Archive for the ‘Lead generation’ Category

Quiz: What tech entrepreneur are you most like?

Tuesday, June 23rd, 2009

I’m a start-up founder just like many of you, and there are days when I wonder if I’m the only one who feels, acts and thinks the way I do. But there are others that have gone before, and you might be surprised to see which tech founder you are most like. Take our quiz and find out your answer to the question: What tech entrepreneur are you most like?

Click here to take the quiz

(UPDATE: I’m going to ask you for an email address at the end of the process. I wanted to warn you up front so that I don’t catch you off guard!)

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Quiz Sauce logoOne erectile dysfunction viagra of the things that we’re working on at Pure Incubation is launching a variety of software tools for publishers aimed at helping them solve their most crucial business issues. (If you want to know more about those publishing problem areas, read this post.) We’re doing this through our Sauce Technology business unit, and today I want to introduce you to a specific application – Quiz Sauce.

The quiz above was built using the application – give it a whirl and let me know what you think. Here’s the link to take the quiz in case you missed it above – What tech entrepreneur are you most like?

Banners get a boost

Monday, December 15th, 2008

I give a lot of attention to performance-based advertising formats such as search and lead generation. While I’m bullish on both at all times, I especially think that they are easier to buy and defend in a bad economy. Today Fred Wilson over at A VC wrote this post about a comScore white paper that described the lift that is generated by display advertising (banners). This article is definitely worth a read.

Banners definitely provide a positive benefit for advertisers. (And this research certainly proves it.) Like television, billboards and radio advertising, they defintely promote brand awareness, and, based on this study, a lift in sales. But the issue still remains that without a research study like this one running to measure the effectiveness of a specific banner, it is impossible to measure its ROI. And in this economy, it doesn’t matter how many studies like these are released, marketers are going to be looking for 1-to-1, measurable ROI.

Boost

Photo by Travis Isaacs

Online advertising moving to interactive & measurable formats

Wednesday, August 27th, 2008

MeasureJust saw a story this morning about Carat’s advertising outlook for 2009. Even though they are revising their forecast down to reflect the weak economy, they are raising their forecast for online advertising from 23.3% to 23.7% in 2008. For 2009, they are predicting that online advertising will grow 18.6%, vs. earlier estimates of 17.8% growth.

The most interesting bit in the article, however, is this:

[Jerry Buhlmann, CEO of Aegis Media] said the growth in online’s ad spending share has less to do with the growth of consumer use of online media, and more to do with a secular shift within the advertising industry that is driving marketers and agencies toward media that deliver measurable returns on advertising investments.

“With search now central to the planning and execution of any campaign, online media brings a greater level of accountability not just to itself but to TV, print and other forms of advertising,” he said. “This is why we are predicting further strong growth for internet, even when advertisers are cautious in many of the other sectors.” (bold and italics mine)

This shift to performance-based media, sometimes called ROI advertising, is going to continue until most (if not all) advertising is based on performance metrics. Not only is search advertising going to continue its phenomenal growth in leading this sector, but lead generation is going to continue to grow quickly. Joining them will be other media that traditionally have not been measured but will move in that direction, including video and even print.

Marketers have always headed in the direction of measurable media programs. Just think of the 1-800 numbers that can be traced back to specific ads. With money tight, even more dollars will be adjusted to go to these programs that can prove they are worth the money they cost to run.

Photo by aussiegall

Deceptive marketing and lead generation

Thursday, March 27th, 2008

valueclick logoMy most recent article for The Industry Standard is up on the site now: What the ValueClick settlement means for the future of lead generation. Why don’t you go read it? And hey! Why don’t you leave a comment if you have something to say.

For those of you who don’t know the background to the story, ValueClick just recently agreed to pay $2.9 million to settle the FTC allegations that they were doing bad things with their business, including:

1) Lying to consumers, advertising free offers, but then requiring consumers to pay or purchase to qualify for those “free” offers.

2) Violating federal law, specifically, the CAN-SPAM act.

3) Not securing customers’ financial data, even though they promised to secure it.

The press release from the FTC with the complete list of charges is here.

ValueClick will admit to no wrong-doing. Here’s what ValueClick says about the charges:

“The FTC alleged that the Company utilized deceptive marketing practices that violated the CAN-SPAM Act and FTC Act. In an effort to resolve this matter, ValueClick agreed to a settlement payment of $2.9 million without an admission of liability or conceding that the Company violated any laws.”

Having worked in the lead generation industry for years, I know that this is not the norm in lead generation and that most lead gen companies follow solid business practices; but yet, these types of scams do happen fairly frequently. Lead generation is a big business in the U.S. (see images below) and gettng bigger as companies realize the value of generating data that can provide specific metrics and ROI. So companies will use many different tactics – not all of them aboveboard – to generate leads for their clients.

If you’re doing lead generation through a third-party provider, make sure that you get them to explain in detail the following things:

1) What the environment looks like in which they will be generating leads. If they are creating a registration form, make sure that they show you what it looks like.

2) How they are generating the traffic that drives the leads.

3) If they are doing “co-registration” to generate their leads. Co-registration is the practice of including a check box at the end of another registration form so as consumers register for one thing, they also can “opt-in” for your thing, too. If they are doing co-registration, find out if the box is pre-checked, and if it is, run the other way.

4) Ask for a client reference – they should be willing to let you talk to someone else who has used the service and found it reputable and helpful.

Here are those lead generation numbers that I promised. This image is taken from the BtoB Magazine’s Interactive Marketing Guide for 2008, which has a lot of great online advertising data.

Lead generation statistics

Does audience size matter?

Monday, December 31st, 2007

I have been thinking about this post from Robert Scoble since I read it yesterday. (Go read it now.) In the post, Scoble makes three pretty strong points:

First,

“In the past few years I’ve had some success building audiences, but I found that that’s not really what’s important. It’s not what advertisers REALLY care about.”

He goes on to ask “What do they really care about?” and answers his own question by saying that advertisers care about content: that you get content that no one else does, that it causes conversations to happen, that your content gets noticed in the niche that you’re covering, and that it gets the most authoritative links back to it.

His second point:

“It’s not the size of your audience that matters. It’s WHO is in the audience that matters.”

And his third point:

“I never talk…about how large my audience will be. No, instead, we’re talking about who we want on the show for the first week. How can we make the quality better? Who is out there who is doing innovative stuff that we can learn from?…How can we take our art further? How come bloggers never obsess about THAT?”

There is a lot going on in this article, but first and foremost I have to disagree that advertisers don’t care about audience size. All you have to do is look at how advertising is sold online to know that they do, in fact, care very much about audience size. CPM (cost per thousand) is the standard measurement for online media sales. Just check out the advertising pages for CNET or PCMag.com  or CMP (all technology publishing companies). What is the first statistic that’s listed? Unique visitors per month. Second statistic? Unique page views per month.

Having worked for both Ziff Davis and IDG, two of the biggest technology publishers in the world, I know that when technology marketers are buying online advertising packages, the easiest question to ask – and the first one out of their mouths – is size of audience. They always want to know traffic stats and reach. In that market, advertisers do care about how big the audience is. And I think that this is only magnified in the consumer markets (with audiences like the one that Perez Hilton reaches), where there is no way to measure audience except by size.

And (this is still hard for me to swallow even though I’ve believed it for a long time), most advertisers do NOT care about how good the content is. I am just being honest here. Most technology marketers and advertisers do not pay attention to the content, or know how good or not good it is in and of itself. Instead, they measure content “goodness” quantitatively – by how big the audience is that is reading the content, and by who that audience is.

Which leads me to the part of Scoble’s article in which he was dead on accurate – advertisers do care about how targeted the audience is, WHO is in the audience. I believe that this is actually the statistic that matters the most to online advertisers.

Take another look at those advertising pages that I linked to earlier. There are some pretty strong arguments made by the publications that they have the specific audiences that advertisers are looking for. I believe that this trend of advertisers trying to reach the specific individual – with the right title, job function, industry and size of company – instead of reaching just a whole lot of people and hoping that the message has an impact, will continue. This desire to reach the RIGHT audience is why new models of online advertising are emerging, such as lead generation, in which a company will pay $100 PER LEAD as long as they are targeting the right person with their message. Scoble is reaching the audience that his advertisers want to reach – so the size of his audience isn’t as important. And this is why sites like Perez Hilton, which have to rely on audience size (because they are reaching a disparate consumer market) are going to have a hard time selling advertising by any measurement except audience size.

As far as content is concerned, I have already made the point that I don’t believe that advertisers care as much about quality content as Scoble claims that they do. I wish that they did, but I’ve been in this industry long enough to realize that they really just don’t. They like the latest and greatest thing – because it’s good for their brand to be associated with that innovative content – but advertisers aren’t content specialists and just really don’t have a good understanding of quality content.

HOWEVER – and this is a really big however – I think that Scoble is writing from the perspective of a content producer, not an advertiser. And his point is RIGHT ON that content producers MUST CARE MORE about their content than their audience size. Because without good, innovative, cutting-edge content, content producers will never draw the type of audience that they need to get advertisers. Scoble says that the right question is “how can we take our art further?” And I agree that is the right question for a content producer.

Google could really hurt my self-image by asking if I'm fugly

Wednesday, November 21st, 2007

There was a huge protest when Google debuted paid search ads in Gmail. People are still debating whether this is a violation of privacy, or just good business practice.

Personally, I don’t mind too much that Google peers into my inbox to read my messages and serve me relevant ads. Partly this is because I make my money through Internet business models and appreciate the forward-thinking (and money-making) brains behind Google, and partly because I just don’t have any secret e-mail that I want kept private. Yes, for you privacy advocates, I understand (and agree) that we have a right to privacy. But Gmail is a free, commercial service and no one is being forced to use it. So I don’t mind the ads.

Until today when I opened my inbox and found this:

Gmail FUGLY ad

Isn’t Google supposed to be reading my e-mail and delivering me relevant advertising? How is this relevant? Do they suddenly have a camera on me, too? Am I fugly?!

So I couldn’t resist, I clicked the link because I had to find out if I am fugly, and the link took me to the World Of Quizzes, where I had a chance to take the “Are You Ugly Quiz.”

Are you UglyI know you are dying to find out the verdict, but I can’t tell you because the quiz was all a front for some terrible co-registration marketing service.

WARNING: Do not be sucked in by this quiz even to attempt to discover if you are ugly. I actually took the quiz (as part of my research for this post, really!), but I was subjected to AT LEAST 50 ads, and I never saw the results of the survey. I am not exaggerating. I quit before it was over when I started having to click off 20 check boxes saying “no I am not interested” on each page.

It appears that Prospectiv is the source of this site – and the nightmarish number of ads. (At least according to the logo on the quiz pages.) I would love to hear some stats from them on how many people actually become leads as a result of this lead capture methodology – and if anyone that takes the survey actually makes it to the end to find out their results. I am all for creative marketing, but this example seems to take it too far.

KnowledgeStorm acquired by TechTarget

Thursday, November 8th, 2007

TechTarget logoKnowledgeStorm logo
This would have been huge news in my previous life working for Ziff Davis. It will be interesting to see how this changes the IT lead generation industry. With KnowledgeStorm and Bitpipe (TechTarget’s lead gen engine) teaming up, this leaves four major players: the Web Buyer’s Guide (Ziff Davis), IDG Connect, BNET (from CNET) and the KnowledgeStorm/Bitpipe combo.

Prior to this acquisition, KnowledgeStorm was really the only independent IT lead generation option – all the others are tied to a known IT publisher with a large audience. I’m not sure how TechTarget plans to combine the services, but each has something to offer – Bitpipe has the audience and reach, and KnowledgeStorm has an existing client base and superior technology. It will be interesting to see how this shapes up.

What's next for Internet advertising

Thursday, October 11th, 2007

Look into the futureGoogle revolutionized Internet advertising in 2000 when it launched AdWords and the pay-per-click (PPC) model. This program was ground-breaking not just because the small text ads that ran alongside Google search results were served up based on relevance, but also because, for the first time, marketers paid only for an action (a click on their ad) – they didn’t have to pay for the thousands of impressions that were not clicked. With AdWords, performance-based media was born.  

Once advertisers demonstrated that they were willing to pay for any click, it was a short leap to believe that they would be willing to pay even more to know exactly who it was that was clicking. Today, lead generation and pay-per-conversion models (Google calls this cost-per-action) have joined PPC as viable business models, providing even more information to marketers who are trying to reach their customers.

 

Lead generation and cost-per-action pricing models are already popular in the B2B world. In the IT market, for example, Web Buyer’s Guide, KnowledgeStorm and Bitpipe are providing lead generation services to the biggest technology companies, which pay anywhere from $20 to $120 per lead to reach the specific individuals that they think are most likely to buy their products.

The Internet advertising market is going to continuing to move from static advertising to performance-based media. According to the just-released IAB Internet Advertising Revenue Report, approximately 50% of 2007 second-quarter revenues were priced on a performance basis, up from 47% reported for the second quarter of 2006. Lead generation revenues accounted for 8% of the 2007 second-quarter revenues or $408 million, up from the 7% ($284 million) reported in the second quarter of 2006. Contrast those statistics with the fact that approximately 46% of 2007 second-quarter revenues were priced on a CPM or impression basis, down from 48% for the same period in 2006.

Performance-based media is the future. We have already seen the movement with traditional Web content. Blog content, podcasts and video are all moving toward incorporating PPC pricing models, as well. I think the next move for these newer content formats is lead generation and cost-per-action. Let’s take video as an example. Silicon Alley has a write up about how advertisers are starting to take video more seriously, but that CPMs are declining. There is a debate going on around how money is going to be made on video advertising – what kind of ads will be used, the length, the format, etc. Applying the move toward performance-based media, I believe that someone is going to develop a lead generation engine around online video that will provide advertisers not only with the information on what videos were watched and how many times, but by whom and what their demographics are. Web Buyer’s Guide has a product on the market that does this, and I think it’s just a matter of time until one of the major video providers offers this type of advertising package.

And looking even further down the road – what’s the next wave of performance-based media? Right now companies pay for leads, but what if in the future companies begin to pay only for customer acquisition, and after an individual makes a purchase the lead provider gets a percentage. A large percentage. Sound like the affiliate programs that are widespread in the consumer market? Sort-of. But what happens when the technology is developed for a video provider to track an individual from the first video that they watch that peaks their interest in a product, all the way to the buy, and the video provider gets a portion of the sale?

Now that’s performance-based media worth talking about.

Disclosure: I used to work for Web Buyer’s Guide.

 

~ Foggy Autumn ~