There are many ways to describe the gay porn consumer — the need for immediate gratification one of many aspects defining their purchasing habits. And with the rise of the “reality” craze — an outlet that allows consumers to not only feel like they are part of something more intimate, but even strut their own stuff on tube sites — the live cam market has grown from an afterthought to a necessity, much like the gay consumer has to many companies that previously treated them like the red-headed stepchild of the straights.
“We have always treated the gay consumer the same as its straight counterpart, so we know roughly the same about both market segments,” says Brad Estes, manager of operations at Video Secrets. “The gay market continues to be strong, especially for sites like ours that cater to the consumer’s needs and desires directly.”
Nowhere else in the adult marketplace can a customer create their own product, effectively directing their own show, than live video chat. —Video Secrets' Brad Estes
Video Secrets has focused on the live cam market for the past 16 years. Estes says the industry has come to recognize the segment as a tremendous revenue driver. In addition, affiliates who have survived the industry’s changes have become smarter and more sophisticated, allowing companies like theirs to offer more advanced promotion tools like API registrations and Video Secrets’ recently unveiled one-click solution.
“The live cam market has growth both in size and sophistication over the years,” Estes says. “The growth has been driven by revenue, increased understanding of the customer and a continued abundance of free content. Sophisticated customers, those people willing and able to pay for a premium product, continue to demand the unique personalized experiences offered from live video chat. Nowhere else in the adult marketplace can a customer create their own product, effectively directing their own show, than live video chat.”
Douglas Richter, senior authorized consultant for Adult Webmaster Empire and director of business development for Bright Guys Inc., shares Estes’ passion for the platform. “Live cams have been around for more than 15 years and have evolved quite a bit. Live video chat serves a basic human requirement and fulfills a desire for companionship. It evolved from the phone sex industry and the instinctual desire to connect with other people. Technology has been improving the quality of life as well as removing the language barriers; why chat over the phone when you can view the companion who is curing your loneliness and bringing you joy?”
Online and paying webmasters since 1999, the LiveBucks webmaster affiliate program caters to live webcam and live sex show related traffic. Guillaume Boisvert, director of LiveBucks and parent company Inoveo Communications, credits the rise of social media with creating a huge demand for more community-friendly products.
“People are now familiar with sharing thoughts and feelings instantly, and we thrive to fill that need with our exclusive partners. It’s a great match,” he says. “Although I don’t want to dismiss the amateur niche, I think Twitter and other social media really returned the star system to preeminence. It totally revolutionized how we interact with those stars, and even who becomes a star; you have to look no further than Austin Wilde’s follower count to know that star-stalking is still the name of the game ... from our experience, nothing beats connecting surfers with big name stars they know and love. Our own live shows have had tremendous success when featuring big names like Cody Cummings or Marcus Mojo, or big brand names like Hot House or COLT. It creates a tangible buzz among the clients when big stars come to play.”
Video Secrets offers a large number of gay cams, both on its popular flagship property (Flirt4Free.com) and on affiliate-operated white label sites. “Our gay offerings continue to be very successful because they embrace the immeasurable diversity of human sexuality, combined with a product that lends itself more to online relationships than one-and-done spenders,” Estes says.
He adds that direct customer acquisition through advertising has been hot for half a decade and continues to gain momentum as the industry matures and advertising opportunities become more standardized. The deep and detailed analytics behind advertising — and the entire business, he adds — continue to provide insights that allow companies to provide a better product that creates long-term brand loyalty. Estes says that revenue from live cams should have a line-item on every adult company’s financials, stressing that creating a sizable long-term revenue stream from live cams requires more than just putting up a banner.
“We’ve seen first-hand that the companies who invest time and thought into their live cams promotions see the biggest return on their investment. Companies must always remember that customers of live cams can spend enormous amounts of money; casting a bigger net will yield the most whales.”
Every change in technology affects the live video chat market, he notes, especially improvements in streaming technologies and video codecs. “We recently created an entire ‘convergence’ department to focus on integrations with nonstandard devices like mobile, tablets, televisions, etc. Our goal is to continue to offer our products on as many platforms as possible in the highest quality available.”
Boisvert notes that the complete domination of the mobile products by iOS devices impacted the live cam aspect more than any other due to the traditional reliance on Flash-based video. Although most live products now have a non-Flash solution, they still lack in features and quality, but “I see that being solved in the short to mid-term simply because of market pressure.”
But the most important point that Boisvert stresses: Any company that isn’t providing their clients/surfers with a great live cam experience as part of their product offering is missing the boat.
“As with the overall gay adult market, the gay live cam market has done its own thing, not duplicating its straight counterpart. In more recent years, the straight adult companies have become aware of the potential and have tried to improve their gay adult offerings. It has led to a fair amount of overall growth, but a limited amount of success,” he says.
“Surfers want the intimate, direct relationship that only live cam can provide. One crucial factor to ensure the success of your live cam offering is to make sure your product reflects the sensibilities of the gay adult market. One-size fits all is not the order of the day.”