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Lead Providers Leaving Higher Education – A Sign of Things to Come?

October 13, 2011 Digital Media Solutions

Exit SignRecently, a couple high-profile lead providers have announced that they are leaving the higher education sector. We won’t name them here – if you’re in the space you likely know who they are anyway – but suffice it to say that they were well-known established  players.  This leads to the question – why, and what does this mean for the industry? Is this a sign of times to come?

There are a few reasons why this could be happening, but the most obvious cause is the increased regulatory scrutiny in the sector, and resulting policy changes among those customers in higher education. To deal with concerns around misrepresentation, many schools are renegotiating contracts to help shift responsibility (and liability) over to the vendor in the event of a compliance breach and subsequent litigation.

For a big player in the lead generation industry that serves multiple verticals, you can see how this could be viewed  as a risk (and inconvenience) that isn’t worth taking. Not surprisingly, we have a different perspective.  As a company that exclusively serves higher education, the recent changes have certainly presented a challenge – but they have also created an opportunity.

The past couple of years has altered the playing field dramatically for the proprietary education sector. We are no longer dealing with businesses looking to purchase leads – we are partnering with schools looking for student inquiries. And not just any inquiry – they’re looking for the right students – those that are most likely to benefit from their programs, and therefore most likely to succeed in their new post- graduate career.

To someone not in the industry, that may seem like a semantic shift. For those of us in the industry, we know that it goes a lot deeper.

For us, it means that compliance and transparency are now at the center of what we are doing each day. We have invested significant resources, not only in technology, but in personnel to ensure that we are leading the sector when it comes to providing transparency among the inquiries we provide, and compliant practices for all marketing campaigns. In 2009, we launched an entire suite of marketing services to drive more organic inquiries to school’s websites through best of breed mobile, display, search and email services. This has uniquely positioned us as a leader in providing 1st party inquiry generation in addition to 3rd party inquiries.

We suspect that there will be more vendor announcements to come, as lead providers are unwilling to accept the liability risks inherent in 3rd party inquiry generation. For the colleges and universities that we serve, this will probably serve the sector well over the long term.

About the Author

Digital Media Solutions

Digital Media Solutions, LLC (DMS) is the leading global martech company leveraging innovative, performance-driven brand direct and marketplace solutions to connect consumers and advertisers. DMS deploys a robust database of consumer intelligence and leverages massive proprietary media distribution to provide customer acquisition campaigns that grow businesses. Continuing to experience explosive year-over-year growth, DMS has been continuously recognized on the Inc. 5000 list, securing its sixth consecutive ranking in 2019, and the Entrepreneur magazine 360 list. Earlier this year, DMS announced it is anticipating becoming a public company under a reverse merger deal with Leo Holdings Corp. Named one of America’s “Best Places to Work” by Inc. magazine and awarded the Excellence in Lead Generation Award by the LeadsCouncil, DMS brings together some of the industry’s most knowledgeable people, efficient processes and sophisticated technology across the digital marketing spectrum. For more information about DMS, visit Keep up with DMS news at and connect with us on LinkedIn at

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