Cybernet Expo Seminars: Day 1
Latest Trends in Adult Internet Development
First up in the seminar lineup was a program moderated by YNOT.com Editor Darklady, entitled "Latest Trends in Adult Internet Development" which was billed by its promoters as an answer to the question of "What are the latest trends in building, operating, distributing and marketing adult entertainment websites on the Internet?" The panel addressing this question was chosen from "the technical, artistic and marketing sectors of the business" and featured Lolly Johnson of Smart Mobile Services; Karen Campbell from NetBilling; Rainey Stricklin from TrafficDude.com; Tole of HeatSeek; Dan from Rackco.com; and Ines Petersen of Webbilling.
Darklady kicked off the spirited discussion by asking the panel if adult websites were "more honest" today than they may have been in the past. Dan from Racko was quick in his reply, stating that because "the surfers out there are learning how to use the Internet... marketing is not done dishonestly anymore."
Stricklin was less optimistic, however, but acknowledged the role that responsible operators play. "There are a lot of new scams out there, but those that are in it for the long term are working harder to portray themselves as honest operators."
"One of the things that has hurt the industry is adult websites that repeatedly insist that they are free, but the user still gets charged," Tole said. "Once those people are burned, they won't buy again."
Campbell offered some practical reasons as to why adult marketing is not as fraudulent as it once may have been. "Visa's involvement has helped the industry by reducing dishonesty," Campbell said. "More sites are posting terms and conditions [of use] and that means that surfers know what to expect."
Giving a nod to how a perception of dishonesty may be more of an issue for traditional adult paysites than for other venues, Johnson commented that "on the mobile side, we focus on simplicity and on getting people to come back for more."
Petersen agreed, saying that "People have to realize that we have to work more closely with each other to profit."
The subjects of usability and enhancing the user experience was also discussed.
"In the adult world, the user experience usually leaves something to be desired," Tole said. "So we do a lot of surveys about the user experience and what the surfer wants."
Petersen is also focused on serving the needs of users, but she doesn't see many sites making the process a priority. "The main rules are 'fast and intuitive to the surfer'," Petersen said. "But a lot of sites are missing that."
Upgrade Your HTML: Building Modern Websites
After a brief lunch break, the program continued with Quentin Boyer of Xmoney.com moderating a panel entitled "Upgrade Your HTML: Building Modern Websites," which looked at the problem of webmasters continuing to use deprecated tags in their website code, promising that "Our panel will explain the differences between the 'old ways' and 'new ways' of HTML design, and explain why it should matter to you." Speakers included Brian from CamZ.com; KevinG of Web 3.0 Internet Consulting; Daniel from Kink.com; Kroywen Phoenix of Kroycom; and Darci Wood of agirlandhermac.com.
The focus of the seminar quickly turned to the concept, hype and reality of the so-called "Web 2.0" movement, with KevinG opining that "these are features that allow users to interact with the site, such as polling, blogging and message boards," but warning that with these technologies comes the need for moderators and post editing of offensive material. Another danger also exists for an interactive site pushing Web 2.0 features: "Don't let people interact on the tour as it distracts them from the sale," KevinG said.
Not everyone agrees on the value of interactivity and adult content, however. "Are you running MySpace or a porn site?" Phoenix said. "People don't want to interact with fellow porn freaks."
Daniel disagreed. "Our users interact with each other all the time," Daniel said. "If you want to increase retention, you have to reach out to users."
Boyer then asked the panel about the role of search engine optimization in current website design and their favorite tools for building cutting-edge sites.
"Web 2.0 is fantastic," Daniel said. "But the search engines aren't quite there yet," referring to how some of the designs now being used can cause problems for non-human readers. "You can achieve a gorgeous design that is optimized," KevinG added.
"A lot of people run their sites using PHP," Brian said. "I personally use PHP Designer and VI, which is a generic text editor."
Others went for simpler solutions. "I use DreamWeaver because I don't have time to worry about the code," Phoenix said; while Wood recommended the Wordpress platform upon which she runs her blog: "I find it very customizable," she said of the free tool that allows her to focus on developing content rather than building a website.
"Being in touch with your user base and giving them some ownership of your site through interaction is what Web 2.0 is all about," Wood said.
The technical concerns of establishing an infrastructure that will grow with your needs into the future were also explored, with Brian commenting on the issues of adequate server capabilities.
"Horizontal scaling allows you to build out your network as your needs grow," Brian said. "You can, for example, scale a Wordpress installation by putting its database on a separate server."
"It comes down to knowing your market," Boyer concluded. "The best design is one that works."
Understanding Traffic: Acquisition and Analysis
"If you want to play in the adult Internet game, then you'd better know something about traffic," was the intro to the next seminar on the agenda: "Understanding Traffic: Acquisition and Analysis," which was moderated by Marc Womack of MadisonAvenue.com and featured Elizabeth McGill of Coremetrics.com; Scott from TrafficDude.com; KevinG of Web 3.0 Internet Consulting; Lael from Vice Review and Albert Lazarito of SilverCash.
"Your understanding of traffic will significantly impact the success of your online business," was the lead in — "So how do you get more traffic, and how do you analyze the traffic you have?" The panel of traffic experts had a lot to offer on the subject, with the emphasis being on the integration of new business strategies into existing ones.
While old-school banner ads are still working for some operators, according to Scott, "People talk about user-generated sites and true social networks and how to monetize the traffic," but the bottom line for current day e-marketers, he says, is to "Have an extremely open mind about what a Web 2.0 marketing campaign is."
He then went into an in-depth look at the "long tail" of Web 2.0 marketing and the need to stay in touch with the latest techniques and technologies – a sentiment which KevinG echoed.
"This need to continuously re-learn your craft also applies to SEO," KevinG said, before discussing the importance of deep, inbound linking when developing organic search engine traffic.
In the past, many operators have relied exclusively on traffic from affiliates to power their networks, but this is changing for a variety of reasons.
"A lot of new paysites are foregoing affiliates because it is some of the most expensive traffic," Lael said. "People don't want to mortgage their future to affiliates."
"There's a convergence model where high-quality webmasters are fewer and farther between," Lazarito said. "There's also additional competition as the studios come online with high-quality content."
Lazarito then went on to describe how SilverCash has diversified its traffic sources; with affiliates, in-house sources and advertising purchases each contributing roughly one-third of the total volume.
The tips presented by the panelists were useful, but to make the most of them, you have to thoroughly understand your operation.
"One of the common themes is that you need data to analyze so that you can understand what is working for you," McGill said, offering several productive ideas for the uses of traffic data.
"Once you have a visitor, you can determine the most important content to give him and can use aggregated data to target cross-sales," McGill said. "There are also automated tools that can monitor keyword buys and set bid rules to help manage paid search campaigns."
Less Flake, More Shake: Finding, Hiring and Working with Adult Models
Traffic theory and statistical analysis is all fine and dandy, but at its core, this business is about the girls (and guys); and catering to this bottom line was the next seminar, "Less Flake, More Shake: Finding, Hiring and Working with Adult Models," moderated by Colin Rowntree of Wasteland.com and featuring Dave Cummings of DaveCummings.com; Dirty D of HowIGotRich.com; Jackie Bentley of Fattorosi & Chisvin; Kayla Quinn of KaylaQuinn.com and Karl Edwards from YouLoveJack.com.
Locating models and working with them isn't always easy, but this seminar was designed to teach attendees about "proven methods for finding models, how to recognize the responsible ones from the rest, [the] cost range for hiring models, the forms you will need them to sign, and methods for keeping them comfortable and relaxed."
Cummings advised producers to take the easy way out by working with agencies, but to also remain creative in seeking new models.
"You want to work with agencies, but you can have some luck if you try strip clubs," Cummings said. "Get two young ladies to hand out your card at the beach."
"None of the girls in Florida view this as a career path," Dirty D said. "95 percent of my models have never been shot before."
Quinn favors the personal approach of referrals, since girls won't recommend someone who can't do the job: "If you're looking for models," Quinn said, "I can find girls that will suck and fuck for you."
She also offered several tips for working with models, including "Do not pay the girls before they do their scene and don't let them shoot at home, because they'll be too comfortable and won't perform well."
Coming from the gay amateur viewpoint, Edwards simplified the process saying that "Models have one job to do: 'to reflect light.'" He also commented on the importance of being creative when attracting amateur models. "We've literally been putting posters out on the street."
According to Bentley, producers and directors can ease the process of working with models by having other staffers do the dirty work that can accompany a shoot; such as informing talent that shows up late that they will not receive their full rate for the shoot. "Have someone else be the bad guy when you're shooting on set," Bentley said.
Quinn, an experienced model herself, offered some of the best advice, telling the audience: "Be specific in communicating what you want from us."
She's Gone, Now What? Working with Raw Digital Content
The final seminar of the day, appropriately entitled "She's Gone, Now What? Working with Raw Digital Content," was moderated by YNOT's Connor Young and featured Kroywen Phoenix of Kroycom; Colin Rowntree of Wasteland.com; Karl Edwards of YouLoveJack.com; Jim "Gonzo" McAnally of Oprano.com and Kayla Quinn of KaylaQuinn.com.
"Once the photo shoot is done and the models have all gone home, now what do you do with the digital content you just created? In most cases, the creative process is far from over," the show's promoters said; telling attendees that they would "learn everything you'll need to know to take the raw data from your camera and turn it into optimized digital content for your website."
Phoenix discussed the realities of how a user's camera can dictate the workflow and how different formats offer different benefits. "RAW and JPEG have different uses," Phoenix said. "With RAW being better when you need a lot of color correction."
"I work in RAW and then down-convert so that I can preserve the ultimate in quality," Quinn added.
The topic of watermarking content and tools for batch processing images was discussed, with Edwards making a point about video watermark placement. "Be careful about where you place video watermarks," Edwards said. "Some tube sites place their own watermark on the lower right corner and it can cover your existing watermark."
The "Mac vs. Windows" debate made an appearance with both camps claiming video editing supremacy. "Mac users are all happy and agree [that Final Cut is the editor of choice]," Rowntree said. "Windows users are all unhappy."
As for tools that can help with the processing of content, Rowntree had a suggestion: "One extremely useful video package is MPEG Streamclip which is free and works on both MAC and Windows systems."
On the subject of formats, the panelists were divided on the value of offering multiple viewing options and the best formats.
"I use Flash as the first format that people will see," Edwards said.
"Members hate Flash because they can't download it," Rowntree countered.
Phoenix brought up a workaround for marketers using tube sites that tend to re-encode uploaded videos, suggesting that they use 320x240 clips encoded with a high bit rate and "upload the highest quality video that you can."
A question and answer session followed each of the seminars and another full slate of topics was scheduled for Thursday: you can find up-to-date coverage here at XBIZ.