Search Experts Respond to Google AdWords Changes

Stephen Yagielowicz

LOS ANGELES — Continuing concern over the recent changes to Google’s AdWords program further restricting adult-themed advertising is sending adult website promoters scurrying for more answers.

To find those answers, XBIZ turned to search engine experts Rodney and Scott of — perhaps the most knowledgeable “Google gurus” serving the online adult entertainment industry.

This experienced pair have personally worked with and/or managed adult clients spending more than $1 million monthly on AdWords campaigns for years at a time — as well as new adult websites that do small AdWords campaigns of less than $500 per month. According to the team, the extent of AdWords today for promoting adult websites of all types is substantial — with virtually all adult site operators benefiting from a little to a lot, sales and traffic-wise, from the purchase of Google AdWords.

“There are companies in adult who rely on AdWords to drive a double-digit percentage of the actual sales that stick and cause repeat/rebill business, whether for VOD, dating, cams, porn subscriptions or product sales sites,” Rodney told XBIZ. “The reasoning is that via Google AdWords, an adult website may access (via ad purchase) the widest array of consumers who are actually and specifically looking for what they sell, right now.”

“Where a banner ad image may get a consumer turned on enough to click,” Scott says, “that consumer may or may not have the same specific interests under the right targeting parameters as a paid text search ad from AdWords can provide.”

The team notes that for the adult industry, there is no close “second place” provider of as much quality pay-per-click (PPC), keyword targeted traffic, which can consistently output useful clicks and sales; and that for Google, although it is a multi-billion dollar company, losing adult advertising revenue would not be a mere blip on its radar screen.

“In a prior report from the 3rd quarter of 2012 by, it was noted that AdWords generates $100 million in daily top line revenues,” Rodney explains. “Even if the combined spend of the thousands of adult sites that buy AdWords is a mere 1.5 percent of revenues, it means that Google is prepared to lose up to $1.5 million per day — or almost $550 million per year — if they completely shut down the bulk of qualified AdWords buys from adult.”

As for whether or not Google might exit adult altogether as American Express and PayPal did in the past, Scott says that it seems unlikely, given Google’s overall views towards freedom of speech and freedom of publication.

“If they purge most of the hard-earned, legitimate, content-rich websites from the organic SEO-driven listings, they would be violating their own views towards freedom of speech and removing a substantial number of websites which Google’s own consumers have expressly stated they are looking for, for more than a decade,” Scott explains. “As it is, Google limits commercial relationships with adult websites to its AdWords advertising and non-paid products, such as its organic listings and the use of Google’s Analytics and Webmaster Tools applications, among others.”

“While Google may seek to reduce its exposure and promotion of specific elements of the adult content world, a full and complete exit, including a purge of all organic rankings, analytics accounts and the like, does not seem imminent,” he added.

Rodney told XBIZ that to accommodate the potential loss of AdWords traffic from the marketing mix, site owners need to be prepared to have an open mind on several levels.

“First off, AdWords is still open for business and not all types of adult sites will be banned from buying traffic there. Second, if you have not already done so, open up a BingAds account — the platform that provides SEM/PPC ad buying options on and search results pages,” Rodney stated. “[With BingAds,] you or your media buyer will have to jump thru more hoops with compliance than for Google, however once you get in, you can replicate the keywords and ad combinations that worked for you on Google AdWords, at least for exact match keywords, which is the sole match type allowed by BingAds for adult sites.”

It is important to note that getting traffic from search engines such as Google does not always mean having to pay for it directly through advertising.

“SEO is more critical than ever,” Scott confides. “If people who search major search engines represent a large number of the overall people who buy your products, then invest the time, energy and money into both strategy and execution of SEO to boost the ranking of every public page on all your sites.”

Another area where marketers need to keep an open mind is when buying traffic.

“Depending on the type of site(s) and content you sell, be prepared to make up the sales shortfall from AdWords via increased participation in the network and destination site ad-buying realm,” Rodney says. “Invest some time, whether yours or that of staff or contractors, to seek out and test ad networks and sites which directly sell links and ads, for potential ad buys — using the same fervor that you once gave to seeking out affiliates.”

“Your biggest challenge as an adult site operator if you do lose sales from AdWords being pulled is to be both patient and diverse in where you reallocate those AdWords advertising dollars,” Scott advises. “Much like when you (or someone on your behalf) built out, tested and optimized the campaigns which made you money from AdWords for months and years, be fully prepared to test, evaluate, optimize and re-test a larger number of advertising providers on an ongoing basis.”

It is a quest requiring care, competiveness and creativity on the part of merchants seeking customers.

“Bear in mind that all those consumers who want to find porn (to pay for) via Google search results will still be horny and have to perform their search for online sexual fun elsewhere, if Google opts to ‘Just Say No,’” Rodney offered. “The traffic will exist, but Google may cede its marketshare in overall search as a result, in addition to the estimated $500m+ potential annual revenue loss.”

“Hell hath no fury like scorned horny consumers,” Scott concluded, providing a glimmer of hope for porn marketers and website owners seeking a solution to a crimp in the flow of Google traffic, because it may be the biggest source, but it is not the only source of adult entertainment consumers.

Stay tuned to XBIZ for more as this story develops...