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Q&A With Penthouse Affiliate Manager Rhonda Kratz

Rhett Pardon

With a bond to online adult commerce going back 20 years, Rhonda Kratz says she seen it all when it comes to the industry’s evolution.

Penthouse.com’s affiliate manager calls her association with the adult biz “a lifelong love affair” and looks forward to what’s ahead for the Penthouse brand, which recently changed its ownership.

People talk about having been there when something big happened, but I wasn’t just here for the one big thing. I was here for it all — the start of online, the wild west of adult, the cam explosion … you name it I’ve seen it.

Kelly Holland, longtime Penthouse president, announced in February she had acquired outstanding shares of Penthouse from FriendFinder Networks Inc. The deal put Holland solely in charge of the brand founded by Bob Guccione.

With Holland’s full ownership of the company, Kratz said she’s extremely excited for new things, including an upcoming site redesign, set to come for the 41-year-old brand.

“Penthouse will become a brand everyone recognizes as a leader again,” she said in this exclusive XBIZ World interview.

XBIZ: You’ve got a unique perspective being in the business for 20 years. Can you imagine working any other occupation?

Kratz: Twenty years is an eternity in the web world. I have seen trends, people and companies come and go. People talk about having been there when something big happened, but I wasn’t just here for the one big thing. I was here for it all — the start of online, the wild west of adult, the cam explosion … you name it I’ve seen it. There’s a certain nostalgia to it all that I would never want to give up. Besides, where else can I look at boobs all day and have my boss be glad?

XBIZ: In a Cliff Note’s version, how did you get your foot in the door of online adult and end up at one of the industry’s most prestigious brands?

Kratz: I was working your typical dead-end retail job and was also a costume design assistant for adult and met a guy at a party who ran live webcam sites and needed chatters and people to run the studio. That’s when my lifelong love affair with adult started, pretending I was a porn star chatting live as the performers did their thing. As far as working for Penthouse goes, I absolutely love it. There is something about seeing the old magazine covers on the walls or the giant key embossed on the floor when you walk in that gives that feeling of pride and love for the brand.

XBIZ: What is a typical day like in the life of a distinguished affiliate manager?

Kratz: I am in the office by 7 a.m. every day by choice. I spend my days looking at stats, checking out all affiliate traffic from the day before, answering emails and anything else that falls in my lap. The term affiliate manager is so subjective these days. I am more a jerk of all trades.

XBIZ: What’s your pitch to prospective affiliates these days?

Kratz: Pitching is so subjective. A webmaster knows if he is going to send a program traffic or not immediately. Lucky for Penthouse, we are a brand name that people recognize and love.

XBIZ: In your view, to what extent has affiliate marketing evolved?

Kratz: In the early days even the smallest webmaster doing it for fun could make a few sales a day; larger webmasters were limitless. Now it has become a place where many of those webmasters have moved on. With the advent of ad networks, the relationship with publishers has changed. Larger webmasters have now become their own ad networks. Being an affiliate isn’t something that you do as your second job at lunch from the office. It takes dedication and an understanding of the nuances of adult marketing that a lot of people just don’t have the time for.

XBIZ: How do you see the future? What are you excited about?

Kratz: This really depends on what you mean for future, the adult industry as a whole or the Penthouse brand? If we’re talking adult in general, I think we’re going to see a lot of attempts from some of the larger brands to find the next big thing. We see it already with some of the virtual reality content that is coming out. If you’re going to be a game changer you have to try new things, so I think we’ll see some failures and some new stuff that will surprise people. Penthouse is really going to be focusing on what our brand came from — high-quality content that people want to see. We got away from it a bit lately but I’m extremely excited for our upcoming site redesign and think Penthouse will become a brand everyone recognizes as a leader again.

XBIZ: What’s it like to be an XBIZ.net community ambassador?

Kratz: I often put my foot in my mouth; being an ambassador is one of those cases. I saw that every ambassador who was a male and spoke up said you need to add a female perspective to the group. It didn’t have to be me, per se, but any female. That’s when I was voted in. I actually love it. XBIZ.net is a great community of posters and not a lot of problems. It also is a solid mix of biz and fun.

XBIZ: When you’re not thinking about business, what do you like to do?

Kratz: In my younger years, I was all about going out every night to bars or concerts and being part of the whole Hollywood scene. Now that I am old I am happiest having dinner with friends, seeing a movie or just staying home doing nothing. I took my first actual vacation this past Christmas. I went to Hawaii with Julie from JuicyAds and tuned out for five days. It was amazing. I am now just learning to enjoy life and be happy.

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