Trends Come and Go

I’ve been in the performance marketing industry for more than a decade and in that time I’ve seen many trends come and go. Anyone remember ringtones? How about acai? How about rebills on acai? I created LinkTrust for tracking and managing leads back when co-reg and lead gen were the hottest things in the online advertising world.

Over the last 10 years, lead gen offers grew then got crippled by economic turmoil. Now lead gen is starting the climb back to the top of the performance-marketing mountain. This second wind for online lead generation is an indication that the performance marketing industry is maturing. Although we still have to weed out a lot of fraud, the tools to catch it are far more sophisticated.  This has contributed over the last 10 years to more companies working harder to increase their bottom line by finding new ways to stabilize growth through multiple channels including lead generation.

Lead Gen and Affiliate Marketing are Growing

As affiliate marketing grew in popularity, anyone with online advertising experience started a new ad network and affiliates were easy to find as the ‘work from home’ craze grew. The performance marketing industry became a place of re-brokering traffic and getting as many new offers up as quickly as possible because consumers were clicking and the traffic was flowing.

It’s more complex now. Today’s consumer is more internet savvy and so internet marketers have had to evolve as well. The performance marketing industry is still growing at an incredible rate, in fact according to a study by the IAB UK this year, the industry as a whole grew 57% over the last four years.  However, it’s growing in a different, more stable and valuable way than before. In fact, according to this survey, affiliate marketing only grew 50% while lead generation grew an astounding 136% over the last few years.

Online lead generation growth is outpacing basic affiliate marketing because it is more valuable to the advertiser than anonymous click traffic. Along with lead gen providing more valuable data, it helps an ad network by decreasing their overall risk. Simply brokering offers means that if the traffic stops from an affiliate you have no easy way to fix the problem. When you own the landing pages and have direct relationships with the advertisers and affiliates, you naturally have more control over the quality and consistency of the traffic as well as the longevity of the offer.

Lead Gen Looks Different Today

Back when I first got into the online lead generation space, the top verticals were payday, education, auto loans and mortgage loan offers. Today, innovative companies are finding ways to get into new verticals every day, diversifying their company and creating a more stable revenue base. Although the previous lead verticals are still here and going strong, new verticals and methods have grown such as cable television, warm transfers, call verified, subprime offers and legal leads just to name a few. In fact, a few months ago, I heard about an online lead generation company with an offer selling headstones.

With so many verticals growing there is more stability available for performance marketing companies. While the last four years have seen incredible growth – even during a global economic recession, the next four years are sure to bring even more experimentation within verticals and advancements in technology which will allow more diversity in offers. This combination will continue to provide a solid lead gen business model and those companies to take advantage of it will surly lead the way.