PornHub’s chastity belt approach to ads

Just because it’s a porn website doesn’t mean PornHub takes all comers. The site maintains fairly strict guidelines as to what kinds of ads it will and won’t accept. Booze, gambling and nudes, for example, are encouraged. Monkeys wearing pants, however, need not apply.

Corey Price, PornHub’s vp of advertising, told us why PornHub takes security very seriously and how it makes sure its users don’t walk away with something that needs looking at.

So, exactly who advertises on a porn site?
We have a wide variety of advertisers: movie studios, local advertisers, condom companies, adult companies, obviously, dating companies.

Dating companies?
With our platform, it’s really localized. It’s amazing how many dating companies we have in each market. But they’re not the Match.com-type dating companies. It’s more like the adult friend-finder type.

Ah, I getchya.
And then we also have a lot of the, um, wellness products you can call them — enhancers.

So PornHub accepts a lot of ads other companies deem “offensive,” because they’re relevant to your audience. Are there any ads that wouldn’t fly?
PornHub itself doesn’t sell ads; we sell it through our ad network TrafficJunky, so all the advertising really comes from that platform which is a real-time bidding platform. We sell some direct deals, but a lot of it is just people bidding in real time in different countries.

So we have an ad-approval process, but we also wanted to have an auditing process in place. We don’t allow any over-aggressive ads. And on the video page, you’re not allowed animated ads. We don’t allow any hateful or violent or something involving animals, for instance.

A mainstream advertiser actually ran afoul of your ads on that one. Eat24 put a very benign picture of a monkey in its ad, and it got rejected.
We maybe have been a little too strict on that one. We’re very careful about trying to maintain the rules. We also have a lot of rules about misleading ads. We don’t let people put fake close buttons or fake cancel buttons on the ads.

So, how does the ad verification process work for PornHub?
Each site has its own guidelines. For example, YouPorn has stricter rules, because it’s for a different clientele. Each ad that gets uploaded gets verified by the ad platform. It goes up and people bid on it. And then there is the GeoEdge system that allows us to see all the ads running in 50 countries, so it really gives us a good sense of what’s running.

And there are a lot of alerts, for phishing, for example, or a 404 landing page. If an ad potentially links to malware, the GeoEdge service provides a lot of security checks, which are important to us.

Is it more important to your site to have a certain level of security because there are a lot of adult sites out there where you might wind up, uh, catching a virus?
Yes, the perception is that it’s more dangerous. If a user comes to our site and catches a virus or gets malware, they’re not going to want to come back to our site. So protecting the user is really important to us. And there was a study that found that you’re less likely to get a virus at an adult site than other sites. So maybe it was true in the past, but it’s changing. Not to say there aren’t some rogue operators.

And you have run ads with mainstream advertisers. Have you had any success since Eat24 and “DonJon”?
Eat24 did really really well. We have the reach and the demographics, but it’s hard to get beyond the perception. The biggest challenge is that people aren’t willing to try it. We’re working on a campaign for a major video game company. It’s geared more toward our demographic, young males, 18-35, which is a coveted demographic and usually hard to reach.

And we do well with movie companies. So we did, for instance, “Don Jon,” but we also did “Movie 43” with Relativity and some other movies. We’ve done five or six movies total. They’re interested in reach, so they like the pre-rolls. We do a lot of pre-roll with them.

So the movie studios don’t mind having their videos run in front of porn?
What they like about pre-roll is that it’s not shown next to porn; it’s shown in front of porn.

That’s a fine line.
Yeah, it is.

Image via Shutterstock

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