ReviMedia’s CEO Frans Van Hulle: Taking the lead

By Shahnaz MahmudAugust 5, 2014

Call it lead generation, call it performance marketing – according to Frans Van Hulle, CEO of New York-based ReviMedia, it’s one and the same. He keenly points out that lead generation has a “pay-per” base, too, in pay-per-leads. And it’s that kind of status he’s quite happy to see.

ReviMedia, which he also co-founded, is a lead generation company, with a focus on three areas: insurance, home security and automotives. Van Hulle, who will be speaking at LeadsCon NY in August, believes that what distinguishes his firm from its competitors is that ReviMedia generates all of its leads in-house through its websites and internal campaigns.

Performance marketing actually sets the bar for lead generation. Van Hulle, a 15-year veteran of the space, says it’s an ideal model for the publisher and the advertiser alike. The advertiser can acquire leads or do sales based on performance, he says. And for the publisher, it sets up a good target to perform. “When you perform well, you get paid well,” he adds. Makes sense.

Lead generation, however, is an “inefficient industry,” he says. Many companies across the industry are doing similar things and there aren’t many platforms where you can go and say: I would like to set up this campaign, I would like to integrate this buyer. So that provides room for innovation. That’s why, when the company launched in March 2010, technology was – and remains – a big focus.

Technology as the foundation

“The choice right from the start was to do technology in-house and to build something which could be scalable,” says Van Hulle. “We also designed it so it could be used by external third parties.” Added to that, ReviMedia opted to manage its own campaigns and media buys. He explains how the company went against the grain when ReviMedia hit the market. In a standard campaign, you fill in a form and the data gets sold. But, the company devised a quiz, with questions (pertaining to the auto industry) such as: “What Kind of Driver Are You?” and “Women Are Better Drivers?" That provided them with the information they needed to be able to generate a quote. “That approach was relatively new – and it took off pretty well and fast,” says Van Hulle. “We decided to stick with this approach as we looked at other verticals.”

But Van Hulle points out that the company still continues to be in learning mode. At launch, lead generation was relatively new for ReviMedia staffers and they all had a steep learning curve. Moreover, the powers-that-be decided to target the auto and insurance verticals, among the most competitive out there. “That forces us to specialize,” he tells LeadsCon.

Lead generation trends

In this lead generation world, Van Hulle sees a few trends.

The first is the need for transparency in the markets. Advertisers demand more insight into where the lead is actually coming from and how it’s generated, he says, adding they would also like to have a better feel for the quality. “That’s relatively new,” says Van Hulle. “We have been on top of that wave for the last two years and we anticipated that, as well, with lead scoring and lead verification giving full insight into the leads.”

The second trend is mobile, one in which no one expected how big an explosion that would be, particularly in the last year. “Just looking at our traffic, I would say 60 percent is mobile,” he says. “And as a part of that, you now have a trend that moves more from a Web lead to a call, which is obviously related to mobile, because you can click on the phone and call right away if you are interested in a product.”

The third trend is seamless technology. From his purview, Van Hulle sees more lead generation company campaigns being standardized where Web and mobile are integrated and responsive. It’s a trend he believes will continue on an upward trajectory.

Lead quality

For ReviMedia, technology is not limited to just its campaigns. The company created its Lead Exchange Platform (LXP) in June 2012, where it serves as a bridge between publishers, traffic sources, lead generation companies and lead buyers. LXP serves as the middleman providing as much functionality as possible, such as leads quotes, lead verification, a filter where buyers can decide which times and from where they would like to buy leads. And for publishers, the platform organizes their campaigns. LXP also houses form builders and reporting analysis. The aim is to significantly grow the platform with more buyers, publishers and verticals. “This is basically what ReviMedia stands for,” emphasizes Van Hulle.

The company experienced staggering growth – 250 percent – since 2012. He attributes part of this success to ReviMedia’s focus on technology as its foundation. “It’s very scalable for fast growth,” he points out. “It’s the speed in which we can set up a new campaign because they are automated and fill out our form and connect a new buyer – that’s a matter of an hour to two hours, max. Now you have integrated a new lead buyer. This all comes back to technology. The way we have automated it allows us to grow rapidly and be flexible in moving when necessary.”

What does Van Hulle believe to be most critical to the success of lead generation? “You always have to keep lead quality in mind,” he tells us. “It’s very tempting to increase volume and sacrifice lead quality. That always comes back to you when you focus too much on volume and not on quality because your lead buyers won’t be happy with it. I think in lead gen it’s important as an industry but also as individual companies that you always put quality as a number one priority.”

For more insight from Van Hulle, attend his panel, “Optimization and Efficiency: How Programmatic Buying, Emerging Marketplaces and Marketing Automation are Changing Lead Generation,” at LeadsCon NY 2014. ReviMedia will also be one of the exhibitors at LeadsCon NY 2014. The event will take place at the Marriott Marquis in New York City Aug. 14-15.

This article is brought to you by LeadsCon New York.

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