Update: Zomato has pulled down its ads from porn sites. Deepinder Goyal, CEO of Zomato, said in a blogpost that the company has scrapped its porn site campaign, citing reasons that the campaign was not well-received by everyone and some even accused the company of “financially supporting abuse” as not all forms of porn are legal.

“Some folks got offended by the campaign, felt the campaign was in poor taste, and it wasn’t something they expected from a brand of our standard. Some also said that all porn is not legal, and by advertising on porn websites, we are financially supporting abuse – certainly something we don’t want to do. Ever,” said Deepinder in the blogpost.

“For a start, we’re killing the porn site campaign, because we sense we crossed the fine line between marketing irreverence and cultural insensitivity. If we did, and ended up offending or disrespecting anyone in any way at all, we are sorry. That obviously wasn’t the intention, and we’ll work on doing things better in the future,” he added.

Earlier: Foodporn is defined as the glamorisation of the visual presentation of food. The word “porn” is used to describe the arousal of appetite that arises by the visuals. In an innovative and risqué advertorial attempt, Zomato – that has always relied on foodporn for attracting customers – used porn to drive traffic on its site. It advertised on post sites!

The company was looking to ramp-up its late-night delivery segment, and decided to associate with another late-night activity – porn browsing.

“We were talking about how to tap into the already buzzing late-night delivery space, and started looking at innovative marketing opportunity areas. Highly optimised Adwords, Facebook, and Twitter ad campaigns are commoditised and therefore quite expensive. The alternative seemed almost obvious when someone said ‘Hey we should try advertising on porn sites’, and then justified it with ‘look, people watch porn, and people get hungry, so stop judging me,” said the company in a blogpost.

The company used ad creatives laden with double entendres  like this:

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“We got down to work in two teams – one would set up our accounts on Traffic Junky and Traffic Factory (the ad networks serving the top porn sites), while our creative team did all the hard work of making our display ads (cue hushed voices, sniggering, many high-fives, and some jokes too naughty to publish)”

These ads were run on desktop and mobile sites, between 11 pm and 4 am – when late-night delivery restaurants are at their busiest. These ads appeared on video landing pages, just to the right of the video window:

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“Marrying food and porn was something we did way back in 2012. Back then, we created zomato.xxx – the world’s first .xxx domain site dedicated solely to food. At that time, we couldn’t do much more with the idea of food and porn, given that we were still only a restaurant discovery and search platform and hadn’t launched our online ordering services. The ads we’ve run recently are a spin-off of that idea, and feed seamlessly into our online ordering business,” said Pramod Rao, SVP – growth of Zomato, in an exclusive conversation with Inc42.

After a week of running these ads on top porn sites, Pramod stated that company has been witnessing great traction in terms of click-throughs, app installs, and orders originating from these ads. However, according to him, the first week has been more of a test and Zomato will now be optimising a few things for the remainder of the campaign, based on what it has learned.

The company shared some of its findings and statistics via its blogpost:

  1. Advertising on porn sites costs very little money, and is significantly cheaper than other platforms. Like, significantly cheaper. Just look at these numbers:zomato2

2. People in Delhi NCR clicked on these banners the most on desktops, at an average click-through rate (CTR) of 0.12% while Bangalore came (*teehee*) a close second with an average CTR of 0.11%. The campaign average CTR so far is at 0.22%.

3. At a more granular level, the highest number of clicks in Delhi came from around the Hauz Khas area. We can’t say for sure why that happened, but IIT-Delhi is in the area, so… ¯\_(ツ)_/¯  

4. In Bangalore, Koramangala was hands down the naughtiest part of town, while in Mumbai, Powai gets down and dirty the most.

5. The BBW/Big Beautiful Wraps ad was our best performing desktop ad (no surprises there); the “Hot Sticky Mess” and “Hot Singles” ads also did really well.

Online food ordering service, Eat24, which was acquired by Yelp in January 2015 for $134 Mn, has also done something similar and shared some of its interesting insights via its blogpost.

Note: We at Inc42 take our ethics very seriously. More information about it can be found here.