My day-to-day marketing activities are somewhat different from yours. Instead of optimising campaigns and formulating strategy, with every day comes a new onslaught of ad disapproval, a rumour of a change in policy, a decline from an ad network or long email conversation with a boilerplate-spouting representative.

In this article I'll give you an insight into the surprisingly not-salacious world of Adult Retailing in relation to the internet's biggest players: Google and Facebook.

Lovehoney is a retailer of sex toys, lingerie and intimate accessories. This article talks a lot about what we do, so if this might make you uncomfortable, be aware. However the general themes of censorship and trying to work within unclear guidelines apply to several markets.

Lovehoney recently underwent an extensive rebrand (isn't it pretty!). After a major piece of research we commissioned showed that people who used sex toys are more likely to have better sex lives, which in turn made them happier and less stressed, leading to firmer marriages, which could make people better parents.

It was clear that our aims were good. However, wherever we turn, anyone in this industry, no matter how well intentioned, is easily labelled pornographic. The biggest names in the market, Google & Facebook, treat adult retailers in different ways, though each brings its own restrictions.

Note: Some of the statements in this post are based upon my observations having worked in adult retailing for eight months. They may not be accurate, and I welcome corrections in the comments, specifically regarding policies.

However as this post will explain, guidelines that cover areas such as classification and content policy are difficult to find, a great deal of working in this industry is guesswork.


Google classifies websites in one of three ways: Family Safe, Not Family Safe (NFS/P) & Adult. The classification your site dictates your validity for ranking for certain phrases, how the SafeSearch algorithm treats you, the ability to list on Google Product Search, and which elements of PPC you are allowed to use.

Google's AdWords program is the easiest to explain of these. So if your site is rated Not Family Safe or Adult, ad extensions such as site links and business ratings will not be shown.

However, since this goes through a manual approval process, everybody does it. Every company gets their ads refused a few weeks later, if not sooner. Everyone then puts them back on.

No big deal, you might think. However for Lovehoney, our customer service, and therefore our Google Seller Rating is a key differentiator for us.Being able to use this, and therefore attract customers who are scared of buying such things online, is critical.

In any other industry we would be the poster child for Customer Service, but a system that is dependent on the discretion of the content approver means that our ability to shout about what we do - "Always go the extra inch!" is severely hobbled.


Google gives the adult sector some guidelines on how each classification is to be complied with. To obtain a Not Family Safe rating (the best we could hope for, understandably) we have to have:

  • No images with exposed nipples (a constant battle when selling sheer lingerie).
  • No images where nipples are covered with images (Stars or hearts, for example), including no photomanipulation of nipples such a blurring.
  • Photographs where the model is wearing nipple pasties or shields is OK. Nipple pasties added in post-processing is a grey area. (A technique we're slowly perfecting!).
  • No images with exposed genitalia (of course). 
  • No images with simulated sex where the models are not wearing underwear.

Most importantly - for PPC Adwords, it's rumoured (again, only rumour) that there must be no offending images can be viewed within one click of the landing page.

For Lovehoney, our use of 'Mega Menus' means that nearly every category page is within reach of any other page. This meant that we had to undergo an extensive site sanitisation procedure. A rigorous eye was cast over every image, even down to the photos on adult playing cards.

For a category like, Men's Fetishwear, this isn't an easy task. So what do we do? Drop Men's Fetishwear from our menu, therefore making it more difficult for those visitors interested in this category to find it?

Aside from the more fetish aspects of what we sell, lingerie manufacturers generally don't supply particularly family safe images. Even something as innocuous as stockings are supplied with photos using topless models.

So does reshooting any offending images to appease Google affect sales? Of course it does. We replaced the old image for the best seller within the Crotchless Lingerie category with one shot on a mannequin. Sales dramatically fell. 

We're now trying a styled, modelled photograph for these products. It's a constant balancing act where you have to work out how much extra traffic you are going to get from each level of sanitising, and balancing this against the lower conversion rate of products.

Breaking the rules

While site sanitisation is frustrating, the more difficult to understand area is sites that break these rules, yet still maintain a Not Family Safe rating. Until very recently, an extremely well known intimates and adult accessories site had hardcore pornography DVD covers listed within one click of any page.

There isn't regular policing of the sites in this industry, and so trying to make sure everyone is working within the same standards can quickly turn into a tit-for-tat bunfight between competitor sites, since no-one knows what the actual rules are.

Advertising on non-adult terms

An area to negotiate carefully is the value of PPC advertising on trending searches for non-ddult Terms. By hijacking a popular search term with PPC ads, you can get your brand in front of a lot of eyeballs very quickly.

Some adult retailers have been lauded for repeatedly doing this, however whilst Lovehoney would dearly love a slice of that PR pie, we don't do it. Why not?

Search hijacking is essentially a form of ambient marketing. The traffic isn't engaged, so it doesn't convert. Google has repeatedly told us that it frowns upon the practice. What it does do is get your name in front of a lot of people. Great, but what if they're the wrong people?

Being in this industry, you have a responsibility to ensure that your marketing message doesn't reach those it shouldn't. I'm certain there were several uncomfortable conversations with parents had around the country when teenagers looking for iPad news found themselves on sites selling a very different type of device.

You have to ensure that your PPC search terms are of an adult enough nature so that you are only exposing (for want of a much better word) your business to those who search for it. Not to do so is deeply irresponsible. I get nervous about showing ads for "schoolgirl uniform" let alone "year of the rabbit".

When is a word too adult?

Note: In this section i use words that are deemed offensive by Google. If they're likely to offend you too, I suggest scrolling down to the section after.

Lovehoney sells a type of sex toy designed for men. It's called a "cock ring". In our onsite search, visitors search for "cock ring". In natural search, Lovehoney is second and third (just after Wikipedia) for the term. These devices are known as "cock rings".

However, our adverts for "Cock Rings" are repeatedly rejected. If we wish to advertise on this phrase, we have to use "Penis ring", irrespective of what the Google user actually searched for.

This Google Trends chart shows what users are actually searching for: 

Google Trends- rings

Sometimes the approval team allows "cock ring" ads, then a different team reject them. Far too much is open to interpretion and personal decision.

This seems to go against Google's wishes for ad copy that better reflects the search term, and in turn, lowers the click through of these ads. This sort of dichotomy between guidelines and practice is endemic within the industry.


Last year, something disastrous happened to our "Social Media Strategy". At about 11pm one day, anyone who was flagged as an administrator of Lovehoney's Facebook page received an email.

Unfortunately, your account has been permanently disabled for violating Facebook's Statement of Rights and Responsibilities. We will not be able to reactivate it for any reason, nor will we provide further information about your violation or the systems we have in place. This decision is final and cannot be appealed.

Facebook's Statement of Rights and Responsibilities states that: "You will not post content that: is hateful, threatening, or pornographic; incites violence; or contains nudity or graphic or gratuitous violence."

Which completely horrified us, naturally. We're not hateful, we don't incite violence, and we definitely don't post nudity or pornography. Our Facebook presence existed so that we could engage with customers who didn't want to create accounts in our own Lovehoney community.

However, we did flout one rule, which we admit. Lovehoney staff go by a series of "stage names" - The Prof, The Doc etc. I'm Lovehoney - Numbers (safe link). So we set up our Facebook accounts to reflect these. A no no in Facebook's eyes. Fair's fair.

A terse email conversation with what appeared to be a robotic representative from Facebook confirmed that we had been deleted for posting "content that: is hateful, threatening, or pornographic; incites violence; or contains nudity or graphic or gratuitous violence.", that all profiles had been deleted, and that the decision was final and could not be appealed.

Most of all they would not tell us what we posted that contravened these rules for "security reasons".

However, the hardest part of our deletion was that our Facebook fans created similar profiles. Lovehoney regulars are known as the "Orgasm Army", and so would create a secondary account under the pseudonym "Kate O'Army" for example.

Of course, the deletion of our presence brought these profiles to the attention of the moderators, and were also promptly deleted. Not a good day for anyone connected with Lovehoney, but we weren't alone.


Collared are a Slaves and Masters community that runs club nights for members. Before judging, this is a safe and consensual activity, and Collared had a Facebook presence to simply allow its members to communicate in the medium they were most accustomed to.

However earlier this year Collared was also deleted (safe link) with little warning and no obvious course of action.

Collared though, found that it was very much a case of whom you speak to. Collared eventually reached Facebook's Head of Policy for Europe, and discovered that any content related to sexual activities is immediately determined to be in breach of Facebook's Statement of Rights and Responsibilities.

This implies that Facebook’s insistence that we had posted hateful, threatening or pornographic content was, frankly, a lie. One that wasted a lot of our time reviewing our internal policy and questioning staff regarding what content had previously been posted. Theoretically people could have had their jobs called into question due to a lie

Fortunately this case has escalated to the point where Facebook is reviewing its policies.

Of course, Facebook doesn't have any obligation to approve content, and it can set guidelines as it pleases. However the lack of transparency, the lack of training of representatives in those guidelines, the obfuscation of communication, and fundamentally the "decision is final, there are no appeals" standpoint implies that Facebook is a very uncertain platform for representing a business.

Facebook fail

We regularly see moments where companies fail on Twitter by posting offensive content. In most cases this is when a temp or otherwise low-paid representative is juggling their personal account with that of the company. 

So, theoretically, the same could happen on Facebook, and if flagged as offensive soon enough, an established brand could find themselves deleted, with no appeals process.

Better ways of working

I'm keen for this article not to concentrate on what's wrong. I don't want this to come across as whiny, but to highlight the issues and suggest ways of fixing them.

No internet company has an obligation to follow them, of course, however I think it would go some way in bringing the adult industry to the same standard as other markets.

Understand cultural differences

When a manual approval process is in place, mobilising a workforce to review this content generally means outsourcing. However what is considered acceptable in Europe can be very different to what's acceptable in India or America. 

Localising these teams means ultimately the content you are showing is more closely aligned with your audience.

Clear guidelines & training

We're happy to play by the rules, when we know them. Issuing clear guidelines, and most importantly educating your representatives in them, not only saves a lot of time and guesswork from the advertiser's end, but also establishes a set of "ground rules".

Policing, feedback & a level playing field

Competitive markets are self-policing, and as long as no one player is allowed to work within a different set of rules, all sites will quickly fall in line.

If anyone doesn't, it's important that feedback is received and acted upon. Lovehoney and other large players in the market have account managers to act on our behalf as a feedback mechanism, many small sites don't.

Work with us

It's easy to label adult retailers as sleazy. Not the sort of people you want to work with (I'm still amazed at the number big-name 3rd party vendors who get nervous just speaking to me).

We are in fact, lovely people, who just work in an odd business. I'm more than happy to talk about what I do, and I'd love to share it with Google or Facebook, but I've yet to get an invite.

Like this article? Hate it? Think I'm whiny? Let me know below...

Matthew Curry

Published 23 March, 2011 by Matthew Curry

Matt Curry is Head of E-commerce for online sex toy retailer LoveHoney. He spends a lot of time working on user experience and customer satisfaction is his highest priority. He frequently has to be penetration tested. You can follow him on Twitter, although he does often talk about dildos. He also has a LinkedIn profile, where he has to act professional.

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Comments (35)

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Given the size of the adult industry I'm surprised Google and Facebook don't have at least one member of staff who's solely responsible for dealing with it.

over 7 years ago

Peter Gould

Peter Gould, Senior PPC Analyst at Epiphany

Great post Matthew - it gives excellent insight into an industry and issues the majority of etailers will never encounter.

I certainly know of the issues a website such as Love Honey would face from a PPC perspective, but it's really interesting to hear of the changes enforced on you in terms of stock & product imagery which are impacting conversion rates should you wish to abide by Google's rules.

I know we've spoken about this before, but just to repeat again, I really don't agree with the system Facebook had in place when it came to banning your brand page. Ok, fair enough, people can break the rules (knowingly or unknowingly) and may deserve for that page to be taken down temporarily. However, to have no appeals process or transparency to contest the decision, or even find out what you've done wrong is madness. Like you say, if that is the system, it represents a huge risk for a brand to invest huge amounts of time and money into a page which could be removed permanently in the blink of an eye.

over 7 years ago



Google's AdWords policy is confusing to say the least and approval depends on how closely the editor follows the guidelines.

I used to run campaigns and frequently had ads disapproved because the landing page contained DVDs with terms such as school girls or teens (despite clearly stating they were 18+), yet we'd get emails informing us this was a "pre-teen concept" (I think that was the phrase they were using) and threatening to ban our account.

I'd highlight that competitors had DVDs titled "Incest..." yet this was apparently fine.

over 7 years ago



Ahh great article I used to work in Adult too and whilst at a competitor of lovehoney we experienced exactly the same problems with google !

Was not fun and really has put me off google in general.
One thing I experienced over and over again was an Ad would be approved by one person and then an identical ad would be denied with little or no real reason.
The main problem I feel is that a lot of the decisions are still made by people who all have their own views and prejuadices.

Anyway enough from me thanks.


over 7 years ago


Happy Chap

Very interesting to read the challenges of a different industry and I'm actually quite surprised that Google aren't more keen to work with you on this.

Google's stated goal is to provide users with highly relevant search results and the best search experience possible (hence their on-going investment in refining their algorithms).

You would therefore think that, rather than censoring the "accepted" search term, they would want to ensure users found relevant material in as direct a path as possible.

I am also unclear as to why Google's "Safe Search" options aren't used as a way to tailor PPC results (and associated links to landing pages/images) appropriately depending on the setting. Yes, the "safe search" setting can be altered by children old enough to know how to, but then why take a different stance on PPC as oppoed to Google's image search?

Hopefully Matt Cutts will glance across your post.


over 7 years ago


William King

This problem is literally a big problem and most of the marketers have not a bit idea of it even I didn't aware of such a case before reading a post. I will be surely ends up messing with the campaign of such portal if I had a client like that because this is something which I never thought about. Great thing to discuss

over 7 years ago

Pat Wood

Pat Wood, MD at

Brilliant article Matt

over 7 years ago


Modus Operandi

Why not create two sets of images? Ones with clear censor marks that are only images google sees, and then normal, explicit ones? Make a fun, sexy feature on the site that "takes them off"! Visitors would get a kick by making the whole site racier themselves when they get there. Don't use the feature, and everything stays covered.

over 7 years ago


Diego Ruiz

This is an excellent post - one which I understand completely. Working in the adult content field brings a daily balancing act of what is acceptable or not to the human editors and moderators of the Internet giants. A lot of money has been made from, shall we call it, 'adult content' by Google, Yahoo! and Microsoft. It seems absurd that in the 21st Century there is little understanding of cultural differences across markets and worse still, little in the way of a two-way conversation.

over 7 years ago

Christopher Rose

Christopher Rose, PPC Marketing Director at Rose Digital Marketing

Google and Facebook are equally arrogant in their attitudes and the way they manage relationships with the users of their products and services.

There is nothing scandalous about the adult industry at all but the way these two massive businesses behave is truly a scandal.

Being judge, jury and executioner isn't acceptable in politics or law so why is it okay here?

over 7 years ago


Gina P

After I recently began dipping my toe into these SERPs - it soon becomes clear from our anaylsis that the top positions are indeed those who are willing to flaunt the rules.

Albeit against googles advertising poilcy on this and that, these 18+ serps must indeed be handled with extra care and sensitivity - accompanied by google serving result sets to non signed in used, where multiple users from the same family could be using the one household PC - it soon becomes apparent that my daughter doesn not want to see dating ads etc that are served after i have been researching the completing adult sites.

Either way - big money to be made here - so expect the rules to be completely disregarded by those who dare - and those who can.

Couple this article with the recent highlights into european cookie tracking... and we begin to see why google seperates this kind of serps from the others.

over 7 years ago


Jason Vance, President at BubbleUP Marketing Corp

I find similar issues marketing firearms or ammunition through these mediums. However, I have been more successful using Microsoft Adcenter. Still a bit of a pain, but easier to work with.

over 7 years ago


Heather Powers

This isn't actually as difficult as you think it is. You just need to make connections with the members of the google team who specialize in adult content. They DO have staff members who understand these issues and can manually approve listings for you.
Their automated systems are set up specifically to be hard to work around. They're created under the assumption that someone is going to attempt to abuse the system.
Often the best strategy is to embrace the fact that certain terms are just always going to be flagged adult related and instead focus on reducing your costs by avoiding "porn" oriented terms and instead focusing on brand oriented terms. It takes more time and energy to set up but the ROI will make you look like a rockstar.

over 7 years ago

Matthew Curry

Matthew Curry, Head of Ecommerce at Lovehoney

Hey Heather, thanks for commenting. There's two issues here.

1) With adult terms, they don't go through an automatic system. Once your site is flagged as NFS or Adult, every PPC ad has to be manually approved. The core issue is that the manual approval process does not make it an objective one.

2) Again in adult, there aren't any real brands, except for Durex, iD, and maybe Lelo or Jimmyjane. This means that you have to bid on generic terms. What I was arguing is that the terms are part of common knowledge and aren't "porny".

Connecting with the correct Google team isn't easy. You would think after this missive I would have had someone contacting me by now....

The problem is that I have an account manager who can act as a liason between me and the approval team. Smaller retailers don't have the benefit of this.

over 7 years ago


Bryan Bruce

My name is Bryan and I am the founder of Your Brand Voice. We are a hospitality brand marketing company based in Orlando. We represent hotels, golf courses, theme parks, attractions, meetings, conventions, trade shows, etc.

At the present we manage close to 25 business pages on Facebook. On Tuesday of this week my personal page was disabled. No reason give. I cannot access my clients pages. I have searched and searched and cannot find a way to communicate with Facebook other than a simply submission form which has not produced a reply.

One of our most recent client, happens to be an adult gentlemens club. There was a PGA tour event in town and we were engaging the tournament page with our men's club profile. well, apparently, that was a bit aggressive and the tournament pinged us for being to racy. From there, it flagged a few marginal images in our gallery that may or could be perceived to racy, but they certainly were not hard core porn. The girls were clothed.

Long story short, we think we understand being disabled, and given a warning for our actions, but we hope they don't come back and permanently delete me personally. That would be devastating.

Does anyone have any success stories which relate to my situation? Anybody have any experiece to share on the typical time Facebook takes to respond to appeals of being disabled?

over 7 years ago


Jamie Nicholls

I completely agree with this article. My company Girls Love Pleasure is in the same business as Love Honey and we too suffer from the silly policies of google and facebook. One minute its ok to have certain words in descriptions and the next they are not, it very inconsisent and creates alot of confusion! We have also had accounts deleted by facebook saying "decision is final, there are no appeals", they wouldnt give real reasons for this, so how are you meant to learn from your mistakes??
I feel there policies need to be looked at and Simplified for the future if business's of this nature are ever going to compete.

over 7 years ago



Matt, I'm curious, have you seen sales through traffic referred by e-consultancy? If so, perhaps that's the answer...more blog posts here!

over 7 years ago


Simon West

Thanks Matt. Really enjoyed the article. As others have commented, it's a great insight into your industry and the challenges you face.

I'm interested to know how you get on with the smaller search engines and other social media players. Whether their attitudes mirror Facebook / Google or whether they are more "human"?

over 7 years ago



Great article Matt. As the owner of a company that has borne the brunt of Google's Adsense policy, I can sympathise with you.

What's scary is the amount of power these companies now wield. As a result, I think they need to be ultra-clear with their policies and go to great lengths to explain their decisions when they effectively "disappear" companies.

over 7 years ago



well, it seems like i am wasting my time, no wonder my site hasnt sold a single item in a year and a half

over 6 years ago



Have you been able to successfully create an Ad for LoveHoney on FB?

I work for, but instead of promoting toys, we're trying to go around and promote condoms/lubricants/gels etc, as FB puts it -

"Ads and Sponsored Stories for condoms, any type of contraception, lubricants, gels, and other related products are permitted if they are targeted appropriately (18+ years old) and are presented in a tasteful way."

almost 6 years ago



What's up to all, how is the whole thing, I think every one is getting more from this site, and your views are pleasant in favor of new viewers.

almost 6 years ago



I put my business... on facebook and thought they wouldnt allow me to have a page.
They even have sent me an email asking if I want to advertise.
But thanks for the article. I will watch the content.

almost 6 years ago


Wendi Morse

We should be given the choice of shopping for what we want. They should mimic eBay with an entrance to an 18 an over section. Adults can choose to enter or not.

over 5 years ago



From an Australian point of view, this is a great article Matt. As with most people commenting, I am in the sex toys industry and have been on a rollercoaster with google for the past 2 months in Australia. Previously before this, it wasn't too bad. But it seems now, that google australia has caught up with the others around the world, they are now advertising health magazines and pharmacies when searching for "sex toys". If people didn't want sex toys, they would not search for them. The thing I find ironic, is that if you type in "porn" you get a page full of porn sites. Sorry google, but I think the algorithm isn't quite there yet!

over 5 years ago



We are in the process of evaluating the adult toys industry and looking at various entriy points into the market. Your article was an excellent source of information regarding this subject. I find it hard to believe that in 2013, people aren't more open and accepting of reality. I'm not ashamed to admit that my wife and I both benefit from the use, and occasional misuse ;-) of toys. I would think that google and Facebook would both want to rethink their strategies in this area as it is a rather sizable market and it could be mutually beneficial in terms of revenue for all parties involved if managed responsibly. One question I had is how accepting are other search providers such as yahoo, bing etc regarding the adult toy category with respect to adversing? I'm definitely not going to make any sort of advertising investment with a company like google or Facebook until they become a little more tolerant of this industry in general.

over 5 years ago



Oh and Chris

" I'm definitely not going to make any sort of advertising investment with a company like google or Facebook until they become a little more tolerant of this industry in general."

If you do not advertise on Google you are wasting your time starting an online business at this time.

Of course there are other avenues for traffic and sales but as most find without Google you're pissing in the wind. They are the "penis ring" (Google safe) of the internet, in other words "they have us by the balls"

over 5 years ago

Adam Vernon

Adam Vernon, Account Manager at The Rebellion

Hi Matt,

I manager the PPC accounts for 2 sex toy clients in South Africa. These are exactly the same difficulties I have had to deal with, especially things like not being able to say "Cock Ring" in adtext.

The sitelink extension thing is what gets me the worst, according to Goolge is isn't allowed based on a "User survey" or such bs.

I really don't understand why something so simple, yet so potentially useful for sex toy clients (and therefore Google from increased clicks) isn't allowed.


about 5 years ago


Melanie Kay, Owner at Pura Products Ltd

The same thing happened to me with

I sell an organic edible lubricant oil and facebook said as it is a sex enhancement product I could not advertise on facebook.
A sex enhancement product is Viagra etc but they say its non negotiable. They say you can advertise lubricants but don't class my product like that!

I think its foolish for anyone to build a business around facebook and they will lose a great deal of business because of this.

over 4 years ago


Carol Martin, Board of Directors/National Recruitor at at Pure Romance Coupons by Carol

I came across this article on accident and while it is a few years old, I couldn't resist adding in my own 2 cents. I as well, am in a similar industry. I am a Pure Romance consultant, coming close to my 5 year mark and I currently am serving on the Board of Directors. While I have run into some of the same barriers outlined here, for the most part, I am quite successful online and I rarely encounter such issues. Just based on this post, I do see some things that do raise the "oh no, naughty naughty, not allowed" alarms, even to me, someone who works in the field quite successfully.

To just get to the point, the language used and the approach taken is the issue. Yes, you already know this, but what I think isn't being recognized is that these are issues that could easily be corrected, and issues some other companies don't really encounter because we know how to be "clean" about our taboo business, thus giving it credibility and value to the rest of the world.
Not to toot the Pure Romance horn too much, but just to give examples, we teach our consultants that they are NOT to post toys publicly on facebook or anywhere else online where the general public (ie. kids) could come across them. Make your fanpage 18+, it doesnt matter, kids lie about their ages on their profiles daily. An 18+ fan page will not prevent kids from getting on your page. If customers/potential customers want to see the toys, they can go to our site which you must be 18 to enter. Yes, you can see them without checking that "I am 18+ box" if you google search, but we do our best to keep the viewing to the general pubic to a minimum. IF you want to show toys on FB, use private groups/events to show already verified customers. (VIP Groups/events) Many of us do sales/events, etc. this way. Also, many people do not want to "fan" businesses such as ours where critical friends/family members may see it. Yet another reason for private groups/events.
We don't use words like "cock ring", not even at our parties.
Our lingerie pictures airbrush out the nipples, crotchless underwear can be written into the description of the item, they do not need to show the crotchless part for the customer to know what they are getting. The customer is buying the item, they are seeing the lingerie, they do not need to see the model's goodies to know whether or not they like the lingerie.

To focus on relationship enhancement, sexual health education, and the empowerment of women, you do not have to use slang and/or terminology that some may consider offensive in order to get the point across. Most, (not all) but most companies in this field are striving towards similar goals and as such, we want to be viewed as professionals, educators, sometimes even sex therapists, and it honestly lowers our credibility when we use such language. It takes us to where we do not want to be, we are pornographic, we are promoting all that is bad and dirty in the world. If we want to be seen as professionals, we should speak and promote ourselves and our businesses in a professional and educated manner.
To get the focus on education, entertainment, and relationship enhancement, without the slang terminology, to move towards an approach that is deemed more acceptable across gender/generation/and cultural lines is something to consider.

MANY first time customers of these types of services have little to no experience with what we offer. They are often already feeling a bit apprehensive and unsure about their potential purchase. We want to be credible and helpful in a way that makes them feel comfortable, regardless of their background. If you read professional sexual heath articles that recommend toys, lubricants, etc...they do not use words like "cock." That shock value isn't needed and for that reason the article is seen as unoffensive, educational, and has value. Simply put, we can do what we do and do it with class. I apologize for my overly long response, and I apologize if I am coming across critical. My intention is just to share what works for myself and others in my company since this is a convo I have had with my team more times than I can count.
With the right language and approach there are very few barriers to facebook/google advertising.
PS. We call them c-rings, the "C" stands for constriction, as that is what it is made to do.

about 4 years ago


john wright, owner/operator at

great article and I know exactly how you feel,
ive been running my online store (free advertising :) for about a year now, and so so many hurdles to jump through. especially when it comes to advertising for your website. the adult industry weather toys or porn is still seen in the dark ages. these huge companies need to realise the potential that the adult industry has online and in the 21st century.

as well as this I would love to know peoples thoughts on amazon, ebay and restrictons to adult material and toys placed upon there sites, ive already been bared twice by amazon for listing things I apparently shouldn't, even though they made a lot of money off me during these times. ebay uk is exactly the same, even though listing in ebay in the Netherlands, france or Germany its all fine, is the uk that far behind the times.

about 4 years ago

stuart ferguson

stuart ferguson, owner at

Old article but much still the same today with like facebook they regularly close adult facebooks but are then soon to reopen after they say it was down their strict filter, but are starting to allow some adult content to appear on ads the only ppc we have issues with is bing ads and mainly when targeting international country's but click fees can high for the adult industry but also the return can be worth it.

about 3 years ago


Gilly Spencer, ceo at

Hi Matt,
I really needed to read this-as well as the following comments after struggling for some time to even get my site accepted by any of the major search engines. I intend to employ some hard filtering on some of the items I list on my site and alter wording to possibly sneak through the door even though I feel my site offers mostly middle of the road adult toys.
It is obvious how prudish the world is even though it is real that people are buying this stuff and spending their hard earned $ to go see Fifty Shades - what a dichotomy!
Thank goodness for that movie BTY, it opens the door just a little perhaps?

over 1 year ago


Katy Halter, Marketing Manager at Excitement Adult Stores

Anyone have further tips to get an ad account reactivated on Facebook? We didn't violate the policy but got the same message as the OP and the ad capability shut off for our We're a small business (, so it's a challenge to even fight this, but so very important to us. Any suggestions for appeal or opening a new ad account would be welcome.

over 1 year ago


nick lang, ceo at

Hello Matthew,

i have recently created an e-commerce for online sex toys. But located in Spain. I have absolutely no idea how to receive traffic apart from content marketing. I would love to receive some hints on how to create valuable traffic for my website. Paid ads seem absolutely impossible.

11 months ago

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