Internext 2018 Examines 'State of the Industry'

LAS VEGAS—The final seminar of Internext went deeper than the customary “State of the Industry” update, revealing another side of some of adult’s top executives.

In addition to discussing the trends everyone should watch for in 2018, the business leaders on the panel Monday also talked about how they’ve dealt with unforeseen personal challenges, not being afraid to fail and avoiding complacency.

“Staying involved as the owner of the company is super important,” said Mitch Farber, the CEO of NETBilling who started in 1997 as a pay-site owner. “Especially in this industry it’s all about relationships. Don’t get so full of yourself that you don’t think you need to be around.”

Farber means both at the office and at trade conferences such as Internext, the largest annual gathering of adult webmasters in North America.

In what became one of the highlight sessions of the three-day expo, he joined Greg Clayman, the CEO of VS Media; Brad Mitchell, the CEO of MojoHost; Steve Winyard, founder of AVSecure; and Sean Christian, CEO of Revolution Force on the seminar that was moderated by veteran industry attorney Corey Silverstein.

Asking pointed questions that departed from typical fare, Silverstein tapped into the humanity of the panelists, who alternated between sound business advice and sharing candid anecdotes about what they’ve overcome to arrive at this point in their lives.

“You only grow by going outside your comfort zone,” said Greg Clayman, whose company created the pioneering live adult video chat and affiliate program, Flirt4Free. “If there is one common theme to get across, if you stay comfortable you’re going to stagnate and it’s going to be very hard to pick yourself up…We’ve all been there. Sometimes you have to reinvent yourself and get yourself back out there.”

Clayman, who delivered the 2017 Internext keynote, continued, “In this business or any other business you’re never standing still. You’re either spiraling down or you’re spiraling up. The cost of being stagnate means you’re spiraling down because not only do you have to make up the ground you lost when you decide to get off your ass and get back to work again, but you also have to figure out what you’re going to do to recreate that ground because people are out there who are working and aren’t staying stagnate that are going to stay ahead of you.

“And if you stay still, someone’s going to pass you by.”

Animated and passionate, Sean Christian told the audience, “We all got lucky. Ninety-eight percent of the people in adult are accidental businessmen. They had no idea what they were gonna do but they were in the right place at the right time. … I have the most respect for the guys in this industry who washed out, who lost everything and got up and did it again.”

Mitchell, a 2018 inductee into the AVN Hall of Fame - Internet Founders Branch who started MojoHost in 2002, said he remembers an epiphany in 2008.

“Being young, being married and being a workaholic and working all day and into the evening at the expense of my personal relationships, it dawned on me that working more hours, working harder, wasn’t going to solve any of the problems that I was having,” Mitchell said. “I was in some type of a wheel that I was running around in. I needed to figure out how to work smarter. I didn’t necessarily know how to do that. I grew up in a very entrepreneurial family. My Dad’s always owned some kind of business. I was going in on Saturdays when I was in first grade working in the warehouse and that was fun to me.”

Christian said an effective way to improve yourself is to read.

“Read books, and don’t read anything that has to do with this industry,” Christian told the audience crowded into Festival Hall C inside Hard Rock’s Paradise Tower. “Get on GoodReads and share books with your friends so that you personally can grow as a leader, as a team leader and as an executive. And you can emotionally grow into this…If you’re personally not stagnate you’re company will not be, but that comes from what Brad is talking about—emotional growth. If you’re not staying on top of this and trying to push yourself your company is not going to go anywhere.”

Flirt4Free’s Clayman said “the industry has matured.”

“Companies offering similar services are working together in order to create better product,” he added.

The last full day of Internext began early with VR panel that featured Anna Lee (HoloGirlsVR), Daniel Abramovich (VRBangers), Vid Vicious (Terpon) and Christoph Hermes (Reality Lovers); Stewart Tongue (EngineFood) moderated the session.

Lee, the president and director for HoloGirlsVR, said the community has been in a bit of a holding pattern.

“Everyone is waiting for the next thing that’s going to catapult VR to the next level,” Lee said. “We’ve learned a lot, figured out what works, how to shoot and how to affect scaling… Especially for people entering the space now you don’t have to spend all the money we did in the beginning.”

Lee said the VR market is still wide open for niche specialists to “produce something that hasn’t been seen before or hasn’t been done enough.”

We have the GFE experience nailed down, a lot of customers want that,” Lee continued.

She also noted that cam girls make great VR models because “they’re really good at speaking into the camera and getting the person on the other side to feel something.”

Mikael “Vid Vicious” Levy said a “mixed reality experience” from combining augmented reality with VR is on the horizon, while Abramovich said he and everyone else are still perfecting the craft.

“I wouldn’t say there is the perfect camera for VR yet,” Abramovich said. “We use new cameras every month because the technology is always changing. There are always new developments. We can’t just stay here and press pause. We do research and development every month.”

The importance of the VR headset cannot be understated, according to Lee. “It’s important that the quality of the content for your first experience is a good experience and I’m not talking about the production value of the content,” she said.

Christoph Hermes, meanwhile, projected the worldwide VR market will be $50 billion in seven years and that includes mainstream gaming which in large part is driving technology.

The moderator Tongue noted that Red Bull is one of the most prolific VR content producers “but they do nothing to enhance it.”

“They just record it,” he said.

Hermes passed around a headset with a sexy hardcore VR image on it, adding that “by 2020, we will have one sense left that we cannot replicate—smell.”

The Traffic panel included insights from Jimmy “Wizzo” Foreman (JuicyAds), Mark Bauman (ReviveAds/TrafficHaus), Remi St. Maur (TrafficStars/xHamsterLive), Hiyas Carr ( and Jim Austin (Stripchat); Eric Helsel (Performance Click Ventures) moderated the session.

St. Maur said the “dating and webcams” verticals remain strong for media buying, whereas male enhancement traffic is a non-starter these days.

“Media buying is a hard job,” St. Maur admitted.

Wizzo, who has been in adult for more than two decades, said that not-safe-work video games are another vertical that is working, not to mention “anything marijuana-related, e-cigarette or vaping.”

Helsel, who also works with Vice Token, a new utility coin, addressed the “elephant in the room,” asking the panel where they stood with the cryptocurrency phenomenon.

Wizzo indicated JuicyAds just closed the deal to begin doing payouts in cryptocurrency.

“In the tech space a lot of people want to be paid in crypto,” Wizzo said. “I think it’s going to be an exciting part of 2018.”

The group discussed concerns over Google’s plans to regulate pop-under ads as well as the looming net neutrality issue, but Wizzo offered some perspective on all the forecasts of doom.

“We will be here next year. Porn will still be on the internet and people will still pay money for it,” Wizzo reasoned. “In the last 10 years I can’t count how many times I heard the sky is falling and we’re dead and that has yet to be the case. That being said you do have to adapt or die.”

Jim Austin, who heads business development for the fast-growing cam site Stripchat, noted “the power is shifting toward the models now and shifting away from cam sites.”

“Before cam models used to sit in the room and wait for the cam site to send traffic, but it’s completely turning around as they take control of their brands on social media and with clip stores. They’re like mini entrepreneurs with multiple revenue streams.”

The Live Cams session featured Yuval Kijel (CamBuilder), Shay Efron (ImLive), Mugur Frunzetti (Studio 20), Jeff Wilson (Flirt4Free) and Steve Gottlieb (Chaturbate); Alex Lecomte (7 Veils/iWantEmpire) moderated the session.

The group discussed preparing for the UK’s looming Digital Economy Act taking effect in April requiring consumers of porn in the UK to prove they are 18 years of age.

“Everyone’s going to have two, three, four solutions, not just one,” said Kijel, whose CamBuilder site was the sponsor of the Seminar Program this year.

Frunzetti, who is based in Bucharest, Romania, but has franchises in LA and South America, said “we dont need underage people in our rooms. It’s a useless waste of time and they’re not going to spend any money anyway.”

Kijel said Streamate, the parent company of CamBuilder, receives more traffic these days from Instagram and Twitter.

“Last year was the breakthrough year for clip sites,” Kijel said. “They are helping the models and helping us to get a wider crowd. …But we are only scratching the surface.”

Kijel expects to see “five, six, or seven times the growth” in the coming years.

The consensus from the group was that VR is not a factor in the live-cam community—yet.

“It still has a long way to go,” Kijel said.

The Dating panel took on a “fireside chat” feel thanks to the dynamic moderating of Sean Christian, the CEO of Revolution Force. Christian led an intimate, in-depth and advanced discussion about the world of dating and affiliate marketing with expert panelists Greg Dumas (DatingOffers) and Charlyn MacNamara (AdultFriendFinder).

Christian walked up and down the aisle and through the rows, engaging the audience and firing questions at the panelists that made them think—and ultimately brought out their best stuff.

In introducing MacNamara, Christian noted she was “the first person to do search engine marketing on the internet for adult.”

“She is by far the innovator inside the space,” Christian said. “She is the smartest media buyer anyone has ever seen and bought more media—bought millions of dollars worth of media.”

He said Dumas was one of the first people he ever met in adult and that he has watched as Dumas has successfully “reinvented himself over and over again and changed his portfolio.”

Dumas said he always prefers the “freemium model.”

“Get them in for free, give them a quality product—something that works—and they will buy,” Dumas said.

A 23-year online entertainment veteran, Dumas started as the VP of marketing for LFP Inc. and launched in 1995, one of the first pay-sites.

“Everything you need is in GoogleAnalytics,” Dumas said. “Everything is free. The point is, if you watch your analytics, you’ve got the data and at the end of the data this is the data business. We’re all looking at the data to make money.”

Dumas continued, “Nowadays the consumer is more intelligent, they want more. They don’t want just what they can find for free on pay-sites. That pay-site model has evolved. I don’t believe it’s dead, it’s evolved.”

MacNamara said there are “101 things to do” on the AdultFriendFinder site.

“We have high-definition shoots, live member broadcasts. We have real members performing like a cam model and we also do have cams on the site,” she explained. “Members can buy points; they can buy subscriptions.”

She said that AdultFriendFinder “sexually liberated women.”

“We welcomed them, gave them an audience, gave a platform for couples to come and find likeminded people who they can meet in real life and have a great time,” she said.

Dumas said that “billing is the engine that drives society at the end of the day.”

“The localization of billing…there is value in lots of countries that you don’t know there’s value,” Dumas added. “Start localizing that market. As a site owner, be looking out for marketing trends and also looking out for billing trends. Make it as easy as possible to buy something.”

MacNamara said her company has been paying affiliates weekly for almost 20 years.

Presented by TrafficJunky, AdultForce and AgeID, Internext continued into Monday evening with the closing keynote address by Nick Chretien of CrakRevenue and the annual GFY Awards.


Pictured from left: Sean Christian, Steve Winyard, Greg Clayman, Corey Silverstein, Brad Mitchell & Mitch Farber after the "State of the Industry" panel—by Rick Garcia/IndustrybyRick.

For additional coverage of Internext 2018, click here.