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Internext 2004: Las Vegas - Part 1

Stephen Yagielowicz

Well, it’s that time once again: Internext Expo has rolled into Las Vegas and taken “Sin City” by storm; with newbies and industry veterans alike gathering from around the world to attend the online adult industry’s show of shows…

My beautiful wife Dawn and I arrived in Las Vegas on Sunday afternoon, and despite the battle we were both fighting against the flu, we found ourselves filled with anticipation over the upcoming event, and the joy of returning to the place where we met: Internext, Las Vegas style.

We had just arrived at The Venetian where a stream of familiar faces were making a pre-show procession around the grand entrance of this world-class hotel and casino. Standing in line awaiting check-in we briefly chatted with Hank Butler from Mr. Skin, and moments later found ourselves schmoozing in the hallway with GFY’s “Lensman” - such are the abundant networking opportunities available at shows such as Internext…

Speaking of Lensman, he kicked things off in style with a party Sunday evening promoting the launch of Playboy Cash 2.0 and providing a warm-up for those arriving at the show a day early. This wasn’t the only party in town, however, as the GOTI (Girls Of The Internet) party, a popular event for “amateurs” and their fans, was also taking place. Sadly, we had to miss both in order to take care of ourselves for the long day ahead - a day which would begin with me being the first speaker at the first of many popular seminars being held over the next three days...

A New Breed of Newbie
Starting with the premise that “The New Newbie has made a lateral move from the mainstream into adult, often at a higher echelon than in the past,” the panel that included myself as well as adult industry veterans Mark Tiarra, Ynot Bob, Johnny V, and Sex Money’s Matthew "Chipmunk" Sclier tried to lessen the rampant confusion that most newcomer’s face. XBiz’ own Gretchen Gallen covered the newbie seminar in an article you can read here.

The seminars that are available at Internext are not only a teaching experience for me, but a learning one as well, and there were a few seminars this time around that caught my interest; and so I spent my day trying to gain a better understanding of Digital Rights Management (DRM), as well as some of the current thinking regarding Search Engine Optimization (SEO).

How DRM Will Save You
Digital Rights Management and its associated impact on revenue streams is a subject of much confusion among Webmasters of all levels, including myself, so the blue-ribbon panel of experts including my friend Jason Tucker of Playa Solutions, Michael Terretta of DHT Media, Christopher Levy of Swap Bucks, CCBill’s Randall Crockett, and Stephen Bugby from X2K had their work cut out for them. Fortunately, they were up to the task…

It was Tucker who summed up DRM succinctly, saying “The technology allows you to put an invisible force field around your content.” He then went on to explain how DRM requires the user’s computer to contact the rights owner’s computer to ask what can be done with the protected file - a process often transparent to users, despite the platform dependence of the technology.

Choosing the best media platform was an anticipated topic with a predictable result: forget Real, forget DiVX - Windows Media is the way to go. While a few of the audience members questioned the panel’s Microsoft recommendation, the recommendation remained, and the discussion turned to choosing a DRM provider.

The number one factor to be considered when choosing a DRM provider is long term stability, according to the experts, since media that is “locked” using DRM can only be “unlocked” by the company that “locked” it in the first place. While content can be repackaged for use with another provider’s system - or transferred if the original provider makes their private keys available to you, the process is time consuming - and easily avoidable by simply choosing a reputable, and reliable, DRM provider.

The importance of customer service is also paramount, as some users may experience difficulties with the DRM process, and so having a billing company that understands what’s involved will increase sales and reduce chargebacks.

It was the revenue potential of DRM that seemed to cause the most excitement, however, with Levy stating “DRM lets you turn your business into multiple vertical channels.” The many unique ways in which DRM can multiply the revenue generating capabilities of your existing content is well beyond the scope of this report, but the token based pay per view models seemed quite attractive, and the ala carte offering of video clips in your members area can prove a real earnings boost. According to CCBill’s Crockett, “We’re seeing users who use to spend $20-$30 on a membership spending $100-$200 a month on ala carte content.” He then went on to opine that “DRM is the lowest cost, highest return improvement you can make to your Website.” According to CCBill’s Crockett, “We’re seeing users who use to spend $20-$30 on a membership spending $100-$200 a month on ala carte content.” He then went on to opine that “DRM is the lowest cost, highest return improvement you can make to your Website.”

Search Engine Optimization
Being able to protect your content while flexibly charging for it is all fine and dandy, but without any traffic, it won’t really matter how safe it is, or how much you want for it. With this in mind, I wanted to learn more about the “free” traffic available from working the search engines, and so eagerly looked forward to gaining some insights into current SEO techniques.

The message I got from SE experts Gary Kremen from Sex.com, Scott “Traffic Dude” Rabinowitz, and the infamous SE Guru himself, Darin Babin, wasn’t all that encouraging, however. Rabinowitz summed it up by saying “The future is different than it was a year ago…” Sure, paying some attention to the basics such as ensuring that your pages contain content relevant to the search terms you are targeting, and using carefully crafted text as high on the page as possible would ‘help’ your positioning and garner some free clicks, but it was quite apparent that paying for those clicks was the best (or at least easiest) way to go.

Of course, even purchasing SE clicks is not as easy as it once was, with the engines increasingly imposing standards for inclusion such as soft core landing pages, pop-up or pop-under consoles. Liability issues regarding advertisements (including a site’s content, META tags and descriptions) and intellectual property rights impact on search engine marketing. As Rabinowitz stated “…‘proactive liability management’ is a phrase that you will need to learn…”

Kremen warned about discounting the need for international SEO, stating that “Clicks in Europe are worth more than clicks in America.” He went on to address the issue of PPC campaign click count discrepancies between SE’s and their customers, claiming that Sex.com’s internal accounting methods revealed an up to 30% fraudulent click rate - the cost of which is not passed onto Sex.com’s customers. This might not be the case with other PPC providers who might not be so generous, and so the use of 3rd party auditing services should be employed to help keep things ‘even.’ Kremen warned about discounting the need for international SEO, stating that “Clicks in Europe are worth more than clicks in America.”

Getting back to techniques that could help your free SE listings, SE Guru gave listeners a few more pointers. “Spider friendly,” he said, “are the two most important words in SEO for the next 6 to 9 months.” This means that if you must use dynamic pages in your site, and you want them indexed, the only thing besides handing the search engine a check is to employ Apache’s “Mod Rewrite” module to convert dynamic URLs into static ones, and if you must use JavaScript, place it all in an external file and call it with a single line of code - a technique which allows you to place your optimized textual content higher on the page.

“Target everything with a strategy,” said Babin, adding “Newton definitely applies to SEO: what goes up, will come down - and that includes your SE rankings.”

The bottom line to SEO today? Paying for clicks is the best way to get traffic from search engines.

While I was taking in the seminars, Dawn worked the Adult Sites Against Child Pornography (ASACP) booth with her old friend Aly from Python. ASACP has enjoyed a growing presence at Internext, bolstered by continuing support from our community, and with the implementation of their new AI system, will be better equipped to fight the scourge of illegal child pornography.

The afternoon went all too quickly, and as the show floor closed at 5pm, a steady stream of attendees went out to find dinner, the nearest bar, or the next of many parties. Parties that would pale in comparison to the gala spectacle about to unfold the next night, when the 2nd Annual XBiz Adult Web Awards ceremony will be held. Stay tuned!

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