What Lead Filters Should I Request For My PPL Campaign?

A client asks: “I know I can filter our Pay-Per-Lead (content syndication) leads on geography and company size. What if I want to filter to specific regions or states? Can I also limit leads to certain job titles?”

My response:

To best answer the question, let’s discuss what lead filters are and how they work. A filter means that you, as the advertiser, will only accept and pay for leads that meet certain demographic criteria. It does NOT mean that the publisher will only generate leads that meet those specifications. In fact, regardless of how few filters you choose, the publisher will be generating many more “non-compliant” leads: prospects who register for and download your content but don’t meet your criteria, and that, in essence, will end up being discarded.

Guess what: if the publisher is unable to charge for some percentage of the leads he/she generates from your content, you will end up paying for them anyway, in the form of a higher Cost Per Lead (CPL). And therein is the first rule of lead filters: the more filters you ask for, the higher your CPL.

The trick, therefore, is to determine which filters are 100% critical to the campaign, and which you can afford to do without. For example, let’s say you want to filter all leads to IT Management titles only. That additional filter may cost you an additional $10 per lead, but what if it only filtered out 5% of total leads? Would the additional cost ($10 x the number of guaranteed leads) be worth it? Likely not.

Filtering by specific US regions or states is generally incompatible with PPL programs, in large part because many publishers don’t capture that level of demographic detail. Even if a few publishers offer the option, it’s likely that they’d charge a high premium given they’d be eliminating a large number of otherwise quality leads in the process (see above). If it’s important that you only target specific regions, you’re probably better off considering either a list purchase, or possibly even paid search (SEM).

Filtering by job title is, in our experience, rarely worth the additional cost, for the same reasons. Most publishers will charge a high premium for job title filters, the likes of “management titles only” or “director and above.” If job title is a key targeting criteria for your campaign, a much better (and less expensive) option is to use other tools at your disposal:

• Select media venues that attract the type of demographic you’re looking to reach
• Name (or rename) your content to attract the right job titles (for example, “A CIO’s Guide to Big Data”)
• Use the abstract (the short description that appears on the publisher’s Website) to appeal to the right job function, for example:

“Written specifically for CISOs, IT Security Directors, and other senior executives with enterprise-level security responsibility, this white paper explains …”

By leveraging these techniques, you can minimize, if not eliminate, the “wrong” type of leads, and even if a few junior titles slip through, it will still be less expensive compared to paying for the filter up front.

Another type of filter generally not worth the expense is the custom qualifying question. These filters require the publisher to add an additional question to their registration forms exclusively for your content, and then filter those leads based on the answer to that question. A typical use case is if you only sell to companies that employ a certain operating system or database or hardware. Again, it’s usually possible to effectively target those users through smart media planning, choosing the right title for your content, and including the appropriate keywords in your abstract.


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