Q&A With iFriends' Jaime Joseph: Making the Most of Valentine’s Day
Valentine’s Day is no longer just a Hallmark holiday. Companies like iFriends see it as prime time to connect with the masses with special events, free promotions and higher payouts for its affiliates.
XBIZ World checked in with Jaime Joseph, iFriends director of email marketing and model liaison, to find out what iFriends has planned this month.
XBIZ: In terms of numbers, how big will the Valentine’s Day period be for iFriends?
JOSEPH: Valentine’s Day is a big deal for iFriends because it’s also our birthday — this year our 17th! We celebrate Valentine’s Day each year with special events, free promotions and higher payouts for affiliates. We love that so many models, from both past and present, come by to help us celebrate. It almost feels like an annual reunion, many people say.
XBIZ: How did iFriends get its start, and why did you pick the name?
JOSEPH: In the mid 1990s we ran the well-known website Amateur Hardcore (Amateurs. com) and other adult video-on-demand sites. During that time we redeveloped Cu-SeeMe videochat reflector technology and marketed it as, “Cu-SeeMe on steroids” and “NetMeeting with an attitude.”
The videochat areas of our sites quickly became more popular than the recorded video content. We knew we had something special by the time we launched iFriends on Feb. 14, 1998. We’re really proud to be a pioneer of what is now the most thriving segment of online adult commerce.
As for the “why” on the iFriends name: Well, iFriends was originally an abbreviation of “Intimate Friends.”
We intended to fulfill a deep personal need for sensual companionships via an online platform. Almost two decades later, iFriends still embody those ideals by promoting intimacy and private one-on-one sessions, when the trend on other websites is increasingly towards group shows.
XBIZ: How much growth has iFriends seen in the past 17 years? And how many users does the franchise have now?
JOSEPH: User traffic and website revenue on iFriends absolutely skyrocketed right from the start. We experienced model and affiliate payouts topping the $100 million mark by 2004 or so, and 13.6 million members is a pretty conservative current count for iFriends. A lot of bogus numbers get floated by people in this industry, so all I can say is that ours aren’t.
XBIZ: What makes iFriends so successful?
JOSEPH: It’s very simple — we focus on exceptionally responsive service. Let me give you a few examples:
1) We’re currently the only webcam site that offers models permanent 100 percent payouts for new members they bring to iFriends. Similarly for affiliates, we provide lifetime revshare for new iFriends signups.
2) If you have a question about iFriends, whether you’re an affiliate, model, or members, you can pick up the phone (or enter live chat support) and talk to a human. Every user has a personally assigned account representative.
3) Our primary focus on promoting intimacy strengthens our revenue-base. We encourage one-on-one sessions with no additional fees for private sessions or cam-to-cam.
4) Also, we are the only webcam service in the industry that does its own credit card processing directly with an acquiring bank — and we’ve used the same premier bank for the past 15 years. Customer prepayment is rarely required, which can produce a huge boost to per-minute revenues for us and our revshare affiliates and models. Banking and processing fees siphon off less revenue than on other sites. And we can sometimes be more nimble than our competition when there are chargebacks and other nonpayment issues on the customer end.
XBIZ: How does mobile factor in?
JOSEPH: The live webcam interaction is more challenging than video use. But mobile usage is clearly increasing, and for us in fact it provides the best conversion rates and point-of-contact. We also offer video clip sales and phone on the mobile site.
XBIZ: What are the company’s future plans?
JOSEPH: We’re planning new modalities in billing and mobile, and we’re really intrigued by new technologies like Microsoft’s HoloLens. Though it’s tempting, I really can’t say anything beyond that.