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Weekly Papers Dropping Adult Ads

Over the past few years more and more “alternative” weeklies have been dropping adult ads, mostly due to discomfort with the ads and what they imply. Another round of ad-dropping occurred this summer in New York (when a paper decided to “fumigate” itself).

This is interesting because papers — large and small — are citing declining readership and loss of ad revenue. They hope to cut a major source of revenue (adult ads) which should encourage mainstream advertisers to advertise again. Yet if they drop adult ads, aren’t some of their readers going to go away too? And even if they have a squeaky-clean paper, does that mean their readership is going to increase?

A much longer piece from Ft. Worth details the decision process. The ironic thing about the Ft. Worth article (published 2002; quote from page 4) is:

The Observer toned down its ads last year and is planning more restrictions, Draper said. “Back in November, I made a decision that we’d gone too far and we needed to scale it back,” she said. “This is a business we don’t pursue — they come to us. Obviously we want to keep the door open to all kinds of businesses and new advertisers, but it was too heavy.”

I know from my own experience that wasn’t true. In 2002, I got a phone call from an advertising rep at The Observer attempting to sell adspace to me. They e-mailed me with weekly rates and tried really hard to get my advertising dollars.

It was too expensive and, besides, I didn’t want to advertise in a newspaper. Why would I?

I had the Internet.

As more and more newspapers shut down their adult advertising sections, more and more advertisers will go online. The ill-informed go to CraigsList or other free services. The better-informed go to online paid advertising or create a Web site and start trading links. This means an even higher amount of growth for the online adult industry across all niches and support-services.