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What Is Lead Scrubbing?

Lead Scrubbing has two meanings, one honest and one dishonest. The honest meaning refers to an advertiser or lead buyer doing real-time validation of leads in order to avoid buying duplicate or fraudulent leads. The better a lead buyer validates the leads that it might accept the more it can pay for qualified leads. An end lead buyer that does not have this capability will rely on a lead aggregator for this service, pay significantly less per lead and deal with the bad leads, or return duplicate or fraudulent leads for a refund.

The dishonest meaning of lead scrubbing -- a.k.a. lead shaving -- refers to unethical affiliate marketing networks or lead buyers that do not pay for all of the leads taken from an affiliate. This results in lower total payouts to affiliates. The main reason that this practice exists is so that affiliates who seek the highest bounty (i.e. highest payouts) can be told a higher than realistic payout. So, for example, a stated payout of $50.00 and a real scrub rate of 25% results in an effective payout of $50.00 * (1 - 0.25) = $37.50. Some lead buyers may argue that this is done to cover leads that turn out to be bad without having to deal with per lead returns. However, this is bad practice especially when selling leads to multiple buyers in real-time through ping tree software. If you are an affiliate generating leads for multiple buyers and your system thinks a lead did not sell to one buyer then of course it will seek out another buyer. When a legitimate lead is scrubbed or stolen then this can result in multiple lead buyers trying to use the same lead. This looks bad for the affiliate and everyone loses.

What are experienced affiliate marketers, publishers, and lead generators to do to combat this practice?

Seed leads the way direct mail data providers have done for decades.  E.g., use email addresses that you can track since any dishonest company in the business is bound to use it.
Monitor your financial figures and vote with your feet.  If your Earnings, Earnings Per Click (EPC), and Return On Investment (ROI) don't work then pull the plug.
Always test some portion of your traffic or lists against other advertisers, lead buyers, and lead aggregators.  Who knows?  You may get a better deal elsewhere!


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A ping tree is a term used in the online lead generation industry. It applies when live leads may be sold in real-time to more than one possible lead buyer...   continued...

Lead Scrubbing has two meanings, one honest and one dishonest. The honest meaning refers to...   continued...

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