Hot Octopuss launch new ad-restriction aware website

Hot Octopuss have launched a new website designed to push back against draconian advertising restrictions on the sex toy industry, so they can find (and serve) those currently hard-to-reach customers. “From our research, we know that 58% of people are pleasuring themselves at least once per week and 50% use a sex toy every time with a partner. That’s a huge amount of the general public. And we can’t use traditional advertising channels to reach them“, says co-founder Julia Margo,

Sex Toys ads are heavily rejected…

It’s a fact that regular orgasms are hugely beneficial to our overall health. And it’s a fact that a lot of people – especially vulva-owners – find orgasms elusive, and the huge choice of sex toys available to help them, a little intimidating – which is why HO want to target their ads towards potential customers.

But they can’t – because in order to protect the under 18 demographic from potentially harmful content, ALL sexual wellness products are classed by social media advertising guidelines as ‘adult content’. Which takes them far away from the wellness everyone’s talking about. How can they make you well, if you can’t access them? And if alcohol brand ads can be directed towards adults and away from minors, why can’t sex toys?

so Hot Octopuss built a new website

Of course, nobody wants anyone under age easily accessing harmful content. But since it’s far too nuanced a subject to leave up to Big Tech, how can sex tech brands keep working successfully within such a strict landscape? By building a new, self learning digital ecosystem, costing £250K.

Hot Octopuss co-founder Julia Margo explains: “Whether you’re a newbie or a pro, however you define yourself, your sexuality and preferences, able bodied or disabled, it’s our mission at Hot Octopuss to help you find the right toy for you. And for years we’ve heard from our customers how tricky it can be to find what they need. You can buy practically anything online now, but when it comes to sex toys, choice is limited by what search engines allow you to see, and where retailers are allowed to advertise. It’s very restrictive, and that’s why we created a new website, as a way round draconian measures that uphold the deep rooted stigma around sex and self pleasure that we at Hot Octopuss are determined to combat.”

It is frustrating that regulations around porn and other types of explicit and inappropriate content are still not strict enough, and yet when it comes to sexual wellness, restrictions are having an adverse effect on both businesses and consumers. It’s a huge error to conflate sexual wellness with harmful sexual content.”

Welcome to the new, restriction-defying

The new Hot Octopuss Website is compliant with all the current search engine and big tech advertising restrictions*. But we believe these rules discriminate against inclusivity itself, preventing sex tech companies from providing the harder-to-reach audiences with vital messages about positive sex and self pleasure. Hot Octopuss media partner Sciart agrees. CEO and Founder Fred Wahlqvist says: Responsible advertising practices are crucial, yet we firmly believe sexual wellness is a universal right for every BODY. Embracing innovative strategies and fostering close client-agency collaboration are essential for success in this regulated space. Big tech must prioritise inclusivity.”

By modernising the website, Hot Octopus are now set up to classify and structure content using AI according to Big Tech policies, which then allows consumers to more easily find previously miscategorised or hidden away content. This in turn allows paid media to achieve better reach/ROI and ultimately allow consumers to find what they’re looking for.

*Current ad restrictions for Sex Tech restrictions include:

  • Sex toys can’t be advertised on paid social ads, even if it’s clear the target audience is over 18.

  • Age verification on ALL web images is mandatory if you sell subscriptions with sexual content online. This is a double edged sword – it safeguards against underage exploitation, but also instantly tells Google to reduce the amount of organic traffic to your site.

  • Sexual Wellness content is now being classified as adult, even when it’s helping people. This is part of Google’s initiative to make the web safe for under 18s (effectively reducing the amount of people who might see it by 70%) so even people over 18 may not be able to see it if Google thinks they usually wouldn’t be looking.

  • You can advertise condoms, lube and lingerie in the press, but you can’t advertise sexual wellness products such as male vibrators designed to help people with medical conditions like ED or those with disabilities. Additionally can use explicit sexual innuendo to sell ANY product – but you can’t sell products to actually enhance your sex life.

  • Emails containing any sexual content automatically get sent to Spam folders (even when the content is about sexual health and wellness)