Google: Online Adult’s Latest Challenge
Google’s changes will put money in their pocket, as well as yours.
If you are working in the adult industry and do any business with Google, you have undoubtedly run into some sort of problems over the years. Dropped positions from the algorithm changes, deceptive marketing and optimization practices from competitors, and having to constantly review affiliates marketing your own products against you. The newest challenge just showed up.
The search engine leader announced that they would no longer allow adult-related advertisements on its AdWords platform. Much to the shock and dismay of the adult industry, which is a big part of the Internet as a whole.
Adult is a multibillion-dollar market. After all, “the Internet is for porn” right? However, the revenues in rest of the “mainstream” marketplace is so far beyond the revenue numbers in adult that its a ridiculously bad decision to accept adult and sacrifice the mainstream market. Amazon alone did over $74 billion in revenue selling mainstream items, and that’s just one retailer. Consider that Google’s ad revenues for 2012 were approximately $42 billion. Adult is a drop in that revenue bucket. When you are the size of Google, with the amount of cash they generate, and numerous investors, partners, and with governments and other influential organizations working with (and against) them, you become a very big and obvious target.
Its clear that the decision will hurt adult retailers, but there had to be pressure from elsewhere to change policy that has been in place for years. If everyone minded their own business then nobody would want to just stop accepting money from the adult industry, but we don’t live in that world. Every family-oriented brand in the world is concerned with brand reputation and worried about being associated with porn. Is it a coincidence that AdSense doesn’t allow adult publishers? It doesn’t fit their business model. Was disallowing both adult publishers and advertisers the right decision for Google? Definitely. By refusing the stigma related to adult, they have successfully retained their core mainstream market and revenues for the forseeable future. It makes complete sense and financially the best decision.
What really happened in the boardrooms to finalize that decision, who knows. First, understand that simply by the numbers of revenue for mainstream ad generation versus adult, that there is little chance Google will reverse their decision until the attitudes of the public changes. Over the last decade, sex and porn has become a more accepted part of the mainstream, its even part of pop culture and in movies like “Don Jon” featuring PornHub.com as the central porn authority to find that “perfect clip.” Fleshlight has made appearances in several movies and TV shows. But that doesn’t mean that everyone likes porn, or at least they pretend not to.
In fact, the segregation of mainstream and adult in advertising has existed for some time. Some time ago the ad network “AdBrite” closed its doors. They were at one point a formidable ad network, but you probably know them better as Black Label Ads when they spun off their entire adult division into a darkly labeled network of its adult publishers. I can’t speak for the execs at the former company, but its plausible the primary reason was to keep mainstream advertisers happy who did not want to associated with porn. Its about maintaining the reputation of the advertisers, and its a careful balancing act. AdBrite/BLA didn’t survive.
So what now? We accept, make a plan, and move forward. Search engine traffic is still by far the most valuable traffic there is because it is pre-qualified and targeted. Those wanting to rank higher could simply buy those keywords and be placed at the top. However, keep in mind that even if you do not have that advantage to be able to be at the top of the results, neither do any of your competitors. Yes, there are several adult advertising networks in will service your adult brand, but they do not have Google’s quality traffic. There will always be somewhere to spend your money.
If you want traffic from the largest search engine, you need to do it through good old search engine optimization. Take all that money you were spending on your keywords and hire reputable experts to optimize your website, your landing pages, your product pages. Some of you can afford to hire several! Reach out and get your product reviewed and legitimately back-linked on the Internet with good anchor text. Soon, you’ll be at the top of those rankings, and guess what? You won’t be paying per click to Google, you’ll be getting the traffic for free. You win.