It's our Super Bowl. It's our Academy Awards. It's the Main Event for the Adult Industry - and it's right around the corner. Are you ready?
Running concurrently with international draw the Consumer Electronics Show (CES), our AVN Adult Entertainment (AEE) and Internext Expos make January the biggest month of the year for Las Vegas. And with good reason: These Vegas events really can be the key to your future.
Internext Las Vegas 2004 runs Jan. 5-7 at the Sands Expo Center and Venetian Hotel, and showcases over 150 leading industry exhibitors displaying their products and services. The adult Internet trade show offers the perfect place to conduct your business, discover what's new in the industry, meet new people, and learn from fellow industry professionals.
This year's 12 one-hour seminars are being planned to cover the traditional topics, such as Traffic Management, Billing, Legal, the Gay & Lesbian Webmaster Update, and introductory seminars aimed at Newbies; in addition, panels will break new ground with subjects like "Publicizing Porn (Marketing your adult Website to the Press)," and "Shooting Great Video on a Shoestring."
The AVN Adult Entertainment Expo 2004, at the Sands Jan. 8-11, is the largest, most comprehensive, and most talked about trade show in the industry. It's "the adult entertainment powerhouse," offering nearly every product and service from virtually every market segment, along with countless adult stars and enthusiastic fans.
The unique mix of business-minded professionals and consumers gives AEE exhibitors a rare opportunity to market to the entire customer chain - from the fan up. Morning hours are designated for trade professionals only, creating the right environment for networking, serious negotiations, and deal-making. In the afternoon, fans explore the world of adult entertainment, generating for the exhibitor brand awareness, new customers, consumer loyalty, the ability to interact and get direct feedback, and a live gauge of consumer response to products.
Internext registration sponsor LFP (www.hustler.com, www.flyntdigital.com) is marking its territory at the adult online show with a bigger booth this year. CEO Jimmy Flynt II notes that while Hustler is involved in so many facets of business, the company attends "trade shows all year long"; however, "none of the trade shows are more fun than the Internext and AEE shows in January."
It's become vital to Hustler to attend both shows because, Flynt says, "The audiences really are different - Internext really isn't a fan show, like AEE has become. Internext is about Webmasters, affiliate programs, and technology. You'll get a few fans at this show, but not nearly as many.
"AEE is for the fans, customers, and business associates. AEE is the place for everyone in the industry to interact with the customers and fans; to unveil new products, and meet with business associates and partners from around the world."
Flynt also says that for companies with interests in both offline and online erotica, "it makes sense to leverage as many assets between both shows as possible." The audience for both shows have similar interests, wants, and needs, after all: "They want to do deals, they want information about products, and they want to see - and be seen with - red hot models. The booth, the deals, the information they come to get may be different, but the booth 'attractions' can be the same to appeal to both audiences."
As the president of a smaller company, Rick Hoxie is trying to make up his mind. He feels a bit gun-shy after making a show of PCBootyCall.com at last year's AEE and Erotica LA shows, and doesn't feel he hit his target audience. "We were looking to build partnerships, and while we got a lot of interest - a lot of people coming around the booth - we didn't meet that goal."
Now he's looking at Internext, wondering if a booth presence there will be just what the doctor ordered.
Smaller companies have to be more aware of the bottom line, of course. "But again, primarily, if I can meet the people I need to meet to help my business grow at this trade show," it's worth it.
"What my company does is more 'Technology' than 'Porn,'" Hoxie says, "so I am looking for a trade show that is open to the public that would intermix these two effectively; where I can reach 'models,' 'members,' and other business partners.
"I'm still struggling with the best way to market my company," Hoxie says, citing that this is common among newer businesses. "A dot-com - and especially an adult dot-com - is not as easy to market effectively as many people might think. We have a lot of competition, there is a lot of cross talk on our channels, and we tend to get lumped together, which makes branding a lot harder." He thinks focusing adult Internet trade shows on the things that "make dot-coms work: search engine strategies, affiliate program meeting places, marketing tools for Webmasters on CD-ROM, an e-mail list of show participants, alternative marketing methods, lectures on legal/privacy/development aspects, newsgroup postings, and e-mailing techniques," with an open-to-the-public atmosphere and invitations to "geeks like me who are into sex and technology" - that's a perfect mix.
For Eric Mattis of Adult.com, the shoe is on the other foot, in many ways. The Internext mainstay is thinking about expanding exhibition to include the AEE.
"Our strongest reason," Mattis says, "for bringing a presence to the AEE in January will be the release of our new DVD line.
"We're currently in production for an entire line of DVDs. This will be a move for us based on the vast expanse of our content, shot today and in the past, [so we can] not only hit the online community of surfers, but also those who enjoy DVDs as their form of adult entertainment." There's still a natural fit for Adult.com at Internext, but "based on this new product line, we will shortly have a 'natural fit' at both events.
"The benefit, obviously, being to increase awareness in the industry [about Adult.com], and also to get our name out to the fans."
Mattis, as "a big believer in streams of income," thinks there should be more cross-over between the online and offline worlds. "If I have already created a product that can easily be turned into content for a Website," that creates an additional stream of income, "I personally would be all over it.
"Extending into Internext should be a natural fit, seeing as how [offline-oriented companies] already have the hard part done: the content. Making sure they get in with the right people and don't make mistakes, that's a whole other issue. I personally believe nothing ventured, something lost. So why not give it a shot?"
Rob Novinger, president of Channel 1 Releasing (www.channel1releasing.com) and ChiChiClicks.com, finds both shows vital "as the only gay-owned company that produces both wholesale video and Internet content."
"It's crucial for us to attend both shows. We probably get a bit more out of the Internext shows, only because the participants in Internet businesses seem to change much more frequently than [those in] the more-established video industry. The much larger Internext show in Vegas seems to get more exposure, but the intimacy of the summer Internext [in Hollywood, Fla.] definitely allows for more one-on-one business."
Novinger's core roster of attendees for his company is "mainly salespeople, so they can meet customers they have been 'harassing' face-to-face; and of course we take Chi Chi, and models ... everyone can't seem to get enough."
Goals for January's shows are "more of the same," Novinger says. "Meeting new people and checking in with existing customers to show them what's new, what's coming; and to give them another look at our current award-winning products."
Don Buckley of PE Cash, a both-shows veteran, assures that the company was the first Web presence at the AEE. Under the GVA umbrella, PE Cash introduced video-side companies to the concept of selling their products online - to much enthusiasm, he adds. "Everyone was very excited about the potential," and rightly so.
"Private Entertainment rides along as a co-pilot at the AEE show, where our primary identity is that of our parent company, General Video of America/Trans World News Cleveland [GVA-TWN].
"Private Entertainment's goal is to educate retailers on our PE Cash program. Adding a no-cost online store to a Website helps retailers turn a profit from their Websites by earning commission on sales made through the online store. PE's secondary goal is to attract new wholesale accounts to GVA-TWN by offering a free Website - which includes a PEcash online store - to retailers who choose to buy from GVA-TWN."
One of the things Private uses the AEE for is to "create a recognizable brand identity through our logo treatments, exhibit booth, and by handing out literature. Our strategy is to attract traffic to our exhibit by using today's popular adult stars and through giveaways. Once [we've got people at] the booth, our staff answers any questions related to Private Entertainment's programs. Consumers who visit the show are given promotional items, prompting them to visit our online retail sites [www.xxx.com]."
Buckley "cannot imagine letting a year go by without attending Internext.
"Our goals for Internext are exactly the same as at the AEE," he says, "except for the stronger emphasis on the technology we have available. At the AEE, PEcash is in the co-pilot seat ... at Internext, PEcash is [in the spotlight], since the business contacts we make are already online businesses or are interested in starting one up. We strive to attract novice and experienced Webmasters alike.
"Personally," Buckley says, "I think both shows serve two very different purposes. While there has been some talk among exhibitors at AEE about consolidating the shows, I don't see this as beneficial to Internext. Internext is a B2B in a 'technology' industry that happens to focus on adult content. Our Internet gurus feel comfortable at this show talking the 'trade talk,' trading traffic, solidifying relationships, and just networking with people who understand the industry. The AEE is about the 'adult' industry, and like every other industry, it happens to include more Internet business than ever.
"Because I've exhibited at both shows several times, I can tell you the floor traffic is very different between the two. The AEE is like a family reunion for us. It does bring us new Internet business from amateur Webmasters, and our Internet offering at the AEE portrays us as a progressive company among old friends and new; but GVA-TWN reaps the most reward from this show by acquiring new product for our warehouse and new wholesale customers. Internext, however, being solely Internet-focused, brings so many professional Webmasters, that huge leaps in growth in our Internet business can be realized by just a few solid agreements."
Giant Adam & Eve brings a big presence to both shows. Sean Trotter, head of Adam & Eve's Internet division, explains why. "At Internext, we show the exclusive content and technology that supports adamevecash.com (our affiliate program).
This affiliate program is one of the most successful in the adult industry. Internext gives us the platform to show everyone what we do, and why you should do it with us.
"For the AEE, Adam & Eve's presence is a must - especially since Adam & Eve is headquartered in North Carolina, and the rest of the industry is in California. The AEE is the one opportunity each year for Adam & Eve reps to see what the rest of the industry is doing. It's also a great time to discover talent, make deals and brainstorm."
He details a difference in staff between the two shows. "At Internext we have the Internet 'A Team,' and at AEE, we staff the show with representatives from every facet of Adam & Eve [production, catalog, Internet, etc.]. Internext focuses on the procurement of 'White Label' stores: where everyone can have their own adult toy store branded to their individual site. We also sign up affiliates and display our newest and greatest technology for the adameve.com site or family of sites.
"At AEE, the Internet team focuses on VoD and Web merchandising with the other studios and suppliers. Adam & Eve merchandisers procure the latest products for our catalogs; our production team makes movie deals; and we, of course, sell our titles to distributors."
Surviving both shows can be the real challenge in this scenario. "We try to pace ourselves," Trotter says, "drink lots of water - Vegas air is dry - sleep when you can, and work, work, work.
"[This] only happens once a year, so rest up before you go!"
Bring your Internext badge to receive $10 off admission to the AVN Adult Entertainment Expo, Jan. 8-11, 2004, at the Sands Expo Center in Las Vegas.