In business, “innovative” is a term often used to define those companies that never rest on their laurels. To innovate means to introduce something new into whatever one is doing. It can be on a large scale or a small scale. It can take a thousand different shapes, depending on the needs of the innovator. An innovation can succeed or fail—or produce results that outsiders may not be able to perceive. In fact, it is often impossible to know the extent to which companies have successfully innovated—which is why we decided to ask a number of adult industry professionals what new initiatives they implemented in 2009. We’re glad we did. In addition to providing insights into their various business models, the respondents revealed a lot about where they believe the industry should be focusing its energy and resources going forward.
I Want My IPTV
Marci Hirsch, Vivid Entertainment LLC: We believe that in the near future IPTV will become a major contributor to our bottom line. Over the past year we have solidified many relationships that will put us at the forefront of this new technology. The internet and television are fast becoming a single unit, and we believe that we are well positioned to take advantage of this new and exciting revenue stream.
Combating Adversity with Diversity
Dirty D, HowIgotRich.com: The innovations for our company in 2009 consist of marketing in new ways, cultivating revenue sources and delivering our product to the consumer in as many ways as possible. We have added token-based video stores so the consumer can purchase individual videos, instead of purchasing the entire DVD or a month on our websites. Considerable analysis has been done to increase retention by evaluating what the members are really watching. In a slow economy, deriving revenue from as many places as possible—like pay per minute, live shows, DVDs, paysites, toys, feeds, webcams and dating—is critical.
Doing More With Less
Morgan Sommer and Tim Lutz, Co-owners, Cybersocket, Inc.: Our innovations this year are very practical.
1. We have learned how to do more with less. The amount of work we get done as a company is greater than what we used to do. The value of the work we do as a company is greater than it was two years ago. And we do it with one-third less staff than we had two years ago. One of the tricks has been to automate as many things as possible. Also, we have audited virtually every system we have in place and dispensed with useless redundancies. This saves people lots of time and energy for useful activities.
2. We have changed our perception of what it means to grow a business. Often people will ask, “How many employees do you have?” As if more employees equals more value as a company. What we are doing as a company is growing our value. Offering as many real goods and services as possible, at as fair a price as possible, and doing as much as possible with that revenue.
David Sutton, President, VCX Ltd., Inc.: We want to include a number of innovations going back as far as 2004. It was then that we began including WMV encoded movies, as many as five, on all our DVDs. Since broadband then was not as available as it is now, what it allowed purchasers of our DVDs to do was to watch, with absolutely no buffering, the complete movies on their computer by purchasing an unlimited license through our website. It unlocked the DRM and allowed completely delay-free viewing of our classics anywhere in the world.
At the same time, we encoded as many as 10 WMV movies (without DRM) onto a SanDisK flash card for sale on our website for as little as $75. I think it’s ironic that another adult company has announced this “revolutionary” new idea, which we had five years earlier! We’ve recently been offering for sale as many as 40 WMV movies on 16 gigabyte USB thumbdrives as well. Our new DVDs are all up-converted to 5.1 Dolby digital audio as well.
In the last 18 months since our Cal Vista Classic acquisition of 175-plus movies, we have released 90 that have never been on DVD before, some only having been screened theatrically. Continuing to explore the cutting edge, VCX’s roots as the first company to produce a feature VHS tape are evidenced by the quality of our product and our commitment to excellence. As new technologies become available, we pounce! We recently surpassed the 500-title benchmark of feature films available on DVD. From The Devil in Miss Jones to Craig’sList Compulsion, we continue to give the adult customer a premium viewing experience.
Christoph Hermes, CEO, Pink Adventure AG: We implemented our full-service premium SMS subscription billing in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, the Netherlands and Greece for web-based traffic (landing pages, portals, etc.) to offer SMS services on a daily, weekly, monthly basis. In addition, we completed our Mobile Affiliate Program to benefit webmasters from mobile services for their traffic in Europe—WEB or WAP-based. Everybody who wants to start with mobile now can easily do that.
To Serve and Protect
Joan Irvine, CEO, Association for Sites Advocating Child Protection: After the successful launch of the award-winning Restricted To Adults—RTA Website Label, many webmasters asked Association of Sites Advocating Child Protection if they were using RTA to their maximum benefit. In May of 2009, ASACP has answered this call with RTA Verified. Now webmasters can rest assured they are properly labeled with RTA and are doing the most they can to prevent children from unknowingly viewing age-restricted content.
The RTA label is a unique string of “meta data” which can be inserted into the computer code of any website. Parental filtering software recognizes the tag and prevents children from unknowingly viewing age-restricted content. RTA is an adult entertainment industry initiative. It was developed by ASACP out of a need for an easy-to-use and internationally recognized label that designates content for adults only. RTA has also been helpful in preventing a mandatory labeling bill in the United States.
RTA Verified confirms that your websites have been properly labeled with RTA. RTA Verified adds an extra level of precaution, removes the guesswork and demonstrates social responsibility. While RTA is free, RTA Verified will cost a small fee. However RTA Verified is simple, effective and inexpensive; plus, it lets you and your visitors know that your websites are properly labeled with the Restricted To Adults website labeling system.
RTA Verified costs $10 annually to verify 1 to 10 domains, and $1 for each additional domain, or $100 annually for unlimited domains. However RTA Verified is free for ASACP members and sponsors.
Complete information about the RTA label and RTA Verified is available at RTAlabel.org.
Bjorn Skarlen, CEO, CommerceGate: CommerceGate has implemented innovations on various levels this year in order to maximize profitability and customize our payment solutions to meet the growing needs of merchants in the e-commerce marketplace. On a business structure level, we have upgraded our security to meet the extended demands that PCI-DSS has implemented this year to ensure our clients are protected and can process their transactions with peace of mind. On a client level, we have adjusted payment pages for mobile internet devices, which expands the revenue opportunities and customizable options for our merchants. On a networking level, we are now using RSS feeds as well as Twitter in order to stay in touch and connect with our partners and clients in real time in addition to our unparalleled customer service.
Going Balls In
Ann-Marie Holman, Brand Manager, Stockroom, Inc.: Though gags are a classic BDSM toy, there were none on the market that utilized part of the human body as a mouthpiece until Stockroom founder Joel Tucker created the Ballz Gag. “This invention came to me in a flash one day during what was supposed to be my morning meditation,” Tucker says. “I see it as a combination of a funny idea—a joke, almost—and a genuinely effective and interesting way to put a slave in his or her place, and keep them there.”
With a patent pending for being the first gag to incorporate human body parts, the Ballz Gag is the latest in a series of patented and patent-pending designs from the Stockroom, which also includes the Jawbreaker Gag, with a mouthpiece of real candy, and the Bolero Straitjacket, a sexy yet functional open-breasted design that allows a difficult patient’s vitals to be monitored without having to remove restraints to access their chest.
The Ballz Gag locks the wearer’s testicles in his partner’s mouth, forcing the receiving partner to pleasure the wearer whether he or she wishes to or not. The device is simple: a soft but sturdy leather ballstretcher pulls the wearer’s scrotum away from his body, neatly packaging the testicles to fit in the mouth of a receiving partner who is, in turn, held in place by a leather strap fastening around the back of the head.
Tucker points out that rather than giving the wearer complete control over the receiving partner, the Ballz Gag establishes a “delicate balance of power” between the two that must be carefully negotiated. “Don’t think you are in complete control!” Tucker warns Ballz Gag wearers. “If your partner decides to pull away in any direction, the ball stretcher grows tighter around you.”
Host With the Most
Brad Mitchell, CEO, MojoHost: In 2009 MojoHost upped the ante within the hosting space on network quality and performance by deploying the Internap FCP-10GX. This unique hardware platform significantly improves network quality and reliability for 80 gigabits of traffic far beyond what router, software or human can accomplish with BGP4. With this substantial investment, something not found elsewhere within the adult hosting space, MojoHost is able to bridge the performance gap between global Content Delivery Networks and its flagship datacenter in Miami, Florida.
Mixing Lust and Laughter
Allison Vivas, President, Pink Visual: 2009 was a year filled with innovation for Pink Visual. We even incorporated the word into a new marketing slogan: “We Innovate, You Masturbate.”
Our innovations this year included creation of 3D content for the iPhone (for viewing using the Wazabee 3Dee Shell from Spatial View), the iTouchHer.com porn games, shooting a full episode of MILFSeeker on an iPhone 3Gs, our new FapMapper web app, and establishment of SMS and audio podcasts as additional means of communicating with our customers.
Each of these developments was undertaken with the goal of adding value for the consumer. It’s our belief that in the modern market, for adult entertainment companies to prosper they have to offer something that goes beyond the porn, beyond the basic visual components involved. For us, that “something” is a mixture of technology and humor. Technology provides the context, and humor adds the spice that makes the whole experience more memorable for our fans. When consumers think of Pink Visual, we want a smile to come across their faces—a wry, mischievous smile.
As 2009 draws to a close, our technological innovations continue apace. In fact, Pink Visual’s focus at the Adult Entertainment Expo will be a new technology for porn consumers that we’ll demonstrate in a hands-on fashion at the show. I can’t say anything more about it at the moment, but it promises to be a show-stealer that will capture the imagination of attendees, and further cement our image as a forward-looking, technology-driven company—one that also just happens to make red-hot porn.
This article originally ran in the November issue of AVN.