NBC's DealMeRss.com Explores Lead-Generation Rev Potential
While the products may be similar, NBCU has no such ambitions with its fledgling DealMeRss.com. The austere site--resembling e-commerce circa 1995--is an experiment by NBCU's emerging digital businesses group. It hopes to gain insight into how to capitalize on growing "lead generation" revenue opportunities online.
Over time, any conclusions could be applied to its current ventures--such as Petside.com and DriverTV--where ad revenues may be principal drivers, but other revenue streams would be welcome. With lead generation, site operators can collect a fee--perhaps up to 60 cents a pop--for directing consumers (or "qualified leads") to another site, where they might make a purchase.
"There's advertising on the Internet," says Chris Grosso, senior vice president of emerging digital businesses at NBCU. "There's also a big pot of money in this lead generation space."
A recent report from the Interactive Advertising Bureau and PricewaterhouseCoopers found that lead-generation revenues jumped 23% to $1.6 billion in 2007.
With DealMeRss.com, NBCU is looking to gain insight into the type of content that works best for "calls to action," as well as what prompts consumers to sign up to receive offers via e-mail, widgets and RSS feeds.
"What we're really trying to learn about is what are the right kind of products that get a lot of clicks, and how do you think about presenting those products," Grosso says.
That's critical, adds Jere Doyle, the head of online marketing company Prospectiv and a member of the Online Lead Generation Association. "You can't just throw a bunch of stuff up there and hope people are going to click on it and buy," he says. "You need to figure out who your audience is. The key to lead generation is targeting. At the end of the day, that's going to drive the backend performance."
At DealMeRss, NBCU chose home electronics for experimentation, but could easily have used another category. NBCU wants to entice visitors with product offers, persuading them to click through to online retailers--including Amazon and Sony's e-commerce locale, where the 70-inch HDTV spectacular at $28,000 this week was marked down from $33,000.
An NBCU staffer scours the sites looking for tempting deals, and picks a DealMeRss "Deal of the Day. Consumers can then receive it via e-mail, widgets or RSS. That may be at--or near--the heart of the venture: How to persuade people to sign up for those options, and then ultimately get them to click through to a transactional page.
Another aim is finding an effective way to take advantage of the emergence of "start pages" on the Internet, such as iGoogle. There, people essentially create their own customized home pages, choosing the updated news and weather info they want to receive. That's where NBCU wants "Deal of the Day" slotted, where it would be updated along with the latest headlines.
"We'd like to stake some real estate (there)," Grosso says. "We think (DealMeRss) is a way of testing how to do some of that." NBCU has done little marketing for DealMeRss and generated drips and drabs of traffic. Grosso called it "infinitesimal," but it's apparently enough to conduct its tests and research.
The NBCU internal group Grosso heads reports to George Kliavkoff, NBCU's chief digital officer. Its principal charge is to build content distribution networks, which include Petside.com and DriverTV.
In addition to overseeing partnerships with Petside, a venture with Procter & Gamble, and NBCU's 35% interest in DriverTV, it also has some free reign to cast about and look for new opportunities. "We run basically a startup within a large organization," Grosso says.
Recently, it helped develop ad network Adify--with support from NBCU's/GE's in-house venture capital group, Peacock Equity--which was sold to Cox for a handsome profit.
Petside, launched with P&G in late 2007, is a hub for dog and cat aficionados. (P&G's interest, in part, has roots in its Iams brand.) While banner ads would appear to be the principal revenue stream, the site has a lead-generation foothold via a partnership with Petco, where it sends visitors to the retailer's site for possible purchasing.
But Grosso says there may be some added opportunity, perhaps through a DealMeRss-style "Deal of the Day" for an alluring pet product. DealMeRss "learnings will apply to other businesses," he notes.
Those could include DriverTV. NBCU took a stake several months ago in the 3-year-old venture that's a VOD and online play, where automakers offer short videos promoting their vehicles.
It already offers several lead-generation opportunities, including connecting potential buyers with local dealers. The dealers can then contact them with price quotes and other information. Web visitors can also seek a price quote on insurance. The search sends them to a comparison-shopping site, where DriverTV then likely collects a fee.
At perhaps 30 to 60 cents per lead, the road ahead is paved with potential.