Matchpoint Pairs with WSJ, Local Relevance a Challenge

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WSJ.com is running Matchpoint’s ads in its classifieds sections, representing another financial site partner for the lead-gen ad firm. Though sites like Dow Jones-owned WSJ.com and Matchpoint partner Forbes.com are typically associated with pricier display ads from airlines or luxury goods brands, adding more direct response-oriented offerings helps them monetize non-premium site areas and appeal to new types of advertisers.

The plus for Matchpoint is more distribution for its advertiser partners, who bid on customer leads through an auction platform. Essentially, the consumer fills out a Matchpoint form asking for info like e-mail address and zip code. In this case they’re WSJ-branded forms. Matchpoint vets the lead by sending the interested consumer an e-mail to ensure he wants to be contacted by the advertiser.

WSJ Careers, Real Estate and Small Business classifieds areas feature links to Matchpoint’s browsable database of complementary services such as resume assistance and landscaping. The ads link to forms where users submit information such as e-mail address and zip code.
Forbes.com partnered with Matchpoint last October to run form-based display ad units on its site, allowing readers to connect with companies advertising online banking or credit card offers.

Matchpoint gives publisher partners a cut of the revenue collected from advertisers bidding on sales leads; the share depends on publisher partner size and volume of leads generated. Matchpoint touts the service as an alternative to Google AdSense, used by countless publishers in the advertising network to collect additional ad dollars.

The Forbes deal, which involves actual display ad units served throughout the site, seems a little more robust; at this point all Dow Jones is doing from what I’ve seen is including a link to a relevant Matchpoint search from “Partner Market Opportunities” sections in WSJ.com’s jobs, real estate and small biz classifieds sections. For instance, the executive recruitment search page features a lengthy list of so-called partners, mainly standard lead gen stuff. A link to “Online Degrees” leads to EarnMyDegree.com; a “Find Small Business Software” link in the small biz resources area leads to KnowledgeStorm.com. The “Small Business Services” link in that section goes to a Matchpoint search for things like “Auto Loan” and “Furniture Systems.”

So far, my experience trying out Matchpoint isn’t exactly efficient. For instance, clicking from a “Career Marketplace” link on WSJ brings me to a form to input e-mail and zip code info. An e-mail comes soon thereafter, but rather than delivering me local career counseling services I can contact immediately, it provides me with a link to one company, another online lead gen service called Jobfox. When I go to that site, I have to submit even more information, including the e-mail and zip I just filled out on Matchpoint’s form.

When reporting the Forbes deal last October, I tested the system, and then it also drove me down a lead gen rabbit hole. A search for “cleaners” in White Plains, NY resulted in a singular advertiser, The Done Right directory of local home improvement services. Not only did the site require an additional search by the user, its database didn’t include White Plains.

The company has high hopes for building out its database with relevant local advertisers, rather than other lead gen firms, though. It’s aggregating databases and now includes 11 million business listings. Also, the firm acquired GetVendors, which has a technology allowing small companies without a Web presence to contact potential clients via phone. The service basically spits out a temporary phone number that connects the merchant with the interested consumer, without divulging the consumer’s actual number.

“A lot of people are starting to realize that there might be difficulties [with Web-only contact] considering these businesses are primarily phone-based,” Matchpoint President Peter Adams told me, noting the phone system is “a key piece of our model as we expand into lead generation for local businesses.”

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