AB #358 | Linda Woods, the Pioneer of the Affiliate Marketing Agency and the First OPM

Managing Director, OPM Services at Madrivo

Managing Director, OPM Services at Madrivo

In this edition of the Affiliate Buzz, host and Instructor of the Affiliate Marketers BootCamp, James Martell, is joined by Linda Woods, the Managing Director of Integrated Marketing Services for Madrivo and her re-entry into the affiliate marketing community.

Linda begins this Affiliate Buzz edition by giving us some information on her background. She lives in Ashland in Oregon. It is a small town that she calls very cute and is famous for the Shakespeare Festival that attracts 250,000 visitors a year for the 12 plays it hosts. She moved to this town in 2009 from Santa Barbara, where she has plenty of fond memories.

Linda then goes on to talk about her history. Her internet career started in 1996 when she was introduced to the World Wide Web. She instantly recognised its importance and with her then partner, a computer science graduate, set up a web design company.

In these early days, she would only have to ask businesses whether they wanted a website and most would say yes. She would charge about $500 a website and her partner would design the websites.

Changing The Focus

However, soon her clients, who were pleased with their websites, started to ask how they could attract visitors to their sites. This was a time that was before Google and the effort to be found without Google is always tough. James and Arlene have talked about Google on several times including Affiliate Buzz 341 and Affiliate Buzz 352.

During this period in internet history, you had to have a Yahoo listing and Amazon was only just starting their own affiliate program. Although some credit Amazon with starting the first affiliate program, Brad Waller also has a claim to this honour.

It was about this time that she split with her partner and moved back to Santa Barbara. She knew she needed to find a new job and found a position being advertised with a start-up company called Commission Junction. Not very many people understood affiliate marketing at the time and so she was able to secure a job as a marketing manager and employee number 30.

Commission Junction had a lot of competition at the time with companies like LinkShare and BeFree; the major players at the time. Commission Junction however was able to edge themselves into the market and establish themselves.

While at Commission Junction, she was responsible for the idea of training people in affiliate marketing. This would become Commission Junction University. However, her time with Commission Junction was not going to last as she was sacked by the company.

Going At It Alone

After this she decided to go solo under the name of Affiliate Goddess and became a consultant. She was still passionate about teaching affiliate marketing. She knew that if merchants didn’t know how to find or train affiliates and affiliates didn’t know what to do; then no-one would make any money.

Then the dotcom crash happened and this affected her badly. However, she was lucky to know a lot of good people such as the owner of MyApp, a standalone program for advertisers to use to run their own programs. He gave her a job in business development.

However, that wasn’t to last long. She came up with an idea one evening in the bath about managing a client’s affiliate program for them. Her bosses at MyApp didn’t want to do this so she decided to go it alone again.

Affiliate Goddess

She started her business, again naming it Affiliate Goddess, with two other people and the company became a success. She knew her original name couldn’t stay; she needed to hire more people and male employees might object to being known as Affiliate Goddess. That is when she changed the name to Partner Centric.

The company kept on growing with sales increasing by 400% most years and them starting with a handful of clients to nearly 50 in two years. She built a team of about 22 people and had them all across the US. They worked for her as affiliate managers and perform other associated tasks.

Some of the clients they took on included The Wynn Hotel, Las Vegas and her biggest client Ebay, that account took three dedicated employees to manage.

After this she sold her company and went missing in the industry for about four years.

The Return Of Linda Woods

In the last section of the podcast, James asks Linda what has changed in the affiliate market between her departure and her return. In response, Linda discusses many aspects of affiliate marketing including:

  • How affiliates still need to be good at generating content.
  • How some of the big players like ShareASale are still operating.
  • How the number of OPM firms has grown and many of these are run by people she used to employ.
  • How companies like Impact Radius, Affiliate Window and others are now in the market.
  • How the advert of mobile has changed the affiliate marketing landscape.
  •  How tracking has improved within the market.

After this, Linda discusses her new role with Madrivo.com. They are a top media agency based in Las Vegas that provides customer acquisition, display advertising, email marketing, mobile and CPA networks. They now want to work within the affiliate marketing industry and wanted a highly experienced person to run that area of the business. This is why Linda was employed.

Linda says she is glad to be going back to her routes as she helps her new employers set up a boutique style agency for the top retailers.

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