PHOENIX — Camming has emerged as an unstoppable phenomenon in the adult industry, maximizing profits for networks, studios and models across the globe, while retaining fiercely loyal customers who return time and time again.
The unique appeal of enjoying a live erotic experience and engaging in virtual companionship offers unparalleled opportunities for evolving veterans and entrepreneurial newcomers alike, which is why the Phoenix Forum brought together several camming greats to share their winning strategies and hard-won wisdom.
Moderated by Gunner, content development and studio manager at Cam4, the “Cams & Coffee” panel invited early risers to bask in the brilliance of Shay Efron, vice president of marketing and business development at ImLive, Fabian Frey, CEO of AliceX and Kimi Evans, affiliate manager at Flirt4free.
Gunner kicked off the discussion with a brief introduction. “I’ve been in the biz for about 20 years,” he said. “Started doing webcams when it was just Java cam push. Camming has come a long, long way to get to where it’s at now with 4K cams and super high-speed internet. And everybody’s seen it come and grow as a niche in the industry. I don’t think you can even call it a niche anymore.”
After the panelists took turns outlining their professional backgrounds and current roles, Gunner proposed, “Let’s discuss threats to the camming industry. How resilient is this growing sector of adult entertainment?”
Frey assured attendees that camming is here to stay. “I don’t think there are too many threats to camming in the industry,” he said. “It’s big, it’s profitable and I think if you compare it to dating and tube sites, we are impervious to many threats.”
Affirming the longevity of livecamming, Efron enthused, “I don’t see a threat, because the service we are giving is a real service. What you see is what you get. We’ll only get stronger. The tech allows us to bring our users and performers very close to each other via operating remote-controlled devices and VR, making it more real. But at the end of the day, people will always be lonely, looking for a friend online, so we’ll always be in business.”
Seizing on Efron’s commentary about the desire for human intimacy driving the camming industry, Gunner remarked, “One of the things you alluded to is the interaction that the cam models have with the consumers. That level of interaction is what creates that retention with the customer, because they get to know the model on another level. I remember years ago, there was a company called Pornication and one of the t-shirts said on the back that ‘personality sells.’ It’s not always the hottest or nastiest girl. It’s the one with personality. What do you guys do to help customers develop that relationship? Can VR play a part?”
Efron addressed interactivity with an optimistic, yet cautious view of VR. “Repping a big webcam company, VR technology is not there yet,” he suggested. “I’m aware of solutions out there, but VR presents obstacles ranging from its price to lighting issues and bandwidth. It’s very hard to make it popular and common around cam girls. The technology will get there, but I don’t think it will fundamentally change the way rooms work or the underlying motivation for customers to seek out cam models.
“That said, I’m always looking to give my users a better experience,” he underscored. “But, if you use VR for 10 minutes, you’ll have a headache. It’s not a fast masturbation kind of a product. The thing about cams is people are staying for three hours with the girl, most of the sessions are not about sexual activities. So, after three hours of VR, tell me how you feel, when your wife and kids come in and you’re sitting like a dork with cream in your hands. I’m sure that the VR will be there and once it is, it will be nice to have. Then, I’ll be able to afford spreading it to my models, like the remote-controlled devices I get them, which they all like.
“This year we’re about to launch a messenger app, which is a new way to push info to our users and increase interactivity,” Efron revealed. “We believe emails are not that useful anymore. From the model side, we give the model a lot of ways to contact the user, inform the user about what she’s doing. Maybe one and a half years ago, we launched our abilities for models to project shows from their mobile phones, using an app from iOS or Google stores. From the beach, from the club, their dinners. And we gave them this ability, because we understood some wanted to get out of the house and not lose precious working hours, but more importantly, we knew that users found their activity outside of the room very interesting to the users. We call it the ‘real life experience.’”
Evans also believes that interactivity is the name of the game. “There’s been a big push into interactivity,” she said. “We’ve been working a lot with various toy companies to bring interactive experiences to the cam community with OhMiBod and other toy manufacturers. I completely agree with Shay about VR. We’re a large cam provider that doesn’t currently offer VR. One of the reasons I think it’ll be a cool feature in the future, though, is it’s ultimately the relationship experience that models are looking for. They don’t want all the bells and whistles per se, they want something to make them feel good, but there’s extra additives with VR.
“We actually did a test with VR and tracked it for a couple months, even sent out a survey to our users gauging what their interests would be for VR cams,” Evans unveiled. “We didn’t get an overwhelming response. It was well-received, but until the tech is more accessible, it won’t be widespread. As far as model usability, we actually have training guides, especially for new models. We’ve also taken top models and offered them a different level of a job, to train other models in how to communicate with customers, getting users to convert and become return customers. You don’t have to say ‘live webcam streaming porn,’ you can just say ‘cams’ now.
“A lot of it is educating the masses on what cams are and what they offer,” she relayed, emphasizing the importance of cultivating talent to achieve the best results for all involved. “From the standpoint of the site, we’ve started a lot of gamification and Flirt4Free has a rewards track, where the user can say he’s taken a model private the most, spent the most money on them, etc. So, there’s a whole competitive social experience. Models have contests for the next person to do better than they did last month.”
Taking a brighter view of VR than his peers, Frey detailed, “We are quite good with integrating interactivity in our products and we saw that camming might be something in which VR tech could arise. So, there was a lot of research and development to get where we are now, and we see a steady growth. All the big companies invest in VR, from Microsoft to Apple. It makes us confident that in two to three years, it’ll be an even bigger market, because it brings the cam user closer to the model and performer. It’s tricky to get the tech right, but it will hit mainstream at a certain point.”
Shifting gears, Gunner stated, “Being a cam performer is a career for some of these girls. It’s not what they’re doing to pay their way through college. They’re buying houses with cash. And in countries like Colombia, the industry has grown so much that the government has gotten involved, since it’s such a significant part of their economy now. One of the consultations I was doing, was changing the appearance of a room so it doesn’t look like a third world country, otherwise the user goes in and sees the drapes, the lighting, etc. and they think it’s Budapest. But now, they think it’s in Tennessee. If she does it well enough, they’ll believe she’s in Nashville rather than Prague. How can studios play a role in advancing cam models, by providing more optimal environments and coaching?”
Frey replied, “We work with two studios — one in Romania, one in Colombia — and they really provide a good service from social security to tax advice, anything the models need. Those studios are very professional to work with.”
Nodding, Evans related, “We found studios not just to be one type, with Romania, Colombia and Bucharest. We’ve been working with more and more strip clubs to become their own studio, when they’re not on stage dancing, in the dressing rooms, we give them an opportunity to make some money on the side. To give them another form of revenue, we’ve found this to be lucrative. We also have a studio with Live Cams Mansion, a house full of cam models that do group shows with upwards of eight or 10 models at once. It becomes a huge party of models that users go crazy for. Models are the backbones of cams, but opening it up to different types of rooms is ideal.”
Efron agrees that studios are a force of excellence in the industry, while cautioning that not all users want such a polished look from performers and their rooms. “Studios have emerged in places where models cannot afford to pay for internet or a dedicated room,” he delineated. “So, two countries that have the most cam girls in the world are Romania and Colombia. You can find studios with over 1,000 girls. It’s like a factory. That being said, for my platform in ImLive, we’re proud of the fact that most performers are not studio-based. Because, you might get a high level of looks in studios, with the room protected from good lighting and good bandwidth. But, we don’t believe in such a plastic kind of look, so we try to keep 60-70 percent working from home instead of in studios.”
Pivoting, Gunner broached the topic of dating sites and how they compare to camming, since both share a similarity in connecting people together for intimacy. “Camming has become a new form of ‘dating site,’ if you think about it, to the point where several traditional dating sites have begun integrating camming services into their offerings,” he ventured. “How can paysites, in general, better synthesize cams? Especially because camming companies will work with affiliates to do whatever it takes to monetize, and we often figure out a solution together.”
Frey responded, “Cam sites offer a lifetime value that is much higher than dating. Around 500 or 1,000 bucks, whereas dating is maybe 200 per customer.”
On the same wavelength, Evans added, “Not to belittle dating platforms, but users are getting wary of the fake profiles. The user retention on cams is just a million miles over what you’re going to get on dating. You get the rebills with dating, yes, but we get more loyal customers via camming that keep coming back. We see this happening every day, in how dating traffic converts into cams. Users are hungry for it. We work with a lot of paysites, so once users get hooked on model content, if they’re camming also, you can plug it directly into the paysite, adding value so they can tip them live.
“The synergy there is phenomenal,” she underlined. “Even without the connection between the model with shot content moving into cams, there’s so much that can be done with paysites plus cams. We also encourage our models to also become affiliates and recently launched a member bonus program. It allows models, if they’re the ones who’ve converted a guest user, to get upwards of 80 percent of whatever for their first six months or so of spending. It’s a good business model, also, to encourage social media promotion. These are just a few ways sites can double and triple dip, so everyone wins.”
Expressing confidence in the ascendancy of camming in the human intimacy side of the business, Efron offered, “Adding to the credibility of dating sites versus cams, at least the user sees something real, he gets the same girl live in front of him without games and rebills… and this is one of the reasons dating sites are really hooked to cam sites — it adds to their credibility. In a lot of cases, it allows users to keep subscriptions going, because they’re hooked to the girl on camera, so they want to go through the dating tab to keep subscriptions running because they’re in love with the cam company — a lot of dating sites we’re working with, they’re making more money from the cam connection.
“Then, a lot of paysites have their own performers, so we tell them to open a white label with us, so every time they’re online, it will be shown on white label,” he elaborated. “Another thing they’ve learned to do is to make sure the user pays for their site, by offering a discount or special deal for their camming content. Once the user becomes a paid user, if they want to cancel their rebill or subscription for a site, they’re offered a cam deal, possibly denying future access to the cam portion of the site.
“I have a lot of partners that send some traffic to my billing,” Efron continued. “Social media has limits for new models if they’re not smart. Some models when they go online already have 3,000 people waiting. But if I’m being honest, most guys and girls don’t have the ability to market themselves. This is why we’re offering them basic tools where everyone can push a Twitter line, on Facebook and such to attract attention. But the big ones, the talented ones are very few. Still, we are paying thousands and thousands of models hundreds and hundreds of dollars and up, even the smaller ones.
“Most freemium sites cannot do this,” he concluded. “That’s because generally, a big portion of the users are not big spenders. But one big spender can equal 20 average users, making it well above 1,000 dollars per user on average and you cannot find that with dating. There’s nothing real about it, because there is no dating in the dating business. It’s become almost impossible to build a user base, and so I think the rebill days are coming to an end. Unless you have real girls.”