About Our Guest
As the Head of Affiliate and Partnerships Education at PXA, Laura leads the initiative to make the Partnerships Experience Academy (PXA) the global standard accreditation within partnerships education. In 2022, she joined impact.com to help build and create engaging content for PXA, an education center designed to inspire, educate, and empower people to form meaningful and productive partnerships. Laura has been part of the affiliate industry since 2010 serving on all sides of the business. She is a 2x finalist for Affiliate Manager of the Year (2013 and 2018), an avid conference speaker, panelist, and moderator.
In episode 4 of the Performance Marketing Spotlight, Laura Press joins us from Impact’s PXA. The PXA or Partnerships Experience Academy helps affiliate marketers “access live, instructor-led training and short courses on all aspects of affiliate and partnership management, measurement, strategy, and growth.” Laura has been in the affiliate marketing space for over a decade. She got her start at Commission Junction and then served in various roles on the publisher side for SHOP.com, DealMoon, and ShopHerMedia. Listen in as she shares her insights as an industry veteran.
Marshall Nyman [00:00:02]:
Hello and welcome to the performance marketing spotlight. I’m your host, Marshall Nyman, founder and CEO of Nymonco. Each episode, the podcast brings you someone with deep experience in the performance marketing space where they will highlight their experiences within the industry. Today I have Laura Press, who is the head of affiliate and partnerships education at Impact’s Partnership Experience Academy. Welcome to the podcast, Laura.
Laura Press [00:00:24]:
Thank you. Thanks for having me.
Marshall Nyman [00:00:26]:
Of course. Very excited to have you on today. So let’s get right to it. Why don’t you introduce yourself to the audience so they can get to know you a bit?
Laura Press [00:00:32]:
Yeah. So like you said, I’m Laura Press. I’m head of affiliate and partnerships education for the partnerships Experience Academy from Impact. I’ve been in the affiliate space since 2010, started at CJ and kind of worked my way throughout all sides of the industry. Most of my time has been spent on the publisher side, working for top performing publishers. Let’s see, there was Shop.com was the first publisher I worked at. Then I spent about five and a half years at Deal Moon, went over to a subnetwork for a year and a half, and then I joined Impact last July. So I’m coming up on one year and it’s been a whirlwind. They say that once you get into affiliate marketing, it’s a very incestuous industry, and I am proof of that.
Marshall Nyman [00:01:18]:
I swear. Everybody on the podcast says that.
Laura Press [00:01:22]:
It’s so true.
Marshall Nyman [00:01:24]:
So I think that’s a common theme. Everybody bounces around, you don’t know who you’ll be working with tomorrow, and so it’s always funny how that shakes out.
Laura Press [00:01:32]:
Marshall Nyman [00:01:33]:
So we’d love to know a little bit how you got started in the space with CJ and what kind of brought you into the affiliate space.
Laura Press [00:01:39]:
Yeah, so I was so fortunate to graduate college in 2008. Lovely time to find a job.
Marshall Nyman [00:01:48]:
I can relate.
Laura Press [00:01:50]:
Turning down unpaid internships because that was not going to pay the bills. So my dad had worked for a medical device company up in Massachusetts, so after college I moved home and again, it was the best time to find a job, but my dad was able to pull some strings and help me get a temp to perm job at the company he was working at. So it was just to kind of get my foot in the door. It was a really good company. They used to be a big sponsor for the Red Sox and they were on like the Green Monster at Fenway, so that was really cool. I started there doing accounts payables and wasn’t really my cup of tea, but every person that I spoke to on the different accounts where I was trying to collect their outstanding balances, I would form these really great relationships with them. And turned out there were several other folks that were in the same boat that I was, where they were kind of put in this position of being in a job that they didn’t really expect to be in, but it was just how the economy was at that point. So I was there for about a year and a half, and when I decided, you know what, I need to really put all my eggs in one basket and dedicate a full time job search to find something that I’m actually going to know passionate for. And on the very last day of working at that company, I was about to go on my lunch break when I had a random phone call from some Santa Barbara number and they’re, you know, your resume was passed along. I’m a recruiter for CJ, and we think you’d be a really great fit for this role we have open in our Westboro office. And I was like, that’s great, and she’s like, have you ever heard of CJ? I was like, I’m sorry, I have. Like, I really don’t know how you got my resume. It’s kind of on every job board right now. But fortunately they sent my resume through, went through a few rounds of interviews, and within the month, I had started as an advertiser account representative, and I was there for about two years before making the switch down to the publisher side.
Marshall Nyman [00:04:04]:
Awesome. I know a lot of people got their start at CJ, and I was looking for a job at the same time, so I can relate to what you’re saying. Yeah, it was brutal out there. It’s pretty much you just took what you can get and kind of figured it out. And it’s kind of funny now if you send your resume out, you’re like, 0% chance somebody’s going to follow you. Got to hunt the companies down. That’s cool, though, how you got your start, and it kind of just seems like it was almost by accident, or maybe meant to be, as you could say. Definitely really cool that you had some experience on the network side. Would love to hear a little bit about your experience working on the publisher side, especially since you’ve worked for three great publishers.
Laura Press [00:04:47]:
Yeah. So when I started at, you know, my boss at the time, he loved telling everyone at the company that he stole me from CJ because I used to work on a really great portfolio of brands that included, like bass Pro Shops, HSN Vistaprint, Geico, there’s a few others, but it was a really solid portfolio and I was able to bring those relationships to shop and I helped them format an actual rate card. They didn’t really have that in place. And this is back in 2012, so early 2012. Affiliate marketing gets still somewhat new in the space. It’s like the height of extreme couponers. So there’s a lot going on, a lot of moving parts. But I was really able to fine tune their revenue stream by bringing in some new opportunities, working with brands that they hadn’t really reached out to before. And shop.com was a really interesting model because they are a publisher, but then they also have a side of the business that has their own products and offerings. So it’s trying to find the balance of working with brands and then also being its own brand.
Marshall Nyman [00:05:57]:
Awesome. Share a little bit about a deal moon too.
Laura Press [00:06:02]:
Yeah. So one of the great things about email@example.com was I had relocated from Boston down to Greensboro, North Carolina, not knowing a soul. One of the reasons why I decided to take that job was because my parents had moved to Charlote, which is an hour and a half south of Greensboro, and I just wanted to stay close to family. So after being in Greensboro for a month and a half, I was set up on a blind date and met my now husband. We’ve been married for eight and a half years, we have two kids and a pandemic puppy and he worked for a boarding school at the time. So when he decided to leave that role and take a job in the DC area, I went with him, but unfortunately had to leave my firstname.lastname@example.org. But I was able to work my connections from the affiliate space reached out to one of my former contacts from Vistaprint. They had a subsidiary office in the DC area called Webs. They’re like a website provider and I was able to interview with them and get a job and I worked with them for about eight months before my husband decided to go back to that boarding school in Greensboro. So we jump shipped back to North Carolina and I was eager to get back email@example.com because I loved the role that I had there, but unfortunately they had already backfilled that position. It had know about a year since I left. They really admired the work ethic that I brought to the table, so I ended up moving on to the product side so I was able to see a completely different side of their business. And I did what I could to put my creative wheels in motion by helping the creative team design some really thought provoking banners for the products that they had, and at the same time establishing relationships with the different vendors that helped make these products that we were selling. But eventually I knew that my heart was with affiliate and I found an opening that was with Gilmoon and I reached out to my contact there who I met at CJU the year before and he put me in touch with Jennifer who was the co founder. And while the role that they had open that I was applying for wasn’t the best fit, jennifer just really liked me. So they ended up creating a position on the team for me to step into and from there I was a senior affiliate manager. I eventually moved up to be a director of partnerships and have a team of two direct reports. I oversaw the beauty division, which was really amazing. Working with so many beauty brands in the space, I’ve never really been one that had a very strict skincare regime. I was like, okay, maybe I’ll do this moisturizer or I’ll buy this mascara. But working with the incredible team of editors at Deal Moon, they really showed me what are some of the really great products out there. After being there for five and a half years, I knew that I had contributed all I could and I needed to kind of do something a little different. So that was when I got into a job at Shopper Media, which is a sub network. They’re kind of known as the original mommy blogger network since they helped all those mommy bloggers kind of get to where they are today. You can think of, like, crazy coupon, lady hip to save money, saving mom, and they were amazing over there. The one downside that I missed about Deal Moon is I now have to buy my own beauty products, but there are worse things that could be, and I wasn’t really looking for any sort of job since joining Shopper Media, the team was fantastic. They just really valued the experience I was bringing to the table. And every day when I log on to LinkedIn and try to build out their PR a little bit, if I saw a job posting, I would share it across my network and I usually read it first and make sure it’s something that someone in my network could maybe take advantage of. And there was a job posting for the Partnerships Experience Academy, and I was reading it and I was just blown away thinking, this is exactly what I was meant to do. And I just felt like it would be a disservice if I didn’t kind of throw my hat in the ring and see what happened. And fortunately, it worked out in my favor and I’m now on this team and it’s been great so far. I have no regrets. The team at Shopper Media, I still chat with them every now and then. I’ll see them at conferences and we’ll take our little selfie and send to the team. But everything’s been a great experience so far.
Marshall Nyman [00:10:58]:
Awesome. Yeah, that’s really cool that you’ve got to come in somewhere and help build something from the ground up. It’s a totally new offering, and I had the opportunity to get myself certified as well, so I recommend everybody else to take a chance and go through it. So, yeah, I think it’s a really great thing for the industry to have that available for people that are looking to become more knowledgeable and more experienced in the space. So I think there is definitely a little bit of a knowledge gap. So that’s great. That’s something you’re able to do.
Laura Press [00:11:28]:
Yeah. I feel like in my previous roles, whenever there was a new hire, I was the go to person to train them. So seeing this position at Impact, it really struck a match for me, and I’m just so proud of the work that we’ve been putting out. And all these courses are free. There are some places where you can sign up to get certified in digital marketing or other areas of ecommerce, but there’s a price tag attached to it. These courses are free to everyone, whether you’re part of the affiliate industry or not. It doesn’t really matter what your background is. It helps people kind of adjust to what’s going on in the space. What are some of the new trends that we’re seeing? For my position, I’m focusing on courses for publishers, since that’s where most of my experience lies. And there’s not a lot of resources out there on how publishers that are new to the space, how they can grow their audience, how they can become an influencer, what’s the difference between going viral and taking the next step to have a consistent stream of revenue come in? So we’re bringing all of those questions that people have and putting some really great education behind it.
Marshall Nyman [00:12:49]:
So what’s been your favorite part about working with the PXA?
Laura Press [00:12:52]:
So we have a very small but nimble team. There’s four of us that are here in the US. And then everyone else is actually in Cape Town. So I love having my morning chats with our Cape Town team, learning about different cultures there. There was one time where there were two people that had outside their window was this mountain, but they had a different view of the mountain from like, opposite side, so I was able to experience a little bit of their scenery. But one of the really amazing things about this role is I’ve been able to become more of a thought leader in the space. I always wanted to get speaking gigs and be more involved in industry conferences, and this year I’ve attended three conferences and I’ve been a speaker at each one. So this role has gotten me to where I wanted to take my career. And I’m really hoping that the courses that we’re putting out there can help other people reach their career goals too.
Marshall Nyman [00:13:54]:
That’s amazing. That’s great to hear. That always nice to hear. When people feel like they’re sending and reaching what they’re trying to achieve. For someone that’s interested in maybe jumping into those courses, where can they find.
Laura Press [00:14:05]:
The PXA so they can go to PXA Impact and it’s free to sign up? They would create their own account. They could put in what type of learner they are, whether they are just here to learn or if they’re a publisher, they work for an agency, an advertiser, they can just select which box fits them and then select the learning path they want to do. We have three learning paths, one for brands, one for agencies, and then one for publishers. And the publisher one is still being built out. We just launched our associate level certification path. So it goes through the six phases of the partnership lifecycle. So there’s a course that goes through. Contract and pay, discover and recruit, optimize, engage, track. We also have one on how to create a rate card. And each of these courses I’m bringing in other industry experts. That way they can share their industry expertise too.
Marshall Nyman [00:15:02]:
Awesome. Great way to learn more. And as I said, I’ve taken the agency track so I can vouch that it’s fairly comprehensive and I’m going to guess that if there’s something that there isn’t now, you’re happy to maybe produce that in the future if there are certain concepts that they’re not familiar with that they want to learn.
Laura Press [00:15:19]:
Right. And we have different tracks too. So we’ll have the fundamentals, which is more of that entry level, and then the intermediate, which is our associates level path and then our expert which is, you know, it all.
Marshall Nyman [00:15:33]:
Awesome. What do you think one of the biggest challenges the performance marketing industry is.
Laura Press [00:15:37]:
Currently facing so I think now it has to do with AI and all these AI generated content that’s being out there. I think that jobs are going to be lost because of this automation and I think it can also be a bit scary too for someone that is creating courses where my content that I’m thinking up with other industry experts and putting out in the internet and having my voice there. I know that there’s ways that people are using this technology of AI to be more voice generated and do some really scary things and I don’t want my voice to kind of go down that rabbit hole. There’s been some really scary stories lately and as a mother, that’s definitely a phone call you don’t want to get. It does make me wonder what sort of protection do influencers or other vocal folks that are producing content? What sort of protections do they have against AI generated content, whether it’s written or verbal?
Marshall Nyman [00:16:52]:
Yeah, I think there’s a lot there as far as seeing people lose their jobs, like I saw yesterday Vice, I know Buzfeed, I know some other publishers as well have trimmed down some of their coverage so they’re going to potentially lean on AI. So that’s definitely interesting to see. And I think, yeah, there’s a whole other side of things where we just don’t really know what’s going to happen and it’s just kind of like Pandora’s box is open and there’s no guardrails right now and so it’s almost like a free for all with AI. And I know it’s a really hot topic, not only in the affiliate space but pretty much everywhere. And how is it going to fit into things? Am I going to lose my job? Is it going to help me? I think for now I’m definitely a little hesitant to kind of fully dive in. I kind of want to see what happens. I don’t want to give it free information that it can then use to make itself smarter. I think I kind of want to I’m a little bit more wait and see approach just because I feel like you could be giving it really powerful information. Definitely don’t type any private information in there. It’s public instantly.
Laura Press [00:18:01]:
But it does make you wonder, how is that going to be monitored? With AI now taking over several content creator roles, how do we keep the human element of that content that’s being produced out there to be an authentic, genuine experience for the readers?
Marshall Nyman [00:18:21]:
Yeah, I mean, I’m running a little test right now. I’m going to see how it performs. I’m going to share it on LinkedIn, on what happens. But I’m writing the posts for the podcast with AI and without AI, and I’m going to see which ones perform better and I’m going to share that with everybody down the road because feel like that’s a good test because when they write the content for me, I’m like, it’s not that great, but it’s fast and easy. So there’s definitely some benefit to that. But I’m skeptical on the performance and that’s what I want to see. So, yeah, I’m going to run that test and I’ll share it out online.
Laura Press [00:18:55]:
Marshall Nyman [00:18:56]:
Yeah. But I have a feeling I think humans are going to write better content than computers, in my opinion, at least for now. I think they will get smarter. I just don’t think they really have that deep thought that we have that it takes time to develop thoughts. They don’t just happen at instant.
Laura Press [00:19:14]:
Right. And AIS don’t have ethos. So that empathetic approach of connecting to another person, that’s something that definitely lacks when there’s an AI generated response.
Marshall Nyman [00:19:25]:
And that’s one thing about the affiliate channel that will always be there is it’s relationships based. It’s very human. It’s not like other marketing channels where you can just run your marketing and have no relationships with anybody else in the industry. You can’t be a successful affiliate marketer without strong relationships. So the human element is a very big piece of affiliate marketing. So I think as long as we still make it a big part of affiliate marketing, we won’t put ourselves in a position where we’re replaced. We’re going to conferences, we’re meeting up with people, we’re coming up with unique ideas. I think as long as that’s still part of the process, then we won’t see ourselves edged out. But yeah, I think if we overly rely on AI, then maybe we do edge ourselves out.
Laura Press [00:20:07]:
Marshall Nyman [00:20:07]:
Awesome. Well, really great conversation. Appreciate all the insights. A big thank you to Laura from Impact’s Partnership Experience Academy for joining the podcast this week. Really loved how you share your affiliate knowledge and how it can help people in their affiliate journey. The certification is a great addition to any performance marketer’s repertoire. And I can attest since I am PXA certified myself. What is the best way for listeners.
Laura Press [00:20:33]:
To connect with you so you can connect with me on LinkedIn? If you have questions about your own career goals, I have office hours. You can, again, just send me a message on LinkedIn. Connect with me, and I can send a link to my calendar. That way you could pick a 15 minutes time block to go over what you’re struggling with or what you need advice on. And I’m happy to help. And again, I’m more for publishers, but I’ve been in the space for a long time, so I’m happy to chat with anyone. Or if you want someone that is more specific to brands and agencies, I can help connect you with my colleague Cody.
Marshall Nyman [00:21:11]:
Really nice. And that just goes back to the human element.
Laura Press [00:21:13]:
You need human, we’re here to so.
Marshall Nyman [00:21:18]:
I think that’s always nice. A big thank you to Laura. I am Marshall Nyman, host of the Performance Marketing Spotlight. Signing off. Thank you for joining us. Give a like or follow if you’ve enjoyed this content. Have a great one. Bye.