Report: Backpage Sees 50 Percent Increase in Prostitution Ad Revenue

While city and state officials were going after Backpage.com earlier this summer for its role in promoting juvenile sex trafficking, the company saw a 50 percent increase in revenue from “online prostitution advertising” over last year, according to a report from a classified advertising consulting group.

The report, from the Advanced Interactive Media Group, says Backpage.com made $2.1 million from online prostitution ads last August, a 50 percent increase over the $1.4 million the company made the same time last year.

According to AIMG, Backpage has seen an overall 33 percent spike in projected revenue from “escort and body-rub advertising” since Craigslist shut down its adult ad section last year.

The largest beneficiary of the Craigslist decision to eliminate adult services ads continues to be Backpage.com, which is now the leading U.S. online publisher of prostitution ads. Since September 2010, Backpage – owned by Village Voice Media — has generated more than $23.1 million in online revenue from escort and body-rub advertising. That’s a 33 percent increase over the $17.4 million projected by the AIM Group before Craigslist stopped publishing adult services ads.

Backpage’s revenue increase comes as Mayor Mike McGinn and a coalition of attorneys general—led by Washington AG Rob McKenna—have been hammering the company for making it easy for pimps to sell young men and (mostly) women into sexual slavery.

In August, McKenna and the coalition of AGs demanded Backpage turn over company records to prove it was working to prevent prostitution on the site.

A month later, the company responded, agreeing to turn over records, but ultimately claiming it was doing everything it could to “provide a safe and legal environment for its customers and to be a responsible corporate citizen.”

McKenna fired back at Backpage, saying “given the number of obviously illegal services advertised on Backpage.com, and the number of minors ensnared by traffickers using the site, we’re quite interested in learning how Backpage.com supports that claim.”

A spokesman for McKenna’s office told PubliCola earlier this week that the AG’s office is still reviewing documents provided by Backpage.