Nude Photos to Improve Site Traffic at Art.com

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Art.com expects the nude photography it began selling last month to drive traffic to its art retail site after inking a deal with sex-oriented Web site Nerve.com.


Michael Kahn, vice president of marketing at Art.com, said the firm's main initiative in the agreement was providing his Web site's audience with new and interesting artistic products. Kahn added that search engine queries made by the densely populated online pornography audience would bring more viewers to Art.com.


"It's been proven over and over again that sex sells," he said. "There's always been a place for sexy images in business. Marketers have used sex, directly or indirectly, to sell beer, cars - you name it. So yes, [nudity] is part of this deal by nature."


The partnering deal, announced late last month, also has www.nerve.com offering its visitors a link to Art.com products, and Kahn noted that the agreement has produced sales throughout February for both Web sites. Equally as important, he said, the Chicago-based company hasn't received a negative response from its audience of art collectors since the nude photography went on the site.


Art enthusiasts "know that not all art is for everybody and understand that the human form has been an artful subject for centuries," Kahn said. "We think the Nerve.com gallery is done in the same thoughtful manner as Playboy.com."


Viewers are warned of the Nerve.com nude images in advance. Customers can print photographs on either high glossy or matte photographic paper and in three sizes, as well as order a frame. Other works offered at the site are duplicated famous works that range from traditional artists like Norman Rockwell to surreal innovators such as Salvador Dali. Prices vary according to specifications requested in the orders.


Since its launch in 1997, Art.com has reported steady revenue increases and has been recognized by market measurement companies as an early leader of the online art market. Kahn said that his firm would see increased competition as the general Internet industry matures and that adding product like Nerve.com's gallery to an e-tail site was important in keeping rivals at bay.


"You certainly don't have to get all hell-bent and pile up so much product and information that it makes it difficult for your customers to get through," he said, "but you do need fresh ongoing products in our business to keep customers coming back."


Nerve.com expects the agreement to increase its online audience, which has topped 3 million visitors in recent months. The Chicago-based Web site showcases creative writing and photographs that concern sexuality.


"The success of Art.com attracted us, but we're always looking for ways to get our content in people's hands," said Louis Kanganis, CFO at Nerve.com. "We feel we are a good match for Art.com's viewers. Sexuality and the human form are universal subjects. And we think our site, in many respects, is as mainstream as it gets."


Kahn said the two companies would likely enter joint marketing or cross-marketing agreements this year - citing that the relationship should prove to be effective because both are in the art business, but have different target audiences.


"Any time you can do cross-marketing, it's a real advantage because you get to expand the interest people have in your Web site," he said. "Nerve.com's audience is bit different than ours, and that provides both parties with a new marketing channel." n
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