of the world I need to work both early and late hours. Nine a.m. in Los Angeles is 5 p.m. in Europe, while my Australian customers contact me at another hour of the day completely. I work from both Los Angeles and Oslo, Norway – so I guess you can call me “the traveling man.”
XBIZ: When not thinking about the biz, what do you like to do?
WRIGHT: I am a family man — three daughters, a dog, a hamster and a fighting fish. It gets kind of crazy sometimes. I am a Jiu Jitsu trainer, and I love fishing, sailing, cooking and the occasional extreme sport. With a fear of heights, nothing beats jumping out of an airplane!