Inside porn’s breaking-news hub

Last week’s blizzard might have fallen short of expectations, but for Pornhub, there’s no such thing as a bad snowstorm. The site enjoyed a 20 percent increase in  traffic in the affected states when Juno hit, suggesting people along the East Coast seemed to find porn a good way to alleviate boredom on a snow day.

The lift in audience was short-lived, but Pornhub is finding new life for it in the form of content marketing. The next day, Pornhub had this post with graphics up on its Insights blog, the safe-for-work section of the site where it reports on its users’ porn watching proclivities.

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The adult-content site may sit outside the mainstream, but when it comes to marketing itself, it’s acting like any conventional brand by turning to content. In Pornhub’s case, that’s meant mining its user data for juicy content that runs both on its own site and in mainstream news outlets like BuzzFeed and Mashable for those who are as interested in porn stats as the stuff itself.

More recently, Pornhub has been taking advantage of the news cycle. Pornhub established what it calls a four-person “breaking news bureau.” The team, which reports to PR, has people with editorial and social media backgrounds. They monitor breaking news in verticals, especially entertainment, gaming and technology, keeping an eye out for news developments that have the potential to influence traffic, like those around Juno.

Pornhub caught on to the potential benefits of news a few months back, when its data crunchers noticed that its Kim Kardashian sex tape hit 100 million views, a record for the site. The data team dug deeper and was able to trace various spikes in viewing back to various moments Kardashian was in the news (her marriage to Kanye West, her appearance on the cover of Paper magazine, and so on). Pornhub turned all this into a blog post and video.

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“We want to be able to take any mainstream events that can relate to porn-search fluctuations, and both provide stats and video on the topic,” said Corey Price, vp at Pornhub. “The ultimate mission with our breaking news bureau is to establish a sense of reliability among both users and viewers, as well as media in the sense that if there’s a huge trend making its rounds, we’re the go-to source for breaking that trend down as far as how it relates to adult content.”

Another opportunity came in back in December, when the U.K. banned certain types of content in porn streamed online (spanking and caning, to name a couple). Pornhub’s data team set to find out how much people in the U.K. search for those banned terms compared to its global usership. The result was this blog post and infographic; turns out the Brits like their bondage.

The content marketing push also is proving to be a useful social media tactic for Pornhub, which says that views of its newsy blog posts have reached the “hundreds of thousands,” primarily from social media and press mentions.

Along with the blog, Pornhub plans to use these news-related findings to grow its YouTube presence. The site is starting small, with videos like this one and this one, hosted by its social media coordinator, but the plan is to establish a more professional presence.

For now, the news effort is purely reactionary. But with brands of all kinds creating not only branded content but setting up permanent news operations, is it unthinkable to imagine a Pornhub Newswire at some point in the future? Pornhub didn’t rule it out. “Perhaps someday reporting actual news may be on the horizon,” Price said, “but for now, we’ll be keeping on with the reactionary stuff for the most part.”

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