MMW Op-Ed: How to Make Lead Exchange Work

The following article is a guest contribution from Frans Van Hulle, CEO of ReviMedia.

The idea of lead exchanges has hardly been new. The idea has been around for a while, yet most many companies who tried to set up a lead exchange have failed. This has made many people skeptical and suspicious of the idea of a lead marketplace. However,  looking at the online lead generation industry, it’s easy to see that the industry is plagued by inefficiencies and could be reduced with the help of a well-functioning lead exchange marketplace.


Many publishers, buyers and lead generation companies are constantly looking for new ways to do the same things: Connecting buyers, setting up ping trees, building out campaigns and forms. This has resulted in a lot of overlap in labor- and time-intensive processes. Few players find their competitive advantage because everybody is too busy doing the same thing. Moreover, labor-intensive technical processes make it harder for many publishers to expand into new verticals, precisely because every vertical has different metrics and technical requirements.

So, how can a lead marketplace improve the situation?

An online lead exchange is a marketplace which connects buyers and sellers, with the exchange system taking care of the administration and technical integration. This kind of aggregated business model is much more efficient because it guarantees exchange users to tap into a vast amount of buyers and publishers, as well as providing access to leads in multiple verticals. By using a lead exchange, many lead gen players could save themselves the time and hassle of learning and implementing the metrics of a new vertical, connecting buyers with their different technical requirements, building out ping trees, etc. In short, lead exchange can make the online lead gen industry much more efficient and innovative because marketers will be able to focus on what they’re good at: marketing.

1.       Added Value through Lead Exchange

The way to make lead exchange platforms work is to offer added value. If a platform can take care of all the technical integrations for buyers and publishers and at the same time offer comprehensive tools that guarantee lead quality and transparency, lead exchanges can work more efficiently than direct contact. Many lead exchanges now include scoring systems to give buyers insight into the quality of leads and their sources. Moreover, lead exchanges that integrate internal and external verification methods can filter out fraudulent or sub-standard leads. If lead exchanges can pass on information on lead origins and deliver leads with quality seals, essentially lifting the burden of buyers and publishers to implement quality measures themselves, they represent a much more effective alternative.

2.       Stable Prices based on supply and demand

A well-functioning lead exchange will avoid fluctuating prices by setting bottom and ceiling prices, ensuring that prices only vary within a reasonable price frame. Moreover, lead exchanges that include tools to verify and qualify leads, are able to make price predictions and maximize lead values by developing internal tools and algorithms that eliminate the risk of low-bidding buyers obtaining the largest share of leads. Moreover, if a lead exchange is based on a volume model, there should be a healthy balance between supply and demand.

3.       Integration of technical complexities

The technical complexities of a lead exchange are quite demanding and require an advanced web development team. Connecting buyers, setting up campaigns, building out ping trees and APIs, etc., is a labor- and time-intensive process that is a very time-consuming process that hinders many affiliates from expanding in new verticals. A well-functioning lead exchange that has its own development team will be able to develop technical structures that can handle leads in milliseconds. This means that leads can be pinged to buyers as soon as they are generated and guarantee immediate delivery.

4.       Every lead is unique

Many people say that lead exchanges can’t work because leads don’t have the fungibility of commodities and are harder to grade. But this opinion rests on a misunderstanding that lead exchange is just a mere transaction of a product between a buyer and a seller. Every lead is unique and should be handled as such. The real strength of lead exchange marketplaces is that exchange systems provide exchange participants not only with advanced technical tools, but also with support, content and customer services. Lead verification and quality seals can give insights into lead origins and allow leads to be put into categories according to their scores and ratings. This allows lead exchange users to obtain certain guarantees regarding the quality of their leads.

There are a few successful examples of lead exchanges that are revolutionizing the online lead generation industry, making it an overall more efficient, transparent and qualified space. Among the companies that have successfully managed to set up lead exchange marketplaces are LeadPile and LeadPoint. Moreover, focusing on the newest in technology and data analytics, LeadCube and ReviMedia are offering sophisticated platforms enabling lead exchange in multiple verticals.

About The Author

Frans Van Hulle, CEO of ReviMedia, is a “serial entrepreneur” with more than 12 years experience in the online marketing business, focusing on launching international business ventures.