Live Cams: Mastering the European Market
For many Americans working in the adult entertainment industry, myself included, there’s a tendency to establish a myopic focus on the American market for our products and services, and to consider other geographic markets, even the large and lucrative European market, as something of an afterthought. Some of this tendency can be explained away by differences in language and culture, which can complicate marketing, advertising and communication strategies, further relegating the European market to the American adult entertainment entrepreneur’s back burner.
To more effectively monetize European traffic and better serve European customers, one first has to understand that there is no “European market” as such, Visit-X senior sales manager Christian Kreul told XBIZ.
“With its approximately 50 countries, Europe is a very diversified region with different languages and cultures,” Kreul noted. “As a German company we’re mainly targeting the German-speaking area, which consists of Germany, Austria and parts of Switzerland. This region alone has a population of almost 100 million people, a strong economy and a decent income situation. Luckily this region is also the second-largest traffic and revenue-generator in the Western World, right after the U.S. market.”
Douglas Richter, senior authorized consultant with AWE, observed that the European diversity referenced by Kreul necessitates a certain level of marketing foresight and attention to detail that a lot of American companies aren’t used to thinking about, since the vast bulk of their efforts are directed toward English-speaking customers. In light of that fact, Richter recommends that American webmasters look to partner with European companies that have already mastered the multi-lingual and varying currency needs of the European consumer market.
“In the E.U. there are more language barriers, so you need to make sure your ads are delivered in languages appropriate to the geo-region,” Richter said. “AWE has removed the language barrier from the chat with an on-the-fly language translator, and by making sure the site is translated into all the major languages. This include billing pages and optimized billing solutions such that customers can pay with the preferred payment options often unique to their country or region. Currently we are translated to more than 20 languages, including Turkish, and accept pretty much all the major payment options.”
Another significant difference between the American and European live cam markets is a decided preference for models who are perceived to be true amateurs, as opposed to paid studio hands, according to Kreul.
‘In the Germanspeaking region, consumers don’t want the high-gloss super star models, or the bored studio girl waiting for her next client,” Kreul said. “The consumers over here like amateurs – the ‘girl next door’ who could be a potential neighbor, or who you could meet in a supermarket. That’s one of the reasons why 95 percent of all the girls active on our site are working from home. We’ve also had the experience that girls sending from home are way better in generating revenue compared to studio girls. There might be some exceptions, but most of the studio girls receive a fixed salary, so their motivation isn’t that high.”
The preference for amateur performers serves to reinforce the need to understand the particular European market one is targeting, Kreul added, noting that for many companies, it probably makes more sense to partner with a local company that is already well-positioned in each local market and to work with them in serving live content, rather than trying to master the market directly on your own.
“A local company will always have the most local girls sending from home, rather than having studios implemented,” Kreul said. “Local companies also have the best available billing methods integrated, methods that are known and trusted by the audience. When it comes to billing, you also need to consider that local companies have great collection services as well. Lastly, the site should offer the most appropriate local language and shouldn’t look that it was translated by a translation company.”
When it comes to selecting a good European live cam site to promote, and a solid affiliate program to promote it through, Richter said this is one area in which the American and European market are not that different, and that webmasters should seek “the same thing they look for in any cam affiliate program,” domestic or foreign.
“Can the provider deliver a compelling product that has the leading technology, the best and largest variety of models, and service second to none? If yes, then they are likely a good program to partner with,” Richter said. “Keep in mind AWE is the only cam provider I am aware of that is streaming in true HD at 30 frames per second; the competitors are still at 24FPS.”
Of course, proper translations and comprehensive currency options will only go so far in generating revenue, if the performers themselves do not capture the attention, imagination and compulsion to spend of the customers who log in to watch them perform. As such, maintaining a good working relationship and offering a quality experience to cam performers is every bit as important as understanding the local market and culture.
“If you want to succeed, you need motivated girls on your platform, and we do everything for them to keep ours happy,” Kreul said. “You need to offer first-class support to the girls. That’s one of the reason why we have a lot of people just working in supporting and taking care of the girls. To motivate them even further, we have an internal competition for our girls called “VISIT-X Games.” Based on several factors, the girls can earn points and are able to win great prizes, such as cars, luxury travel and other valuable goods.”
The satisfaction and contentment of the performers shows through in their live cam sessions and the way they interact with customers, Kreul observed, adding that “the better the connection to the girls working on your platform, the better they perform. It’s a win-win-win for the consumer, the girl and the affiliate.”
Looking forward, both Richter and Kreul cited the need for companies and webmasters to keep a close eye on new technological developments, particularly those that enhance the delivery of live video content, and those that have potential to augment the interactivity between performers and their customers. Richter in particular expressed great confidence that his company will remain ahead of the pack with respect to the adoption of relevant new technologies.
“The stream quality will continue to improve and those cam providers that are not offering all the basic services now offered by AWE are trailing,” Richter said. “The technology gap will widen, as AWE continues to outpace the other providers in the vertical. Personally, I am a little surprised that other programs have not begun to offer a language translator, recommendation engines, and increased frame rates.”
Kreul pointed to a general trend of greater involvement and interaction on the part of consumers with respect to a great many goods and services, and predicted that the same trend will carry over into the world of live adult cams.
“We believe that users will become more involved in the future, and more like a community,” Kruel said. “Consumers will have closer relationship to the girls. We also shouldn’t forget the power of mobile here, and not just from the consumer perspective; the girls will be able to be more active with their fans, as well.”
If these predictions and trends sound a lot like those that you hear coming out of other sectors and sub-markets, there’s a good reason for that; in the age of social networking and easy self-publication, barriers between consumers and companies, fans and performers, users and creators are lower than they have ever been before.
The same customer service responses that used to be fine to provide within 24 hours are now expected in an instant, and “interactive” in a live sex show context means more than being able to demonstrate that the performers are indeed live on camera that very moment. Increasingly, consumers don’t just expect to be provided with what they want, they expect to have it provided precisely when they want it, too. Going forward, the ability to satisfy such lofty demands may serve as the dividing line between success and failure for live cam companies, European or otherwise.