Does Sex Sell Online?


Last week I posted an article about an acronym, namely BOOBS, the post itself didn’t cause upset but the image used with it did. The image was selected on purpose as a trial / experiment to see what the reaction would be, and whether it is true that “sex sells”.

Don’t bother looking for the image, its already gone.

The myth is that sex does sell (see the below slideshow for reasons), but the reality is that it doesn’t – as this experiment in 2005 shows (download it here). And my own experiment also showed this with about half the number of visitors coming to the blog that normally would, despite the discussion over the image in use.

All my experiment did was to upset some people, anger others and make less people than usual visit the blog. Since changing the image, yesterday, the number of visitors have gone up to normal levels.

If you want to read more about sex not selling read this post by bidwellid.

The myth that sex does sell

Does Sex Sell Online?

    Well, I think it depends on what you’re trying to sell! Sex is used to gather an emotional response, if your content fails to deliver on that front, ya sex won’t help. on the other hand, if you’re using sex and your product can capitalize on the associated emotion, you’re golden.

    For example, your blog is intellectual and caters to a specific crowd, one that would be unswayed by sex. In comparison, if your blog sold underwear and you used sex, the response would have been positive (i’ll wager).

    I guess what I’m saying is it’s all about context.

  • Ben Greenwood (@Inoperante2)

    Sex sells to me. But as the last commenter says, it wouldn’t sell SEO advice to me. :)

    That said, I did enjoy the image at least.

  • keith

    Even if we’re talking about other forms of media, not just online, I still think that sex doesn’t really sell… unless the product (or content) you’re trying to sell is relevant or has something to do with ‘it’. Can it get you (/your content) attention? Yes. But will it be able to sell it? As far as I’m concerned, if I find a product to be bad, not even having an image of a sexy model posing for that particular product would convince me to buy it.

    Also, it’s not just about WHAT you’re trying to sell but also WHO you’re trying to sell it too. If your audience or target market are incapable of discerning between the product and the person representing it (i.e. the model) then the product/content will likely sell, but if they happen to be the smart crowd then chances are that it won’t.

    Again, relevance. And as what was stated in the previous comment; context.