Porn Ads Pay Off for This Advertiser

When it comes to buying online ads, the brand rule book says to stay as far from adult content as possible. But some small, progressive advertisers smell opportunity. They see a goldmine for cheap, effective inventory — and a great way to compete with bigger, richer competitors.

Online food delivery service Eat24, for example, is currently running a display campaign across a range of major porn sites including PornHub and YouPorn, and says its media costs are 10 percent what they would be if they bought ads from Google, Twitter or Facebook. The company published a hilarious blog post this week, designed as a piece of content marketing in itself, which details exactly “How to advertise on a porn Website” (pro tip: avoid using images of monkeys in your ad creative).

Eat24 isn’t the biggest brand  in the world, but it isn’t the smallest either. Its 150 employees generated more than $150 million in sales last year, the company says, and 1 million users hit its properties each month.

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“When this idea was floated, we figured there had to be a good reason other brands don’t really advertise on porn sites, beyond the fact that they’re too shy,” said Eat24 chief marketing officer Amir Eisenstein. “But the more data we collected from our campaign, the more we started wondering why other companies don’t do this. For most brands, it doesn’t make sense, of course, but for companies like ours, it’s a successful platform that should be taken advantage of.”

Eat24 says its porn campaign, brokered by ad network TrafficJunky, has been “kicking ass” by every metric it tracks. The campaign’s ads cost 90 percent less than banners it’s run previously across Google’s network and on Facebook, and they’re also reaching an almost entirely new audience. Of the traffic generated by the campaign, 90 percent was composed of first-time visitors to the site. New customer retention from the porn banners was four times higher than that of its Facebook ads. Eisenstein declined to give specifics on conversion rates but said the campaign has resulted in a “huge spike” of both orders and app downloads.

The idea for the campaign came about after when someone at Eat24 realized a number a high-profile porn stars are customers. When performer Tera Patrick tweeted about some food she’d ordered through the site, Eat24 decided to try out what it calls “sponsorships.” A sponsorship essentially involves trading food credit for tweets from high-profile users, who happen, in this case, to be porn stars.

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That program proved so successful that Eat24 decided to delve deeper into the adult-entertainment world to see what other opportunities it could unearth. The idea for an entire porn-themed display campaign started off as a joke, but the more the company researched the idea, the more it realized it was a legitimate opportunity.

“The more we thought about it, the more we realized the target audience and pricing made complete sense. We had some reservations about aligning ourselves with porn, but we never really do things in a mainstream way anyway,” Eisenstein explained.

So Eisenstein and his staff decided to test the idea to see what happened. When the campaign data started rolling in, the company began to notice some interesting trends and patterns, which provided a further opportunity to gain some earned media from the endeavor. It enlisted the help of various staffers across the company to create infographics and a blog post explaining the genesis of the campaign – and what it learned. That post, titled “How to Advertise on a Porn Website,” has already attracted over 4,000 social media shares, and was picked up by BuzzFeed and other blogs and publications.

Eat24 isn’t the first advertiser to seize on the porn opportunity. Underwear startup MeUndies has also aligned itself with risque content. It’s been running display ads on adult site PaintBottle.com this summer to promote its new sock ranges.

But Eisenstein insists the Eat24 campaign wasn’t just an excuse to rake in some hits through witty content marketing. “We started this campaign under the radar, because we really weren’t sure what was going to happen. When we saw funny patterns emerging, we realized we should probably write about it.”

Eat24 doesn’t plan to stop there, though. The campaign continues to run and to perform “very well,” the company said.

“We’re not going to go crazy with it, but maybe we’ll expand on this type of activity in future. This was just a first try for us,” Eisenstein concluded. “Ultimately, everybody goes to porn sites. I believe more advertisers should be there, too.”