XBIZ Summer Forum: Day 1

Stephen Yagielowicz
LAS VEGAS — The energy in Sin City was electric as the XBIZ Summer Forum swung into high gear today, offering a full roster of fun-in-the-sun activities and learning opportunities.

The event is being held June 3-5 at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas.

Kicking off this long-anticipated annual event was a first-ever New Attendee Orientation which helped those new to the XBIZ Summer Forum get their bearing and plan their stay for the greatest return on their event investment. The Q&A session served as the official welcome to the Summer Forum, and according to its promoters, was "essential to those who are new to the show and want to see what it's all about, and helpful to those who've attended in the past but want to get the most out of the jam-packed event schedule."

Next up and also of particular interest to newer attendees and industry entrepreneurs was the Adult Webmaster Boot Camp, presented by the Association of Sites Advocating Child Protection and moderated by ASACP's Tim Henning; and featuring a diverse panel of industry experts including Bill VanVorst of NationalNet; Ananda Sisk of Mansion Productions; Mitch Farber of Netbilling; noted first amendment attorney Larry Walters of Weston, Garrou, Walters & Mooney; Nick Amoroso of Hustler; and Johnny V. of Wildline!.

"In today's challenging marketplace, adult company operators face many challenges in navigating their online business successfully," Henning said. "The Adult Webmaster Boot Camp features industry experts who can speak to the most crucial areas companies must be versed in to succeed online."

Intending to prevent attendees from falling prey to the most common pitfalls that cause a new or emerging online business to fail, the program briefly covered traffic acquisition; SEO and affiliate marketing; social networks; design issues and content considerations; hosting requirements; legal factors and more.

"I am very excited to have such a fantastic group of panelists for the Boot Camp seminar and along with their knowledgeable advice I will be speaking to webmasters about how they can help to protect children, protect their business, lower risk and improve their brand image," Henning told XBIZ prior to the event. "I'm sure that everyone who attends will walk away with fresh ideas about how to improve their business on multiple fronts."

Following the Boot Camp was the popular XBIZ Speed Networking session. Sponsored by Video Secrets, the session promo boasts that "nowhere else can you meet this many people, collect this many business cards, and spark this many deals all before lunchtime!" — A claim that all in attendance can verify.

Coinciding with the commencement of the speed networking session was the opening of the Northside Pool sponsored by DatingGold, where sun worshippers mixed tan lines with dollar signs; enjoying cocktails and the view of scantily clad bathing beauties and boys — a view that got better with the opening of the Margarita Bar sponsored by NationalNet and the Photobooth sponsored by Gilfriends Films.

For those more interested in business than bawdiness, and seeking a cure to their traffic generation woes, the day's next seminar, "Beyond Affiliate Payouts: Direct Traffic Methods" proved a winner.

"Once upon a time, traffic generation was as easy as offering an affiliate program and watching your traffic stats skyrocket," offered the show's promoters. "Today, because affiliates are spread among so many affiliate programs, companies are increasingly turning to other sources of traffic; both internal and external" — a lead in that barely scratched the surface of the information that showed attendees ways in which they can drive traffic to their website, regardless of the size of their company or budget — all without the involvement of traditional affiliates.

Moderated by XBIZ World Magazine's Managing Editor Stephen Yagielowicz, the seminar's enthralled audience sat rapt with attention as the top-level panelists wove a tapestry of wisdom that revealed the latest strategies for traffic self-reliance — a pressing need for website operators that transcends niche and site type.

Panelists included Kevin Godbee of Web 3.0 Internet Consulting who spoke on the power of blogging and having original editorial content when driving traffic, and its two-fold benefit of increasing organic SEO rankings; while Lori Z. of The Adult Broker discussed the ways in which using press exposure can be a cheap and easy promotional vehicle, saying "It's not what you say, it is how you say it."

"Also, a lot of publishers offer CPA and CPC with nominal tests," Lori Z. added. "The economy has lowered not only housing market prices and crashed the outside world, it is also crashing down on the industry, with prices going down on ad spots, traffic buy tests and more."

Tela Andrews of AshleyMadison.com focused on the issue of companies building their own traffic networks to have more control over their own destiny. Andrews started by echoing some of Godbee's remarks about blogs, then went into some of the new options for building sites to aggregate traffic, and tying those efforts in to social media marketing — including branding issues and playing in the grey area between adult and mainstream as ways to generate traffic.

"Vegas" Ken Farrell of The Best Porn detailed the ways in which paysite owners can leverage the high levels of consumer trust that review sites offer; while Colin Rowntree of Wasteland.com entertained the audience with thriving commentary on the many means of driving traffic that he has seen evolve over the years.

A complimentary catered buffet-style meal offering food and drinks was sponsored by Jettis at the Hard Rock's AGO restaurant, providing the fuel to keep attendees going.

And go they did — to the special session presented by the Free Speech Coalition, entitled "Protecting Your Business through Consumer-Friendly Practices."

Moderated by FSC Executive Director Diane Duke, the panel featured noted industry attorney Greg Piccionelli of Piccionalli & Sarno along with Stephen Cohen from the U.S. Federal Trade Commission, who provided attendees with an honest, front-line view of how Washington's regulators see the adult industry and we treat our customers.

The type of session that sets XBIZ events apart from its competitors, those who were fortunate enough to participate discovered the most effective practices for dealing with customers and the most up-to-date methods for handling secure and safe transactions along with strategies for protecting their companies from unwanted attention or an unfair competition lawsuit.

The final educational event of the day was the State of Adult Traffic seminar, moderated by XBIZ seminar and workshop coordinator Tom Hymes and featuring "Vegas" Ken Farrell of The Best Porn; Johnny V. of Wildline!; Allan Henning of Dating Gold; and Sean Christian of Adult Friend Finder.

"Over the past few years, no component of the online adult industry has changed as much as traffic generation, impacting every other segment of the industry in the process, from billing and content production to affiliate and direct-to-consumer marketing," stated the seminar's lead in — a sentiment that few in the industry would disagree with. "In a sense, the eternal debate between which is more important, content or traffic, is over, and the undisputed winner is traffic."

The panel of traffic gurus embarked upon a detailed look at the big picture of adult traffic and explored where it could be found, how to obtain it, and most importantly, how to profitably monetize it once you have it.

While at this point in the day the formalized educational opportunities had ended, the real fun was just getting underway, with the return of the XXX Iron Man Boat Races at the Northside Pool, in which teams of five competed for the title of XBIZ Summer Ironman in a speed chugging relay race. Sponsored by Cherry Pimps, Cold Hard Cash, Epoch, Metro Money, National Net and Spunky Cash, this rowdy exhibition had the crowd of delighted onlookers cheering for their favorite team.

The evening's festivities then took center stage, with the CCBill.com /gay Welcome Happy Hour "in the Hard Rock's newest 'anti-club,' Wasted Space" where attendees mingled over cocktails and networking; business talk and gaming tips waiting to be put to test out on the casino floor.

With dinner, gaming,networking and goal-setting later, the opening night crowd willbe treated to a the XBIZ Hot Party at the Hard Rock's popular Body English Nightclub, where revelers will party with the sexiest stars and biggest players in the biz, wrapping up an action-packed day.