Observations: Summer Internext 2003

Stephen Yagielowicz

Whether you’re still in Florida, on the road, or already back home, if you attended the recently concluded Internext Expo, then chances are that you’re still considering all the information, attitudes, and opinions that you’ve absorbed over the past few days. Here‘s a look at some things I’ve noticed…

I’ve been attending Internext since it was known as the ia2000 show, and have followed it’s growth and changes for long enough to form some pretty reasonable opinions about the value and necessity of having such an event. For those of you looking for the bottom line of how the show went, I can say now that while I’m certain that some folks will disagree with me, I think that in several ways this was “the best” show yet!

Doubtless some seasoned attendees will prefer the overwhelming insanity of ‘Vegas shows from years past, but personally, I thought that the relatively ‘tame’ event this time around was a far better venue for doing a bit of new business, and dramatically increased the networking opportunities. While some might see a show that could be described as “quiet” as a ‘bad’ thing, they miss the point that the ‘noise and crowds’ are often a byproduct of throngs of party-going newbies and other “non-serious” traffic, while ‘quiet’ is a necessary ingredient for quality conversations - and the time that allows them.

So who was (and wasn’t) there? That was the first thing that I noticed about this event: less of the old familiar faces, and more strangers roaming around. Talking to as many people as possible about who they are, and what they do, it was easy to come to the conclusion that as the employment situation becomes tougher in the mainstream world, frustrated job hunters and curious opportunity seekers are turning to the possibilities of Internet porn.

While my hope for a shining future for our industry, fed by the glowing enthusiasm from passing newbies, was tempered by the limited number of familiar faces (a strong indication of the increasingly difficult realities of our business), it was also bolstered by the mainstream business presences on display, such as first-time show exhibitors Toshiba and Zend, along with the incognito observers from other well known name-brand companies, seeking a way to enter our market without ‘dirtying their feet…’

This brings me to insightful observation number one: our industry is being forced to grow up, and those who can adapt will survive, and those who can’t, won’t. Fortunately for those who will survive, a new breed of business-savvy mainstream talent is entering the field, many with good ideas, and superlative skill sets. Established adult Internet companies looking to broaden their approach and diversify their offerings for the long-term will no doubt find the personnel they need to fuel their growth, while hopeful newcomers boasting the ‘next big thing’ may not survive if they lack the experience that can only be gained over years in this biz.

Insightful observation number two: get your ducks in a row now! I keep saying this, and still I’m behind in what I need to do - and I’m not alone. The War On Terror is churning along just fine now, thank you, and renewed attention to the world of porn can now be afforded.

The ‘2257 related provisions of the PROTECT Act mandate that the DOJ report to Congress on how many inspections / prosecutions of ‘2257 violations and related offenses they make. Think this is nothing for you to worry about? If you have ANY sexually explicit images on your site (and this potentially includes images on a sponsor’s banners), and do not have the proper documentation to identify the model and his/her age at the time the image was shot, then you can face a stiff fine and jail time. Why should they try to shut you down on a difficult to prosecute ‘obscenity’ charge, when you can be easily attacked for not complying with a simple record keeping requirement?

Insightful observation number three: figure out how you’re going to make money, then don’t complain when there’s a cost attached to it. As expected, the various IPSPs were busy answering questions and offering solutions, as were a variety of other non-VISA payment processing providers. While Acacia was nowhere to be seen (despite rumors of their presence), they are only the tip of the iceberg in a coming deluge of new patent (and damage) claims, that when coupled with the VISA issue, will put the final nail in the coffin for those ‘Webmasters’ who believe that everything - including their business expenses - should be “free.”

This is really part of the maturation process of our industry, and as was pointed out to me; “we’re in our teenage years now…” and like all teenagers, the rebellious ones will be ‘spanked,’ while the careful and studious ones will go on to enjoy successful futures.

The bottom line from this summer’s event was that the future portends a softer, gentler adult Internet, that is comfortably intertwined with the mainstream, and populated with professional, law-abiding companies. Those who cannot embrace this? They’ll either be out of the business, or in jail. Stay flexible! ~ Stephen