XBIZ Summit Storms to Finish Line

MIAMI – The top digital media professionals in adult entertainment shared ideas and offered expert advice with an eye on the future Thursday at the XBIZ Summit. (photo gallery)

Even though the weather conditions took a thunderous turn on the second full day of the trade conference at the Eden Roc Hotel, the torrential downpours did not dampen the spirits of attendees.

Not with a full slate of networking and educational opportunities on tap, beginning with the second part of XBIZ Speed Networking sponsored by StarEdition. Round 2 of the session was followed by the first seminar of the afternoon, “Boosting Conversions,” which featured four industry veterans discussing how to turn website visitors into repeat, paying customers.

The panel featured: Michael “Sharky” Vifquain, the co-founder of LeadWrench.com; RajaRaja Roy-Choudhury, a webmaster since the mid-90s who co-owns Click Pink Media and recently launched Chargebackhelp; Jeff Wilson, head of sales at Flirt4Free; and Douglas Richter, the webcam unit manager at XCams.com.

Once again, XBIZ Summit’s “moderator-free” format for its seminars proved both entertaining and effective, as the day’s panels took on a casual tone and the audience jumped into the discussions from the get-go.

“When it comes to how to get the user to pay for your site, it comes down to not just talking to them, but walking with them,” Sharky from LeadWrench said. “Hold their hand through the process. It’s about nurturing your customer. Learn about some of your traffic. Develop strategies. Track them all the way through.”

XCams’ Richter recalled doing some consulting for a dating site and noticing there were “27 points of data they were asking for on their join page.”

“Don’t make this a test or an exam,” Richter said. “Just email, username and password. We changed that for them and they had a 27 percent increase in new leads.”

“Little things have a huge effect,” Richter continued.

For example, if there is an image of a female model on the site’s join page and she’s with a guy, if her eyes are fixed on the guy and not looking at the user or at the sign-up form, it can decrease the chance that guy will actually get out his credit card.

“If she’s pointing to something there is a much higher percentage of conversions,” Richter said. “If you’re distracted by the girl looking at another guy, the guy is going to move onto the next thing.”

LeadWrench’s Visquain said he saw an effective join page that had a streaming video of a girl using her credit card to buy a membership.

“It’s like monkey see, monkey do,” Richter cracked.

Another tip that Flirt4Free’s Wilson noted was “don’t convert the user twice if it’s not necessary.”

“If a user clicks from your pay site to our cam site, you can carry over their information so you don’t need new credit card information or another username and password,” Wilson said.

The group also talked about the importance of cascading billing, meaning the user has several chances of being successfully billed by at least one processor. For example if a web surfer is on one processor’s black list, he may not be on someone else’s and that person could potentially turn into a customer for life.

One of the hallmarks of the XBIZ Summit’s educational series is the legal component and this year was no exception, as a team of seasoned Internet law and First Amendment attorneys got together for a special audience Q&A.

The panelists included: Marc Randazza, whose Randazza Legal Group is based in Las Vegas, but he also practices in Massachusetts, Arizona, Florida and California; Lawrence Walters, the Florida-based leader of Walters Law Group; Corey Silverstein, who is based in Detroit with Silverstein Legal, but also is licensed in Washington D.C. and Arizona in addition to practicing with Walters in Florida; and Tim Henning, the executive director of the Association of Sites Advocating Child Protection (ASACP).

The subject of some dating sites using so-called “fantasy profiles” to stimulate membership sign-ups was among the first of their talking points. Walters said the Federal Trade Commission recently claimed that use of such profiles could be considered “deceptive trade practices” if not accompanied by sufficient consumer disclosures. 

Another recurring issue, the group said, is when website operators copy and paste another site’s Terms and Conditions.

“It’s like putting someone else’s underwear on,” Randazza said. “It’s a big problem.”

All the panelists urged site owners to spend a few hundred bucks to get an attorney to examine their Terms and Conditions.

“Get ’em clean,” Randazza said.  

The panelists also reminded the audience that the 2257 federal record-keeping law was not dead, rather it’s still in litigation.

“You still have to comply with it,” Randazza said. “But this doesn’t seem to be a priority with this [presidential] administration.”

A violation remains a felony that carries with it a possible five-year jail sentence, the group said.

Walters said the issue of 2257 compliance can arise in civil cases.

“If a defendant is not complying and you are, the theory is that’s unfair competition,” Walters said. “That gives you another reason to comply. You don’t want to be on the receiving end of that.”

In keeping with the topic of 2257 compliance, Randazza lauded Walters’ Quick2257 mobile app, which simplifies the process of creating Section 2257 records for performers, web cam models, escorts, dating site members, and anyone who produces depictions of actual or simulated sexually-explicit conduct.

“It’s a fantastic app. It’s brilliant. My only criticism of it is I didn’t think of it first,” Randazza joked. “It is an elegant solution to the problem. Not only does it log the records you need, it excludes the stuff you don’t. It’s keeping you from doing anything dumb too. Theoretically, it keeps you from going to jail.”

The group also urged attendees to join and support the Free Speech Coalition and the ASACP. Diane Duke, the CEO of the FSC, was in the audience.

They said the ASACP has done more to combat child pornography than the FBI, noting that ASACP is “the pipeline for information to the FBI.”

The “Current Affairs: Fact or Fiction” panel turned into more of freewheeling give-and-take with the audience.

The panelists were among the most prolific conference speakers at the XBIZ Summit: Brad Mitchell, CEO of MojoHost; Jeff Dillon, the vice president of business development at Gamelink.com; Richter of XCams.com and FSC’s Duke.

Richter said that changes in the Know Your Customer (KYC) laws and international tax treaties would affect companies worldwide.

“When the site or company bills a customer, the tax for that customer is due in the region where the customer is residing,” Richter said. “Very few companies are set up to do this properly.”

Richter advised attendees to pay the tax to every country in which it has customers.

“Be proactive. Speak to account managers,” he said.

Dillon noted the importance of migrating to a “responsive design site” that can stream content.

Duke noted some of the FSC’s current agenda, such as battling AB 1576, the mandatory condom bill in California which will go in front of the Appropriations Committee on Wednesday; combating Operation Chokepoint, the problem of banks freezing the accounts of porn stars based on their occupation; and the growing piracy of pleasure products.

Richter, who now lives in Budapest, reminded everyone that, “As an expat, the U.S. is the No. 1 country in the world because of the First Amendment.”

“I made a joke at a club in Luxembourg and people jumped on me and said, “you can’t speak out against the monarch,” Richter said.

Duke added, “When the economy goes down, there is a lot more censorship. That’s when you see the blame game happening more.”

In the final educational session of the afternoon, attorneys Larry Walters and Corey Silverstein returned to co-host the “Legal Live Cam & Dating Workshop,” which was designed to be a legal primer for online dating and live webcam sites.

Topics such as “ridiculous” opt-out pages that Silverstein called “the exact definition of deceptive practices that the FTC is looking for” came up. The duo also talked age verification and 2257 compliance in the informational session that included lots of friendly banter with attendees.

Silverstein left the audience with a parting thought.

“When it comes to the cost of consulting with an accountant or an attorney, the total legal expense might be less than $7,000. I’m not saying that’s not a lot of money. But based on the decisions we’ve seen recently, some of which are in the millions of dollars with sites taken away and companies shut down, it’s more expensive when you’re not compliant,” Silverstein said.

The first “Traffic Rush Hour,” sponsored by BrokerBabe, unfolded next inside the Mona Lisa Ballroom, which became the alternate destination for the session originally scheduled to be in the Spa Garden.

Adult traffic providers and buyers mingled at the session that also featured a Happy Hour and several prize giveaways. The participants included AdultAdWorld, Adamo Ads, ClicksVenue, Grand Slam Media, JuicyAds, Media Reps, Reporo, StarEdition, AdultFriendFinder, EroAdvertising and Traffic Junky.

Stefan Muehlbauer, the director of marketing and sales from BrokerBabe who resides in Zurich, Switzerland, gave away beer bongs, lip-balm and mini-fans at the Rush Hour.

He said he found out the hard way that the BrokerBabe beer bongs work as advertised when he vomited in front of his colleagues after drinking from one at the Phoenix Forum.

On a more serious note, Muehlbauer said his company was in the process of testing live cams for smartphones in Austria and Switzerland.

“Germany is not ready yet but we will test there in about two weeks,” added Muehlbauer, who is originally from Germany.

The live cam service will have direct carrier billing, he said.

Just across the room, Sarah Mallie, the new U.S. account manager from EroAdvertising, collected business cards for a prize drawing in which she was giving away $500 in free traffic to five lucky winners.

Mallie, a native of Sydney, Australia, who has been living in San Diego for the past eight years and working in adult traffic for the past four, joined EroAdvertising in March with a focus on growing the U.S. market. She said that EroAdvertising globally does 1.8 billion daily ad impressions across the web and mobile with dynamic targeting.

“We’ve recently made a lot of improvements to our interface,” Mallie said, adding that that the company offers numerous “high-volume, high-quality mobile and desktop pop-unders.”

When the Traffic Rush Hour ended, many attendees continued their day over drinks at the Lobby Circle Bar in the center of the property, while others grabbed dinner before the grand finale Miami Vice White Party.

The show-ending bash began to fill up around 11 p.m. inside the Penthouse Suite on the 15th floor, where guests enjoyed panoramic views of Miami Beach. Also known as the Frank Sinatra Suite, the long entryway to the suite is adorned with exclusive memorabilia commemorating the iconic crooner, who used to hang out there along with the Rat Pack in the 1960s.

Partygoers donned glow-in-the-dark, neon bracelets and headbands to go with their all-white attire, sipping cocktails and champagne into the wee hours of the morning.

Attendees met one final time this morning for the Farewell Toast in what was an appropriate send-off to another productive and memorable edition of the XBIZ Summit.

For photos of the XBIZ Summit courtesy of Juan Botero, click here.

For coverage of Day One, click here