WIA Profile: Rainey Stricklin
Each month, industry news media organization XBIZ spotlights the career accomplishments and outstanding contributions of Women in Adult. WIA profiles offer an intimate look at the professional lives of the industry's most influential female executives.
How did you get into this? What in your background prepared you for what you're doing now?
My background is in journalism. My first career was in daily newspaper reporting in Arizona. At 21, I decided to pack up all I owned and move to San Diego and see what I could do there. Since I'd been online since 1983 via CompuServe and bulletin boards, working with an Internet company was a dream come true for me, and I found myself answering a classified ad for a writer at a company called WebSideStory in San Diego. My job was to review mainstream websites. I knew there was an adult element to the company, but that wasn't my field — until the adult writer went on vacation and I had to fill his shoes. After reviewing my first adult site, I was ready to quit. I wrote a scathing review … actually, I think I used the phrase "This is the sickest shit I've ever seen in my life," hit "publish" and figured I'd be fired shortly thereafter. Fortunately — or unfortunately, however you look at it — the review was the most popular review they'd ever published, and I was immediately switched from mainstream writing to adult writing, then from writing into sales. The rest, as they say, is history. The bulk of my 11-year career has been in adult traffic and advertising sales at WebSideStory, then later at my own ad sales agency, Detour Interactive, and now at TrafficDude. Along the way, I gained some experience either by consulting or accepting full-time employment with companies such as XXXCash, PrideBucks and Epoch. I feel my departure into other sides of the business gave me a well-grounded approach to advertising management, as I am able to understand the process from many aspects.
What changes have you seen in Internet marketing in the last 10 years?
When I started, making money in adult was simply putting up some content, getting listed in Yahoo, and the money would flow. There were no TGPs, there were no affiliate programs, and there were two trade shows per year. The money flowed heavily, and I saw many young, struggling people become almost overnight successes. Over the years, Internet users have become savvier, the competition in the adult market has gotten much, much tougher, and the dollar isn't as easy to come by. Adult site owners have had to move out of the basement, read some business planning books, hire staff, get lawyers, and basically grow up into actual business. Traffic isn't as easy to come by, so they turn to agencies like Traffic Dude to help supplement what traffic they can drive to their own products.
What changes have affected your work as the Internet has gone from exotic to commonplace?
Internet porn is part of our culture's vernacular now. It is a viable business, and one I'm not ashamed to be part of and successful at. My family — from my mom to my grandma — know what I do. We offer supply and demand, and I am part of that business. Even my brother has joined our ranks as director of sales and marketing for CelebrityCash (Joe Stricklin.)
What do you see as the challenges to online marketing as the economy tends to decline and discretionary spending slows?
I think the changes we're seeing in adult are not necessarily related to the economy. Adult content is an entertainment expense and one that people give up last. I think the changes we're seeing are more related to how consumers view and experience porn. I think we're seeing a decline in paysite memberships and an increase in live offers such as cam sites and dating sites, or VOD where consumers can pick and choose exactly what they want.