opinion

Live Cams & Dating

Alex Henderson

Europe has long been a vital market for the adult entertainment industry, and two areas of the erotic online world that continue to be quite popular in Europe in 2012 are live webcam sites and dating — both of which offer consumers a more interactive type of experience than they expect from sites specializing in downloadable adult content.

And the webmasters who make their cam and dating sites as interactive as possible will be the most likely to thrive in the European market.

It’s important that when you’re venturing into the European market, you aren’t too generalized with your targeting. -Gary Taylor, WhiteLabelDating.com

Robert Schreiner, director of sales and marketing for the German webcam site Visit-x.net, stressed that in Europe, most cam site customers want to do more than simply look at models—they want to interact with them online. Asked to describe some of the major differences between users of cam sites in the U.S. and users of cam sites in Europe, Schreiner replied: “The major difference is that the European users are more attracted to amateurs. They like to talk and chat. Due to this fact, the holding time of a user is enormously good—as long as it is a native speaker—and the loyalty of the customers is also very high.”

Schreiner added: “In Europe, all hosts are well adapted to the customer needs—especially in non-erotic video chats, when users talk about daily topics. Of course, native speakers have big advantages in their respective countries.” Schreiner pointed out that because European cam site users like a very interactive experience, being able to speak more than one language proficiently is a major asset for European cam models. Schreiner noted: “Europeans like to speak a lot. Thirty percent of the chats consist of non-erotic (subject matter). There are still some countries where speaking English is not too common — i.e., Italy or France—when you compare them with Eastern Europe or Scandinavia, where they like speaking English. Based on the fact that the figure of EU members is still growing, each (additional) language is an advantage.”

Schreiner was quick to add that while some cam site customers in Europe prefer to chat with models in languages other than English, there are many people in Germany, Eastern Europe and the Scandinavian countries who are happy to chat with models in English. Schreiner also said that proficiency in English is a plus because of all the U.S. residents who patronize European cam sites and like European models. “As all models are interested in being successful in new markets, English is, of course, a big benefit,” Schreiner asserted.

In Europe, the language barrier can present challenges for dating sites.

Gary Taylor, partner account manager for WhiteLabelDating.com, noted that the language barrier is “by far the biggest challenge for any online dating business in the European market. There are without doubt two markets in Europe, with monolingual dating sites taking up the majority share of the market. However, multi-lingual dating sites are becoming slightly more popular. The more popular multi-lingual dating sites tend to focus around Eastern Europe. As this is a very different challenge to the U.S. market, the monolingual dating sites are more popular when it comes to volume of sites and members. For anyone looking to set up a dating site in a territory where they don’t fluently speak the language, it’s vital that you pick a service you can rely on to provide perfect translation.”

Niche marketing can be profitable on both European cam sites and European dating sites. Some European cam models are catering to specific niches, such as the cougar/MILF niche, various gay and lesbian niches and BDSM niches—and niche-specific dating sites are also plentiful in Europe. “The European market has heavily adopted the niche dating culture,” Taylor stressed. “So it’s important that when you’re venturing into the European market, you aren’t too generalized with your targeting.”

Taylor added: “BDSM, S&M, cougar and BBW are probably four of the biggest niche markets that I’ve seen in the European market to date. The countries which are more open to these markets sit more towards Western Europe, with Germany, France and the U.K. leading the way in all of these areas. Gay dating is a huge market right across Europe, which typically finds heavy populated cities having the highest volume of members and activity.”

Florian Tauber, head of product management for the German site Lustagenten.com, offered some comparisons of online dating in Europe and online dating in the U.S. “In the U.S.,” Tauber observed, “it is quite common to meet with different people while you are in a dating phase. So while people are ‘dating each other,’ nobody talks about a serious relationship. In Germany, the people are looking for the ‘one and only’ before they start dating this person. Based on this fact, the market expectations from German users are quite high .... Especially for women, it is very important ‘to have the choice.’ Due to this, there are less actual dates, but the ones which take place have more potential and quality.”

American webmasters who are hoping to enter the European market might wonder which parts of Europe are the most profitable. But whether one is looking at Scandinavia, France or the Czech Republic, much of the European cam and dating sectors can be profitable with a smart business plan. “I wouldn’t say that any one country is more profitable than another,” Taylor explained. “It all depends on the type of audience attracted, the quality of traffic, the niche targeted and the competition in that area. Naturally, a country’s economic state can influence people’s propensity to pay, and so, this can be a factor affecting trends from country to country. If you have a good site design and can drive traffic from the right sources, then your site can be profitable.”

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