Lead Gen Acquisitions Continue Despite Industry Scrutiny

This post was reported and co-written by Jack Marshall.

washpostco.gifFollowing a small investment in 2006, The Washington Post Company has acquired the remainder of stock in online lead generation provider CourseAdvisor for an undisclosed sum.

CourseAdvisor generates student leads for the post-secondary education market. Reportedly, more than 1.5 million students utilise the company’s online directory to unearth degree and certificate programs from over 500 educational institutions.

The lead gen sector is facing increasing scrutiny from the FTC, as well as increasing pressure from the Interactive Advertising Bureau and others in the industry to establish best practices.

The good guys in the sector (as well as the black hats disguised as white hats) are finding it increasingly compelling to reach out to press outlets like ClickZ to ensure us most industry players are on the up and up and, despite some internal industry spats, they’re working to get solid standards in place.

ClickZ has no indication that CourseAdvisor has engaged in any bad practices, or that the firm has been questioned by the FTC in its broader investigation. Still, when a large, well-known firm with a reputable brand name buys a firm doing business in an industry that’s under government scrutiny, it piques our interest.

When quizzed on the FTC’s recent investigations into the lead generation industry, Rima Calderon, director of corporate communications for WashPost told ClickZ News, “We are not aware of any investigation into any of the business practices of CourseAdvisor.”

As for what the firm will do with its new acquisition, she stated, Washpost are looking to CourseAdvisor to “continue its current business as it explores new lines of business.” The company will continue to operate as a subsidiary to the Washington Post Company, and independently of Kaplan, their education services provider company.

Lead gen observers have said education advertisers continue to fuel the industry, which has suffered from a dip in investment from financial services firms following the recent credit crisis.

Other acquisitions of lead gen firms are taking place — or rumoured to be in the works– including Azoogle’s purchase of lead gen firm Bazaar Advertising, suggesting the recent negative attention surrounding the lead gen segment is by no means acting as a deterrent.

Kate Kaye co-wrote this post.

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