LOS ANGELES — Day One of the first-ever virtual XBIZ Berlin trade show began with a welcome opportunity for mixing-and-mingling in a variety of company and talent lounges, which allowed for collegial table-hopping and crucial networking opportunities before the afternoon’s spread of seminars and special events kicked off with a focus on content creation, paysites and traffic optimization for the European market and beyond.
“Paysites in Focus“
Launching XBIZ Berlin’s virtual seminar series, “Paysites in Focus: How Europe’s COVID Lockdown is Shaping Today’s Market” was first in line as an elite group of experts examined current trends in European paysites and how the lockdown has impacted premium adult sites, traffic conversions and member retention.
Moderated by Stephen Yagielowicz of XBIZ, the international group of panelists included Vincent from Jacquie et Michel; Sascha from Erotik; Dennis Koning of SINfulXXX; and Ante of DDF Network.
Prior to the pandemic, professional paysites were pushing forward, offering premium experiences in an arena awash with free alternatives and a rapid rise of direct-to-consumer publishing platforms and model communities, as well as free and paid live camming options. One way that paysites competed against their free and live cousins was through frequent, high-quality updates — a practice that was pinched by COVID and the resulting production lockdowns in many regions.
This content challenge came as consumers thronged to adult entertainment sites to alleviate stress and the boredom of isolation, creating new opportunities and a welcome uptick in sales, even as companies grappled with this content curve thrown into their supply chain.
The panelists revealed that for those paysites without in-house content production capabilities, content sourcing and acquisition has been a major concern, leading to new content partnerships and innovative strategies for bolstering libraries and trying to maintain consistent updates. Even for those with robust production resources, the pandemic’s travel lockdown has restricted the availability of talent in certain regions.
Bringing talent into the business is a factor behind the camera as well, with staffing and daily operations, including connectivity and other technology issues, impacted as a direct ramification of working from home. The panelists discussed other challenges European and other paysite companies face from closed borders, including the need to maintain (or lose access to) facilities, such as an office building, as well as ways that companies can increase the quality of life for their staff in these stressful times.
The panelists also brushed upon PR opportunities, such as combining the trigger words “COVID” and “porn” in a press release, as well as changes in payment processing and member value, along with ways of fighting content piracy and maintaining a healthy balance between profit and loss.
“Tuning Traffic for Peak Performance“
Later, “Tuning Traffic for Peak Performance: Inside Tips for Advertisers, Publishers” took center stage with a discussion of the dynamics of driving visitors to your website or promotional offer and the top trends in converting those visitors into customers. A panel of European traffic experts guided attendees with their favorite methods for optimizing sales using privacy-safe strategies that ensure legal compliance.
Moderated by Stefan Muehlbauer from Masters in Cash, the panel featured Advedro’s Joey Gabra; Aina Sivtseva of Adsterra; “Captain” Andy Wullmer from TrafficPartner; Florin Simovici from Traffic Manager; Yatin Anand of Traffic Factory; and TrafficShop’s Darry Bradshaw.
The panel delved into the most popular offers of 2020, including non-adult products and services that provide a non-cannibalistic sales vertical, such as nutraceuticals, sweepstakes and in particular, VPN offers, including those for Android and iOS, which have risen in popularity, especially within the U.S.
In addition, the casual dating vertical has surged during the lockdown, with spikes in both dating site membership sales as well as for pay-per-message services. Likewise, gaming offers and ads intended to brand a specific company also saw a lift in 2020.
The panel then got into an extended discussion of real-time bidding (RTB) technology, and focused on understanding where purchased traffic originates — whether it is from an actual content publisher or recycled from other networks, passed from one ad network to another and decreasing in value with every impression.
The seamless use of native advertising and the granularity at which custom content and ads are able to be matched was also explored.
Finally, the panelists explored the current state of push notifications along with the pros and cons of using a third-party service versus using an in-house solution to build your own list. In an attempt to maximize the benefits of push notifications while mitigating any drawbacks, Adsterra revealed its development of a new “social bar” alternative advertising format during the session.
The panelists agreed that while the market is changing, COVID-inspired traffic boosts are leading to more sales for advertisers and publishers that are able to accurately target their visitors’ needs.
Moderated by XBIZ Managing Editor Alejandro Freixes, “Indie Talent: Cams, Clips & Premium Social Spell Success for European Models” explored how various indie performers built their brands. Freixes was joined by Sabien Demonia, Prince Jean Claude, Quincy, Larkin Love, Misha Cross and Jakub Stefano. Though the panel discussed a range of issues, they mainly focused on three key points of interest: the main type of content they produce, what they charge and how they handle superfans.
The content creators described how they produce content across several categories or choose to maintain a narrow focus. For instance, Stefano’s content touches upon a whopping 50 categories. For Stefano and Jean Claude, this variety stems from their fans having diverse appetites. Others have similarly developed a wide portfolio of content as they figured out which fans paid the most. In contrast to the majority on the panel, Love has spent the last two years focusing on premium social content since she feels that is the direction the industry is going.
How much to charge is also an important issue for indie performers. Stefano learned that any price above $9.99 was too high for his core audience. Others on the panel also felt that the bar to entry should be as low as possible. As such, many keep their membership fees lower-priced. This allows them to maintain a large and monetized fanbase.
The final issue examined how the content creators deal with superfans. While each person had a slightly different approach, the majority of those on the panel avoid giving away free content after observing how easily and quickly superfans can become addicted to free content.
Importantly, while the performers do offer discounts and bonus packages to superfans, by forcing them to pay the creators reinforce boundaries.
“The State of Content Production“
XBIZ’s Alejandro Freixes returned to moderate a panel which mainly orbited around how the COVID pandemic has impacted content production in Europe. This panel included Danny D, a director, producer and performer; Rocco Siffredi, owner of Rocco Siffredi Productions; Julia Grandi of Jul Models and Vixen Media Group; Dan Leal of Immoral Productions; and Proxy Paige, a director for Evil Angel in Europe.
While the panel touched upon many issues, there were two that recurred throughout: money and operations. In regards to finances, the COVID pandemic has been a two-edged sword. Since fans and customers are stuck at home with little to do, many have turned to paying for their adult content. For Dan Leal, this has meant that his profit margins are the highest they’ve been in years, an observation shared by others in the panel. However, COVID has also forced many of them to experience concurrent increases in the costs of producing content. The main increase comes from testing talent and crew for COVID. Grandi built on this point by stating that COVID restrictions have caused the cost of each scene she produces or directs to go up by €800 ($941).
This increase in the cost of production has forced many on the panel to change how they operate their businesses. While many of them worked with certain people remotely, such as those responsible for marketing or post-production, actual filming has changed for several on the panel. As Danny D shared, they are trying to encourage social distancing practices while filming. This means, for example, that makeup artists are now off-site. Additionally, with increased difficulty involved with bringing in performers from other countries, all of the filmmakers now largely rely on local talent (while Leal noted he has taken this turn of events a step further by focusing on sex dolls).
Overall, the panelists communicated that while COVID is a problem, it has forced them to learn how to do more with less and become more flexible.
Visit XBIZBerlin.com for the complete trade show schedule and stay tuned to XBIZ.com for the latest updates.