Mortgage Lead Generation and the Online Ad Industry: Investigation is Required

The role which the search engines and others have played in the subprime mess requires serious scrutiny from regulators, policymakers, and consumer advocates. Our blog will be posting a few thoughts on this topic over the next few days. We believe the tracking of individuals seeking such loans and the online process created for them raises many questions, including privacy. For example (and not to single any one company out), but explains that “Mortgage Lead Generation is dependent on high search engine rankings. Every mortgage website we sell is Search Engine Optimized to insure you get the highest search engine rankings possible in leading search engines such as Google, MSN, and Yahoo.” Ipagio then goes on to discuss how the sites they work with can track users, using Google Analytics: “Google Analytics Implementation – All mortgage lead generation websites come with Google Web Analytics installed. A few things this enables you to track are: who is visiting your site, where they are coming from, what pages the are viewing, what pages they are entering or leaving from, and many more related variables. This analytics suite is one of the most comprehensive on the market and does not cost you anything. There are no monthly, annual, or setup fees involved.” Ipagio–and I’m only using them as an example and know nothing about the company beyond what they say on its site–then explains the “Mortgage Lead Conversion” process: If you are successfully driving traffic to a search engine optimized website, then you must be able to convert those visitors to leads when they visit your website. For a website to be able to convert visitors to leads, it must be authoritative, must provide ample opportunities to gather leads, must be a resource for visitors with useful information and tools, and must have high converting application forms.”

The FTC and other agencies must investigate the online lead generation sector, especially mortgages and credit. To the extent that companies are taking advantage of consumers, such practices must be exposed and stopped. Online lead generation raises privacy issues which require a thorough examination from officials.
PS: We note a description by the New York Times’ Brad Stone in his blog about mortgage lead generator It raises issues related to the use of rich media, flash, immersion, etc. in such ads. Excerpt: “The notorious ads, with their dancing silhouettes, shimmying green aliens and bizarre boogeying office workers, were once plastered across many major Internet sites, including They are now much harder to find.”

Check out this blog for some more info on the ads.

Author: jeff

Jeff Chester is executive director of the Center for Digital Democracy. A former journalist and filmmaker, Jeff's book on U.S. electronic media politics, entitled "Digital Destiny: New Media and the Future of Democracy" was published by The New Press in January 2007. He is now working on a new book about interactive advertising and the public interest.

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