XBIZ Summit Kicks Off in Style in Miami

Dan Miller

MIAMI – The first full day of XBIZ Summit featured some of just about everything for the diverse gathering of digital media professionals that made their way to the Eden Roc Hotel. (photo gallery)

In what became a smooth-running mix of social activities, continuing education and deal-making opportunities, the opening-day lineup afforded attendees plenty of choices.

The morning got off to a sizzling start in the scenic Spa Garden of the landmark property as the latest edition of XBIZ Speed Networking unfolded next to the main pool. After a warm introduction from Alex Lecomte, the marketing manager for StarEdition which sponsored the session, Networking MC Kristen Kaye of XBIZ kept the pace fast and the mood light.

Several of the participants teased upcoming product launches and new services during the three-minute chats.

Kira Basciano of JuicyAds said to look out for fresh rollouts from her company in the next couple of months, including some all new pop-under ads.

Brad Spencer, president of Santa Monica, Calif.-based EZ CamSites, said he came to his first Summit looking for new partnerships for traffic and more.

Meanwhile Frank Gannon of Epoch said that his company is benefiting from its decision to offer PayPal as a solution in Europe.

“It’s been spectacularly successful,” Gannon said, noting they fine-tuned the service through a pilot program launched last year. “After Visa, it’s probably the biggest payment type now.”

Scooter, the VP of sales for MojoHost, told XBIZ he and the crew hit South Beach "to just keep our feet in the water and see our clients this week.”

Today he and CEO Brad Mitchell will lead a tour of the MojoHost date center which is 15 minutes from Eden Roc.

“It’s one of the largest buildings in Miami,” Scooter said. “It’s impressive with how secure it is. We do these tours once a year during the Summit.”

The Speed Networking gave way to the first slate of seminars of the Summit, which this year is going with a “moderator-free” approach designed to stimulate more interaction with the audience.

NETBilling sponsored the seminars that kicked off with “Traffic: User Monetization and the Future of Affiliates.”

Four experts in the field took the stage at the Mona Lisa Ballroom: Julie Larson, director of business development for JuicyAds; Karll from TrafficJunky; Daniel Rand, the CEO of AdultAdWorld; and Diederik, the chief technical officer of AdamoAds.

AdultAdWorld’s Rand pointed out that “not everybody is good at working with ad networks,” so wise ad pros must adjust to fit the needs of the prospective buyer.

“If a guy [at an ad network] doesn’t ask you right off the bat, ‘What are your goals?’ Run screaming away. He’s just trying to make a sale,” Rand said.

“… I like to say there’s no such thing as bad traffic. Just traffic that’s not priced properly for you.”

Judy Shalom, founder of AdamoAds who was sitting in the audience, echoed Rand’s point, noting to “reach out to your account manager and figure out what works for you and your site.”

“I’m always wrong about which creative is going to work best. You can find out in two days or two hours which creative works best.”

JuicyAds’ Larson emphasized the importance of doing “the math.”

“That’s what we do everyday,” Larson said. “If you’re going to buy traffic, you have to know what you can spend. What you’re spending vs. what you’re going to make. Do that first before you make any purchase.”

Adamo’s Diederik said that statistics are key. “The most important part is your stats and your analysis of the stats. Either you’re buying traffic that doesn’t work for you or you’re not buying enough traffic that does work for you,” Diederik said.

All the panelists agreed that pop-under ads “always have been” and currently are “very effective” ad tools.

“They still do convert, it just takes more optimization than it did a couple years ago,” Larson said.

Rand concluded, “Don’t be afraid to buy traffic, just buy it smartly. Let them know your goals. Set up tracking. Rotate creative. Start small and be progressive.”

The “Mobile vs. Desktop” seminar welcomed Joey Gabra from Affil4You, Stefan Muehlbauer, director of marketing and sales for BrokerBabe, Alex Lecomte from StarEdition and Dave Lienemann, the North American sales manager for Reporo, to the stage to discuss how the industry is adapting to mobile devices overtaking desktops for Internet access.

“VOD and dating are probably hands down the easiest and longest in terms of retention,” Gabra said. “There are obvious reasons why mobile just works the way it does.”

Lecomte said certain areas of the world were well ahead of others in terms of mobile porn consumption.

“Our top 10 countries are surprising,” he said. “Latin America is very big, countries like Paraguay, Chile, Colombia and Argentina.”

The panelists also talked about the evolution of discreet billing and importance of following the rules and regulations set forth by different regions due to exorbitant fines for violations in the mobile space.

In the “Billing: U.S. vs. Europe” session, five industry leaders brought attendees up to date on issues affected the billing section. The speakers included: Frank Gannon from Epoch; Mitch Farber, president NETBilling, Gary Jackson, managing VP, sales and Internet markets for CCBill; Cathy Beardsley, president of SegPay; and Ines Peterson, global operations director for Webbilling AG.

The group explored the differences, similarities and opportunities for billing on both sides of the Atlantic. They also discussed the viability of the Bitcoin virtual currency, IRS oversight, foreign banks vs. domestic banks and chargebacks.

Lauren MacEwen, the CEO of the marketing firm 7 Veils, gave a master’s class in social media in her Social Media 101 Workshop in the final seminar of the day.

MacEwen, a Canadian who lives in Albuquerque, told XBIZ she had previously done a solo presentation for the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), so this wasn’t her first rodeo. But she came off like a seasoned solo speaker in discussing best practices and effective strategies for Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, GooglePlus and more during the fast-moving session.

MacEwen, responding to audience questions, shared a number of insights about social media engagement.

“The lifespan of a tweet is 18 minutes... It was three hours,” MacEwen noted. “The lifespan of a Facebook post is two-and-a-half hours. It was eight hours.”

She said effective ways to deliver your message include finding key influencers to engage with and frugal use of hash-tags.

“Any more than two to three hash-tags in a tweet is too many and can seem like you’re spamming,” MacEwen said. “And they shouldn’t be all at the end of the tweet. … The first third to half of a tweet is the most important if you want clicks. Put your most important information there.”

For both Facebook and Twitter, the “more generous you are, the more generous others will be to you,” in terms of engaging, re-tweeting and sharing posts, she said.

“Reach is a big thing. The more people see you, the more familiar they are with you and familiarity breeds trust. … Make it conversational.”

She said the size of a person’s account doesn’t matter if the reach is there.

“I’ve had clients with 2,000 followers but over a million reach,” MacEwen said. “A lot of accounts with 5,000 followers or less reach 100,000 to 500,000 users.”

Perhaps her most salient point was that a person tweeting or posting on Facebook can increase the impact of their post when they “ask for engagement.”

“Do a call to action,” she said.

Even though earlier in the week the forecast called for 80 percent chance of rain Wednesday, the weather continued to cooperate for the outdoor Mix & Meet/Happy Hour that was sponsored by SegPay on the tropical Palm Terrace.

Diane Duke, CEO of the Free Speech Coalition, greeted Summit attendees at her table while handing out free “Summit survival kits.” The handy packs included a Vitamin C supplement, gourmet jellybeans, a cotton mini-towel, lens cleaning wipe, a Motrin, a pack of gum and FSC Membership Director Joanne Cachapero’s business card.

“We’ve got your back,” Duke said.

She also passed out brochures promoting FSC’s Code of Ethics “for companies that subscribe to a responsible, ethical approach to pleasure products and adult entertainment.”

Lori Bembanaste, chief sales officer from the Hamburg, Germany-based TrafficPartner, told XBIZ she was at the Mix & Meet representing more than a half dozen companies in both Europe and North America over multiple verticals ranging from mainstream affiliate networks to software bundling, online dating and mobile entertainment.

“We not only want to provide the highest conversion rates for your traffic, but more importantly the highest monetization,” Bembanaste said, noting her company’s traffic programs include SexGoesMobile, SexMoney.com, Dating Partner, RSS Partner, LeadPartner.eu, CamPartner and DigitalPerformance.de.

Bembanaste said she was attending her fourth XBIZ conference and was especially happy to represent her company at her home show. She resides in nearby Fort Lauderdale.

“It’s a great venue,” Bembanaste said.

The Mix & Meet and Happy Hour got attendees well lubricated for the annual XBIZ Summit Bikini Pageant in the Ocean Garden. The spectacle did not disappoint, as 14 contestants went toe to toe before sundown in a fierce battle for the 2014 crown.

Some of Miami’s finest entered the competition that this year featured yoga instructors, personal trainers, models, adult performers and a touring feature dancer. Each entrant in the impressive field strutted across the pool deck onto the main stage in front of about 200 Summit attendees and more than a dozen photographers.

The suspense began to mount as the event’s co-hosts Vicky Vette and Jeff Dillonaire announced that the field had been narrowed to seven finalists. For the championship round, each competitor showcased a special talent as the judges deliberated and the crowd hollered.

While a couple of finalists performed feats of flexibility such as standing back-bends, others went for the gold by twerking and dancing to the jungle beats. Vanessa Veracruz, sexy and mysterious in a hat and shades, teased the crowd with “oral” skills. Another finalist, touring dancer Asia Kim, even held a Bud Light bottle between her ass cheeks and did a full split in an awesome display of butt control.

But when it was over, it was the exotic and voluptuous Nikki Rae, the final contestant to enter, who claimed the 2014 Miss XBIZ Summit title. She donned a silver tiara and teal sash, courtesy of Miss 2013 Janessa Brazil, who graciously congratulated the new winner while the crowd cheered in approval. For her efforts, Nikki took home $500 cash and the opportunity to be the face of the 2015 XBIZ Summit national ad campaign.

The evening continued at Eden Roc as the Rock Nation Outdoor BBQ Party provided attendees with a place to unwind after a full day of business.

The Summit continues with a full schedule of activities today. Check XBIZSummit.com for details. 

For photos from Day 1, click here.