POV: Interview with Julia Dimambro, Founder of Cherry Media
Julia Dimambro is the founder and managing director of Cherry Media, an adult entertainment mobile media company located in Barcelona, Spain.
Dimambro has spent the last 17 years in new media and digital communications, with nine years specifically in mobile entertainment. After launching new digital strategies and business divisions for companies such as J. Walter Thompson, Deepend and Private Media Group, Julia set up Cherry Media in 2003 to enable brands and consumer-orientated aggregators to reach, acquire, engage and retain a receptive, high-spending and loyal client base.
The company’s Cherrysauce operation is recognized as an industry leader in the field of erotic mobile entertainment, winning numerous awards such as Best Adult Service at the ME awards and the Gold Winner for Mobile Adult Services for Juniper’s Future Mobile Awards. Dimambro has been voted one of the top 50 most influential executives in mobile entertainment four years running, as well as one of the top 50 women in mobile three years running. She is also a regular speaker and writer on strategies, innovations and challenges of mobile erotica and adult entertainment.
As mentioned above, you have been named one of the top 50 most influential executives in mobile for the past four years. How have you adapted over the years with emerging technologies in mobile? How did you find your passion for mobile entertainment?
Being completely owned and self-funded gives Cherry Media an envious position in the market. We are able to do and explore what we believe in, rather than being solely focused on the bottom line. As a result, we have always been a few years ahead of the industry in terms of predicting trends and new business models.
We have also deliberately stayed away from in-house technology. As I grew up in a digital world and was there at the start of the dot-com boom, I am only too aware of how quickly things change and develop. The iPhone is a great example of this. It turned the entire mobile value chain on its head, and many companies who had focused all their efforts on building technical platforms for mobile network operators found their solutions were no longer relevant in the Apple and Google mobile-version of the world.
Therefore, partnering with numerous technology platforms based on client demand and purpose, rather than being tied to just one, allows us to be extremely dynamic and targeted to our client’s current and future business objectives.
My passion for mobile (and it really is just that) came about by chance. I come from the Internet side of things and was working for a digital agency in New York when September 11th happened. Subsequently, I headed back to Europe and went to stay with my parents (who had recently retired to Spain) to see if I could find a great job in Barcelona before being forced back to London, which is where I’m originally from. The first company to reply to my CV was Private Media Group — one of the leading adult content studios in the world. I was SO innocent, I didn’t even know who they were (my Dutch mother had to tell me!). I was employed as their Internet alliance manager, and when I heard about someone starting a mobile division for Private I applied for the job immediately. This was late 2002, so we really were pioneers in mobile — designing totally innovative campaigns to purchase private goods via mid-shelf publications using a mobile phone.
You market a highly sensitive industry — adult entertainment. How are you applying your interest and passion for mobile to push the industry forward?
I think one of the most interesting things about the adult entertainment industry is that whatever your personal feelings about its morality or place in society, no one can deny that it has created or defined many new media business models and determined how to monetize them. The VHS/Betamax story is a famous example, but you can credit the adult industry with new media innovations such as e-commerce and digital marketing strategies.
What’s even more interesting is that — for some strange reason — this has NOT been true for mobile and the adult industry, which, for the most part, has remained quite hesitant about the move into mobile. Over the last nine years, Cherry Media has been perceived as an adult company selling its wares to the mobile industry.
More recently, however, we see that we are now a mobile company selling our wares to the adult industry – helping adult businesses make their services mobile. Cherry Media has been through a nine year learning curve without millions of investment dollars to allow room for mistakes, so we’ve learned about what works and what doesn’t with hands-on experience. This has an obvious appeal to adult companies who are often overwhelmed by all the media hype around mobile — “Should it be a mobile website? A portal? An affiliate program? A mobile application? And how do you choose?”
Mobile is the ultimate platform for erotic entertainment because a) arousal is impulsive and never before have we had an entertainment platform that allows consumers to act immediately on that impulse wherever they are, and b) mobile is the first ever media channel which offers the opportunity to fully regulate and police the adult entertainment industry.
You founded and are now the mobile strategist for Cherry Media Mobile Adult Entertainment. What differentiates your organization from other agencies in the adult entertainment industry?
Cherry Media has really identified its USP as consumer insight and context. Private Media taught me about the adult entertainment customer, about creating an experience, about immersion into a fantasy, about conversion rate strategies and customer retention campaigns. However, at the same time I was there at the birth of ‘mobile entertainment,’ so Cherry Media has grown up with it. We were the first dedicated mobile adult company anywhere in the world.
So what we can offer is a totally unique insight and understanding — (with global on-deck and off-deck contrasts) — as far as how to put mobile and adult entertainment together for the best commercial success.
Our core product — mobile content — constantly boasts an average sales increase of around 30 percent for many of our distribution partners when it replaces other non-Cherry content, but we’ve also seen extreme examples of 300 percent sales increases for various partners who are particularly smart with their marketing. These are the best relationships. If our partners are effective in driving traffic to the services, our content will convert that traffic.
This is very much a contrast to the general ‘mobile content’ strategy, which is to offer as much content as possible to the customer in the hope they find something they like. If your content is targeted and has context for the audience, then your production resources are fewer, your sales are higher and you make a better margin. Simple really.
As we’ve all heard, sex sells. How does this make your job easier? Harder?
I quite often say that adult is a unique selling strategy. For mainstream goods and services, a company has unlimited marketing channels available to them and the key is to identify or create demand for the product or service you want to sell.
With adult entertainment, we have such a HUGE consumer demand (it is estimated that around 40 percent of all mobile search terms are adult-related in some way!), but we have limited channels to reach that demand. I believe this is one of the reasons the adult industry has a history of being innovative. The objective was finding new ways to reach the existing demand we knew to be there.
Based on your familiarity with the audience segment of adults who consume adult entertainment regularly, describe the segment’s demographic and psychographic traits.
Haha! I love this question.
I’ve been working in adult mobile now for nine years. I have met literally thousands of men during that time, and NOT ONCE have I met two men who like the same thing OR a man who has never had any dealings with adult entertainment. I’m sure they exist, but you’d be hard-pressed to find a man who has never looked at a naughty website or magazine.
I would have been confident a few months ago to say the demographic is MEN — all kinds, all social backgrounds, all ages, from all countries… etc., etc.
However, I have recently been blown away by the social phenomenon that is “50 Shades of Grey” by E. L. James. Having been asked for the last nine years about porn for women and what form it should take, this book has answered everyone’s question. I’m about to write a sizable article about its impact on so many social and business areas! Amazing!
How is the adult entertainment industry handling the availability of free downloadable media? Does this affect content you produce?
No, not currently, but it’s something that has had a huge impact on the online adult industry. And with the uptake of smart phones, it’s something that will come to mobile, too.
I have various theories as to how this might pan out:
1) Free content will create new business models for the adult industry through necessity.
2) Customer context, great quality, value for money and customer service will invariably outsell cheap (quite often illegal) nasty, amateur rubbish for free once the novelty factor has been satisfied.
3) New technology will make this conversation irrelevant — i.e. augmented reality, which I believe will change the face of adult entertainment and do for the industry what the Internet did in the ‘90s.
You work in an industry that is sensitive to the general public. How do you overcome this barrier? What guidelines do you follow?
We have very strong moral standards considering the area in which we work. Cherry Media has been a public advocate for Access Controls since 2003 — something which was not possible with an open network like the Internet but was possible for mobile via the network operators. We have turned down deals if proper access control was not in place for over age 18 content. We vet any studio we work with and gain background information into their business practices and their treatment of models.
I believe that being a woman in two such male-dominated industries (mobile and adult) has helped immensely, as well as being able to talk intelligently about this highly charged — but arguably very intriguing — industry.
Besides mobile entertainment, what are other emerging trends in the adult entertainment industry?
The adult industry had a bit of a dalliance with 3D, but — as I predicted a while back — 3D is a passing fad and really isn’t relevant for porn as I explain in one of my articles.
However — as I point out in the same article – augmented reality (AR) will be huge for the adult industry. I’d be as bold as saying it will be a game changer. The simple reason being that adult entertainment is about effectively merging reality with fantasy. AR brings about the technical capability to do that, and Cherry Media wants to be first to market with an AR service for the adult industry. I am completely fascinated by its possibilities. You can see more about what Cherry Media is doing with AR here.
Favorite ad of all time: From a marketing point of view, the totally genius campaign of Comparethemeerkat.com. Inspired marketing!
One reason that you love what you do: Working in the forefront of a new technology that changes our social structure and behaviors. You just can’t believe that mobile phones didn’t (really) exist only 20 years ago!
Mentor: I have many valued friends and mentors within the mobile and adult industries, but for inspiration as to how I want to run my company and what we do, I’d have to say Steve Jobs, which is ironic when you consider how ‘anti-adult’ he was!
Must read book: “Fifty Shades of Grey” — the trilogy that brought porn for women to the mainstream! I just read that its author E. L. James is reported to be earning $1 million a week!
Music that gets you in your zone: Depends on my mood. I love music and actually do some singing myself. I like anything from classical to deep house, but as a favourite, definitely Ella Fitzgerald.
Natalie Stezovsky is the Vice President for Digital Talent Agents, a company that helps experts build their businesses through thought leadership and content marketing. She's directly involved in developing agency partnerships and when she's not doing that, she's competing with her horses at an international level. Connect with her on Twitter @nstezovsky or LinkedIn.