Cybernet Ventures' Brad Estes is so excited when discussing his company's latest offering, you'd think he just re-invented the wheel. "AC Movie Pass is an affiliate program, like other ones the big pay sites offer," says Estes, Cybernet's director of business development. "It's your typical banner program. The big twist is a rehashing of an old idea; but it's Adult Check, Cybernet Ventures behind it - that's what makes it a plus for Webmasters. That's our selling point.
"There are already pay sites," he adds. "There are already partnership programs. We're not the first to market. But we're a huge player, we have a lot of money behind us, so we get to jump into the big pond without an invitation. We have that going for us. With our Webmaster base we have a huge number of potential affiliates without even trying, without spending dime one on marketing materials - we have people ready to sign up and advertise with us."
What makes AC Movie Pass special? "On the consumer level, I'd say the branding and good will that Adult Check has established makes it a more appealing offer," Estes explains. "Also, we have customer service that's unprecedented in the whole pay site industry. We have people here 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, answering phones, doing tech support."
Other pay sites have shied away from this type of accessibility, for a good reason. "My take on it is, [if you] offer customer service over the phone, the more customer service you offer, the easier it is for people to cancel," Estes says. However, he adds, "You can build a stronger base of consumer loyalty if you're available, but when you offer toll-free numbers and have [customer service reps] there around the clock, customers are going to cancel because it's so easy. Otherwise, customers might not even be able to figure out how to get in touch with the company.
"We take the approach that we make it easy to get in touch with us, to cancel... and I don't know what the psychology is behind it, but the customer sees that, 'Okay, they have 1-800 numbers... when I need to cancel, I'll be able to, so I'll take a membership - or keep a membership - for now.'"
Sure enough, the main members' area of AC Movie Pass contains the following text: "If you are having problems viewing any of our video feeds, or need additional information regarding AC Movie Pass, call us 24 hours a day at (800) 679-7110. International customers can reach us at (800) 679-71101." An e-mail information link is also provided.
On exploration, AC Movie Pass proves to be an easy-to-navigate spreadsheet-style site, with cells listing player format, where-it's-originating feed identification, a quick-access "open" link, a description of the content, and additional information such as sound options. There's also a legend with detailed information about the streaming media offered, which includes Real Media, Windows Media, Java, QuickTime, and Vivo Active.
Quick links appear on every page, as well as an easy-to-locate "home" button. Its most outstanding attribute, without doubt, is the astonishing amount of content available. "It's all video content," Estes says. "We don't have [still] pictures. Through another third party we acquire all of this video feed - we're purchasing them from all the big players. I'm not sure what percentage is going to be live, but I know we have quite a few of the [live] providers on the line... the 'voyeur' lines.
"We have more straight stuff than gay," Estes continues, "just because there's more out there. But of the gay stuff available, we have most of it." Categories include Most Popular Straight Feeds, Amateur Video Area, Hardcore Video Area, Barely Legal Video Area, Bondage Video Area, Asian Video Area, Games And Anime Area, Fetish Video Area, Voyeur Video Area, Ethnic Video Area, Most Popular Gay Feeds, Hardcore Gay Video Area, Softcore Gay Video Area, Voyeur Gay Video Area, and a Ts/Tv Video Area.
Conceptual design on the site started in May 2001. "We met up with a third party who we contract with, and they do all of the video feeds. We said, 'Build us a members' area, and you run it. We'll do all of the partnership program/credit card processing/age verification stuff. You handle the inside.'" What was left up to the AC Movie Pass team was "the non-small task of building all the software from scratch," Estes says. "It took a while, but we're left with a pretty solid system that will be able to grow and change with all the things we want to do.
"We're very open to suggestion," explains Estes, when questioned about design and research. "We take everything into consideration. We broke our launch down into three stages: We launch to Webmasters so they can sign up as affiliates; we open up our members' area so Webmasters can see what they are going to be selling; and last, we open up to consumers. Along the way, we gather comments. A lot of the [response] has been really good; other people think we could have done it better. In my opinion, the clock hasn't even begun to tick. My classic response is, 'Rome wasn't built in a day.' We have to get the product out there, and then we can change it."
The AC Movie Pass team culls constructive criticism from varied sources. "My assistant writes down all the stuff from all the message boards," Estes says. "We pre-launched to family members - pitch it to dad, 'free focus group.' We're using everything we've learned through Adult Check, focus groups, surveys, feedback, questionnaires, to make it better."
As for attracting Webmasters, Estes and company are relying on an excellent track record to work for them. "It's all the good will we've built up with the Adult Check product, of being honest, paying on time. So many other of these partnership programs - not to name names, but we know they're out there - run through third-party billing solutions that may go under. I know that there are a lot of Webmasters out there, many of whom work with Adult Check, who don't use partnership programs because of that fact.
"[But] in a sense, Adult Check itself is an affiliate program: People build a site with us and Adult Check protects it. The difference between that and AC Movie Pass is the Webmaster [of the individual site using Adult Check] handles all the content. Basically, AC Movie Pass is our own site, all the way through - the only distinction being the third party members' area creator. We deal with one big Webmaster, and then hundreds and hundreds of people putting banners on their sites."
The future is of present concern to Estes. "We already have updates planned. I think there's something to be said for launching a base site and then making it better. If you make it too good in the beginning, you have no room to wiggle. Most of the bells and whistles - when we were conceptualizing this, we had a huge list of all these cool things we wanted to add. Then we looked at it and said, 'Okay, here are the core pieces that development needs to build. These other ones can wait.' Now that development's done with the core product, they're moving on to developing these bells and whistles." That will be a site to see.
For more information, visit www.acmoviepass.com.