Taking the LEad

An interesting article in Search Engine Land reported that Google is offering a sales lead form as an option to its AdWords advertisers. A user will be able to click a special link at the bottom of an AdWords advertisement, and a pop-up form will ask for the user's name, phone and some specifics about what they are looking to buy. After submitting the form, the user is promised a call back from the advertiser.

You can see a screen capture of the form here. It's worth a look.

Implications? At first I thought this was another of what I have come to call the Google Daily Disrupter™, a new product or feature from Google that knocks still another industry on its ear. But perhaps not. Consider the following:

1. This lead gen form comes awfully early in the selling process. Can you really generate this high level of interest from a six word advertisement?

2. Success in lead gen depends on the user getting a quick return call from the advertiser. This can happen, but it's not easy to guarantee, so it is questionable how well this will scale, especially given Google's well-known aversion to talking to either its advertisers or users.

3. As the article notes, the call-back process is a bit convoluted, with Google not releasing the prospect's phone number to the advertiser. I can see where this might appeal to the user, but I don't see any great appeal to the advertiser. Further, there is an implicit "we'll protect you from our untrustworthy advertisers" message here.

4. Google will apparently let its all-powerful algorithms, not you the paying advertiser, determine exactly what will display on your lead gen form.

So is Google's new lead gen feature fatally flawed? I am not sure I would go that far. It's a nicely designed form, and the offering is sure to evolve. What may be more important is that over time an offering like this will help to accustom more users to take advantage of sales inquiry forms, which should be good news for B2B buying guide publishers. Lead gen is a Godsend to B2B data publishers, because not only can they charge stiff premiums for every lead delivered, they can also document the power and efficacy of their products to their advertisers, and that's the essential foundation of every successful buying guide.