Why We Launched the Open B2B Lead Gen Marketplace

Last Tuesday, we launched the open B2B lead gen marketplace, the first and only bid-based auction platform for Marketers. It’s not just a big deal for NetLine. It’s a big deal for the B2B lead gen industry at large.

While we talked about the errors in B2B lead gen and how the open marketplace addressed this problem, there’s still a larger story to be shared.

How the Open B2B Lead Gen Marketplace Came to Be

To recap the launch and what it means to NetLine, our customers, and B2B Marketers across the world, I asked our Chief Strategy Officer David Fortino to share his thoughts on the project.

(We’ve also included the audio version of this conversation.)

The Origins of the Open B2B Lead Gen Marketplace

Jon Steiert:

Dave, just a few days ago, we launched the open B2B lead gen marketplace. It’s a big deal for all of us, but a big congratulations to you, the leadership team, Chris Kohler, and Marissa Wolfgang for bringing this to the forefront.

Let’s get into the details around this launch and some of the backstory. How do you feel the launch of the open marketplace went, where did this idea come from, and how do you see this helping Marketers most?

Dave Fortino:

Yeah, this certainly marks a huge milestone for NetLine and the industry as a whole. Over the past few years, we’ve decided to take on this mantra, if you will, internally of trying to democratize B2B lead gen. 

Our first pass at that was really to create a fully self-service environment, where B2B Marketers of all levels of sophistication, industries, and budgets, and so on could launch a content-centric lead gen campaign in minutes. But looking back over that time period, we really realized that one thing that wasn’t truly delivered on, which was leveling the playing field of the pricing side of a marketplace.

So when you look at how B2B Marketers are conducting their own efforts beyond NetLine, they’re accustomed to paying on a CPC, CPM, and model, which really isn’t all that important. That underlying importance is really that it’s all driven off of a bid, which is an auction, and that didn’t exist in the B2B lead gen space. 

When we really recognized this, we started thinking about that more deeply, trying to understand what that would do for not only for us, but for the industry and for the average Marketer that doesn’t work at a unicorn B2B company that just IPOed, and how that would really introduce a completely new dynamic across the marketplace. So to me, I think that’s the most exciting aspect of it. 

As a company, we’re most proud that we’re not disagreeing with the fact that our core customer base will forever be enterprise technology companies that are multi-billion dollar organizations. They’re probably not going to use a self-service environment, and they’re probably going to be predisposed to always pay for full service, which allows campaign management and optimization and strategy sessions, and so on.

How the Lead Gen Marketplace Gives Opportunities to All B2B Marketers

Dave Fortino:

As we see with Google and every other social platform, there are tens of thousands or a hundred X amount of Marketers who don’t have the luxury of big budgets, right? They’re brands that the average person doesn’t know. They don’t have an infinite budget. They don’t have the sexiest products to promote and so on.

And so giving pricing flexibility so that you’re not paying the same exact rate as a Marketer, who’s at Oracle, let’s say, versus someone who’s at the opposite end of the spectrum, but still is targeting the same exact type of user, that’s something that really just didn’t exist. And so yeah. We’re really, really happy about introducing that to the marketplace.

The feedback, thus far, has been great. It’s really interesting to see some more niche kind of content-centric agencies reach out to us as well saying that they’d like to better understand how this could impact their clients because I think there has been a perspective, even though we’ve had a self-service environment, that it was probably expensive and that it probably required commitments and/or an annual contract because every time you look at a SaaS solution, ultimately that’s your expectation, right? Somebody is trying to create a quick way to get me in, and then where’s the catch here? Where am I committing to an annual contract?

That’s just not the case. You can create your account, you can launch a campaign in minutes, you can pause it, you can optimize it just like you would be running a paid campaign with Google or LinkedIn or Twitter or anyone else.

Jon Steiert:

Yeah, I think you touched on the fact that obviously the core customer still remains the same, but I remember sharing the story with you the week before launch when I shared some of the stuff that we were doing with my dad, who’s been in the B2B space for 40 years and has always worked with smaller companies.

He was getting very excited at the Marketplace and its accessibility and he understood everything right off the bat, which as a Marketer, obviously that’s your goal. For somebody to look at something they’re not familiar with and just get it inherently is great. So he began to ask questions and when he began to ask those questions, I was like, “I think we’re onto something. I think we got this.”

So this is obviously a very exciting point, not just for the company but for everyone.

Anything else you’d like to share with B2B Marketers?


I think the parting note here is really the consideration that their ability to control their own success has now been really handed to them; much like the expectations as if you were going into Google.

Your underlying levers that you have to pull as a Marketer on that side of the industry is your creative, which includes messaging and imagery and such, and your pricing structure. What are you willing to pay to target that audience? From there, you can certainly optimize and run different targeting strategies and so on, but that dynamic just never existed. So historically, if you came to NetLine or anyone in the space, you’d be charged the same exact rate for targeting a specific audience as a competitor who has an average selling price for their product of $2 million dollars, and yours might be $10,000. There’s no delta there.

And so having a true marketplace means that your needs, as the Marketer, are being put at the forefront and as you would have expected because that’s really how it’s been done everywhere else in the industry. And so yeah. We’re really excited to introduce that and kind of give more control back to Marketers, and just hope that our brand is associated with their future success.

Take Control of Your B2B Lead Gen

Everyone at NetLine is excited about what this project represents and eager to see what kinds of opportunities the marketplace will open up to Marketers from B2B companies of all shapes and sizes. 

If you’re curious about what the open B2B lead gen marketplace can do for you, we’d love for you to check out portal.netline.com.