By Keith Trivitt | Director, Marketing and Communications
Where will you be March 19 and 20? If the answer isn’t LeadsCon Las Vegas, you need to rethink your plans. With the industry’s premier lead-generation conference a month away, we recently sat down with LeadsCon founder Jay Weintraub to get his take on the state of performance marketing, how he got into the business and what marketers can expect at this year’s conference.
Haven’t purchased your pass to LeadsCon yet? No problem. Click here for a discount and receive $175 off the price of admission, courtesy of MediaWhiz. Don’t delay: the discount is only available through March 1. Discount is valid for new registrations only. Refunds are not available for past purchases.
Be sure to stop by the MediaWhiz booth (#511) at LeadsCon to chat with us about lead generation and performance marketing services. We’d love to see you. Email Keith Trivitt to schedule a meeting.
Below is an edited excerpt of our interview with LeadsCon founder Jay Weintraub.
How did you come about founding and managing LeadsCon?
When I started LeadsCon in 2007 I was living in Los Angeles. I moved there from Baltimore to join the specialty ad network Oversee.net. Its core business focused on monetizing large portfolios of domain names. The company also owned a large portfolio of premium domains, including two marquee names in education and mortgage. Old timers will remember Adteractive and its LowRateSource offer. That inspired me to develop some of the domains using lead gen as the monetization.
Fast forward five years and I couldn’t understand why there wasn’t a conference that focused just on lead generation. After a while, I decided that it was what I wanted to do, and if I didn’t give it a try, I would be forever upset at myself.
For those who are unaware of LeadsCon and its role in the performance marketing ecosystem, what should they know about the conference? Who’s the main audience and how do you cater to them?
I love the term performance marketing. At the same time, it is a very broad term, and it can be co-opted to describe a wide range of marketing activities that may not be very “performance” oriented.
In that wide range of performance marketing lays a subset of brands and advertisers from whom their business relies on connecting with potential customers, being able to begin a dialog that will hopefully consummate in a business transaction. These advertisers have a business process that is at the same time trackable. They are generally service providers within specific consumer focused segments of the economy, e.g., financial service providers. The opposite would be a consumer packaged goods. Their transactions take place primarily offline. While they can purchase clicks and likes they have very indirect ways of measuring advertising effectiveness.
Those who operate in the LeadsCon ecosystem can absolutely measure their advertising activities. Not only can they measure, they prefer to base their online advertising and marketing spend around how their activities translate into customers.
Where this differs from more traditional affiliate marketing, which is a major component of the performance marketing ecosystem, is that in more traditional affiliate marketing, the transaction takes place online.
Besides the transaction not taking place online, in the LeadsCon ecosystem, the products and services generally fall into the “considered purchase” category. They are not impulse buys, even if they might be considered immediate needs, such as hiring a plumber to fix a leak.
Ultimately, it comes down to a) the type of product / service being advertising; and b) who controls the budget. If it is something that can be purchased online, it is most likely not the focus of LeadsCon. If it is an agency with a set amount to spend that isn’t hyper-focused and held accountable on how that spend translates to a business relationship, that, too, is not LeadsCon.
It would be easiest to say LeadsCon is a lead-gen show, but the world of lead generation today is no longer just form; it’s clicks and calls. It’s any way to connect consumers with companies that can help.
What is your career background? How did you get into lead gen and performance marketing?
As I like to joke — although I suspect there is some element of truth — were I a better marketer, I would have continued doing that versus starting LeadsCon. I spent the eight years before founding LeadsCon in operational roles at performance marketing companies, including the place where I cut my teeth, AOL’s Advertising.com. I joined right before the dot-com crash, so my experience has been shaped by the need for accountability in advertising spend. While I always had a proclivity towards direct response marketing, the experience of surviving the dot-com crash and seeing 30% of your peers let go forever shaped my perspective on the industry.
What is your opinion on the state of performance marketing? Is it improving in terms of its reputation and respect among marketers?
There is an interesting divide within the performance marketing community, in my opinion. This comes back to the broad applicability of the term.
That perspective is how Google has been able to have advertisers think that paying for visitors is performance, and it is how Facebook has made brands think of “Likes” as performance-based marketing. In other words, the term “performance marketing” has become more mainstream.
Within the classic performance marketing ecosystem, which is largely driven by direct-response advertisers, continuity offerings and commerce purchases, there have been some reputation issues. As media has become more expensive that has led some marketers to engage in behavior that is misleading, so much so that the Federal Trace Commission has gotten involved and major traffic platforms have made rule changes. That is why there are almost two worlds of performance marketing — one that is controlled by agencies a major traffic platforms that use the term “performance marketing” to increase digital’s percentage of spend and the other of performance-based marketers looking for offers to run. It is the latter that needs help if it is to continue to grow.
What major opportunities and challenges do you think await the performance marketing industry in 2013?
The biggest challenge in 2013 will be proving the value of performance marketing. From an advertiser’s perspective, being able to pay for results is a hard to beat value proposition. But, as we’ve seen, it’s not a fool-proof value proposition. If it comes with too many brand and customer service headaches, it is simply not worth it. That is why there are more and more companies taking their programs in-house.
Who do you look up to in the digital media and performance marketing industries? Is there any one person or persons who have had a big influence on your career?
The list is probably too long if I try to name names, but here are two: John DeMayo and Carl Watzack. John is probably the original “growth hacker,” and Carl allowed me to move from media buying to new product development where I worked on the precursor to the modern reg path.
If there was one thing about the performance marketing industry that you would change, what would it be? Why?
It’s a real business. Treat it like one and not a get-rich quick plan. That way we can minimize reputation issues and, from the publisher perspective, avoid the closing of networks that have plagued the industry the past 12 months.
If you’re going to LeadsCon, here are some useful links to help you get the most out of the conference: