©2016 VICE Media LLC

    The VICE Channels

      Things You Learn Designing Porn Banners for a Living

      By Ash Berdebes

      August 28, 2014


      Image by Ben Thomson

      Everyone has to make a living. Some do this by making garish gifs of young women gratefully covered in jizz, alongside phrases like “stop jerking off” and “horny bitches in your area.” One of those people is a young Jewish lady: an illustrator and graphic designer who didn’t even know what “amateur” meant when she first got into the porn banner game.

      Adi Aviram was on vacation in Berlin and needed a job that didn’t require her to speak German. There weren’t many options. Then Adi’s friend, who worked in online trafficking, hooked her up with a job designing porn banners. At least she got to use her degree. VICE spoke to Adi about the initial thrill and then depressing reality of Photoshopping "amateur" sex all day long.

      VICE: What did you do before you started designing porn banners?
      Adi Aviram:
      I studied visual communication. I’m a graphic designer. So, when I started doing banners, apparently I was making them too good. The girls were too pretty, and the text was, like, Helvetica! It wasn’t unlike American Apparel ads. Actually, American Apparel isn’t that far from porn.


      Adi’s earlier, more glamorous attempt

      Why do porn banners usually look so cheap and crappy?
      In the beginning, I sent my banners and the trafficker told me, “it’s too pretty. The picture needs to look homemade”. He introduced me to this amazing keyword: “amateur”. It opened up a whole new world of pictures I could use! I had no idea. When I started, I didn’t know the genres.

      So you didn’t even know the search terms they were asking for in the briefs?
      Yeah, they’d send me an Excel table in all languages, with words like “ugly needs cock”. You know, really amazing, smart stuff, like “Asian hot pussy”. And I’d need to put the image with that phrase. One day it’s BDSM, tomorrow it’s MILFs. My boss told me all the time: ‘keep it as amateur as you can’. It all needs to be extremely ugly, so people believe it’s real and it’s an amateur website—and then they click more!

      I had to do it in a lot of different languages—Russian, I don’t know why Russian! And he told me “just Google Translate it!” And I said “but it won’t be right”, and they said “no, it’s not supposed to be right, because then people click it more”. The amateur design wasn’t only for porn websites—it’s for dating and chat windows. If you see a selfie picture of someone, you would rely on it more than a studio picture. It seems like the girl exists.


      Adi at work. Photo by Noa Flecker.

      Could you just use anyone’s picture in a porn banner?
      Yeah! I found a picture of myself on a website once. I was in the army, and someone said to Google “hot Israeli soldier”. So I did and I found it, and it was the ugliest picture. Me, tired, in flip-flops next to my shampoo bag, sitting with a gun. And it was this American “Jewish hot soldiers” website. It’s not a porn website, but it’s creepy. It’s disturbing. It’s on Google now, you know? If it’s there, it’s not under copyright. It’s a pretty grey area. I could use your Facebook pictures, like the ex-boyfriends who put up pictures of their exes.


      The image Adi found of herself online.

      Was it hard to get used to porn banners being your only source of income?
      Absolutely! It opened me up to this whole world. I never was aware how much humiliating stuff guys are exposed to through porn. When you’re with a guy, intimately, sometimes it’s like why is he doing that? You’re just wondering about stuff they do? It’s all from porn. It’s just so fake—even the homemade stuff.

      Can you remember making any banners you found quite confronting?
      Sometimes I needed to make gifs, so I’d have to watch a movie. Mostly the BDSM was surprising for me. We think it sounds hot, getting tied up, you know? But it’s horrible! She’s all tied up in a really unsexy way. She’s all purple, because the blood can’t flow through her veins—purple and red. Such a big audience are exposed to it. It’s really depressing. It’s made me really depressed for a while, thinking—this is what people watch, daily?

      Did you ever get to make fun banners?
      I dunno. It was funny to me in the beginning, but it’s difficult to talk about the fun parts, because it’s pretty heavy after a while. I enjoyed making gifs. Gifs are funny. The hentai type—always a good comedic relief. I made gifs of a naked Snow White. The cartoons are okay to handle.

      How do you know if your banners are being successful and getting hits?
      My trafficker does that stuff. I just make it pretty and let the men handle the business stuff. I work closely with the trafficker. They tell me at the end. It’s all Excel tables, so you look at that and learn how to make the banners work better.

      What makes a banner successful?
      You know the font, impact? It’s the meme font. And they’re supposed to be written with spelling mistakes. It’s not that it looks homemade, as much as something is disturbed about the picture, so you look at it and you click. It’s all about catching the eye. It’s psychology. Low, low psychology. Also, really simple, stupid sentences, like “fuck the neighborhood sluts” or “hot MILFs”. MILF is nice! Strong independent women—I really like this genre! It’s much nicer.

      We also did fake Facebook messenger stuff, like: Giselle19: ‘I’m bored, wanna come teach me new stuff? Making their chat names—that’s fun! Like “pussycat19”. But they always changed what I wrote in the chat window! They’d say, “it’s not in the creative, you should stick to that”.

      So you had to do it by the book?
      It’s funny. I’m a girl, so I thought I could do the text in the messenger box, and they said, “no, people will think it’s fake”. They replaced it with sentences that they wrote, always with a smiley face and really cute. So, every time a guy’s clicking on the girl to chat, “oh Pussycat19, she’s sounds really hot”, it’s always a guy that’s written it. In the end, you’re all gay. It’s all men to men, and girls have nothing to do with this. They’re just the face and they have no control. It’s all really homoerotic.

      Do your parents know that this is your job?
      I told them I did the banners. When they visited me in Germany, I had to work. They were like “are you doing it for porn?” and I was like “no, no, it’s for casinos.” I would never tell them. We’re a Jewish family, we talk about nothing!

      Now you’re back in Tel Aviv. What are you doing there?
      I’m working for the news channel. There’s a war here now, so I am writing subtitles for the news.

      You’re subtitling the war?
      Yes! 

      It seems like all of your jobs are all really depressing.
      Yeah, they are really depressing. I’m actually an illustrator, but there’s no money in that during wartime. People don’t pay for art: they pay for sex and war.

      Follow Ash Berdebes on Twitter.

      Topics: Porn Banners, porn, sex, amateur, Photoshop, graphic design, BDSM, Milf, Google, facebook, art, war, porn advertising, Hentai, Naked Snow White, Internet marketing, SEO, Making people click things, Low psychology

      Comments

      Top Stories

      Are you over 18?

      The stuff you're trying to look at is considered "naughty" by busybodies, legal types, and (probably) your mom, so we'd like to make sure you're of legal age before we let you see it.