Google’s ruling on AdSense and adult

Scott Rabinowitz
Disclaimer: this is a topic where for conventional business reasons, I have a definite bias. Our company manages the sales of adult advertising on high traffic sites & domains. We feel that we are in a good position to help industry peers that have been or will be impacted by the Google AdSense adult domain policy change.

There are days when your brain gets thrown into action the minute you start reading your e-mails and industry news. The 18th of this month was one of those days for me. It appears that Google is no longer Kosher with letting adult domain owners and managers use their affiliate traffic partner revenue program called AdSense anymore. The immediate effects of this include various adult domain portfolio managers needing to find replacement income sources for the traffic generated by their domains to offset the loss of Google AdSense income.

The reason why AdSense works well for all online media verticals, including adult until recently, is simple. For companies and webmasters who have high quality & steady traffic flow, sending that traffic to an ad selling system versus affiliate compensation based offers is a reduction of financial risk. Advertisers pay for clicks or placement per day/month, impressions, etc. Measurable ad units that accountants can audit. Advertisers pay from an invoice, whether prepaid or postpaid. Affiliate programs pay for a share of the net effect of traffic performance, based upon revenue generated as determined by the technologies and program rules that govern each program.

The goal for most high value domain owners is straightforward – steady income. In some cases, domain owners are not looking to develop their domains into web site projects requiring technical and human resources, therefore overhead. If the traffic generated by a domain portfolio is solid, then making the income through an ad sales business model is more steady and premium value than just signing up for various affiliate programs and seeing what sales can be made through affiliate links.

To achieve steady revenue, a domain holder can: 1) sell the ad space directly, potentially requiring staff, billing, legal support, ad servers, contracts, liability insurance etc. 2) use an automated ad sales program such as AVNads.com, AdultAdWorld.com or formerly Google’s AdSense program to sell your ad space; as Google has demonstrated, if the policies of the automated ad network program change, you get a form letter and the urgent need to find a replacement revenue stream. Most people prefer to buy ads and have them supported by live, knowledgeable and courteous personnel in the long run. 30 hire an agency to sell your ad space, where the agency is accountable to do everything from sell, collect and place ads, to serving them, providing indemnity and having a track record/references you can call upon to validate what you hear.

In the long term, Google’s policy change for AdSense will only impact ‘how’ the adult domain holders will monetize their highly valuable traffic, not ‘if.’ These domain holders include some of the very smartest people in our industry and beyond. As such, whatever methods can be used to sustain or exceed the income the owners were seeing before the AdSense ruling will be tested and put into action. The quantity and quality of consumer eyeballs these domains see from interested type-in traffic has not changed, only the route to steady income has been altered.