6.2. Making Money with Advertising
In principle, making money with advertising related to adult content isn't all that different from making money with vanilla content. The good news for operators of sites related to adult content is that the willingness of users to pay for content creates opportunities. Site visitors are happy to be able to purchase adult content privately, and instantly, without a (potentially embarrassing) trip to a video or adult store.
As with other kinds of affiliate programs, adult sponsors work by providing you with an identification code that you embed in the links you place on your site (see Chapter 4 for more information about the general process of affiliate linking). The steps involved in adding a sponsor link to your sitethe same as with a vanilla affiliate programare:
Registering with a sponsor
This may require manual approval, and you'll need to provide a name and social security number to receive checks.
Selecting banners or other content for your site
Most sponsors provide a huge array of ads for you to choose from, with the HTML, including your identification code, generated for you.
Copying and pasting the code to your site
You should use include files for all ad code, as explained in Chapter 1, so they are easy to modify.
Testing the link
You should make sure the sponsor site opens when the link is clicked.
6.2.1. Types of Programs
For the most part, adult advertising is for sponsorsthe kind of relationship known as an affiliate program in the vanilla world (see Chapter 4 for information about non-adult affiliate programs) in which the sponsor is called a merchant. Within the adult-content world, "types of programs" means the offering of the sponsor.
The major categories, or types, of programs which in almost all cases are segmented by niche (see "The Taxonomy of Desire," earlier in this chapter, for more information about adult niches), include:
Online erotic content such as text, pictures, and video feeds (see Figure 6-3)
Sites specializing in streaming video feeds
Interactive sites providing services such as interactive phone sex, directed webcams, etc.
Adult personal sites
In addition, some sponsors provide a classic merchant offering: online stores provide merchandise for shipment such as sex toys and adult DVDs.
Figure 6-3. This well-known sponsor offers for-pay access to sites built around individual porn stars
6.2.2. Payment Plans
Adult sponsors pay commissions to sponsored sites carrying their ads in a number of different ways, including:
Pay per sale
A flat fee, often as much as $30 to $40, each time a visitor subscribes or signs up (this kind of payment plan is also called Pay Per Sign-up, or PPS).
Pay per click (CPC)
Works just the same way as vanilla CPC (see Chapter 5); usually worth a few pennies per click.
The promise is that you'll receive a share of whatever your traffic pays into the indefinite future; see "Webmaster Programs," next, for an interesting extension of this arrangement.
It's hard to know in advance which arrangement will work best for you. Obviously, if you knew that your visitors would click and not buy, you'd go for CPC; if you knew that they'd subscribe and not renew, you'd go for "pay per sale"; and if your average site viewer subscribed forever, you'd want to revenue share.
If you believe in the sponsor's offering, and think that it works for your traffic, you are probably best off going along with a revenue-sharing arrangement. The best approach is trial and error. For example, suppose you work with two sponsors. You could try one on a pay-for-sale basis, and the other on a revenue-sharing basis, and see which does best. Eventually, you could switch the lower-yielding program over.
Most adult-site sponsors allow you to switch program payment plans easily, although this will often involve pasting new code into the ad code on your site.
6.2.3. Webmaster Programs
Webmaster programs allow you to refer other webmasters to your adult-site sponsor. Not only do you get a payout when the other webmaster enrolls in the sponsor's affiliate program, you also get an override commission on anything the other webmaster brings in. In a sense, a webmaster program is a great deal like a multi-level marketing (MLM) scheme: it is possible to make a great deal of money at the early phases of a webmaster program (or MLM), but the good times, even in theory, cannot go on forever; there are only so many webmasters to enroll.
CPC Contextual Ads on Adult Sites
Don't confuse CPC as a form of payment basis from an adult-site sponsor with CPC contextual advertising. Sites with adult traffic can host contextual ads (contextual and CPC ads are explained in Chapter 5). So it's perfectly possible to expect to use contextual ads as an additional source of revenue on an adult site.
However, Google will not knowingly accept adult sites into the Google AdWords program; you need to work with an alternative contextual ad vendor (some are mentioned in Chapter 5). Another alternative, also described in Chapter 5, is to use a service such as AdBrite, which allows bidders to place ads on your site subject to your approval.
Oddly enough, although Google will not place ads via AdWords on an adult-oriented site, it will accept ads (with some limitations) through the AdSense program intended to drive traffic to adult content. See "Advertising Your Site," later in this chapter, for more information.
Some adult sponsors require different identification codes in links intended for webmaster traffic (as opposed to normal site visitors). To work with a site sponsor with this requirement, you need to be sure to use the right identification code with the appropriate ads to get properly credited for your traffic.
Ads intended for webmaster traffic tend to have a different look and feel than ads for site visitors: more about metrics and profitability, and less about sex (Figure 6-4).
Figure 6-4. Ads targeted at webmasters, like this one from a leading adult classified site Eroticy, tend to emphasize dollars and cents at the expense of sex
6.2.4. Finding Sponsors
Experience is the best teacher, and the best way to know the right sponsors for a given niche in the adult market is to have an in-depth understanding of the category. You may have a good gut-level idea of the kind of content your site visitors will pay for.
If you are unfamiliar with adult sites, you can find listings of sponsor programs on these web sites:
Adult Chamber is an adult webmaster resource center; ad sponsors can be found at http://adultchamber.com/adprograms.htm.
Site sponsors organized by topic niche are at http://www.cozyacademy.com/classrooms/nichology/index.asp; a complete directory of sponsors can be found in the Cozy Academy "library":http://www.cozyacademy.com/library/index.asp.
XBiz publishes newsletters and syndication feeds and maintains bulletin boards aimed at informing the adult community; see the XBiz directory at http://xbiz.com/directory.php for listings of potential site sponsors.
Keep in mind that links to sponsor offerings in directories such as Adult Chamber, Cozy Academy, and XBiz are themselves likely to be sponsored. In other words, by clicking through a banner or link on one of these sites and signing up with a sponsorship program, you are likely generating revenue for the directory either on a PPS or revenue sharing basis. It's entirely possible that placement within a directory is determined on an economic basis rather than on the basis of desirability of the content.