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AOE and World Telemedia

Jarvis Todd

Whilst no one would ever accuse these shows of not delivering their fair share of parties and networking events, there seems to be a feeling that the stakes are getting higher in the world of online and (now more than ever) mobile adult entertainment. Jarvis Todd considers the rationale and opportunities presented by these two distinct events in Prague and Amsterdam.

For those that don’t know Adult Online Europe (AOE) and World Telemedia (WT) are actually separate shows that run side-by-side – same time, same venue, shared conference and networking. World Telemedia has always been the event for anyone generating profitable traffic by delivering premium billable content, application and service across the communication and interactive media networks. Originating with the “pay per call / audiotext” business and now focusing on new content and technology opportunities such as gambling, music, games, dating, chat, SMS, MMS, broadband, 3G, participation / interactive TV etc. A long-term home for the European adult industry, WT launched AOE as a dedicated event for the leaders in online and mobile adult entertainment in April last year.

Now it may come as a big surprise to anyone that’s been successful in the online adult entertainment industry, that you’re moving more into the “mainstream” by the minute! From a European perspective at least, widespread culture changes and liberalization are filtering through into the corporate world at speed, and this is no more obvious than in the mobile sector. For the past two years the major operators have hinted that “over 18” services are officially part of a grand scheme to get more value added (higher value) content into the market via the massive penetration of high-tech handsets (recouping the terrifying operator license fees might also be playing a big part in this strategy!). As always it’s about generating traffic – and content partners are needed too. When you consider that many of these services are driven through web-based platforms, you’ll start to see the synergies. Of course, rules, regulations and a “squeaky-clean” approach to the business will be essential to play with the “big boys” – and this has long been a challenge in the online adult industry and the audiotext industry before that.

At the same time, we’re seeing more online success stories emerging in the gaming sector, or more specifically gambling, casinos and lotteries with arcade-type games and music in hot pursuit. Again the opportunity to deliver to and / or bill a mobile handset subscriber seems irresistible to both operators and providers alike. You see the world is moving more towards a general premium content view and away from a specific content type, but this requires a change in mind set on all sides including the trade show organizers.

When I asked online billing guru, Coulomb’s Dave Knell, for his thoughts, he cited the movement of the adult erotica business from a consolidation phase to one of maturity, he sees the market strategy of the industry changing too – from its inward focus on customer retention to an outward search for new markets.

“We see two things happening”, Knell explained. “One is the honed development of products, which is becoming apparent in the billing industry, with its deployment of new technologies, such as geotargeting, to ensure that people are offered quick, easy and appropriate ways to buy the products. The second is companies seeking growth by finding new market segments, principally overseas. Many traditional online adult companies are now doing that.”

If you were one of the 900 or so international delegates that attended AOE and World Telemedia last April, the level of professionalism and presentation quality would have instantly impressed you. One of the most interesting aspects of these events is the way the organizers (who also manage the industry association www.noconline.org) cleverly fuse mainstream premium content with adult, and allow all incumbents to learn and develop their businesses within a common and very dynamic environment. This is why most of the adult industry’s biggest players (and stars) put in an appearance – to be first in line for the next big opportunity. Where else could someone providing adult content meet and do business with a major European network and vice versa? Not at a dedicated “webmaster” party-event! It’s not that networking within this industry sector is not vitally important; but the key to diversification has to involve sharing a beer with someone you haven’t actually known for the past five years! And that’s why networking events (and conference sessions) from both of these shows are open to anyone holding an AOE or WT event pass. So what if you’re in the online adult business and just want to concentrate on diversification in terms of territory?

So what if you’re in the online adult business and just want to concentrate on diversification in terms of territory? Well, that OK too. Its becoming very clear that the European adult business has an exciting future simply because of the range of communications technology, billing and legal environments which positively encourages growth in a market with over 400 million potential consumers and untold high-value niches. Yes, once again the technology / billing environment does inevitably bring mobile to the fore right now, but lets not forget that premium rate / audiotext, credit card and a variety of other slick consumer options work well in Europe; helping to maximize conversion rates and minimize charge-backs.

As Wasteland.com’s CEO, Colin Rowntree said recently: “American and Canadian adult webmasters have the infrastructure, content and marketing techniques already in place to reap the benefits of the European marketplace”, but added that “To do so most effectively requires strategic partnerships with European webmasters, marketers, content providers, translators and billing companies.” So there you have it, AOE and WT certainly provides an industrial-dating agency for future international partners and allies from content to media and service provider to network.

It has, and will always be about generating traffic and the online adult industry has plenty of it! Therein lies one of the biggest opportunities at AOE and WT. Online providers of all kinds are taking the affiliate program model (pioneered in the adult business) and applying it to their own offerings whilst also developing similar “plug and play” solutions for partners that want control of their own sites. So why shouldn’t more of your exit traffic go to a mobile content platform or perhaps a casino site? No reason at all apart from (understandably) everyone’s pretty tied up going to trade shows solely dedicated to their own business (generally segmented by content type), and not someone else’s. But, if you now consider the position of AOE / WT, you’ll start to see the benefits of bringing everyone together under a “premium online and mobile content” banner. Simple!

The conference reflects the diversity and opportunities presented on all sides with special features on premium voice, Internet, and mobile applications, gambling, games, adult to mobile, billing and collection – and even TV. Of course network and regulatory issues get an airing along with all the practical issues you’d expect from an online adult event. There are (of course) parties in abundance and if you visit www.fubarwebmasters.com you’ll see the usual rouges gallery of misbehavior – which is fine – when it’s done with someone new that you might just end up getting rich with!

For more information, visit www.worldtelemedia.co.uk or www.adultonlineeurope.com.

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