Q&A: PleasureText Founder Talks Monetizing the Cam Marketplace
LOS ANGELES — With the camming segment of adult seemingly growing faster every day, staying ahead of the curve to deliver what fans want — and provide more revenue for both producers and talent — requires lightning fast creative thinking.
The constant addition of new sites and stars (many first-timers with a camera), compels companies to add the bells and whistles that will help them stand out and monetize their platforms in what’s quickly becoming a heated competitive market.
Enter PleasureText, a U.K.-based company that has developed a unique product for the camming segment that allows companies and solo cammers to earn money by using sex toys in their shows.
As “interactive” becomes the watchword for the future of camming, companies like PleasureText are aiming to get a leg up on what’s hot. And like many opportunities in adult, the innovations don’t always come from the biggest or best-funded companies but rather from inspired entrepreneurs and often tech-savvy visionaries.
XBIZ sat down with President Joseph Garcia, company founder and an engineer by trade, to take a peek at his new approach to the burgeoning camming marketplace.
XBIZ: What was the impetus behind creating the PleasureText Cube system?
Garcia: I have been in telecoms for more than 11 years, three of which I have been running my own telecoms/tech business. We provide a lot of telephone numbers and systems for interactive adult TV channels.
On a drive home from meeting with one of those clients, I figured the technology is at the point where we can provide a more interactive experience for viewers or callers than just using the phone, keyboard or webcam to communicate with performers. All that is needed is someone with the know-how to put it together.
Since simply selling a product that allows the consumer to control the toys isn't much value for performers, I also decided that there had to be a way for cam studios and performers to monetize the product. That's what makes PleasureText truly unique from all other wireless toys previously used in camming; not only does PleasureText provide an interactive element that increases consumer time watching the cams, it also generates money for the cam performer or studio using it. PleasureText handles all the billing, and pays out a revenue share to each business using the PleasureText toy Cube. We pick up the cost of payment processing for using the toy system in our revenue share split.
XBIZ: Who are the company principals?
Garcia: Currently, it's me and my wife Sarah. I handle the tech, sales and customer support. Sarah is a full partner and she handles the administration and graphic design for the product. She also keeps me on track, which is very important when launching a new company of this scope.
XBIZ: What types of toys can be controlled?
Garcia: Currently the Cube packs include the following choices; rabbit style vibrator, wand vibrator, cock ring, butt plug, strap-on and love Egg. Each Cube pack comes with two toys, so there's variety for performers in their shows. We offer four toy pack choices right now; combos of a strap-on and wand, an egg and rabbit-style vibrator, the cock ring and butt plug combo, or a butt plug and wand vibrator duo. I am looking to expand the offerings soon, as we've had requests for vibrating nipple claps and a wider selection of wand vibrators styles and butt plug sizes.
XBIZ: How do fans control the performers’ toy?
Garcia: Each system comes with both a web program shortcode — which is similar to a web widget in Wordpress — and an SMS mobile code. Performers can use either of these codes on their own websites, or in Skype, Niteflirt, VerifiedCall or other phone and cam portals. One click on the short code opens the PleasureText billing portal, so fans can purchase credits to use with PleasureText toys. The same portal screen then shows up on the fan's phone or computer, showing the settings fan can access to control the performer's toys.
In order not to disturb the viewers’ visual experience during the cam show, we have made all interaction between the SMS or web widget controls ‘one touch.’ Users can control the toys and continue to enjoy the show at the same time. I also had my tech team build in a display screen so performers can see which user is sending toy control settings moment-by-moment.
XBIZ: Can the system be used by texting, phone or via live webcam?
Garcia: The system can be used with any of the above. We have made it easy to integrate PleasureText into numerous systems, in most cases it’s as easy as copying and pasting a web link to your Facebook status updates.
XBIZ: How long has it been in use in BabeStation in the U.K.? Can you supply any real revenue numbers?
Garcia: BabeStation have been using the system since Aug. 28.
We will never discuss individual client's revenue figures. However, from what we've seen during beta testing, performers who use PleasureText in daily live cam shows are earning an average of $300 per week directly from PleasureText. Remember, that is money earned above and beyond the regular cost for fans to view the cam show and isn’t counting any tips performers are receiving during shows.
XBIZ: Has the system been adopted yet in the U.S.? If so, by which company?
Garcia: Beta testing will get underway in the U.S. in mid-October. Sanctuary Studios and BBWCamHouse.com are our first U.S. beta test sites. We are adding three more beta test cam providers between now and December, 2014. We are speaking with performer Lillie Belle and Cam4's 'Favorite Cam Couple' 2014 winners, as potential beta testers.
Direct purchase inquiries are coming in from all over the globe and I am very happy to say that my idea is resonating with cam providers worldwide. I have spoken to a Russian cam house owner and two cam studios in Spain that run cable broadcast, along with a couple dozen more individual performers in the U.S. and Canada. As these sites introduce PleasureText to their cam streams, we'll add them to our official site.
XBIZ: What is the rev-share breakdown between performer and PleasureText?
One thing I have noticed in this industry is many rev-share deals carry a lot of ‘fine print’ concerning what the performer receives in rev-share and of what the provider company receives. Many companies say that the performer will get 50 or 60 percent of all profits, but then they include some sort of fees, charge performers from any charge backs or fine them for alleged fraud. Then there's ‘skimming’ based on traffic numbers, among other ways they get out of paying performers what they are actually due. I believe in clarity and integrity; whatever a user a pays a performer per minute to control their PleasureText toys, the performer receives 40 percent of that net total amount. So in essence, PleasureText and the model are each receiving 50 percent of every pence spent by the fans. And we do not hold payments until a set sales minimum is reached each month per performer. Payments are made every month, regardless of if they earn $1 or thousands of dollars.
XBIZ: Do you handle the billing? How?
Garcia: PleasureText is aligned with Epoch payment processing for credit card payments worldwide, and for PayPal payments in the U.K. Additionally, PleasureText can be controlled by shortcode SMS in 14 countries. The SMS method uses a fan’s mobile telephone to pay for PleasureText credits. Currently a fan has a limit of 10 or 30 second control using SMS payment method, while all other payment options allow up to one hour of credits to be purchased at one time.
Each PleasureText Cube has its own built-in user tracking code that is used for billing purposes. It does not track IP or user personal data for performers or fans; however it does track every minute of time the PleasureText toys are activated through the controller portal screen.
It would be difficult to explain each step of the billing process in detail. It's easier to say we have a built-in custom software account tracking system. This software not only tracks all payments made by fans in real-time, but also gives immediate sales tracking access to the performers and studios that are using PleasureText in their live shows. As I said, I believe in transparency and clarity — when a performer logs into their account, they see exactly how much money they have earned each time a fan has accessed their toys and how much they will be receiving in their next bank wire or check.
XBIZ: How does PleasureText increase interaction with the cam performers outside of the control of the toys?
Garcia: There is a digital screen on the Cube that displays information about the user's name that is sending the toy commands and what commands the user is sending to the toy. So if user ‘Dave’ is using the controls for 'Lillie's' toys, she sees ‘Dave21’ on her screen. She also sees ‘setting is high’ and ‘time is two minutes.’ So Lillie can now respond to Dave21 and thank him for making her cum with the two minutes of high-speed vibration. Or, she can ask Dave21 to give her two more minutes on high, or whatever her choice of further interaction is with Dave21. Obviously, creative performers can use this interaction as a way to increase their earning. Fans like to feel as if they are part of the show and PleasureText allows them to do it in an almost physical way.
XBIZ: What do you see as the next level of live remote interactivity?
Garcia: That's a very good question. Looking into the ‘graveyard of tech,’ there have been many attempts of live, remote interactivity in the past. Many have either been too cumbersome to achieve success, or haven’t really offered much of a reason for an adult business to invest in integrating them. Google Glass comes to mind, as it's a very expensive product with limited uses and there is no way to make additional money from it for the average cam studio or performer.
I personally think in order for anything to succeed it has to be simple to use for both the fan and the performer and it also needs to provide a compelling reason for a performer to use it. Unless there is a direct way to monetize any new interactive medium, whether that's with the addition of rev-share, such as PleasureText provides, or some other financial benefit, new tech isn't very interesting compared to what is already available. I do see something in the holographic imaging realm being a contender, but it may be a decade or more before it comes into regular use in adult entertainment. Again, it would have to increase profits in some way to grow an audience for it, no matter how cool holograms may be.
We are already looking into the next generation of PleasureText. Some ideas have been discussed with our beta testers and will be implemented over the coming year . . . however, our company policy is never to disclose development information until we are ready to release the product. What I will say is keep an eye on PleasureText. We hope to keep users entertained and offer more ways to generate additional income for adult entertainment businesses.