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One-Stop Shop for Lead Gen

  |  June 3, 2008   |  Comments

A new tool distinguishes marketing leads from sales leads.

If you've ever tried to build an online lead-generation component into your strategy, you know it can be pretty tedious work to source, negotiate with, and place offers with all the publishers to help you meet your campaign's objectives. A new solution, Pontiflex, hopes not only to eliminate this kind of hassle by creating an aggregated lead-generation platform but also to provide advertisers with a marketplace for a different kind of lead: a marketing lead.

Pontiflex, founded by serial Web entrepreneur Zephrin Lasker, identifies a marketing lead as any lead that's generated and isn't for the purpose of creating a direct sale. Examples include newsletter signups, direct marketing campaigns, member loyalty programs, and brand-building efforts. "Lead generation as we've traditionally thought about it have been primarily for sales leads, like mortgages, insurance, auto loans, and credit cards," says Lasker. "These are generic leads and are usually sold to multiple advertisers, but that's not what we provide."

Pontiflex sets out to address non-sales-related leads, what Lasker thinks of as an underserved market, and to do so in a far simpler way. He describes Pontiflex as "an e-commerce engine for advertisers and agencies to buy and track leads but only create one insertion order."

The way Pontiflex works is fairly simple and user-friendly; the process reminds me of Google Print Ads. The buyer logs in and, using a campaign-building wizard, enters in relevant information, including the campaign name, budget, target cost per lead, and campaign time frame. Through a series of subsequent steps, the buyer then selects criteria to describe the offer, its target audience, campaign purpose, and fields (name, e-mail, Zip Code, timestamp, etc.) the lead needs to provide. The platform then matches publishers to the offer in real time, transparently listing each matching publisher, a rating of the match, a brief description of the publisher, a link to site facts and stats (which Pontiflex has partnered with Quantcast to obtain), and what the publisher charges for that lead.

Once the buyer determines that a publisher fits her campaign, she clicks the "Add to Campaign" link, and the system uploads that publisher. Multiple publishers can be selected. Once all the publishers have been selected, Pontiflex automatically allocates budget to each of the selected publishers, though the buyer can manually adjust allocations later. When the full order is processed, the confirmation page alerts you that a sales representative will be in touch to confirm the order and provide creative/trafficking instructions.

For agencies, Pontiflex actually has a special interface that allows the agency to view all its advertisers via the same login, yet allows the agency to grant reporting rights to individual clients without exposing the rest of the agency's clients. The agency can use the interface for broad-reaching needs or call a media representative to create a custom program.

If you think about it, there are quite a few benefits to a solution like Pontiflex:

  • Transparency. You'll control exactly on what sites your lead generation offer will be displayed.

  • Lead quality. All leads are validated and verified through the independent third-party Targusinfo. If unqualified leads slip through the cracks, Pontiflex will credit the advertiser and delist the publisher if it's found to be delivering fraudulent leads.

  • Reach. Right now, Pontiflex has over 10,000 sites with over 20 million lead-gen paths in its network, and the network is steadily growing. Lasker says recruiting publishers has been easier than they thought. They offer publishers visibility and lead-generation management at no cost. They also have attracted marquee sites, like Orbitz, TheStreet.com, and Morningstar.

  • Centralized reporting. Review all your lead-gen campaigns in one interface in real time. Oh happy day!

  • Optimization. Once you know what lead sources are generating the desired action, you can really maximize your ad dollars by reallocating budgets.

  • Return on investment. Especially during tougher economic times, advertisers demand more return on their ad dollars spent.

  • B2B. Pontiflex recognizes the difficulty of B2B (define) lead generation and has already attracted Hoovers and ZoomInfo.com to its network.

Since Pontiflex is so new, there are a few underdeveloped areas of the platform. Geo- and micro-targeting aren't really options, and call-in leads can currently only be tracked if the advertiser can return the data to Pontiflex via some kind of electronic feed.

Still, if you're at all trying to generate some kind of lead for your clients, give Pontiflex a whirl.

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Hollis Thomases

A ClickZ expert columnist since 2005, Hollis Thomases (@hollisthomases) is president and founder of Maryland-based WebAdvantage.net, an online marketing company that provides results-centric, strategic Internet marketing services, including online media planning, SEO, PPC campaign management, social media marketing, and Internet consulting. Author of Twitter Marketing: An Hour a Day and an award-winning entrepreneur, Hollis is the Maryland 2007 SBA Small Business Person of the Year. Hollis speaks extensively on online marketing, having presented for ClickZ, the American Marketing Association, SES, The Newsletter and Electronic Publishers Association, The Kelsey Group, and the Vocus Worldwide User Forum. WebAdvantage.net's client list has included Nokia USA, Nature Made Vitamins, Johns Hopkins University, ENDO Pharmaceuticals, K'NEX Construction Toys, and Visit Baltimore. The agency was recognized as a "Small Giant" by the Greater Baltimore Tech Council and was chosen as a "Best Place for Business Women to Work" by "Smart Woman Magazine."

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