Google 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 ~