Dave Sichel of Internet Supply Inc. is making the great leap from adult to mainstream. Well, sort of. What he's really up to is actually far more exciting than just shucking all those porn sites and all that content providing for some newfangled marketing idea. He wants to, and has for some time, been bringing the two seemingly irreconcilable worlds together in a seamless and profitable program that may just herald yet another Brave New World of entrepreneurial ingenuity. The venture is called EZ Green (www.ezgreen.com), the EZ Speak name for an "advertorial" e-mail program that has been up and running since the middle of 1998.
More than just melding two worlds, ISI has in fact sold all of their adult sites, according to Sichel. "We sold Fresh Photos (www.freshphotos.com) and we recently sold all of our adult sites. ISI is only into the EZ Green program right now, and EZ Green has no other forays other than EZ Green," he carefully worded, admitting that they still "have one foot in both worlds. We're sending traffic all over. We've learned how to move traffic, move surfers, from one area into another on the Net."
What is EZ Green? "It is an e-mail program where we collect double opt-in e-mail addresses," says Sichel "We're looking for people, end users, who want to get a free erotic picture and along with that some advertorial text that may or may not be of interest to them, so that they can follow the link within our e-mail to an advertiser's site." And what is double opt-in? "Double opt-in is where people have to make a choice twice in order to be considered a valid e-mail address," he explains. "Basically, somebody gets in one of our EZ Green e-mail boxes that a sponsor puts up for us. They'll type in, say, [email protected] Then they'll get a letter saying, 'hi, you've subscribed [to our newsletter]. To validate your subscription, you need to hit reply to this e-mail showing that a) you want to receive a soft porn newsletter and b) that you're over 18.' EZ Green doesn't spam anybody."
Advertisers range from porn sites to business-to-consumer advertisers. "For example, maybe someone who is selling cotton swabs," says Sichel. "That's the interesting thing about this. Mainstream people realize that porn people, or people who are into adult, have at some point in time, at least once, used a credit card to get something online, and that is a big thing."
And how is the introduction between surfer and advertiser made? "We're asking that a webmaster put the box up that allows an e-mail type-in," says Sichel. "When the person who is on that adult site, or whatever site it's on, types in an e-mail address, and it pops through our system and gets the reply, that webmaster gets 80 cents."
EZ Green newsletters are sent out three times a week, containing links to soft-porn pictures, daily jokes and erotic stories along with the advertising. In the beginning there was just one list of subscribers, but in March of 1999 EZ Green began offering segmented lists (teen, ethnic, fetish, etc.), and as of June 2000, could boast 27 e-mail lists with over 6 million subscribers and counting. "There is targeting based on segmentation," says Sichel. "If I have a teen site, I'll put you out on teen. If you decide that you want to try an ethnic e-mail to try and see if you can pick up some people for your teen site as an advertiser, you certainly can spend your advertising dollars in whatever newsletter you want."
Constantly upgrading their technology has allowed EZ Green to keep pace with demand. "We've got some proprietary programs that we keep under lock and key that allow us to grow a list into multiple proportions and on a daily basis send out all these e-mails," says Sichel. "We know approximately per thousand people how many hits they're going to get. It's called predictive modeling and is based on a number of things - consumer preference, the demographics of the list, how many people are on the list and the type of advertising that's being done. I have information that I have been able to collect, and I take this information and I know how to predict an approximate amount of hits that a piece of advertising is going to get." It sounds like rocket science.
But with monthly pay-outs to webmasters averaging in the "six figures," with a very minimal turnover rate of newsletter subscribers, and with thousands of advertisers, it certainly sounds like a win-win-win situation for everyone involved, no matter what side of the fence they're on.