a Hit, Filling Craigslist Sex Ad Void

Village Voice site now a target of critics

Craigslist shuttering its Adult Services section has been a boon for Village Voice Media, the New York Observer reports., the classifieds site owned by VVM, is now the only popular site still willing to run barely disguised ads for prostitution. In the month following the disappearance of Craigslist’s Adult Services, visitor numbers have soared. According to Quantcast, the site experienced a half million person bump in traffic, becoming the Web’s top publisher of escort ads, and The Aim Group estimated that Backpage made $2.1 million in revenue off of erotic services.

Backpage is even filling the gap in sex-related offenses left by Craigslist. One crime blogger who goes by the name of Trench Reynolds has been investigating criminal activity related to Backpage and found three cases in April alone. And in September, a former child prostitute sued VVM for knowingly publishing her advertisements, resulting in a call from 21 attorneys general to ban Backpage’s escort ads. (VVM refused but said that it would cooperate with law officials on cases related to the site.)

Another dubious source of growth for VVM has been advertising from medical marijuana dispensaries—the company even hired a marijuana columnist. “This is certainly one of the fastest growing industries we've ever seen come in,” the president and COO of the company told The New York Times.

VVM could really use any extra revenue right now. It recently reached settlement in a 2004 suit brought against it by the San Francisco Bay Guardian, claiming that the VVM-owned SF Weekly had manipulated ad prices in order to drive the other paper out of business.