How One Adult Site Attracts Mainstream Advertisers

Advertisers are always looking for cheap, effective ways to put ads in front of their target audiences. A growing number are turning to adult websites to help them do just that – and some adult publishers smell a growing opportunity.

For the launch of new movie “Don Jon,” for example, Relativity Media bought 30-second pre-roll video ads on major adult destination PornHub. The movie, which features Hollywood stars including Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Scarlett Johansson, references PornHub several times. It was an obvious fit for Relativity to market it on the site, though the company did not respond to requests for comment on the campaign.

“Don Jon,” which premiered late last month, may be the buzziest movie to have advertised on a porn site, but it wasn’t the first – nor was it the first non-adult brand. Ads for movies including “21 and Over” and “Movie 43” appeared alongside PornHub content earlier this year, for example, and last month, food-delivery service Eat24 bought ads across a range of sites in PornHub’s TrafficJunky ad network.

There’s a growing number of smaller advertisers looking to stretch their ad budgets further by going places most major brands wouldn’t dare. PornHub is doing its best to capitalize on that. It’s even sold ads to anti-virus software providers and major musical acts.

“The cost of advertising on adult traffic is significantly lower than on big mainstream sites,” said Corey Price, vice president of “It’s important to note that surfers who visit adult sites are no different from those who visit mainstream sites. We attract a really strong demographic. The adult surfer is a strong online force consisting of really active consumers.”

Price’s stance is unsurprising, given that he’s the one charged with generating PornHub’s revenues. But according to advertisers, his claims ring true. Inventory across adult sites is both cheap and effective, they say, and that enables brands with small budgets to punch above their weight. They just need to make sure they’re comfortable aligning themselves with the type of content most advertisers do their utmost to avoid.

“We had reservations. But we’re a small brand, and we decided advertising here makes sense for us,” Eat24 chief marketing officer Amir Eisenstein recently told Digiday. “Ultimately, everybody goes to porn sites. I believe more advertisers should be there, too.”

To Eisenstein’s point, the audiences for some ad-supported adult sites are huge. PornHub alone attracts 60 million unique visitors a day, according to Price. Those visits generate somewhere in the region of 400 million ad impressions across desktop and mobile devices every 24 hours.

Those ad impressions are cheap, too. The campaign Eat24 bought from PornHub’s TrafficJunky network was 90 percent cheaper than ones it has run with Google, Twitter and Facebook, the company said.

The vast majority of companies advertising on PornHub are adult-related. But based on its recent experience with advertisers outside the adult world, PornHub thinks it has spotted a growing opportunity. It knows a relatively small number of major brands would ever consider buying ads alongside the type of material it publishes, but smaller, progressive advertisers don’t seem to mind. The company sees that as a chance to grab some ad dollars from the pockets of major publishers and ad networks.

“We’re interested in expanding our pool of advertisers, whether adult or mainstream,” Price said, adding that non-adult advertisers are running campaigns right now, and that it has sold campaigns to others that will run later this year.

“Smart advertisers,” he said, “know where their target audience is going.”
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