SEO

Promotional Vs. Incentivized Traffic

For those of you not too familiar with this story, “Valueclick Ad Network Serving Bogus & Incentivized Leads.” We’ve had a great response from industry people as far as even someone calling me from another Ad Network (not going to reveal this person cause I wouldn’t do that to them) and saying they have worked at Valueclick before and they do use “sketchy tactics” to generate leads.

As a result of the story, e-Consultancy picked up the story and wrote their own. In their post, John Ardis, VP of Corporate Strategy for Valueclick states,

“To suggest we are purposely trying to provide an inferior product and would disregard a client when they have concerns about quality is inaccurate. You don’t grow to be a $600m to $700m business by treating people that way.”

Well John, a $600m-$700m business shouldn’t disregard their clients concerns by taking them for fools. A full refund was denied to us (eTrend Media Group), even after showing them our clients call log of leads we paid for shown below.

I’m sure we are far from being the only clients that have had this experience with Valueclick, why aren’t more coming out? It’s no surprise the company is dealing with major lawsuits regarding their lead generation practices violating the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 and Federal Trade Commission Guidelines. Mediapost states in their article, “ValueClick has seen its stock fall nearly 40% since May, in part due to its involvement in incentive-based lead generation. In May, ValueClick acknowledged that the FTC was conducting an inquiry into the company’s lead-generation activities.”

Charlton, author of the e-Consultancy post says, “He also defended the policy of using rewards to drive conversions, saying this was common practice, and that ValueClick verifies these leads before passing them on to advertisers”:

“They [consumers] have a host of things to choose from so ostensibly, most people will not sign up for things they have no interest in when faced with a variety of choices. Our lead generation business would not have grown as it has if there was not an acceptable ROI coming through.”

Well, here is the call log of leads generated by Valueclick which we provided to our client (not posted anywhere else):

Lead 2483227 (Michael ____) Entered Into System.     7/30/2007
8:12:56 AM  
  Lead
Assigned to Bobbi Olah.  
  7/30/2007 1:01:01
PM  
  number
is disconnected  
  7/30/2007 2:27:31
PM  

 

 Lead 2483415 (Joff ______) Entered Into System.     7/30/2007
8:17:27 AM  
  Lead
Assigned to Bobbi Olah.  
  7/30/2007 1:05:30
PM  
  he
never went on line  
  7/30/2007 2:49:00
PM  

 

  Lead 2483923 (Mara _____) Entered Into System.     7/30/2007
8:34:10 AM  
  Lead
Assigned to Bobbi Olah.  
  7/30/2007 1:11:15
PM  
  disconnected     7/30/2007 3:29:51
PM  

 

Lead 2484247 (Andrea ____) Entered Into System.     7/30/2007
8:49:41 AM  
  Lead
Assigned to Bobbi Olah.  
  7/30/2007 11:23:03
AM  
  phone
clicked off  
  7/30/2007 11:56:23
AM  

 

Lead 2484327 (Myra _____) Entered Into System.     7/30/2007
8:55:43 AM  
  Lead
Assigned to Bobbi Olah.  
  7/30/2007 11:09:23
AM  
  number
is disconnected  
  7/30/2007 3:30:42
PM  

 

Lead 2484795 (Greg ____) Entered Into System.     7/30/2007
3:38:45 PM  
  Lead
Assigned to Bobbi Olah.  
  7/30/2007 4:14:33
PM  
  changed
his mind and then hung up on me  
  7/31/2007 11:21:14
AM  

 

 Lead 2483223 (Renee _____) Entered Into System.     7/30/2007
8:12:45 AM  
  Lead
Assigned to Jessica Points.  
  7/30/2007 11:08:06
AM  
  Scott
(husband) said they have no debt. Just filed for bankrupcy  
  7/30/2007 11:11:17
AM  

 

Lead 2483335 (matt _____) Entered Into System.     7/30/2007
8:15:34 AM  
  Lead
Assigned to Jessica Points.  
  7/30/2007 1:00:14
PM  
  Didn’t
ask for any help  
  7/30/2007 1:08:54
PM  

 

Lead 2483391 (Deanna _____) Entered Into System.     7/30/2007
8:16:53 AM  
  Lead
Assigned to Jessica Points.  
  7/30/2007 1:05:09
PM  
  Rang
& Rang, then went busy  
  7/30/2007 1:07:34
PM  

 

 Lead 2483431 (Amanda ______) Entered Into System.     7/30/2007
8:17:49 AM  
  Lead
Assigned to Jessica Points.  
  7/30/2007 11:12:17
AM  
  Didn’t
ask for any help  
  7/30/2007 11:13:53
AM  

 
 

 Lead 2483571 (James _____) Entered Into System.     7/30/2007
8:22:33 AM  
  Lead
Assigned to Jessica Points.  
  7/30/2007 1:12:01
PM  
  Wife
said they have no problems  
  7/30/2007 1:15:20
PM  

 

 Lead 2483879 (Fred ____) Entered Into System.     7/30/2007
8:32:33 AM  
  Lead
Assigned to Jessica Points.  
  7/30/2007 1:16:05
PM  
  Not
in service  
  7/30/2007 1:20:18
PM  

 

 Lead 2483891 (Regina _____) Entered Into System.     7/30/2007
8:33:07 AM  
  Lead
Assigned to Jessica Points.  
  7/30/2007 1:12:19
PM  
  Did
surveys’ on internet!!!! Doesn’t need our help  
  7/30/2007 1:29:44
PM  

 

Lead 2483907 (David _____) Entered Into System.     7/30/2007
8:33:48 AM  
  Lead
Assigned to Jessica Points.  
  7/30/2007 1:35:07
PM  
  I
can hear the T.V. in the background, but he won’t answer me  
  7/30/2007 1:37:13
PM  

Our client went on to say, “There are some more all with the same stories. At this point, we had to stop because we weren’t going to have any sales if we kept going with them for the day.”

In an email sent to us from Director of Sales of Valueclick, Scott Spaulding, he states,

“To address your below concerns, let me reiterate what Lee has conveyed to your team, we do not run Cost per Lead programs on incentivized sites. The concept of “incentivizing” a user to sign up for your (or any other advertiser’s) lead based program would be of no value to anyone. The reason we are the largest player in the space is due to our understanding that every lead we generate for your program must eventually translate into a Cost per Order/Sale and it is our communication/technology that allows us to optimize to the level of performance you are looking for. Your campaign has been running on our Promotional Pathway where users come to receive a promotional offer. On the following page, your offer is dynamically served based on the user’s demographic information and participation among 3rd party offers is always 100% optional.”

Is there really a difference between promotional and incentivized traffic? Again, one of the websites where some of their leads are generated is www.myshoppersrewards.com, which includes the following terms and conditions below the “promotional item” (which I discovered only after the campaign stopped):

“To receive the incentive gift you must: 1) Register with valid information; 2) Complete the user survey; 3) Complete at least two (2) Silver offers Page, two (2) Gold offers Page, and two (2) Platinum offers Page; and 4) Refer one (1) unique household that also must complete these requirements. Purchase may be required. Purchase may be required. Please read Terms & Conditions for details. Upon completion of all requirements, we will ship the incentive gift to you with free shipping.”

Do you think this is promotional or incentivized traffic? Tell us what you think!

Pablo Palatnik is Managing Partner of eTrend Media Group, which specializes in Pay-Per-Click Management & Lead Generation.

 Promotional Vs. Incentivized Traffic
Pablo Palatnik is the author of the blog PalatnikFactor, focusing on all things Online Marketing and Search Engine Optimization specialist for Fortune3, a shopping cart software company by online retailers, for online retailers.

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6 thoughts on “Promotional Vs. Incentivized Traffic

  1. Jon, yeah, the lead log was also about 4 times the length of what is published here, but I edited it down for publishing. None of the leads were interested and a good amount were non-existent.

    Interesting analysis Pablo!

  2. Loren- thanks for making note that you have made the log shorter for publishing reasons.

    The log loren put up is not intended to just show leads which were bad, but the whole log (which is pretty large) is all much of the same.

    I’d also like to say, this post, and other one which was posted about valueclick is not about me bashing or devaluing a company. It’s telling my story and experience with a company of our trade. As a writer and blogger, that’s what I do.

  3. Pablo, you do our industry a good service in getting the information out there. Especially since you took some heat from the commenters last time). It’s great that you client was willing to share their logs as well.

  4. I have used online lead generation services twice now. And I can say without a doubt, the quality of leads are worse than a cold call list. The operators I used: Clash Media for example, sent me duds. Non existent telephone numbers and non existent people. And it is now clear that most people make up the personal info to gain access to the promotion and just click on any old campaign. I do not see this industry lasting very long. Especially when people like me can relate our past experiences