Lead Quality Best Practices

Executive Summary

The Lead Quality Best Practices were developed by interviewing 20 leading online lead generation companies across 9 major verticals: automotive, insurance, education, pharmaceutical, continuity clubs, financial services, retail and CPG. These companies were asked what their definition of lead quality is, how they evaluate lead quality, and how they communicate the quality of those leads to the publishers who generated them.

Lead quality is a core evaluation standard for advertisers, agencies and publishers. For advertisers, lead quality has a direct impact on return on investment for marketing and on operational efficiency for sales. Buying large volumes of low quality leads means that advertisers are spending a significant portion of their advertising budget on leads that have little chance of converting into customers. Moreover, the time and effort the advertiser’s sales force spends on trying to convert these low quality leads is time and effort taken away from focusing on the high quality leads, meaning that some leads with a high probability to convert are not receiving the prompt attention required to convert them into customers right away.

Lead quality also has a significant impact on agencies. Because the lead generation business is highly competitive, agencies that focus on improving the quality of the leads they provide to their advertiser clients are able to differentiate themselves from their competition, which can influence advertisers into directing a higher percentage of their advertising budgets to those agencies. In addition, high quality leads are less likely to be returned by the advertisers, enabling agencies to monetize more leads.

Lead quality is important for publishers as well. High quality leads must be generated in order for the publisher to get fully paid for those leads, and more importantly, for the publisher to foster long-lasting relationships with advertisers and agencies. In order to accomplish this, publishers need insight into lead quality from advertisers and agencies through feedback loops so they can optimize leads.

Lastly, lead quality is beneficial to consumers. Consistent with industry movement in the past decade such as National Do Not Call Registry and CAN-SPAM, consumers should be protected from unwanted solicitations. If publishers use lead quality as a feedback loop to improve targeting, then presenting irrelevant ads to consumers will be reduced. In addition, as targeting is improved, consumers who are truly interested in the product or service are more likely to be contacted.
The recommendations outlined in this document address two main areas:
  1. Define best practices for advertiser sharing of invalid leads with publishers to improve the process of accounting for leads.
  2. Define best practices for advertiser sharing of converted leads with publishers to improve advertiser conversions and ROI.
The document is organized by first defining an invalid lead, then recommends a standardized process for evaluating leads, and finally discusses creating feedback loops for converted leads with publishers.  Key recommendations include:
  • Publishers and advertisers should establish the definition of a valid and invalid lead upfront in the contract.
  • Advertisers should return invalid leads to publishers with detailed reason codes in real-time or in a timeframe agreed to upfront.
  • Publishers should use returned invalid lead data to optimize traffic sources, improve creative, and refine targeting.
  • Advertisers should return converted leads to publishers based on a timeframe that matches their evaluation cycle if permitted by advertiser privacy and corporate policies. Publishers should use converted lead data to further optimize traffic, improve creative, refine targeting, and build custom targeting models to identify future valuable customers.
This document represents the second installment in a series of IAB lead quality initiatives. The first installment is titled the IAB Marketer and Agency Guide to Lead Quality and can be found here.