Then came the recession.
Well, the numbers may not have met the lofty expectations, but the hook-up between PimpRoll and Porn.com hasn't been a disappointment, either.
"Sales are steady," said PR Don, marketing and public relations manager for PimpRoll. "It's growing, and I definitely see results when I spend money on advertising. We're pleased with that. We'd like it to do better, of course, because we've spent a lot of money. Obviously, the recession is affecting everybody, but our company's business hasn't been affected significantly."
PimpRoll has overcome some of the negative inertia of the recession with creative ad campaigns in the mainstream arena. One campaign offered a contest on Howard Stern's satellite radio show called, "Who wants to win a threesome?" The winner received a threesome date with the featured star of Porn.com, Lexi Belle.
"We also gave away a $5,000 prize," Don said. "Our connection with Porn.com has allowed us to do more advertising in the mainstream world because it's such a strong brand name. In fact, when we did the Stern show, the hosts were saying, 'Why does Porn.com need to advertise? Everyone knows Porn.com.'"
The Porn.com connection also has allowed PimpRoll to try some wild and crazy promo campaigns. In March, the firm brought back the "porn bailout."
"It's just a satirical look at the whole bailout situation in the country," Don explained. "It involves PimpRoll increasing payouts on a number of sites. Certain sites on certain days get special promotions with upped payouts. It's worked, especially when it first came out in January. That's why we brought it back. We shot a funny video for it that looked like an old movie newsreel, with the announcer gravely talking about our special payouts like it was world news."
The PimpRoll payout policy is still a big reason the company's webmasters remain loyal and happy. The monthly payout figure is close to $1 million, and PimpRoll pays its webmasters every week. And they keep tweaking their offers, trying to stay ahead of the curve in an ever-changing online landscape to keep the webmasters smiling.
"Now we have cross sell-free options for webmasters who don't want their customers to be billed multiple times," Don revealed. "They can join PimpRoll directly and promote us without having any cross sells. Webmasters appreciate that, and we're all for giving them a ton of choices in coming to our site and creating a sales program. We offer them monthly trials, three-day trials, dollar trials, free trials and so many different price points that they have lots of ways to skin a cat."
The cross-sell issue became especially touchy in March, when MasterCard announced it no longer would accept cross-sell business. As so many adult companies rely on cross sales, this decision may hold a grim future for some.
"Our owner, Dave, has expressed concern over how many people will survive the MasterCard decision," Don said. "The smaller companies may be affected, because the cross-sell money keeps them afloat by bringing in a lot of money up front. But we'll be fine."
That's because PimpRoll has not rested on its impressive laurels. The firm constantly upgrades its sites, which number more than 300 now, according to Don.
"Pretty much every week we add a new exclusive site," he said. "It's kind of what we're known for, being consistent with new products. A lot of companies come up with one or two new sites per year, and sometimes we come out with two new sites in a week. That keeps it fresh for the webmasters who want to add new sites to their offerings."
The company constantly is looking for new promo tools, and right now, PimpRoll is redesigning all of its members' areas, too, making them better looking and easier to use.
"We've added bigger pictures, and many of our sites are shot with HD cameras," Don said. "We're adding that cleaner, wide-screen look, and I think that really makes us stand apart. Plus, we aren't afraid of adding controversial sites, like our new BangMyStepmom.com, which fills the MILF niche.
"Our next big launch will be Cougar Sex Club, which involves groups of three older women hunting for young men.
"Finally, we're shooting a lot of our own content now. We have a studio in Los Angeles, and of course, Porn.com shoots a ton of its own stuff.
"We constantly make new acquisitions, trying to improve our domain portfolio. Along with Porn.com, we'll be adding other sites that will make us the cream of the crop."
In a time of economic uncertainty, these attributes are the reason webmasters gravitate toward PimpRoll and have been doing so since before the company's news-making connection with Porn.com.
"We've got our loyal webmasters, and we're always picking up a few new ones with our promotions," Don pointed out. "They realize that with PimpRoll, if you send traffic, you are recognized for it. There is no shaving. People know us to be a legit company. Our reputation always has been solid for paying people on time.
"We really depend on our webmasters to feed us traffic. We have a small in-house traffic team, as well, to create our own traffic. But mostly, we depend on the webmasters. And the reason they stick with us is that we run a very tight, clean ship."
This ship set sail in 2003, when PimpRoll was launched by Dave, who, prior to that, had been a webmaster working for other people on a computer in his college dorm room. Now, after more than a decade in the business, Dave has navigated his company into one of the big industry ships. Any concern over the future, in which Dave sees small companies disappearing and two or three big firms left standing, does not bother him today.
He knows PimpRoll will be one of those lasting players.