By Harold Rook
It’s Valentine’s Day everyone, and that means that there is love in the air! It’s the time of the year where couples get cute gifts for each other, ceremoniously demonstrating their commitment to one another. Ah, such a beautiful time…for couples. But for the remainder of us, it’s an exasperating, almost obnoxious reminder that we are single, meaning another normal day with extra hearts and roses. For the lucky guy or gal out there who managed to get a reciprocating response from their crush, today is like finding a pot of gold. As for me…I wasn’t so lucky (probably doesn’t help that I write for the Review). So, what to do on the stuffiest holiday around, when everyone you know is displaying affection in the most over-the-top manner possible? Go home, crack open your favorite drink, and pull out your trusty laptop to view the material of your preference. Yet, while I’m on my way doing this, something catches my eye: an ad. Not just one ad, but many, so many in fact that it practically stops me in my tracks. On top of that, some of these ads are ridiculous and hard to ignore; “Find Cougars Near You,” “This One Simply Trick Will Add Four Inches,” and “This Game Made Me Cum 32 Times in One Day” bombard every inch of the screen besides where the intended content is. So, what exactly are these advertisements, and why are certain sites full of them?
Although the internet porn industry is widely known about today, with names such as Pornhub and RedTube being the fore-players of sexual content, early porn films were initially considered taboo, with many countries, such as the United States and the United Kingdom, imposing heavy restrictions and placing the practice in bondage. However, in what is known as the “Golden Age of Porn,” filmmaker Andy Warhol made the film Blue Movie, a production dedicated exclusively to sex, kickstarting an era of porn production and social acceptance of the practice. This was not to say that modern sex-exclusive films would cum immediately; constitutional anal-ysis in Miller v. California forbade the sale of pornographic films due to “obscenity,” leaving its legal status in state hands. This ruling, however, was hindered by new technology squirting onto the scene, with VHS tapes replacing theaters. Growing public demand and state rulings would gradually make porn distribution more mainstream, erecting a massive empire profiting from Pay-Per-View and videotape sales. What would disrupt this industry ecosystem was the advent of the internet. Taking cues from sites such as YouTube, websites dedicated to showing free online porn splurged onto the scene, shifting the industry from tapes to Internet videos. Today, the porn industry is dominated by the Internet, with many big-name porn websites we are familiar with owned by MindGeek.
Now for the extra sexy bit: finances. If access to Internet porn is free and widely available, how exactly is a company such as MindGeek going to make revenue? Simply put, ads. The amount of website traffic that porn websites receive is lucrative, with Pornhub disclosing in 2018 that it received 33.5 billion visitors in that year alone. With access to a potentially massive market, advertisers would jump at that opportunity. However, due to the nature of the material in question, many of these ads are often sex related, ranging from dating sites to Viagra-related products. By having viewers create an account for their dating site or purchase their product, these advertisers can profit from their unconventional marketing strategy, consequently making these banner ads the norm. This profitability has not gone unnoticed, as more mainstream companies have sought to direct traffic to their services. Eat24, a daughter-company to GrubHub, is a prime example of this, advertising their delivery services on pornographic websites (woah, now I can get food delivered to me AND have access to free porn? That’s practically every guys’ dream!). This relationship with advertisers has been wildly successful for companies such as MindGeek, making $460 million in 2015. This is also true for other businesses within the porn industry, with its combined value being as much as $40 to $50 billion.
Obviously, not all pornographic website ads are safe; access to an unsuspecting viewer base has also been recognized by hackers and scammers. Consequently, the odds of malware infecting one’s computer are significantly higher on porn websites, with security experts estimating that as much as 53% of all visitors to Pornhub encounter some form of computer virus. The result is sucking off visitors to fake websites that seek to exploit an unwitting audience. It should go without saying that viewers should assess their safety and risk of contracting malware onto their computer if they are serious about clicking on these ads. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have my own *ahem* research to get back to.