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Editorial: Sex’s Finer Selling Points

Want to drive traffic to your Web site? Try Art.com’s approach. Partner with an edgy site like Nerve.com and start selling artsy posters of nude people, primarily women. So far, the art retailer is calling it a success and warns viewers of the adult content: “This gallery depicts nudity or partial nudity, which may be objectionable to some people. We wish to present this warning as a service to our visitors.”

Michael Kahn, Art.com’s vice president of marketing, admits why his company entered the partnership: sex sells, though I question the promotional line, “Art.com is proud to present the erotic images of the Nerve Gallery, one of the most daring collections of photography ever compiled.” Most daring collections? Obviously, they haven’t delved too deeply into the heavily trafficked world of online porn, which has been a veritable treasure trove for many businesses. If you want truly daring, just click on one of Go.com’s 15,732,543 matches for “nude,” where you’ll run across the likes of Adventures of Nude Carrot Man, Cheerleader Girls and more.

The Web’s seemingly anonymous aspect is an important element in this success. There’s nothing to stop someone from surfing through Art.com’s collection as long as he thinks it’s a private tour and the company doesn’t do anything with the information it gathers. A click on the privacy policy from Art.com’s site map draws a blank page, though I managed to find another disclaimer elsewhere that says, “We will promise that we not release any information you provide us without your express permission.” Nerve.com’s policy is prominent in the help section on its site: “In a nutshell: we will never sell your information. Period. We only share demographic information in an aggregate form to keep our advertisers happy.”

Though I’m not entirely sure of Art.com’s target audience here, I do know the $65 price for the 18-inch-by-24-inch glossy is too much and too tasteful for the typical college dorm room.

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