LeadsCon Recap

One of our team members, Kevin Paine, and I flew out from Los Angeles yesterday to attend LeadsCon, a conference about online lead generation. The conference was organized by Jay Weintraub, former employee at Oversee.net and current writer for Digital Moses. Jay also keeps a blog at JayWeintraub.com.

The conference was squeezed into the Palms Casino’s small ballroom. The content was very good and the speaker lineup was impressive, particularly for a first time conference. Jay clearly has a lot of juice in this space. One of the speakers announced that there were about 550 attendees. Except for the keynote “fireside chat” with Jordan Rohan of RBC Capital Markets and Ed Ojdana, Former CEO, Experian Interactive, each presentation was a panel. After the presentations, the exhibit area was open downstairs for about two hours.

Here were the titles of the Thursday panels:

  • M&A, Exits, and Investment Landscape
  • Lead Buyers’ Perspective
  • Lessons from the Mortgage Market
  • Proper Role of Affiliate Marketing in Lead Generation
  • Understanding Lead Exchanges
  • Incentivized Marketing – More Harm than Good?
  • Compliance and The Legal Landscape

The overall emphasis was that the landscape is changing – venture capital is interested in the space; lead buyers are more tuned into the quality of leads than they used to be; companies have been fined by the FTC for noncompliance; important privacy issues have not been resolved; the future of lead exchanges is unclear. There was a general consensus that the future looks bright for everyone involved, despite the fact that there is no obvious category to replace mortgage.

Former (and, rumor has it, possibly future) ReveNews blogger Jeff Molander, was on the affiliate marketing panel. The moderator, Noel Collins of Leads360, noted that there is a “stigma associated with affiliate marketing.” This prompted one of the CPA Networks in the audience (AdValiant, I think) to ask audience members to contribute reasons for this idea. One gentleman complained in a quaking voice that he had paid an unnamed network over a million dollars for “very, very, very low lead quality.” This prompted Jeff to point out that it’s negligent to spend so much money on a campaign without understanding what you are paying for and then to blame affiliates. In this respect, time is on the side of the lead buyer because they can learn the value of leads and pay accordingly.

It seemed to me that many people in the room did not understand what affiliate marketing was or the important differences between CPA Networks (AdValiant, Hydra, CPA Empire) and Traditional Networks (Commission Junction, LinkShare, Performics) – transparency, the network acting as an affiliate, traffic aggregation methods, etc. More background information would have helped.

Affiliate marketing does have negative associations – sometimes rightly so sometimes wrongly so. Affiliates have always made an easy scapegoat for companies that caught caught doing things they shouldn’t have been doing. (Think of drive by software installs.) But if you look at a company like WebClients, which made a compliance payout to the FTC, it was for incentivized sites they owned, i.e. not affiliates.

Similar to a buzz at Affiliate Summit in February, there was much chatter along the lines of “If we don’t police ourselves, then we’ll get policed.” The difference is that here it is about FTC legal issues and actual fines as opposed to the idea of spammy sites that look ugly. The key question is what a merchant wants to do for traffic. These is an important decision.

So I took away some great notes and ideas from the conference. Congratulations to Jay Weintraub! I look forward to the next one.

About Brook Schaaf

You can find Brook on Twitter @brookschaaf.

11 Responses to LeadsCon Recap

  1. I am so sad that I wasn’t able to attend this event. It sounds like it went off well!

    I should defintely go next year.

    Thanks for the recap!

  2. peter bordes says:

    Thank you for the update. It sounds like the sessions were very well done topic wise and its good to see our community becoming proactive around important issues.

    I am happy to see our Advaliant team asking the audience to participate with feed back. To often panels speak at the audience. Not with the audience, and don’t engage them and ask them to participate in shaping the direction of the discussion.

    Regarding the gentleman with the quaking voice. Yes he should not have spent 1 million on poor quality leads. But first we have too look at if he was educated about the lead gen process by his provider. Did they take the time to empower him to understand different methodologies and proper testing before generating the leads etc.

    Often the answer to that question is “no”, and is why we need to step back further and look at how we work with and engage our partners.This is one of the main reasons affiliate marketing has a negative association with lead generation.Networks either did not take the time to understand clients needs and educate them. Or they did not want them to because they liked clients not knowing what they were buying (the black box)because if the did they would never be working with them in the first place. Or the network just plain old did not know what they were doing. ust-beliefs.html

    we need to start feeding, educating and self policing our markets so our clients/partners have great experiences.We should have a publicly published industry code of conduct similar to the belief system we publish as a company http://www.relevantlyspeaking.com/rs/2008/3/3/mediatrust-beiefs.html

    I look forward to attending the next conference.

    Peter Bordes

  3. Noel Collins says:

    I want to say that it was a pleasure to participate in LeadsCon. Jay Weintraub pulled off a very fundamentally different conference on his very first try. In response to the comment that “A little background” would have helped, I was asked to speak/moderate as if speaking to an educated base. I really wanted to delve into the meat of the topic matter but found the majority of conversation revolved around “What is wrong” with affiliate marketing. Anyone who purchases and works an internet generated media lead needs full understanding of the complexities involved in generating this type of media. Perhaps we can forum and bridge the education gap with a series of white papers and webinars. I would be happy to prompt my firm to participate and want your feedback. Should we continue this push towards improving consumer experience, tap into the stream of potential borrowers in a more effective manner? What is the formula? I look to your continued feedback. Best Regards

  4. peter bordes says:

    Noel that is a very good idea and we would also participate in this initiative. We should look at creating a collaborative community resource center around lead generation and affiliate marketing. I know the IAB is now looking to start something for this. i only wish it did not take so long , and wonder "why" it has. I worry that we will now swing to hard to the other side and over regulate.

    We need a healthy balance and need to have education and regulation come from within the community.We have very stringent internal mechanisms and only allow 30% of affiliates who contact us to join the network.We need to ensure the quality of our partners who are working together both from and advertiser and publisher perspective.I think this podcast says it all. Its about how integrity goes a long way in building long term relationships. http://www.relevantlyspeaking.com/rs/2007/11/30/r

  5. Pugsley says:

    I believe that lead generation is a growing and relatively new, especially getting full information, and will continue to grow as more people get involved in internet marketing.

    As in any industry, you have some bad guys who use this industry the wrong way, but for the most part I believe you will find good honest people getting involved in lead generation in the future and it will be a big business to benefit the whole industry.


  6. […] on Jay Weintraub’s Leadscon which took place this week in Las Vegas.  Also, don’t miss Brook Schaaf’s take on the event.  Lee and I look forward to meeting YOU at the NEXT […]

  7. Wade Tonkin says:

    Brook thanks for the update. We just signed 2 lead clients and I would have loved to have gone.

    Will definitely make a point to hit it next year.


  8. Evan says:

    Thanks for the recap…Lead generation is very lucrative industry if you can truly geenrate quality leads and crappy leads…

  9. Brook Schaaf says:

    Thanks for the comments everyone.

    Noel, I didn’t mean the background comment as a criticism of you – as I recall, you started the panel off by asking for the history of affiliate marketing and tried at least one more time during the panel to solicit more such information.

    In my experience, this is not uncommon on panels because the panelists may talk about specific, high-level things without realizing their audience is missing a bigger picture. And it’s hard to corral because the conversation keeps turning to new topics.

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