What's RPM?

What's RPM?

Many people have said to me that the only thing that matters is revenue.....sure, revenue may be important but it's definitely not a measure of success. So the question has to be asked....what is a good measure of success?

Let's imagine that you have a domain that is doing 100 uniques per day and $100. You move the domain to another parking provider and find that the revenue drops to $75. What is the normal reaction? Move it back! Quick! I'm losing $25 per day! That actually may be the wrong answer.

Let's imagine that on the day the domain received $75 it only received 50 unique visitors. That would mean that the new parking provider is performing brilliantly compared to the first one. The way most people compare the results is via the "tried and tested" formula of:   revenue  /   views   *   1000   or in other words RPM.

This sounds wonderful until you realise that the definition of views is different at every parking provider. There are no standards at all. So it we go back to our example, the second parking company may have actually received the same amount of traffic as the first but just reported less because they have more aggressive filtering on the traffic. This would then mean that parking company one would once again potentially be the winner.

Confused? It gets worse. There are over seven different revenue numbers that can be used each month for every domain name for your RPM equation. A couple of them are, "The estimated revenue number" or "The number confirmed two days later". To get an accurate picture of what is really happening you need to get both the revenue and the traffic numbers right or you get the wrong answer and sub-optimally optimse the domain traffic.....which is a fancy way of you saying you will be losing money.

I'll do another short blog on the solution to all of this shortly.

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Tracking the Data

Tracking the Data

So what does it mean to properly manage your domain assets? Some people believe that as long as you're earning PPC revenue, renewing domains and getting sales then all the bases are covered. These are important things to consider but let's unpack things a little.

Traffic revenue is money generated from the people that are going to your domains and clicking on advertising. There's a few things here that needs to be nailed down on a daily basis:

1. Aare the nameservers pointing correctly? These are often changed at renewal time by registrars.....especially if you are slightly past the renewal date.
2. Do you need to set cNames for routing traffic? cNames are used to route traffic to Google parking companies if you have a traffic routing system.
3. Are the domains in your parking account? Conflict resolution is a huge issue for parking companies and domains can often be inadvertently removed from your account if someone else believes that the domain is owned by them.
4. Keywords - are they the best ones and do they need to be updated?
5. Are there any other optimisation levers that you can use to extract more value from the traffic?
6. Is there are way to aggregate your traffic with others to get a better deal?

So this is just a few of the things that you need to consider to manage your traffic domains.....now let's look at sales......

1. Have you responded to all the sales offers? Most offers are SPAM so you need to spend some time wade your way through the good and the bad.
2. You've had a successful sale, now there is the whole Escrow and transfer process. Sounds easy but you need to remember to do it.
3. How do you work out the sales price for you domains? Is there an automated system or should you use your experience?

I could go on and on with the sales list but here's the really big one and it's often the most ignored......asset management.

1. What did you buy the domain for?
2. What did you sell the domain for?
3. What is the inventory carry value for the domain?
4. What system are you using to appraise the acquisition of a portfolio of domains, individual or average cost pricing?
5. What is your capital gains tax position at any point in time?
6. How are the domains locked down and where are they?
7. Renewals and on what basis is a domain renewed?

This last category is just as big if now bigger than sales and traffic tracking and it can have an even bigger impact upon your earnings then the first two. If you don't get asset management right then you could end up in trouble with the IRS (tax authorities).....so don't ignore this one.

I can only speak about the fact that at ParkLogic we track over 250 different metrics every single day for our clients. It's a true domain asset management platform that also optimises the traffic and helps you increase sales. What I've learned over the last decade in this industry is that effectively managing your assets can provide huge dividends for your business.

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Saturday Musings - Timing is Everything

Saturday Musings - Timing is Everything

For the past week Melbourne has been it the grip of a heatwave that has been the biggest and most intense in about 100 years. The tennis players at the Australian Open have been collapsing and for the rest of us we really haven't had a good night sleep.....which tends to make us all a little grumpy. So when the cool change came and the temperature dropped by 20 degrees Celsius it was with a great relief that my head hit the pillow on Friday night.

The next morning was another matter altogether! I had one of those moments of panic that could only be fixed by me unobtrusively waking Roselyn. For all those husbands out there, unobtrusive and waking do not belong in the same sentence when it comes to wives. Lucky for me also had a good nice sleep, although cut a little short, so I began our conversation.

"Honey, when are we going to see Celtic women?"

For those of you who have been living under a bridge with a troll or have been trekking across Antarctica with a dog sled team, Celtic women is a group of Irish singers that have taken the world by storm for the past half decade. We'd booked tickets for the concert back in September but the tour was delayed to some later date, hence my question.

"I'm not really sure, sometime in Feb I think," my wonderfully coherent wife replied.

"Are you sure?"

"Not really but it's something like that."

If you've ever had a conversation in the morning with your partner that is something like the one I experienced then whatever you do nail down the facts because if you don't you'll regret it. Reaching across to the phone I dialed up the concert hall (yes it was late in the morning, nothing like a sleep in) and was told, "Lucky you called, it's tomorrow night."

More likely it was, lucky we had nothing else on tomorrow night, lucky the world hadn't ended and lucky we didn't stay home watching TV when we could've taken advantage of our hard earned money for tickets that we'd already purchased.

So what is the moral of this story. When you're gut tells you something then whatever you do listen to it or you may miss out! It's the same in domaining, if you don't keep tabs on all of those renewal dates, auction times, are my domains being monetised, are nameservers set correctly etc. then you're likely to lose assets, not earn revenue and miss great opportunities. If you're managing your domains by a spreadsheet I can almost guarantee that you're messing things up some how.....so whatever you do get someone to help you out so that they remind you that you're about to miss on a great concert if you don't make that phone call.

Have a great weekend!

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Where's the next dollar going to come from?

Where's the next dollar going to come from?

The first thing that I think about when I view my domains is not "where the next dollar will come from" but rather "Where the next dollar willl come from that sticks to my hands". In other words, show me the profit not just the revenue.

So let's take a look at the good old profit equation of revenue less expenses.

So where's the revenue going to come from in 2014 that will be past the dismal performance that many domainers experienced in 2013? Google will underpin much of the revenue as they have been doing for the last ten years of the industry but the real wins are going to come from direct advertisers and affiliates. We're seeing more and more traffic being won in our bidding system at ParkLogic by zero click solutions....which is always a good thing. If you don't have your domains in a program that has this to offer then give me a call as you're missing out on a bucket of revenue that's not dependent upon a single provider.

I'm not sure about you but I'm continuing to develop a number of websites.....just nudging them along bit by bit to get them to the point where they can then be a profit centre for me. If you aren't developing a website then once again you're potentially missing out on some good revenue.....but make sure that you develop something that you're interested in. I may have some great cosmetic domains but you know what? I have no interest in that industry other than when it relates to my wife and daughters.....then all husbands and dad's take an interest. :-)

Words of advice.......rainbows are pretty things but they are illusory. Likewise, if you plan on waiting for that ultimate huge sale then you may be waiting a LONG, LONG time. Price all your domains at what I would call fair rates and be prepared to sell them for those rates with NO seller's remorse. I work out my stock item domains from my high value you domains and I have a different strategy for each.....so get them into the marketplace and start selling. I'll have to do another blog on this concept.

On the expense side of your business most of them are locked in place. I'm sure that you can negotiate a better rate with your registrar but seriously, the margins for them with domainers are really slim. The biggest expense that is hidden is your time. The easiest thing in the world to do is keep a log of the amount of time that you spend on your domains (including checking stats) for a week and than multiply it by your hourly charge out rate to your business. That's a cost that you need to get down or technically your business may be unprofitable.....or you're earning $1 per hour.

Anyway.....I hope that this helps you out and provokes you into thinking about your domain business.


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Google Isn't Everything

Google Isn't Everything

For the past 18 months or so many domain owners have been watching their PPC revenue decrease as Google in particular elected to pay out less and less. Although many domain owners having been crying foul I don't actually hold it against Google for taking this strategy. If I was running their business I'd do exactly the same.

The domain industry has traditionally been incredibly fragmented with domainers and parking companies accusing each other of either stealing money through withholding funds or shoving garbage traffic down the pipe. This fragmentation and angst between what should have been partners has played right into the advertising aggregators hands. A market in disarray means domain owners are whipping traffic out of one parking company and moving it to another in an effort to get higher revenues. What this has also meant is that it has been almost impossible for any parking company to scale in size to the extent that they can wag the dog.

Let's consider, only a few short years ago Domain Sponsor was riding high and had begun to flex it muscles with the development of a number of market verticals to drive traffic away from Google. Google's response.....issue a number of new contracts with honey moon periods to pull the traffic out of Domain Sponsor and the other incumbent parking companies. You had the birth of Internet Traffic, Voodoo and Parking Crew in short order (nothing against these guys by the way). Everything was as it should be.....fragmented.

So what are we seeing at ParkLogic? For a start no one parking company wins more than around 22% of the traffic. This means that if you have all of your traffic with one company then you're losing 78% of the time.....you'd think after all these years that domain owners would actually realise this. Just as an aside.....there appears to be a relative balance between the two dominant Google companies.

The most interesting thing that we are seeing is the rise of zero click solutions.....more and more of the traffic is being won by companies that bid in our real time auction system. BTW....real-time is sub 100 milliseconds. The hypothesis of why they are winning more often would have to do with the inadvertent rise of these companies as Google pushed the payouts downwards. What it also means that if you're tired of seeing your payouts decrease then you need to get into a program that has multiple zero click solutions competing against one another. If you don't then stop complaining in the forums about the decline.

I couldn't help think of the quote from Princess Leia Organa to the Grand Moff Tarkin in Star Wars, "Governor, the most you squeeze the more star systems will slip from your grasp." I personally love Google, they pay the bills and they keep on inspiring many creative minds to work together to avoid them.....so don't despair there is a Luke Skywalker out their somewhere.

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