Lead generation is one of the largest, fastest growing segments of the online marketing industry, and the momentum will only increase in 2007.
Agencies are smarter, leads are better qualified and technology is more advanced than ever before. Many trends will emerge in ’07, but the real headliner will be the proliferation of the ping tree.
The ping tree, which quietly gained prevalence in 2006, is a process that allows sellers to monetize every lead by shopping them to multiple buyers in real time.
In this tiered-pricing marketplace, sellers can release highly qualified leads at premium prices to buyers with stringent business rules, then approach other buyers who have more general criteria with remaining inventory at lower prices.
This system benefits both sellers and buyers. Sellers capitalize on premium pricing and a higher percentage of marketable leads, which, in turn, encourages affiliates to do more business with them. Buyers who previously could not be competitive with pricing now have opportunities to acquire leads that were not available to them in the past.
While the value of ping trees is largely recognized, there is a significant software investment necessary to coordinate the transfer of leads to many buyers in real time.
Ping trees have improved efficiency in lead generation for the consumer financial market, traditionally one of the most popular verticals for online marketers.
Different financial services companies typically require similar qualification data, so leads that are qualified for one are viable for all. This commonality is a fundamental requirement to the ping tree system.
Next year will also bring continued improvements in data validation, as well as a focus on analyzing drop-offs to improve conversion rates. Lead generators will adapt forms based on user behavior to generate the maximum leads without sacrificing quality.
In sum, we’ll see a better product with more potential to drive revenue. It looks to be a very good year.