A guide to pay-per-lead advertising networks

by Walter Aresca

Last updated on January 2001

Affiliate, associate, referral or partnership Programs are typical of sites that sell physical products or services. They pay you when goods are purchased.
There are more and more affiliate programs promoting free stuff and services: they are also called pay-per-lead campaigns, where no purchase is required.
There are now several advertising networks carrying these pay-per-lead offers and a number of sites that require direct affiliation. These pages try to help you choosing the best programs for your site, maximizing your revenue. Of course your comments and suggestions by E-Mail are highly appreciated!

Main Pay-per-lead advertising networks

- WebSponsors
It's a results based ad networks allow webmasters to earn advertising dollars by generating leads, subscribers, survey participants, club members and sales for products and services. Currently carries about 150 offers, most of them are free; from time to time it offers also pay-per-click offers. Payouts range from $0.25 to $25 (US) per lead. All offers are regularly updated on the website, which is personalized for each affiliate.
Since Jan 99, it pays also for referring affiliates: 10% of their monthly earnings. News for affiliates regularly updated. On Aug 99 they introduced a personalized newsletter, to keep users updated about new offers.

Start date: Apr 1998
Affiliates: 4000+
Online reporting: YES
Minimum payment: $15.00
Reputation: very good

- OnResponse
It's a lead based advertising network that allows website owners, content providers, and mailing list owners to earn advertising revenue by generating leads, survey participants, give away free items, or give free trials of products and services away. Payouts range from $0.40 to $23 (US) per lead. All offers can also be carried on mailing lists. Referring new affiliates pays 10% of their monthly earnings.

Start date: N/A
Affiliates: N/A
Online reporting: YES
Minimum payment: $50.00
Reputation: very good

- TransAct!
ALC Interactive, a division of American List Counsel, a leading 20-year-old direct marketing and mailing list company with hundreds of blue chip clients. TransAct! does about 100,000 transactions every month! You are paid for each person that fills out a form with a valid address and phone number or completes some other action like a software download. Requires at least 90% of the web traffic is from the US as most offers are valid in US & Canada only. Every month they run bonus contests and award thousands of dollars to the sites that produce the most leads for several offers. Webmasters are informed by E-Mail of new/expired offers; BTW the URL tracking codes are a little complicated and unfriendly. Online reporting is not yet available.
Start date: N/A
Affiliates: N/A
Online reporting: NO
Minimum payment: $25.00
Reputation: good
- Cyberbounty
This network offers generally high payouts and some unique products. The number of current advertisers is quite small, but they accept high quality sponsors only (high revenue).
Features includes live 24/7 click statistics, a user friendly control panel, a free web page on and a NEW banner serving service: if you don't have the time to constantly maintain your sponsor links you may link your site to this one with your own unique URL which will ensure you get full credit.
They also give clients a free E-Mail list to keep people up to date. It also support mailing lists and e-zines advertisements. Payouts range from $0.40 to $22.50 (US) per lead.
Added in June 1999 a 3 Tier referral program: refer webmaster and earn 5% on their revenue and 3% on their referrals.
Excellent customer service.

Start date: N/A
Affiliates: N/A
Online reporting: YES
Minimum payment: $50.00
Reputation: good

- Direct Leads
This is the most recent network which resells most of the Transact offers plus some other ones. Recently introduced several pay-per-click campaigns with excellent CTR and a website with all offers.
Features includes live 24/7 click statistics, a customizable banner rotator service and a referral program (paying 10%).

Start date: 1998
Affiliates: 2000
Online reporting: YES
Minimum payment: $20.00
Reputation: good

Other Pay-per-lead advertising networks

- Click Point
- LinkShare
- Commission Junction
- Be Free
- Tradedoubler

Campaigns comparison

Click here for a detailed comparison of currently available pay-per-lead campaigns.

My personal comments

Result is the key word on this advertising system. We are all happy when visitors leave our site only if we are rewarded for this, otherwise we should prefer they remain on our site. Results can be valued only after several thousands exposures: so testing new campaigns might request a few (many!) days.
It's very important to track exposures, clicks and confirmed leads. The best online reports are with Cyberbounty but I strongly suggested that you track and log your site activity.
TransAct! has the best reputation and the worst reporting and URL codes construction. Regarding its offers, they are highly recommended for US sites and not for International sites.
WebSponsors recently built a great web interface and extended the number of offers and added the referral program. Several offers on my sites are doing great!
onResponse seemed a good concept, with its slightly higher payouts and the referral program. But my experience (and many other webmasters are reporting the same) is a very low conversion rate.
Cyberbounty has the best web interface and reporting. Some of its offers (International) have the best conversion rate. The new banner rotator and the 3 tier referral program have a great potential.
All these networks require a lot of time to maintain codes and offers updated. If you don't have time to constantly maintain your links, on Websponsors you may link to the website, and on Cyberbounty to the page. These sites contains your own unique URLs which will ensure you get full credit from all active offers.
A final positive note: none of those sites support adult sites or offers!