XBIZ 2019: Showcasing Today's Top Tactics, Technologies and Trends

LOS ANGELES — It’s been a week since attendees reveled in Hollywood glitz and glitter, but the ripples from the revelations, moneymaking tips, and actionable intelligence garnered at the 2019 XBIZ Show continue to sweep across the industry.

It was MojoHost’s Brad Mitchell, commenting on the success of the “Rooftop Rage” party he co-hosted with noted industry attorney Corey Silverstein, who rhetorically asked, “Don’t you just love it when a plan comes together?” It is a sentiment that encapsulates the overall success of the 2019 XBIZ Show — including one of its most prominent highlights — a laser-sharp focus on the newest tactics and technologies, along with the top trends pointing to the challenges and opportunities facing the adult digital media industry today, delivered through the event’s exclusive slate of educational sessions…

Providing convenient “single floor” access for participants, the multi-track selection of seminars and workshops provided a one-stop-shop view of all aspects of sex tech and the broader industry beyond.

Among the most notable examples was the MojoHost presentation of “Adult Web Tech Today,” along with a look at the cam industry’s state of the art; and virtual reality’s top trends and advances for 2019; while the second-day sessions were punctuated by “Paysites 2019: Content is King,” “Custom Clips: Satisfying Consumer Demand,” and a look at the “State of the Industry: A Focus on the Future.”

Starting the 2019 XBIZ Show’s tech-heavy educational thrust in style, MojoHost presented an exclusive workshop on “Adult Web Tech Today,” featuring a range of tech-forward industry insiders, including Wasteland’s Colin Rowntree; PVR.fun’s Ela Darling; Vivek Khandelwal of freshman industry entrant iZooto; Terpon’s Jean-Claude Artonne; AVSecure’s Steve Winyard; and MojoHost’s charismatic leader Brad Mitchell guiding the group’s discussion.

Revealing how to harness and leverage the newest technology to deliver content and satisfy customers, these adult tech leaders tackled a range of timely topics.

Rowntree discussed the value of investing in new technology, especially on the production side, where a minimum of 4K video is the norm today — with higher resolution gear delivering a desirable degree of future-proofing for content libraries.

On how to select the right camera equipment, Rowntree revealed “we went to NAB and went through all the top candidates,” for a hands-on evaluation of what would be the studio’s best fit.

The ultimate in imagery isn’t the only consideration, however, as higher resolutions and better-quality lead to bigger file sizes, which leads to slower content delivery — an especially problematic issue when dealing with the new wave of virtual reality videos — which can easily exceed 10Gb in file size.

Darling, who created one of the first VR porn companies nearly five years ago, emphasized the need for speed when trying to satisfy customers.

“When you want to jerk off,” Darling said, “you want to jerk off now-ish.”

Darling, known as “the world’s first VR cam girl,” discussed the possible potential of this game-changing combination of technologies; while Artonne, an early developer of VR camming tech, echoed the need for cam speed by confiding that Terpon is working with mainstream tech companies to deliver ultra-low latency VR cam feeds, with sub-200 millisecond response times, through WebRTC and HTML5. 

“VR will not change camming,” Artonne told the audience. “Camming will change VR.”

“Most technologies are becoming commodities,” Artonne added, advising attendees to invest in new tech over the coming year.

One of these is the blockchain, which Winyard credits as the foundation for AVSecure’s age verification service set to deliver secure user identification in accordance with regulations in the U.K. and elsewhere.

“Blockchain is a platform for doing all sorts of things,” Winyard said, “including processing billions of transactions per second.”

One new technology that may not be getting the same level of attention as blockchain, but is certainly raising eyebrows among consumers and industry operatives alike is the spread of “push notification” ads — something that marketing automation expert Khandelwal is a passionate proponent of.

“A lot of people rely on platforms to generate traffic, but the platform owns the audience,” Khandelwal explained, offering attendees an alternative that allows sites to build and retain their own audience and additional revenue stream.

The tool is not without its share of controversy, however, where like pop-up ads, the efficacy is easily lost through abusive placement or practices and complicates GDPR and other privacy policy regulations.

“No users want content that is non-contextual. Desperate marketers often resort to ‘spray and pray’ approaches, but it doesn’t work,” Khandelwal added. “Marketing channels have a life to themselves. Email, push notifications, SMS, will help you understand where the customer is in his journey.”

For many attendees, their journey continued with a look at the latest trends shaping camming today.

Cam Industry: The State of the Art
The afternoon kicked into high gear with a look at the cam industry’s state of the art, with Flirt4Free’s Jamie Rodriguez; Chaturbate’s Shirley Lara; Gabor Gaspar from Jasmin; Andra Chirnogeanu of Studio20; Gunner from Cams.com; Yuval of Streamate; and Ela Darling of PVR.fun providing an incredible depth of experience and insight to the wide-ranging discussion.

Among the topics, the group discussed the current ways that fans, models, promoters and studios alike are benefitting from today’s vibrant live cam ecosystem, where technologies such as mobile camming, interactive sex toys, and virtual reality are pushing the boundaries of adult entertainment and social interaction.

“2019 will bring a lot of new cam models into the industry this year,” Chirnogeanu predicted, “as well as many new performers.”

Those performers will find a raft of new features at their fingertips for building connections with fans.

“This year will bring lots of new customizations, too,” Lara revealed, “such as custom sounds for tips.”

Harkening back to a point made on the Adult Web Tech panel, Yuval noted the importance of deploying low-latency technologies as a way of boosting the communication and presence between models and their fans, as among its missions — and these efforts are paying off.

“Streamate has been in business for 15 years and 2018 was our best year yet,” Yuval confided, pointing to the cam industry’s continued good fortunes.

“On the affiliate side,” he said, “we see more use of ‘black label’ sites, where major companies are bringing cams into their own sites.”

Rodriguez put the emphasis back on the need to keep models happy — and explained that finding new ways to help models promote themselves and to make more money, such as through clip sales, was high on F4F’s 2019 agenda; while Gunner noted that in the face of increased competition and decreased access to porn-shy mainstream social media channels due to policy changes and enforcement actions, performers are all looking for new and better ways to promote themselves.

“Models need to be more professional,” Yuval added, encouraging them to treat their trade as a career that can help them take care of themselves and their families by continually learning and innovating.

“The broadcaster is really in charge,” Lara says of models’ power position — an advantage when dealing with fans but a challenge for networks and studios needing to recruit and retain models. “Life happens: models get boyfriends; they go on extended vacations; models come and go.”

“For many,” Lara explained, “camming is a stepping-stone to their next phase of life.”

For prospective models and those just learning their craft, Rodriguez offered a golden bit of advice that perfectly sums up the nature of today’s live cam arena, while underscoring the need for language skills.

“Our best models are not the ones who do the most sexually,” Rodriguez revealed. “They are the ones who do the most conversationally.”

Of course, many models aren’t only interested in camming’s financial rewards — they also want to become famous and follow in the footsteps of their favorite social media influencers and movie stars — and they want to do it easily, anytime, anywhere.

“In 2019, Jasmin will revolutionize the mobile experience and focus on privacy and encryption,” Gaspar told the audience. “We want to give models the opportunity to express themselves and become stars.”

Some ways to attain stardom are by being best, first, or unique at something — and for forward-looking performers and studios seeking an edge, new technology such as augmented, mixed and virtual reality productions can be the way to stand out.

Virtual Reality: 2019’s Top Trends, Advances
Attracting considerable interest, a panel of virtual reality experts were lined up at the 2019 XBIZ Show to take a look at the future of blue fantasy in all directions. VR allows users to experience and interact with a 3D world that isn’t really there, and porn seems to be a perfect fit, as the panelists one-by-one told the event’s attendees in the discussion moderated by Sin Golemac from XBIZ.

The VR experts who spoke at the conference’s VR special event included Ian Paul of Naughty America, Anna Lee of PVR, Telly Lopez-Fu of Grooby VR, Alex Novak of SexLikeReal, Igor Zhivago of VRBangers, Eyal of Sin VR, Tyrone Miller of BadoinkVR, JC of Terpon VR and Justin Moravetz of ViRo.club.

The experts explained that to enter this virtual world, users take hold of a VR headset, turn their heads and the environment turns with them, making the illusion feel even more real. Currently headsets span from expensive PC-linked units like the HTC Vive and Oculus Rift to more affordable goggles like the Samsung Gear VR, which works by slotting a smartphone into the headset. But there are alternatives now — like the Oculus Go, a wireless headset with a built-in processor, as well as the PVR Iris headset, another stand-alone VR device that is specifically for porn. And then, there’s a new cousin in town — augmented reality (AR), an interactive experience blending digital elements such as dazzling visual overlays, buzzy haptic feedback, or other sensory projections — into our real-world environments.

The exciting world of an immersive world is maturing and pretty much set to go — but more users need to put on headsets, the panelists maintained.

Paul of Naughty America noted that at the recent Consumer Electronics Show in early January, VR might have lost its Midas touch in terms of popularity, unlike its presence in the previous five years.

“VR porn is still really strong, but I must admit at CES there was a bit more of a lull this year compared to previous years,” Paul said. “Speaking outside of VR porn, for VR to include content streaming, there needs to be that massive online goal-playing game. And we don’t really see that. Certainly, artistry is doing its part, but it’s important for consumers to initially put on a headset.”

Lopez-Fu of Grooby VR, however, maintained that companies involved in VR porn should stay where they are and become trailblazers.

“It really is about the content. It’s about creating an immersive, engaging experience that people want and adult has always been good at doing,” Lopez-Fu said, noting that mainstream is taking a little longer to get there. “There was a lot of money being put into 360, and after that collapsed in 2017 and all those VC funds got wiped out. So, everyone is waiting and sitting. It’s a great time to start building.”

“We should experiment with storytelling, different ways to shoot content, build reliable content to test and put it out there for everyone to see,” Lopez-Fu added. “Then we build a community around that. We need to do that, instead of waiting for the mainstream to catch up.”

“Of course, the content has to be compelling. You need to have a reason to put on a headset, and that is what the huge barrier to entry is — the headset,” Lee of PVR added. “When you want to watch porn, you can just whip out your phone and pull up a site … instantly. But when you want to jerk off to VR, it’s a commitment. You have to schedule your time.

“So, we want to watch porn untethered, and now we have the Oculus Go and the PVR Iris,” Lee said. “You want to have the ability to go from what you are looking at to your headset, quickly and easily, and that’s one of the obstacles — and we need mainstream’s support in getting users. You need the games and their support.”

As VR tries to find consumer waves with larger numbers, the established players in the market segment are finding interesting geographical territories where they’re finding additional pairs of eyes viewing their immersive erotic content. So, where are the most views coming from? Panel members rolled off a laundry list — U.S., Hong Kong, Korea, Germany, Spain, France, U.K., and China. And the consensus among group members was that the target age demographic was 18 to 25 years old.

In some markets, VR also is finding new distribution in unlikely places — in public arcades, where users jump into the booth for a scene or two.

“It’s a worldwide market, and ‘touch’ will be very important,” said Moravetz of ViRo.club, whose platform works with a wide variety of adult haptic devices.

Lee, the COO of PVR, who formerly ran HoloFilm Productions, Red Light Center and other well-known VR or virtual-world brands, said that she’s still tickled about VR’s potential and progression.

“I really think this is the beginning of everything,” Lee said. “I think there will be some incredible experiences. It’s very exciting for me to create these experiences for people and I am very excited [about] AR … about how it will mesh with haptics and live cams. There will be a market for that.”

Lee particularly mentioned that the rollout of rapidly changing technology, especially with the development of new immersive cameras and video editing equipment, has been remarkable.

“I am shooting with new cameras and testing new technologies,” she said. “I am able to stitch video on my laptop. This is something I wasn’t able to do six months ago. It is so awesome that adult leads the way with VR.”

For those on the fence about the viability of VR and porn as a commercial force, Lee had one remark: “Hang on a little longer. It’s coming.”  

Also coming was the second full day of seminars and workshops, with the first session devoted to the foundation of commercial online adult entertainment — the paysite.

Paysites 2019: Content is King
There’s no denying we live in a free porn world, but as long as there is content worth paying for, there will always be customers willing to pay for it. This is the premise for “Paysites 2019: Content is King,” which featured a panel of paysite pros revealing the latest techniques for reaching and satisfying today’s discriminating audiences while identifying the newest trends in premium content.

With Paul from DDF; Pornstar Platinum’s Kenny B; James Deen from Analized; Alison Boden from Kink; Mr. Skin’s Sam Rakowski; and Wasteland chief Colin Rowntree inspiring attendees with their hard-won insights into today’s paysite market, it was clear that premium porn remains alive and well.

Kicking off with a discussion of content creation, quality, and presentation, the panel was quick to point out that one size does not fit all…

“‘Professional’ porn needs to be of extremely high quality,” Kenny said. “If it’s amateur porn, it doesn’t have to be as high a quality in order to please fans.”

This nod to fans’ different expectations based on their preferred porn niche and type, set the stage for a discussion of the diversity of factors that goes into crafting content that fans want.

“I think about content more broadly than just photos and videos,” Rakowski explained, telling attendees how Mr. Skin enjoys an enviable position due to the mainstream fan-appeal of its celebrity-focused fare, where sexiness and stardom meet.

It is the type of draw that drives community building and experience sharing.

Deen picked up on this point and advised attendees to cater to members by creating a solid foundation and overall user experience.

“You’re selling an experience,” Deen said, “so make sure the content is something members will value.”

Creating that experience and being able to maintain it are two very different things, however, as Kink found out following the cessation of shooting at its storied armory “castle” location in San Francisco.

“It was a challenge for our directors to do things differently than they had for years,” Boden explained, discussing how the site’s production had become decentralized, with different producers moving to different cities (and one even working from the van he is now living in). This is providing more diversity to the look and feel of what was once extremely visually consistent content — something that some members may like, while others may not.

It is one illustration of the balancing act that paysites featuring their own original content must master.

Boden made another point that echoed Kenny’s earlier comment about quality expectations, noting that technology isn’t a replacement for skill, by revealing, “resolution is not as important as is an excellent cinematic experience.”

“If you’re going to have a paysite, then you need to have content worth paying for,” Paul said, summing up the key to success in the premium porn business, while nodding to community building by adding, “if you’re not engaging with your members, then you’re missing out.”

The topic then shifted to promotions and public relations, where the latest in search engine and social media marketing was discussed.

Eliciting a roar from the audience, Deen joked, “I recommend creating high-scandal controversies…”

“You’ve got to be willing to take risks,” Rakowski said, telling attendees that PR is a big thing for Mr. Skin as is organic SEO, advising paysite owners to “constantly create new written content” for their sites.

Discussing the advantages of empowering performers as promoters of the content they produce, Paul advised giving them the tools they need to succeed, saying, “Produce content with top-rated talent then give them PR packages to reach out to their fans with on social media.”

This personal approach is vital, with Boden telling attendees, “people feel better about liking a brand when they realize real people are behind it.”

Getting things right with all aspects of a paysite isn’t easy, and even when it’s “right,” it can always be at least a bit better, so the motivation for modification and maximization is something many operators can relate to. After all, how much is a few percent of an empire worth? Switching up tactics will tell you.

“Test the traffic coming into your site,” Kenny advised. “Try something, test it, try something else.”

It is a process that involves every detail, from content to design to marketing and more. But is all of this effort worth it when free tube sites provide a lifetime of porn without payment? For savvy operators, such as those who get traffic from tubes to fuel their paysites, the answer is “Yes!”

“We removed free clips from our tour for tube traffic,” Kenny confided, “and our conversions doubled.”

In 2019, free clips are still popular, but carnal connoisseurs are increasingly turning to custom clips — whether produced to a script they provide or chosen from a range of performers’ personal productions.

Custom Clips: Satisfying Consumer Demand
Focusing on one of today’s most dynamic markets, “Custom Clips: Satisfying Consumer Demand” helped attendees take the guesswork out of profiting from their next production by giving customers what they really want — producing custom content made-to-order, or that personally appeals to their own artistic vision in order to build a library for fans to enjoy.

Dariusz from Clips4Sale; Dominic Ford from JustFor.fans; Sam from ModelHub; Gino from ManyVids; and FanCentro’s Andrea Fioriniello, joined sociologist Dr. Chauntelle Tibbals for this insightful workshop.

Revealing one of the clip market’s key foundations, Fioriniello underscored the personalization possible with custom clips and how these fit into the content creator’s palette of tools for reaching customers.

“Clips are a way for models to interact with their fans,” Fioriniello said. “Models are delivering exactly what their fans are asking for.”

Beyond content concerns, clip creators need to consider the networks they’ll market their clips on and what those networks have to offer for fans and creators alike.

“I used to use other platforms, but they were lacking in community,” Ford said. “This is why JustFor.fans offers messaging and other features for models.”

In addition to cultivating a community, clip sites provide control and assistance with problems such as copyright protection, while delivering audiences for artists.

“Clip sites came into play to provide models with control over their content,” Gino explained, noting that cam girls saw their shows posted on tube sites without permission, which drove the market for authorized clips.

One major takeaway is that clip production is an opportunity available to everyone, but success, as in any endeavor, won’t happen by accident.

“Creating clips is like having your own business,” Sam said, cautioning attendees that “It takes a lot of hard work and there’s no guarantee that you’ll get paid.”

One persistent challenge for clip artists is piracy, which affects everyone from individual performers to the biggest of studios — but this isn’t just a matter of cheapskate fans stealing videos: content creators may also run afoul of copyright and other laws by including background music or other media elements they are not authorized to use in their clips.

“You either own it or you don’t own it,” Ford said. “And if you do own it, be prepared to prove it.”

Another wrinkle when proving who owns what when it comes to clips arises from the casual nature of many producers and the team they may work with, which can lead to complacency and consequences.

“Many husbands and wives that shoot together do not have the proper paperwork to cover it,” Dariusz explained. “And be careful when shooting in public because you can inadvertently get things in the shot like kids or brand names.”

These complexities are all part of today’s porn scene. But what about tomorrow?

State of the Industry: A Focus on the Future
One of the XBIZ Show’s most anticipated sessions, the “State of the Industry: A Focus on the Future,” united top thought leaders for a look at the year ahead with an executive analysis of important issues facing the industry, from mandatory age verification to the current state of new technologies, business practices and beyond.

The A-list ensemble of industry leaders included Michael Klein of Gamma Entertainment; Steve Winyard of AVSecure; Jessica Drake from Wicked Pictures; CCBill’s Ron Cadwell; Segpay’s Cathy Beardsley; NETbilling’s Mitch Farber; Megan Stokes from NMG Management; and Shirley Lara from Chaturbate; along with XBIZ’s Alec Helmy, who laid out their view of the industry today — along with their vision of its near to mid-term future.

This type of exclusive executive panel is one of the main reasons that attendees travel to XBIZ events, as the roadmap laid out by the industry’s oracles give them an edge on today’s competitive playing field.

Laying the groundwork for this fast-paced panel, the panelists revealed some of their most recent past achievements that are driving their future endeavors forward.

Reveling in one of the company’s most intriguing glimpses at camming creativity, Lara pointed to Chaturbate’s hosting of the world’s first live hentai-based cam girl, “Abby Oddly,” where a real-life model controls a cartoon-style avatar.

For Klein, Gamma’s taking over of production services for Vivid illustrates the continued consolidation that raises the bar of excellence, and which is exemplified by the company’s launch of its breakthrough AdultTime website.

Other companies are also rolling out new products and services while reinvesting in existing assets.

“We’ve moved into premium tube channel and clip store management,” Stokes said, “plus rolled out infrastructure upgrades at our new office.” This included improved internet and other enhancements.

While all of these industry leaders are moving forward, they are doing so despite daily obstacles.

“The reality is,” Cadwell explained, “that U.S. Dollars transiting between the U.S. and Europe is today’s biggest challenge.”

It is an understatement considering the global nature of the adult entertainment industry, which poses challenges and opportunities that may be specific to one region or another — but which also impact operations in jurisdictions far beyond those borders.

For example, Winyard is frustrated by the lack of movement on the U.K.’s age verification front, where uncertainty and one delay after another have hampered the rollout of the AV systems the industry will need in order to be compliant with the new law — whatever it covers and whenever it becomes active.

Closer to home, Drake is concerned about the ramifications of FOSTA/SESTA legislation, which has hampered many performers seeking to build their personal fan base and broaden their opportunities, but she remains positive and focused on new product releases.

“We are returning to an era when folks are seeking higher-quality content,” Drake said, optimistically looking to the future, where increasing levels of professionalism are leading to growing profits.

This optimism was echoed by Beardsley, who grew her billing company by 40 percent last year, despite lingering concerns over new AML and Know Your Customer regulations along with GDPR compliance chores that keep Segpay from resting on its laurels.

The session continued with these top industry leaders pointing the pathway forward for those who invested in their own future by participating in the 2019 XBIZ Show.

Your next chance to benefit from XBIZ’s worldwide series of adult trade events will take place later this year in Miami.

Stay tuned to XBIZ for more information.

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