PornHub is the marketing hero we all deserve - Comm&Sense, INC.

PornHub is the marketing hero we all deserve

By October 15, 2019Content Marketing

The content marketing success story of PornHub is really about how an NSFW, still taboo brand won the internet. Since 2014, marketing pundits have been gushing over how the world’s leading pornographic search engine established a playful, titillating, yet palatable brand that even non-porn audiences recognize.

Let’s look into the work, hard work, that made its thrust-worthy content come, again and again, into mainstream consciousness–without offending audiences outside its broad, global, yet secretive niche.

1. Using content to create relatable conversations. It’s amazing how nowadays, even people who don’t watch adult entertainment know about PornHub. This is because PornHub is able to create, fiddle with, release, and leverage online, multimedia content that are relatable and entertaining to most people.

Photo source: PornHub Insights

In 2014, PornHub unveiled a huge billboard in Times Square, New York and even hired a choir to sing below it a version of “All You Need is Love” but modified the crucial lyrics to be the same as the billboard copy.

The billboard was taken away after 48 hours but it was enough time for photos, comments, and discussions to spread online and become the subject of legit coverage by mainstream media.

What was the point of the ad? What was the message? Well, it was a novelty, conveniently controversial (but not so much as to cause an uproar), and well, you have to admit, funny. Other than being an audacious, unexpected prank, it avoided being directly and in-your-face sexy or pornographic. It was suggestive but not in an offensive way.

And yet, PornHub did not stop there. In 2016, it put out a TV ad that made it to mainstream TV and created another wave of global conversations. This was a Christmas commercial that showed a family exchanging gifts on Christmas eve. Harmless and wholesome, right? What could go wrong?

In this 76-second commercial, we see a young man giving gifts to his family and then handing his grandfather a wholesome-looking Christmas card.  We see, however, that the card envelope really contains a PornHub Premium service Gift Card, which is a free subscription to PornHub’s premium videos selection.

The grandfather and presumably the grandson share a heartfelt, emotional hug, as these words appear: “This Christmas, give the most touching gift.”

Again, we see a PornHub ad that remains Safe for Work and would not offend sensibilities even when watched by family members at home. And of course, wit and humor saved the day.

In just these two examples, PornHub shows us how to create brand awareness and even brand trust and credibility through content.  Sure, pornography is offensive to a lot of people. However, PornHub is able to put its brand out there safely and effectively by not talking about pornography directly. Instead, it generates interesting, meaningful, and relatable conversations around porn’s periphery.

2. Beyond sex drives, go data-driven. Since PornHub is watched all over the world, PornHub deploys its algorithms and statisticians to gather and crunch hard data on the viewing habits of its audiences per country.

When PornHub released that data through its blog, PornHub Insights, the data became legitimate news on social media and the mainstream news outlets. After all, a lot of audiences would be interested in knowing about people’s secret pornviewing habits.

In 2018, PornHub Insights revealed the world’s biggest consumer of pornography are (not really a surprise) Americans.  They are followed in second place by India.

Up at 3rd, 4th, and 5th places are Japan, Canada, and France. As for the Philippines, it ranks 10th place in the top 20 countries where PornHub is viewed.

However, what made this piece of news interesting for the Philippines is its ranking when it comes to duration or the length of time spent on PornHub.  Incredibly, Filipinos rank number one in the world in terms of longest time spent viewing PornHub. On the average, Filipinos spend 13 minutes and 50 seconds viewing PornHub.  Now that, as PornHub Insights says, is stamina.

Going data-driven is very important for any marketing effort. Data gathering and analytics provide an accurate and credible basis for tracking the preferences and behaviors of target audiences and markets. 

Using such data, brands can come up with even more effective, meaningful, and relatable content. Such data can also be the basis for product development and research, improvements in services, and better marketing strategies. Without a data-driven approach to marketing, efforts to reach, connect, funnel and convert leads into sales will have more misses than hits. 

3. Building credibility as a brand. By now, we’ve already realized that PornHub can really turn out content that is, at the very least, entertaining and out of the box. However, it also won the brand publishing game through content and events that captured the audiences’ attention–while also creating some real, beneficial impact in society. 

For example, in June of 2016, PornHub launched a crowdfunding project at Indiegogo called “Sexploration.”  This was an online fundraising effort to raise US$3.4 million so PornHub could shoot a porn video in outer space–not too far away, though, just past the Earth’s atmosphere and in suborbital space. 

Still, this was a historical undertaking: the very first time for two humans to have sex in outer space.  This would have implications beyond simply adult entertainment because it is of real scientific interest and value   The physiological effects of outer space and zero gravity on human beings have not been fully studied–and effects of human sexual acts in space are among the unknowns.

PornHub ended the fundraiser on August 2016, some 60 days after the campaign kicked off. PornHub was able to raise US$236,000–a mere 6 percent of the target funding but surely, they earned so much more in PR and marketing mileage after major global media networks covered their campaign.

In a letter to their fans, PornHub Vice President Corey Price said that as the company closes the campaign, it is also refunding all the donations given for the project. He also said that while the crowdfunding project didn’t meet its target amount, PornHub continues to find ways to shoot the first pornographic video in outer space.

Tellingly, Price also talked about the true value that the crowdfunding effort brought to PornHub:

“In an industry dominated by billionaires, supporters of the adult industry came together to show its collective strength and help propel the campaign toward making global headlines and sparking a multi-national debate about the scientific and technological variables associated with our endeavor. We feel that the campaign’s overall exposure and presence across online conversations showed a general desire to see us succeed. If this was a campaign of public approval – then I’d say we indeed came out on top.” [Emphasis ours.]

See? The crowdfunding served a much more valuable purpose than simply raising US$3.4 million (after all, PornHub can probably raise that amount on its own). Rather, the whole event was content marketing and brand publishing meant to:

  • Spread brand awareness and generate goodwill
  • Connect, engage, enlarge, and strengthen community
  • Build brand credibility by actually creating a social good

“Sexploration” scored on all those areas even though the social and scientific good promised by the first porn video in outer space will have to wait. In the meantime, PornHub continued with other projects related to social good in the areas of environment and ecology advocacy, as well as women’s health.

PornHub has launched projects like “PornHub Gives America Wood” where it pledged to plant a tree for every 100 views on the site’s “Big Dicks” category.  It also funded a mobile breast cancer screening clinic that provided free tests. They called it the “Save our Boobs Bus.” More recently, PornHub created a campaign to help clean up pollution at beaches

4. Social media engagement. PornHub’s Twitter account currently has 1.7 million followers and engages its audience with jokes, data and trivia from PornHub Insights, photos of PornHub events, and even teasers and links to PornHub articles and podcasts (yes, PornHub has those, too).  

All in all, raunchy jokes aside, the Twitter account is mostly tasteful and safe for work. It’s currently managed by a young woman named Aria who clarifies that she herself doesn’t do porn. She’s also running PornHub’s Instagram account  (that already has 8 million followers) that features sexy photos of various PornHub “models.”  

PornHub’s content marketing and brand publishing is an example to other brands–not really in the type of content, which is very niche and still taboo–but in terms of strategy and approach. They took their niche and still taboo brand and found ways to run with it: successfully penetrating even mainstream media while building and expanding their community of viewers and customers.

To succeed, the porn giant took out-of-the-box thinking, a savvy understanding of what their core market wants, and a willingness to engage a broader, general audience in providing not only compelling content but even a measure of social good. PornHub really gets more bang for every buck it spends on content marketing and brand publishing. 



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