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Zomato discontinues advertising on porn sites, CEO apologises

Deepinder Goyal, CEO, Zomato

Deepinder Goyal, CEO, Zomato

Restaurant listings and food ordering startup Zomato has stopped advertising on pornographic sites after receiving a barrage of criticism on social media.

In a blog posting dated December 17, Zomato CEO Deepinder Goyal said that the marketing campaign crossed the fine line between marketing irreverence and cultural insensitivity. He apologised to users who may have been offended by the company’s advertising stunt.

“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,” Goyal said.

Earlier this week, Zomato Media had explained why it was advertising on porn sites.

The firm noted that India ranks #5 in terms of most daily visitors to Pornhub (the world’s biggest porn site network). Also, outside of Google, Facebook, Yahoo, and e-commerce sites, Xvideos is one of India’s top visited sites and the average time spent on the site by Indians is around eight minutes.

Zomato, which became the latest Indian startup to join the exclusive club of ‘unicorns’ but has been facing headwinds lately, floated cheeky ads to get eyeballs.

Zomato found out that advertising on porn sites costs very little money, and is significantly cheaper than other platforms. “The ads got us lots of eyeballs, millions of clicks, a bump up in online orders, and all at a ridiculously low cost,” Goyal said.

Zomato also shared other insights like how the highest number of clicks for such ads in Delhi came from around the Hauz Khas area in the southern part of the city (also home to IIT Delhi!). In Bangalore, Koramangala and in Mumbai, Powai (both techie hubs) recorded the most clicks.

“Like we said earlier, this campaign was almost textbook ‘startup’ marketing. But we’ve probably reached a stage where it’s fair to expect that even if we’re doing what we need to do, we do it in ways that are more ‘grown up’,” Goyal said in the December 17 posting.

On social media too, Zomato received a lot of flak for its quirky ads on porn sites.

That said, Zomato may not be the first such startup to try this out. Zomato noted that US-based Eat24 (acquired by Yelp early this year) has possibly tried a similar trick.

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