The Future of Site Registration and Lead Generation Programs

Cartoon of Woman with TelescopeGoogle Friend Connect, Facebook Connect and MySpaceID all offer ways for publishers to incorporate third-party logins and networking features on their site.  The downside, of course, is that publishers lose some control over all of the data that they get when visitors register with them directly.  But the upside for users – and for sites that figure out how to incorporate these features – are so high that publishers need to pay attention and start experimenting with these systems today.

Visitors will be far more likely to engage with a site if they don’t need to fill out separate registration forms.  And these visitors will increase the traffic to the site:  posting a comment to a site which uses Facebook Connect will allow that visitor’s entire Facebook network to see that activity, driving viral traffic back to the site.  Down the line, there will be opportunities for publishers to create deeper levels of engagement, using widgets and applications, that will offset the loss of control.

It is still early, but the services are evolving very quickly and the time to start paying attention is now.  AdAge published a good story this week in which David Berkowitz outlines some rules of thumbs.  For now, Google Friend Connect is the easiest to implement, but Facebook Connect of MySpaceID are more likely to let users bring a built-in network of friends.  Chris outlined some of the challenges in his Sunday in the Sandbox post.

The bottom line, however, is that networked registration systems will change the business model for publishers who have focused a lot of effort on building lead generation programs, so it’s time to think about some what if scenarios:

  • what if a user was able to “friend” a sponsor through your site using Facebook Connect – and you were able to charge the sponsor for every new friend you connect them to?
  • what if you were able to use Google Friend Connect to create networks of people interested in a given topic, and then invite them to attend sponsored webcasts or live events?
  • what if Facebook or LinkedIn were to publish a feed of stories that your “connected” visitors are reading on their profile pages for all of their friends to see?

Let us know if you can think of any other cool “what if” scenarios that have the potential to change the business model for publishers and other registration-driven sites!