You Know Porn Is Mainstream When Advertisers Are Scrambling To Be There

Why use VC funds for your startup when you can use porn?

In 2008, Nadav and Haim founded Eat24 out of a studio apartment. They went door to door, to restaurants, to sign them up for their food ordering app. Bootstrapping the app themselves meant that they had very little money for marketing. They initially thought they would advertise on Twitter, Facebook and Google, but then they did their research.

As Fast Company reported in 2013, “Cost per impression on adult sites was dead cheap compared with the likes of Google, Facebook, and Twitter. Not to mention, the reach on porn sites would surpass those three sites at about one-tenth the cost.” An impression is simply the fetching of the ad from the server, not a user clicking on it. Yet, Eat24 reported that they received three times the amount of impressions on porn sites compared to Facebook, Google and Twitter combined.

Since they were the first mainstream company to take advantage of the audience available on porn sites, Eat24 had to figure out how to advertise on those pages. As documented on their own blog, the current ads were unimaginative photos for other porn sites and male enhancements. When Eat24 searched for images related to “food and sex,” they were inundated with pictures of women eating bananas. This is what I believe resulted in success, Eat24 made funny, suggestive ads like the those below.

Eat24 Sexy Banners

Online advertisers rely heavily on the data they’ve collected from our browsers. Did you search for a new printer on Amazon? Now, you see printer ads on Facebook and everywhere else. Yet, Eat24 decided to play with the sites they were advertising on, much like Super Bowl advertisers often use the fact that they’re advertising during the big game, rather than show an unrelated ad.

Certainly Eat24’s success wasn’t solely based on advertising to a larger audience, but they made a correlation that people often visited those porn sites between 7pm and 3am which coincides with the time period that their app was being used. Even though we’re talking about porn, the lesson is not to go after exposure (pun intended), as it might seem. If you’re looking to get a project off the ground, you need to know your audience.

Taboo No More

Are you 18 years of age? If not, click “No” to leave this page immediately.

Yeah…about that. A number of studies show that adolescents are exposed to porn at an early age, from 8 – 11. You can imagine that if someone watched porn for 22 years, by the time that they are 30 it would be pretty normal. Thus, the taboo of advertising on a porn site would be lost on this adult. That may be what has played a part in the popularity of this new trend.

Indeed, Hollywood has been advertising films on sites like YouPorn. Middle Men, The Expendables and Don Jon were all featured in ads. In fact, Don Jon’s title character was addicted to porn in the film. That bit of story led to some product placement for PornHub. Again, it’s all about knowing your audience. Since the porn web pages are frequented by men, it makes sense to advertise a film like The Expendables there. The chief brand officer of Lionsgate, Tim Palen, points out that it is easy to stand out when they advertise in this space because there competitors aren’t there. Post your ad on Facebook like every other film distribution company or try PornHub? Advertising there is less expensive and has a bigger audience? Sold.

The future of advertising in porn is wide open. Since we live in a time where everything is a reboot, perhaps we’ll see Miller Lite bring back their “Tastes great, less filling” campaign. A rebirth in porn advertising with Wendy’s “Where’s the beef?” or the ever popular “Got Milk?” would take on whole new meanings. Of course, the classics could also show up on your favorite porn site. Let me know if you happen to spot the Nike ad because that seems like a no-brainer.

Image courtesy of Eat24