I just got back from LeadsCon Las Vegas, the conference for online lead generation.  My quick observations from this year’s show:

  • Lead gen has arrived. Holy crap, there were around 2000 people at LeadsCon, quite an increase from the “mere” 600 people who showed up back in 2008. There were plenty of VCs and investors hunting for deals, foreign lead gen’ers (I personally met people from Israel, the UK, Australia, and Germany), and people like me a/k/a vendors looking to swoop up a few new deals. The arc of LeadsCon’s growth reminds me of the way Search Engine Strategies (SES) grew. When I first went to SES in 2002, there were maybe 500 people and 90% of the attendees were search nerds. Today, SES has shows around the globe and has tens of thousands of attendees, and has competition from Search Marketing Expo (SMX) and PPC Summit, among others. I could definitely see LeadsCon having 5-6 shows a year around the world – the demand for online lead gen related content is now that strong.
  • Great conferences don’t really need content. The sessions I sat in on at LeadsCon were great, don’t get me wrong. But I firmly believe that the true value of LeadsCon is in networking and meeting opportunities. LeadsCon is one of the few conferences out there were you can walk up to random attendee and probably come away with a great business opportunity. The panel I moderated (does affiliate marketing in lead gen make sense?) was great in terms of content, but attendance was so-so. Why? Because we were the last panel of the day – we started at 4:30 and by then most people were drinking beer and doing deals. LeadsCon could end at 3pm every day and the attendees would still get immense value out of the show.
  • Quality still matters and lead gen is still metaphorically dead. I said this after LeadsCon 1.0 in 2008 – lead gen is no longer about “leads”, its about “revenue.” “Lead quality” is just a metaphor for “revenue from leads.” In EDU buyers talk about “cost per enrollment” as their primary metric, in consumer finance, its “cost per funded loan”. How is this really any different from paying out based on the actual revenue the buyer ends up receiving?
  • The LeadCouncil is a great idea. The concept of having a trade association for online lead gen is way past due. Again, not to toot my own horn, but I’ve written about this numerous times: if online advertisers (and perhaps especially lead generators) don’t find a way to regulate and certify their own industry, other people will. Those “other” people might be Google 0r they might be the FTC, but this a scenario that is worth avoiding at all costs (insofar as it can at this point). Better late than never, so kudos to LeadCouncil for taking this first important step.
  • Diversification is vital in lead gen. From my buddy Saar throwing my entire profession under the bus by calling PPC “stale”, to ever-present questions of lead quality from incentivized marketing, or CAN-SPAM and email, its clear that successful lead gen companies cannot be one-trick ponies when it comes to sourcing leads. Those 100,000 leads you get from virtual currency deals can be gone in a moment – you’d better have a good back-up source ready!
  • I didn’t deserve to lose the poker tourney. The 2nd annual LeadCritic/Geary/Leads360/Online Lead Generation LinkedIn group poker tourney had 100 attendees, each ponying up around $100 each for the $5K first place prize. Mike Ferree once again did a great job in organizing the tournament, but how can a guy with 6-7 suited call my “all-in” pre-flop with two fives win the hand? Gimme a break!
  • Nice guys sometimes finish first. Last but not least, I just want to say how happy I am that LeadsCon founder Jay Weintraub has had such incredible success with LeadsCon. Jay is about the nicest, most humble, personable guy you will meet and you can just see all the attendees, sponsors, and exhibitors rooting for him to succeed. On top of that, he actually delivers great content and a great event, so this is truly a  win-win for all involved!

4 Comments

  1. Stephen Robinson February 25th, 2010

    Hi David,

    This was my first LeadsCon. I agree that the sessions had great content, but I didn’t feel like their were enough networking opportunities. As a veteran of many Affiliate Summit’s, one of the many things they do well is provide networking events EVERY night. I was very surprised at the lack of networking events in the evenings as this is typically where we find the most opportunity to get deals done.

    That being said, I said in on the session you moderated and thought you did a great job with it. I felt bad for you and the panelists as your session was the last of the day and you were competing with the open bar on the Exhibit Hall.

    Overall, this was a great conference and I came away with a lot of good knowledge about lead gen and where it is heading in 2010.

  2. davidzhawk February 25th, 2010

    Stephen, thanks for your comment. Also, thanks for promoting our session on ReveNews (I think that was you, right?). I agree that the sessions could end earlier and there could be more networking. I’ve learned over the years that late afternoon sessions just don’t draw audience – beer does!

  3. Jay W March 1st, 2010

    Stephen,

    What type of networking events would you find most valuable? In my biased view, we had two networking receptions as well as the closing party.

    Thanks,

    Jay

  4. davidzhawk March 1st, 2010

    Hey Jay,

    I think my point was two fold: 1) after about 3pm, *any* conference experiences “audience fatigue” which means that people just stop attending sessions and want to mingle, meet, go to the exhibit hall. 2) LeadsCon is particularly well-suited for networking because of the caliber of attendees and the nature of the lead gen industry.

    So I think you could have the show run 9-3 every day and then make 3-6 a massive networking/beer fest in the exhibit hall. This is not to say that the session content wasn’t valuable – because it was – it’s more an observation of how attendees weigh content and networking at LeadsCon, and I suspect that having 6 hours of sessions a day is about the right amount of content, which leaves another 6 hours for meetings and networking (longer for night owls).

    In any event, it was a great show as usual!

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David Rodnitzky
David Rodnitzky is founder and CEO of 3Q Digital (formerly PPC Associates), a position he has held since the Company's inception in 2008. Prior to 3Q Digital, he held senior marketing roles at several Internet companies, including Rentals.com (2000-2001), FindLaw (2001-2004), Adteractive (2004-2006), and Mercantila (2007-2008). David currently serves on advisory boards for several companies, including Marin Software, MediaBoost, Mediacause, and a stealth travel start-up. David is a regular speaker at major digital marketing conferences and has contributed to numerous influential publications, including Venture Capital Journal, CNN Radio, Newsweek, Advertising Age, and NPR's Marketplace. David has a B.A. with honors from the University of Chicago and a J.D. with honors from the University of Iowa. In his spare time, David enjoys salmon fishing, hiking, spending time with his family, and watching the Iowa Hawkeyes, not necessarily in that order.