The annual LeadsCon event hit Las Vegas recently and turned out an insightful crowd of people. I joined several of my Datamark colleagues for the event, and it again proved to be a productive opportunity to meet with clients and leaders in internet lead generation to discuss trends, innovation and regulatory change. Congratulations to Jay and Dave on yet another successful event.
Regulatory-driven change remains top-of-mind for education lead generators and consumers. I left encouraged by the good faith efforts that many of the largest suppliers are taking to assist schools in meeting new regulatory demands, but disappointed at the amount of unnecessary churn and wasted resources that the Education Department’s vague misrepresentation rule is creating not only for our school clients, but also for our vendor partners. Other takeaways:
- Major .edu lead suppliers are forecasting declines of 15 percent in volume for the year, driven by reduced budgets and shifts of remaining budgets to other channels.
- School responses to July 1 deadline varied widely. Lead vendors reported that a minority of schools had announced highly restrictive “zero tolerance” policies to address misrepresentation risk, significantly limiting lead purchases.
- There is a continued shift toward call-verified/call-generated leads.
- Demand continues to shift towards leads for programs with high completion rates.
I’ll close with my prediction on where this will all shake out as we approach July 1. I expect that we will begin to see a bifurcation in the market for online .edu leads. Generators and aggregators will become more willing to certify (on some level) leads generated from owned/controlled channels. The shift of school risk to the generators will put upward pressure on pricing for leads from these channels. Conversely, I expect continued resistance from lead generators to assuming risk for channels that they don’t fully control, notably affiliate networks and call-generated – even for their largest clients. Unless we see a significant drop in supply from affiliates decamping for other verticals, prices for these leads will likely drop as demand shrinks.