educational

Ahead of the Curve

Tom Hymes
As the dating and live cam sector of the industry heats up, due to more people coming online looking for that special one-on-one experience, the businesses occupying the space find themselves facing increased competition, technological advances and consumer expectations that demand constant innovation.

WebcamCash.com is the perfect example of an established player in the live cam arena that believes its glory days are yet to come. In business since February 2000, WebcamCash offers two consumer portals: the original Spread4U.com and the more recent CamClub.com. The company recently has stepped up its game by rolling out a new toolkit for models and cam girls that it says will give them more hands-on control of their sessions and increased visibility and traffic, while simultaneously enhancing the number and quality of WebcamCash performers.

The opportunity, says Barry Fruitman, CEO of WebcamCash, is a win-win for all involved. "The webcam toolkit is a free plug-in for any model with a solo-girl site who wants to offer free webcam shows for her members, and, most importantly, pay-per-view webcam shows for her members and my members.

"We provide the Flash-based plug-in technology for them to add a webcam chat room to their website, and at the same time they appear on our websites and receive exposure to our members for the purpose of selling webcam shows, but we are also OK with them promoting membership to their own sites. So we are providing them with traffic and exposure in addition to all the technology they need to offer pay-per-view and free webcam shows to their members and our members."

The revenue breaks down thusly. Cam girls using the toolkit receive 65 percent for any shows that their own members buy on their own website. If a WebcamCash member purchases a show with that model, the model receives 40 percent of the sale, consistent with a regular model commission. In addition, there is a link to CamClub.com on the model's site. If they send a surfer to a WebcamCash site and they buy time with another model, the model that sent the sale gets a 25 percent affiliate commission.

In other words, the 65 percent is a combination of the model and affiliate commissions. Toolkit cam girls also will be featured models given special placement on the top of the page on all WebcamCash sites when they are logged on.

Fruitman said the toolkit represents a new branch of the live cam business. "The reason I'm doing it is to bring in a new class of models that I don't currently have: high-end, professional, American models that are simply of a higher caliber than your average cam girl." He adds that a few competitors out there offer similar toolkits, but that his does "a better job of integrating the private upsell options into the program."

Looking to the future, Fruitman believes it will be emerging technologies and trends that are catching up with the live cam business model, and not the other way around, and that the evolution of his business model proves the point.

"When we started off, webcams were all about the content plug-ins, and that's how we grew our business," Fruitman said. "You could choose to co-brand the plug-in or not, but it was always an upsell in a members area, so of course you needed to have a paysite in order to benefit from it. Today, most of our affiliates are not paysites but the same guys who send their traffic to the other paysites, because cam sites can now stand alone as websites. If you look at Cam Club, it is a full-fledged, stand-alone social networking site, and we don't even allow people to use it as a plug-in. If they want a plug-in for the members area, they have to use Spread4U.

"I believe the evolution of this segment of the industry is social networking," he continues. "Dating sites and web cams are forms of social networking, and the two are going to continue to merge together until there is not much difference between meeting a real girl down the street from you and meeting a cam girl on the other side of the country or the world. It's just going to be another form of human interaction.

"But while the hot topic right now is local dating, and a lot of people are looking for someone online so they can meet them in real life, I'm not convinced it is the future. I think that as bandwidth improves, as more people get on the Internet, as online social networking increases and people get more comfortable with the experience, that online interaction is really the future. It just makes perfect sense," Fruitman said.

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