Pornhub’s Ad Network Has a Demand-Side Platform

TrafficJunky wants to attract more sophisticated advertisers

a laptop that says pornhub with a fake plant on the right and a light on the left
Advertisers now have programmatic access to some of the most popular porn sites. TrafficJunky

It’s becoming a whole lot easier to buy ads on porn sites. TrafficJunky, which is the ad network for Pornhub, RedTube and other adult entertainment properties’ parent company, MindGeek, created its own demand-side platform (DSP).

Adult websites typically attract advertisers from verticals such as webcam and online dating services. TrafficJunky was looking to reach more advanced advertisers, ones accustomed to the automation Google and Facebook provide. So, the company built an in-house DSP to meet that demand.

While admittedly late to the programmatic game, TrafficJunky’s director of sales Graham Collie said the company was doing fine because it had exclusive access to ad inventory on Pornhub, which is one of the most popular porn sites in the U.S.

“But obviously that’s not a sustainable long-term solution, especially once we start dealing with advertisers who are much more sophisticated than the typical advertisers who will come through adult sites,” said Collie.

While the DSP is up and running, audience segments and lookalikes are still being built out. The TrafficJunky DSP can plug into other exchanges and buy inventory on non-MindGeek sites. However, Collie said the initial focus will be on monetizing MindGeek’s properties, which the company said in June sees 1.35 billion ad impressions per day in the U.S. per data.

Brands willing to take a risk?

Most mainstream brands typically stay away from advertising against adult content. Bigger names that do advertise on adult sites generally run splashy, one-time campaigns, which often enjoy some earned media buzz.

Lindsey Boan, director of media at full-service agency Madwell, said advertising on porn sites can be an always-on strategy for brands outside of the sexual wellness or pleasure categories, like pizza delivery companies. These sites attract similar audiences as other publishers, but their CPMs are typically lower.

“It’s cost effective in terms of efficiencies. And if you’re comfortable being around this as a brand, we’d recommend at least testing it,” Boan said.

Collie said having a DSP won’t be a “magic bullet,” but the targeting that comes along with it will “put us in a better position to be able to increase those CPMs, and that’s really where that’s what the long-term goal is.”

It’s not that we want more of the same buyers; we’d like more advanced buyers.

—Graham Collie, director of sales, TrafficJunky

While fresh on the scene, TrafficJunky’s DSP has already seen two major industry milestones.

The company began building the platform over a year ago before Google announced it will rid its Chrome browser of third-party cookies by 2022. Collie called that announcement a benefit because it meant the company wouldn’t “get entrenched into a specific solution” and then have to find an alternative.

The DSP also launched during the pandemic, which led to a spike in Pornhub’s traffic as more people stayed home. Collie said MindGeek’s flagship website has retained the influx of users that came to its site when the pandemic first hit, and now more than 150 million users come to the site every day.

“We have way more inventory. At the same time, that means you need more demand,” said Collie. “It’s not that we want more of the same buyers; we’d like more advanced buyers.”

One of Madwell’s clients is potentially the type of buyer TrafficJunky is looking for. Boan said the agency was talking with Champ, a sexual pleasure brand about what activating through TrafficJunky’s DSP would look like.


@andrewblustein andrew.blustein@adweek.com Andrew Blustein is a programmatic reporter at Adweek.
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