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This Danish lawmaker grabs votes, where others grab themselves—on pornhub.

Joachim B. Olsen knows just how penetrating ads can be.

Following the lead of other legit advertisers, Joachim B. Olsen places banners where exposure is high

“Yeah, I’m the guy from Pornhub,” posted Joachim B. Olsen just a few days ago to his Facebook page. But you will not find the Danish politician acting in any videos on the erotic platform, but rather stumping for votes on banners. And Olsen is hardly the first to plug issues that matter where others are looking for girls with issues. In addition to other politicians, serious brands have also begun running ads on adult websites. OMR breaks down the trend, sheds light on the background and shows examples of the original ads.

The campaign banner Joachim Olsen ran on Pornhub (Screenshot: BT.dk)

“When you’re done with your stroke, go vote for Jokke,” is a (very) rough translation of the banner slogan that Joachim B. Olsen ran for his NAME campaign on Pornhub. Olsen confirmed a report by Danish tabloid BT in a post to his Facebook page. “Jokke” the short form for Joachim according to the New York Times and a colloquial term for masturbation.

Legitimate campaign tactic or PR coup?

Olsen, who won silver at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens as a shot putter, is now a member of the liberal party and sits in the Danish parliament. Danish parliament elections take place on June 6, meaning now is crunch time to spread the message and vie for votes. “Half of the Internet is porn. That’s just where people are—which is why I thought it would be funny to run an ad on Pornhub,” Olsen told BT.

The 41-year old told the New York Times that he invested 450 bucks in the ads. Just how many impressions and clicks the campaign generated is unclear. It’s also impossible to say if Olsen himself leaked the banners to BT in an effort to increase the spotlight on the resulting PR effect than on the banner placement. What is worth noting, however, is that an URL included on Olsen’s Facebook page does not currently link to an active page. That raises the question of where exactly the campaign landing page was actually hosted. What is beyond question is that the move has netted Olsen international media exposure.

“I wanna watch you do it.” A banner for Austrian pirate party on Youporn from 2015 (Source: Kurier.at)

Three billion impressions per day

Ad run by “Die Kooperative” from 2017 (Source: Horizont.de)

It’s not the first time that election ads on porn sites have caused a stir, however. The Austrian Pirate Party ran ads on Youporn in 2015 according to a report by Austrian daily Kurier. Then in 2017, Frankfurt ad agency “Die Kooperative” apparently sought to excite and mobilize voters with ads on porn platforms to go out vote and against right-wing parties like the AfD (Alternative for Deutschland). In 2018, Benajmin Thomas Wolf, a candidate for US Congress, ran ads on pornhub pushing for the legalization of marijuana. Shortly after the ads appeared, however, allegations of sexual harrassment and physical abuse surfaced; Wolf lost the election.

Typically, the aforementioned campaigns ran on websites belonging to Mindgeek, which owns Pornhub, Youporn, Redtube and XHamster, among other sites. The pages are then marketed by Traffic Junky, an ad network that’s also a part of the Mindgeek (formerly Manwin) portfolio. Traffic Junky has a massive traffic volume and thus ad inventory as well. According to their own figures Traffic Junky registers 150 million users and three billion page impressions—per day.

“Cheaper than Google and Facebook”

Advertisers who are not turned off by the pornographic surroundings are supposedly able to profit from significantly cheaper ad placements than on the digital market leaders. “Sorry Facebook and company, but here I can get 1 million impressions for just 100 euro and a ton of clicks to boot,” “Die Kooperative” told German publisher Horizont back in 2017. Additional players in the porno-ad game include große Barcelona-based Exoclick and Hamburg, Germany-based iVenturegroup.

A Banner by Eat24 run by Traffic Junky in 2013 (Source: Eat24)

In addition to politcians and pay porn sites, several brands have also been running ads on adult websites. The first company to acknowledge running ads on porn sites was underwear startup Me Undies in June 2013 who ran a campaign on Paintbottle, a now defunct adult site.

The Benchmark: Eat24

Causing an even greater splash was US food delivery serviceEat24 (sold by Yelp to Grubhub in 2017), which ran a porno campaign a few months later and documented the campaign results in this entertaining blog post, where they were able to achieve fantastic results at “90% less than what the big guys charge per 1,000 impressions.” The funny creatives, extensive analysis and post-campaign report was an additional content marketing coup that garnered a great deal of traction in marketing circles.

An Eat24 creative (Source: Eat24)

Seeing the savings and efficacy of the ads, a host of more or less serious brands took to advertising on porno sites. For Hollywood production “Don Jon,” where Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays a porn addict who falls in love with Scarlett Johannson, movie distribution company Relativity Media ran ads on Pornhub in October 2013. In 2014, German razor startup Mornin’ Glory took a page from Eat24 and tested humourous creatives on porn sites.

Ad run by Mornin’ Glory on porno sites (screenshot from 2015)

Diesel follows food delivery startups

India-based food delivery service Zomato began running ads on porn sites in 2015 as well and documented the campaign performance in a blog post saying that it “turns out advertising on a porn site is a great idea if ridiculously low CPCs turn you on”

Ads run by Zomato on pornographic sites (Source: Zomato)

In January 2016, Italian fashion brand Diesel was the first upscale fashion brand to announce that they would begin running ads on adult sites like Pornhub and Youporn and on casual-dating apps like Tinder and Grindr. A few months later, Diesel, just like the companies before it, stated that the campaign had been a net positive to US magazine Dazed, with the campaign notching 31% growth—albeit without specifying if the growth was in reference to impressions, clicks or sales.

Diesel banner ran on adult sites (Source: Haaretz.com)

Contest aimed at convincing more advertisers

In an effort to seduce more advertisers to plug their goods on Traffic Junky marketed websites, the company held a contest in the summer of 2016, where advertisers were to submit with their most creative campaign concepts. The winner then received a media budget on Pornhub and Redtube for a purported USD 100,000. It’s unclear who was to pony up the cash.

A “Devour” banner of the mobile version of Pornhub (Source: WSJ.com)

January 2019 could be the moment where “porno advertising” finally breached the mainstream as Kraft Heinz booked ads for frozen foods brand Devour on Pornhub in the run up to the Super Bowl according to the Wall Street Journal with slogans like “see hot food porn now.”

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