I advertised non-adult on adult websites, here is what happened

Jul 18, 2018
TLDR: To beat the odds at advertising on adult-networks you need to come up with a product that gives instant gratification NOW.

Hello all,

My second post and it's about time I open my mouth for a change. I have in no way tasted the success many have here, (yeah, you with the 3 million dollar bank account) but I keep grinding and keep learning. So for all newbies reading this, stick with it, adjust, improve, seek new roads and you will beat the odds. I read the crash course and my god, I have been working the other way around! Anyhow, for the past weeks I have not been more clear in my vision today than for the past 17 years. As a token of gratitude, I can at least share my experience.

Like many, I'm always on the hunt for value for money advertising space. I tried pretty much everything, from Google to Facebook to Reddit to Quora. I tried various GEO's, from the US to the UK to AUS. I tried 3 types of products, a T-shirt, a lead gen product and an adult gaming product. Throughout below I will try to be as objective as possible but by no means is this scientific.

Most ad networks are just plain expensive. They're even too expensive to just play with and learn the system before going bigger. I strict myself to just a budget of $3 a day to learn and master the system in the beginning. I learned to really stretch it, something you never learn when your budget is bigger. After the big mainstream advertising networks, I decided to try a new road and advertise on adult websites.

Inspired by eat24.com and Calvin Klein, both non-adult, I signed up at TrafficJunky.com, deposited $100 dollars and made an ad. I choose the US, all websites, no capping. $3 a day limit I set myself would get me 30 days at least. Boy, was I wrong! In 3 days, with 17 a day hours optimization on anything possible was no hail. 100 dollars, gone in 3 days! What did I get for that money? albeit, no sales, maybe the product was just not suitable (business card for gun owners). No sales, but I did get 1.3 million impressions, 2000 clicks of which 1000 registered. I will get to this in a sec.

I learned, no matter how good you're at optimizing and targetting, it's very very hard to tame the number of impressions served by adult websites. It's just mindboggling. Pornhub.com alone has 280.000.000 impressions daily.

A month went by and I didn't advertise during that month. I kept getting emails from an account manager and it basically said, if you deposit x amount then you get x amount bonus. 100 dollars, 250 dollars, 500 dollars, ONE THOUSAND DOLLARS! That was the straw, I replied to that email and asked them, what in the hell do these people do, to make so much money that 1000 dollar is like nothing. Mind you, I still think in 3 dollars a day.

We got on Skype, I told him, look, I advertised and explained what it was I was selling, how I targetted gun businesses in the US, when I targetted them, got 1000 registered clicks and absolutely no sales. He was flabbergasted as well, probably because no small fish like me has done what I do, advertising a non-adult product on an adult website. He then got into the script handed to him by the corp and asked whether I had other products, the usual, enhancement products, diet products, money-making products. I'm not interested in those. This is how it goes: Affiliate for those type of products, pump more money, get more impressions, hope for more clicks. That's not a solution, more money is not going to fix my lack of understanding.

After a month of silence, I decided to try it again. I found myself a list of less desirable GEO's because I simply cannot tame the number of impressions served in the US. This time I advertised a lead gen product. With the much smaller GEO's I was happy, no high cost, decent amount of clicks per day. BUT still no sign-ups. I adjusted my strategy. Since my product is non-adult I could retarget those people who clicked again on other platforms, without embarrassing them.

Then I discovered something rather unusual. In 21 days I got around 1 million impressions and 4000 clicks, but GA and FB only registered 60? This is like the first time, 2000 clicks but only 1000 registered. Why is that? I stopped the ads, talked to my account manager and he passed it to an engineer at TrafficJunky and a few days later he told me that it might be a click farm. This, at the time, doesn't make any sense man! I'm paying for impressions, why in hell would someone go on clicking then? I decided to dig deeper and found a second possible answer and that is incognito browsing. Now, this is far beyond my technical knowledge to tackle, but it's a gray area which advertisers, publishers, and networks struggle with because they all want the money, exposure, sales but also keep the user happy.

It has been a few weeks now and I decided to contact @eliquid and see if he could shed some light in my experience. He confirmed that it could definitely be a click farm. Furthermore, that some affiliates steal other peoples banners and links etc by means of automation, they can pretty much stay on top. He also suggested a way to test whether it's actually a click farm/bot infested network or not. By choosing some obscure place, like a village in the middle of nowhere and see how many clicks it gets. Using common sense you can decide whether that's a possibility or not. Like 10 people live there, but you get 100 clicks.

It's funny, I remember I targetting one such obscure place, one that nobody would care about and @eliquid was right. In this place, half a million impressions and only 2 clicks. So in all, it makes sense, it's a rigged game.

At the very best I would do 3.7% CTR, at worst at 0.02%. I keep asking myself, how can I tap into this potential? This potential is so cheap, there has to be a way to tap it. But first a summary:

- traffic is insanely cheap
- networks are bot infested
- actual clicks are far lower than reported by the network
- incognito browsing makes retargeting impossible

Because of the incognito browsing and lack of retargeting coupled with all the instant gratification attitude today, you have to find a product which delivers that instant gratification NOW, because when they close the browser, it will be all gone. That's why eat24.com was so successful when they run a campaign. I tried to put this to a test:

I made a landing page with a simple scratch card. Like a scratch card, people just swipe over the screen and the golden ink disappears, revealing something underneath. The ad said "scratch and claim". And the CTR doubled like insane. At some points, I even reached 15%.

Summary: to beat the odds at advertising on adult-networks you need to come up with a product that gives instant gratification NOW.

That's it. I thank you for reading this and please share your thoughts and insight or questions you may have.