MarketingData-Driven MarketingVillage Voice Media Pressured to Drop Backpage.com Adult Ads

Village Voice Media Pressured to Drop Backpage.com Adult Ads

Classifieds site generated $2.1 million in revenue from "online prostitution advertising" in August.

Village Voice Media got more pressure to shutter the adult section of Backpage.com, its online classifieds website, yesterday.

Groundswell, a social action initiative of Auburn Seminary, ran a full-page ad in the New York Times, saying, “We agree with 51 Attorneys General. Girls and boys should not be sold for sex on Village Voice Media’s Backpage.com.”

The open letter to Village Voice Media CEO Jim Larkin and its board of directors charged the site has been used to sell minors for sex.

“While we empathize with your business challenges and the increasingly difficult marketplace in which Village Voice Media competes,” the letter went on, “we trust that you are committed to running your business without compromising the lives of our nation’s boys and girls.”

Therein lies the rub.

So-called adult advertising has been the mainstay of alternative weeklies since the Berkeley Barb. (That radical weekly, founded in 1965, according to Wikipedia, went out of business in 1980, two years after spinning off its sex ads business into a separate pub.)

AIM Group, an interactive media consultancy, estimates that Backpage.com generated $2.1 million in revenue from “online prostitution advertising” in August 2011, a 50 percent increase from the $1.4 million it generated in August 2010. AIM Group tallies the total online revenue generated by sex ads from September 2010 through August 2011 at $33.8 million.

But total online sex ad revenue is down more than 50 percent, AIM Group said, after Craigslist eliminated its adult services ads a year ago. Craigslist declined to comment for this story.

Village Voice Media responded to the Groundswell ad on its own website, writing, “Backpage.com is a digital classified site with an adult component that is attempting to be part of the solution. And we remain open to the possibility of conversation with these religious leaders.” The company did not respond to calls or emails requesting comment.

In September 2010, 21 attorneys general asked Backpage.com to squelch adult ads.

In a Sept. 23 letter to the National Association of Attorneys General, or NAAG, which also requested the end to adult advertising, Village Voice Media’s attorney said the company “understands and shares the concerns of the Attorneys General and pledged to work cooperatively with law enforcement.”

It pointed out that, in addition to cooperating with sting operations and promptly responding to subpoenas, the company uses aggressive content moderation and content filtration. It’s also worked with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children to develop logarithmic screens that filter terms that propose illegal transactions.

In the letter, Village Voice Media requested a meeting with the organization to “help chart a meaningful course, congruent with the law and with the critical importance of the Pillars of Hope Presidential Initiative to stop child trafficking.”

Whitepapers

US Mobile Streaming Behavior

Whitepaper | Mobile US Mobile Streaming Behavior

4m
Winning the Data Game: Digital Analytics Tactics for Media Groups

Whitepaper | Actionable Analysis Winning the Data Game: Digital Analytics Tactics for Media Groups

4m
Giving a Voice to Your Brand

Whitepaper | AI Giving a Voice to Your Brand

4m
Mobile Messaging Masters

Whitepaper | Mobile Mobile Messaging Masters

4m

Related Articles

Marketers Poised to Benefit From Government Distrust After NSA Kerfuffle

Data-Driven Marketing Marketers Poised to Benefit From Government Distrust After NSA Kerfuffle

6y Liva Judic
For Whom The Bell Really Tolls? NSA Docs Show Google Cookies Used for Data Spying

Analytics For Whom The Bell Really Tolls? NSA Docs Show Google Cookies Used for Data Spying

6y Liva Judic
Exclusive NY Event Helped Digital Advertisers Meet Mitch McConnell

Data-Driven Marketing Exclusive NY Event Helped Digital Advertisers Meet Mitch McConnell

7y Kate Kaye
Behind the Facebook Ads Class Settlement Shocker

Data-Driven Marketing Behind the Facebook Ads Class Settlement Shocker

7y Susan Kuchinskas
Do Not Track Standards Not Settled in W3C Meetings

Data-Driven Marketing Do Not Track Standards Not Settled in W3C Meetings

7y Kate Kaye
Obstacles Remain for Political Mobile Text Donations

Data-Driven Marketing Obstacles Remain for Political Mobile Text Donations

7y Kate Kaye
BBB Reveals BlueCava, Turn, and Others Needed Privacy Fixes

Data-Driven Marketing BBB Reveals BlueCava, Turn, and Others Needed Privacy Fixes

7y Kate Kaye
It’s Privacy Crunch Time for U.K. Site Owners

Data-Driven Marketing It’s Privacy Crunch Time for U.K. Site Owners

7y Kate Kaye