Europe has a long history of being a major contributor to adult entertainment, and in recent years, one sector of the European adult industry that has experienced considerable growth is the live webcam sector. Live cams were once a marginal part of Internet erotica in Europe, but in 2014, a long list of European models are earning a living from webcam work alone — and the European cam sector is showing no signs of slowing down.
“Growth has been consistent,” asserted Douglas Richter, webcam unit director for DNX Network. “Despite economic problems, live cams have continued to flourish.”
Live cams were once a marginal part of Internet erotica in Europe, but in 2014, a long list of European models are earning a living from webcam work alone — and the European cam sector is showing no signs of slowing down.
Boasting a portfolio of major cam sites that includes XModels.com, XCams.com and the gay-oriented HunkPrivates.com, DNX is one of the top players in the adult cam field — and Richter noted that DNX has an enthusiastic following in many different parts of Europe. Richter stressed, however, that one shouldn’t think of the European adult cam sector as one big market, but rather, as many different European markets that all have their own characteristics.
“Growth and profit can absolutely be found in almost any niche or geo-market in the live cam sector in Europe,” Richter asserted. “We are focusing on several new markets right now, and truth be told, the success depends mostly on how prepared you are for a local region’s e-commerce culture. In the E.U., you have many different countries, each with a unique culture—and the way people consume in different regions can be very different. What works in one country will most likely not be par for the course in another.”
Asked to address regional variations in the European cam sector, Richter explained: “It literally goes country by country. What works in Germany will not likely work anywhere else; this is true for most E.U. geo-markets. Most of this information is a very tightly held trade secret because the knowledge to make something work in Germany is unique from Sweden, for example — and that learned experience is invaluable in cams.”
“XCams.com is the largest E.U. cam provider because of the way we approach each country,” Richter said. “We first learn what the market expectations are in a particular region and cater the offer for that geo. One size fits all doesn’t necessarily always make sense in live cams. You have to keep in mind that users consume differently in different countries.”
Adult webcams are thriving not only in Western Europe, but in Eastern Europe as well — and the Czech Republic, Hungary and Romania are among the East European countries that have been extensive contributors to the adult webcam sector. Michael M., spokesman for the Romania-based ModenaCam (a company specializing in software for adult webcams), explained: “Live webcam performing is very popular in Eastern Europe, where many performers speak multiple languages — which in turn, helps convert surfers into buyers when targeting clients in European countries. The live webcam sector in Europe keeps on seeing steady growth.”
Another European player is Luxembourg-based Jasmin.com, whose CEO, Laszlo Czero, asserted that Europe no longer takes a back seat to the U.S. in the adult cam sector.
“Five years ago,” Czero explained, “we saw U.S. traffic dominating this sector. But today, Europe is at least as strong as the U.S.— and we see new emerging markets also. As usual, the economically strong countries are doing the best, like Germany, the U.K. and France.”
Czero added: “Some of the European countries are providing models in huge quantity and excellent quality. Also, we see that the studios and models are getting very professional, which not only produces more incomes to all parties involved, but makes the whole cam industry look more mainstream and professional.”
Michael pointed out that cam specialists doing business in Europe need to be aware of the different ways of running a live cam outfit. “There are three business models for adult webcams in Europe,” Michael observed. “There’s the ‘freemium’ business model — which works very well everywhere — the free chat/private chat business model, and the premium-rate business model. Most of our start-up clients are interested in running the freemium business model. We started developing Avenocam, an enterprise version of our cam script specifically designed for the freemium business model.”
Giles Hirst, marketing and communications manager for the Barcelona, Spain-based ad network ExoClick, said that companies operating in the European adult cam sector need to be aware of advertising strategies — and for those with enough of a budget, one option is pop-under advertising.
“The pop-under is very popular for advertising live cam sites,” Hirst noted. “Usually, it is a large-format, 1024 x 768 ad that appears hidden behind the main browser window and is triggered when a user clicks anywhere on the page that they have visited. Once displayed, the pop-under remains unnoticed until the main browser window is closed or minimized, leaving the user’s attention free to experience the ad.”
Hirst continued: “Because it’s big, the pop-under format is able to show the full cam product experience via a video creative of a cam model performing. The consumer immediately sees the intimacy of face time, they see the (user interface) of the site and a private-show call-to-action button to encourage the consumer to interact and either sign up or log in. However, because they are so effective, pop-unders are also expensive.”
How the language barrier affects the European cam sector can vary considerably from country to country and from model to model. A cam model who performs in one language exclusively can, depending on the language, turn a profit: a cam model who speaks French as her main language might attract a following by catering to customers in France and Belgium.
The German cam site Visit-x.net has fared well in Germany, Austria and Switzerland thanks to its abundance of German-speaking models. And English-speaking models have a broad appeal given how widely English is spoken in many parts of Europe.
Addressing the language barrier in the European cam sector, Richter observed: “With language translation tools improving, it becomes less and less of a problem. Mostly, it is about finding a pretty girl or guy that you can connect with and share time and experiences. But indeed, the more fluid the communication, the better. Of course, it is advantageous to a person to speak multiple languages. I suggest to everyone — not just models — to learn multiple languages. But for models, it can definitely translate to higher earnings.”
Michael M. noted: “Models speaking multiple languages have a clear advantage on websites with a majority of European traffic. For them, it’s easier to build a steady fan base.”
As Europe’s adult cam sector grew by leaps and bounds, it became increasingly competitive — and many European cam models have turned to niche marketing. Countless niches exist in European cam modeling, from gay niches to BDSM niches to MILFs and cougars.
Hirst asserted that when it comes to advertising strategies, European cam sites with a certain niche need to work with companies that understand that niche.
“Specific niche live cam sites should choose an ad network that has a wide range of targeting options within the adult segment to reach the right audience,” Hirst emphasized. “ExoClick has 20 adult niches to target. So if you have a cam site filled with MILF models, you will want to target traffic via publishers who specialize in MILF content.”
The growth of Europe’s adult webcam sector has not only been beneficial for cam sites, but also, for other areas of the European adult industry. ExoClick, for example, benefits from the abundance of European cam sites by offering them advertising solutions. And when European cam companies grow and prosper, that means more business for companies that offer billing options in E.U. countries.
Nikki Night, performer coach for the Los Angeles-based Cam4.com — a company that offers everything from MILF and cougar cams to lesbian cams to transsexual cams — observed that European cam models can be quite different from their U.S. counterparts.
“Internationally,” Night said, “the perspective of the cam performer differs greatly. In places like Europe and South America, performers are more likely to work from a studio because of privacy issues — and on average, they have a lower expectation on earnings. In North America, the #1 fear is being found out—and they have much higher expectations of what they should be earning in tips.”
Michael M. said that whether a European cam company focuses on specific countries or looks to other parts of the world for customers may depend on the company’s business model. “A good example of a webcam company that has a multi-country approach in Europe is Jasmin,” Michael noted. “They’ve been doing very well in Europe and the U.S.”
Czero said: “Jasmin is doing well in the U.S. market, being one of the market leaders for a while now. And the fact that U.S. customers find the European models somehow ‘exotic’ was a part of this success over the years.”
Richter pointed out that European cam models don’t necessarily earn all of their profits from European customers — many of them are getting a lot of business from Americans. “This is interesting, for sure — a lot of the E.U.-based webcam companies have as much as 30-50 percent of their sales from the U.S.,” Richter observed. “E.U. models are enjoyed all over the world. Plus, the U.S. is a huge market. So there is a lot of room for people to succeed.”