Hope Floats: Web Entertainment Group Expands 4Free

Piles of graphs and sheets of statistics carefully line a brightly polished desk. Beads of perspiration at one man's temple as he hunches over the desk, carefully fussing over an oh-so-carefully crafted business plan, wondering if his analysis is spot-on. Who is this anxious entrepreneur?

It's not Jordan Levinson, or, for that mater, his partner Jason Zimerman.

"Join4Free was a fluke; it literally took fifteen minutes of thinking to come up with the idea," says Web Entertainment Group's Jordan Levinson of his affiliate program. No fussified egghead, Levinson is more the type to take an idea and see if it floats. In this case, the two partners had a desire to do something with e-mail marketing, so they took that concept and combined it with a desireable domain name. It's a "You-got-peanut-butter-in-my-chocolate/You-got-chocolate-in-my-peanut-butter" story.

The question that had to be asked was, "What can be done differently with e-mail that hasn't already been done?" and for that, the duo have a progressive answer. Historically, surfers could expect to receive newsletters and special offers in return for ponying up their e-mail address. But why be limited to giving e-mail in return for e-mail addresses? What would happen by giving surfers access to a real site full of content?

The early results of this experiment were promising; surfers were attracted to free access to an adult site that's updated daily. Having proved to themselves that their new model worked, Levinson and Zimmerman turned their attention to developing a unique program for webmasters built on the Join4Free (www.join4free.com) concept. WEG4Free (www.wegcash.com), umbrella program to the Join4Free sites, pays webmasters 85 cents-$1.30 per e-mail sign-up and from $10.00-15.00 per upsell to a 4FreeGold membership.

Since Join4Free's launch in 1999, the program has expanded to include more than two-dozen niche sites, covering specialties from anal to virgin, with 30 more 4Free niche sites scheduled to go online by the time of this printing. Each 4Free site has its own Gold site so that every Webmaster has the chance to earn up to $16.30 per e-mail address sent to the program.

Before taking the plunge into partnership and affiliate programs, Levinson developed his adult market acumen working in audiotext and then, later, as an independent adult Webmaster. All that work gave him a keen appreciation of regulatory agencies' interest in the adult market, and so now he's floating another idea.

"The Adult Webmaster Messenger is a way for me to give something back to the adult community by giving Webmasters an opportunity to communicate with each other on a safe level," says Levinson. What he's referring to is AWMM (www.awmm.com), an encrypted instant messaging solution based on so-called "strong" encryption, encryption strong enough to require hundreds of years to decipher a single encryption key. In fact, AWMM stands alone amongst AOL, ICQ, MSN, and Yahoo! Instant Messengers in providing encrypted communications.

Imagine opening up one IM window and being able to use your other chat programs without having to open additional windows. One of AWMM's winning features is a thing called "interoperability," which allows AWMM users to chat on their other instant messaging programs from within the AWMM client. Slick. One caveat though, only messages sent via AWMM are encrypted, other IM services will be transmitted in their customary unencrypted form.

"AWMM is designed to serve the adult community by maintaining safe, secure, and private instant online communications," says Levinson. In an effort to raise the level of awareness for this service, Webmasters who help promote AWMM will receive free banner placement both on the AWMM.com site and placement in the rotating banner that's within the AWMM chat windows.

Another of WEG's offerings is penis-enlargement site YourPenis.com. For a one-time fee of $39.95, members get an exercise program for their, uh, member. The program comes in the form of an illustrated online penis-enlargement manual. Site users also have access to health and fitness tips that are updated daily, chat forums, and user support. "Way to go, little buddy!" indeed. For Webmasters, the upshot is commissions that run from 55-70 percent.

When it comes to their offerings, Web Entertainment Group's principals want to ensure they aren't solely product-related and they see a need to help protect the long-term health of the industry.

"There doesn't seem to be the level of complaint that there used to be - it seems that people have accepted receiving [spam]. It has gotten to be like bulk mail, in that people don't really look at it anymore, they just automatically throw it away. All the adult companies, like the population at large, seem to have become tolerant of it, perhaps because deleting, or throwing trash away, is easy.

"Jason and I think that unless the Internet industry does something effective to combat spam, without waiting for governmental regulation, that the spammers are going to ruin it for the rest of us somewhere down the line. I have a growing yearning to start some type of coalition against it," says Levinson.

We're waiting to see what Levinson and Zimmerman float next.