Blogs about the domain industry and the various players and companies within it.

The Domain Conference - It Was Awesome!

The Domain Conference - It Was Awesome!

Just to let you know, I’m writing this blog from 30,000 feet. I’m about an hour from Melbourne airport after travelling for twenty-four hours from “The Domain Conference” in Fort Lauderdale. My body feels like it’s been put through the ringer and my brain feels a little mushy (see above picture - LOL!) so you’ll have to excuse me if it doesn’t contain any epiphanies.

For a start, the conference, as normal, was an outstanding success. It’s not as big as NamesCon but a lot of the right people were in attendance. I don’t mean to insult anyone but stupid people judge a conference by numbers of attendees……I judge a conference on the level of business conducted. I’ve returned with easily enough to keep me busy until the end of the year.

If you really want to accelerate your business growth, then taking the opportunity to attend every domaining event is mandatory. I often find the same people that say they will attend and then don’t are the same people that complain in the forums about the downturn in the domain industry. Go figure? You reap what you sow……make the effort to reach out to people at events and don’t be surprised if you suddenly start selling domains and finding other opportunities.

I met so many great people at “The Domain Conference”. From hedge fund managers (yep, they have heaps to invest) right through to registries who are doing some awesome deals. What I find the most beneficial is just hanging out with other entrepreneurs who are hungry to throw some ideas around.

People like Colin Campbell from dot club are simply incredible and over the years we’ve developed a great friendship. He shared the dot club story with a lot of personal anecdotes in a session and it was awesome.

The CEO of Sedo, Tobias Flaitz, did a keynote speech that was really a call to action for the whole industry to work together and grow the pie rather than fight amongst each other. It was a great inspirational talk from someone that I highly respect as one of the leaders in the industry.

David Warmuz and I had a fantastic time sharing with the attendees in the session I participated in. We went through a monetisation masterclass on the benefits of traffic optimisation and in the process we looked at a number of case studies.

A real highlight for me was when Howard Neu, the conference convener, was brought to tears when he thanked Barbara, his wife, for all the effort she made to make the conference a success. As Barbara came forward to embrace her husband the entire room spontaneously gave her and Howard a standing ovation. It really displayed the high level of esteem all the attendees hold for the Neu’s.

Over more than a decade I’ve seen both Howard and Barbara working so hard to make each and every conference they’re involved in a great success. There’s nothing quite like being greeted by Barbara’s smiling face after traveling all the way from Australia.

It was great catching up with Jackson Elsegood from Escrow.com and hear about some of the new things that Escrow is launching. Lorianne Wardi did a riveting keynote on her journey with .co and now Neustar. Veteran advertising network leader, Joe Casale, came with his wife and promoted a new service that I know ParkLogic will be integrating. Stevan Lieberman shared some of the intricacies of UDRPs and I really appreciated the time we spent together. And the list goes on and on…..all quality people who are more than willing to share their expertise and look for opportunities together.

I'm already looking forward to next years conference.....even if the flight from Australia to Ft Lauderdale takes 26 hours. Beats the heck out of me why some local domainers can't drive 15 minutes. You've really got to wonder if they want to still be in the domaining business or not.

Recent Comments
mgilmour
Would have loved to have caught up with you more as well! I always enjoy our conversations.
17 September 2016
whizzbang
Hi Michael, Cheers to you for sharing this with us busy with other stuff and not able to attend the conference. I just wish that... Read More
19 September 2016
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5 Comments

The Domain Conference - Don't Miss It!

The Domain Conference - Don't Miss It!

I’m leaving for The Domain Conference (TDC) in Fort Lauderdale tomorrow and twenty-four hours later I’ll arrive. There’s nothing like the expectations of a long-haul plane flight to force you to evaluate whether it’s a really good idea to make the journey or not. So why am I going?

One of the things I love the most about conferences is that most of the people in attendance are there because they want to improve their business. This could be to do deals, learn or mostly it's a combination of both. I must admit that I love sitting down with a group of fellow domain investors and hearing about what they are doing. It’s often refreshing and definitely invigorating!

I’m really looking forward to the privilege of sharing in one of the sessions on advanced monetisation. I plan on digging into the stats and techniques on how to get the most out of domain traffic….so watch out!

Of course I’m attending to get a chance to speak with domain investors about how ParkLogic can help them get the most from their domains. In fact, we’re previewing the new ParkLogic website now….it also has a number of videos about ParkLogic Next. We already have some clients on Next and the feedback has been outstanding.

I’m also looking for domain traffic portfolios for sale. We have a number of clients that are cashed up and wanting to buy good quality portfolios. If you have a portfolio that you are looking at parting with then don’t hesitate to reach out to me.

Attending a conference like TDC is also about renewing friendships. I love catching up with friends that have flown in from all over the world. It’s great sitting in the bar late at night to hear about some of the entrepreneurial activities they’ve been doing. Domains are so incredibly flexible that I’m constantly amazed at what people do with them.

So is it worth the 24 hours of traveling from Melbourne Australia to Fort Lauderdale in the USA? Absolutely! Last year Barbara, Howard and Ray put on an incredible show and we’re still reaping the benefits of it twelve months later.

If you’re still considering whether you’ll attend, then take my advice and stop considering. If you really want to get your business moving ahead then spend a few days with other like-minded people and you’ll be surprised at what you come away with.

See you in Fort Lauderdale!

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Interview With Jackson Elsegood - Escrow.com

Interview With Jackson Elsegood - Escrow.com

I recently had the privilege of interviewing Jackson Elsegood, the general manager of Escrow.com. During the interview we discuss all the latest news from Escrow.com of what they have been doing and what they plan on doing in the future.

Escrow services are a critical part of the domain ecosystem and Jackson expresses Escrow.com's ongoing committment to the domain space. I hope that you enjoy the relaxed interview and gain some new insights for your own domain business.

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A .XYZ Disaster Story

A .XYZ Disaster Story

A client recently purchased a .XYZ domain for an application that they were developing. Everything was working fine until today when suddenly the domain stopped resolving. It just so happens that in their infinite wisdom the .XYZ registry had decided to suspend the domain. So what actually happened?

When you sign-up for a .XYZ domain name you are coming under the terms and conditions of the registry. A part of the terms is they have the right to suspend a domain if they deem the domain is being used for inappropriate reasons. The stated goal is to keep the .XYZ namespace safe…..sounds interesting.

Here’s the problem. For the domain in question SpamHaus, Google Safebrowsing, SURBL, URIBL (all recommended by the registry) flagged the domain as safe. Virus Total has 68 sub-organisations that they relate to and one of these organisations flagged the domain for possible phishing reasons.

Why was this the case? It just so happens that at some time the domain had been sent to advertising networks and I’m guessing that one of these networks may have had a problem with a “spam advertiser”. This sometimes happens and the networks immediately kick these types of advertisers out. In the case of the .XYZ domain this resulted in it being banned.

What was really annoying is that neither the registry nor the registrar communicated anything like, “I think you may have problems with your domain. If you don’t do something, then we’ll have to suspend it.”

One day the domain was working and the next day it wasn’t. To track back to a registry suspending the domain wasn’t trivial when the client was in the middle of a development cycle.

And the client’s registrar wasn’t immediately helpful.  First came the “it isn’t resolving, check with your hosting provider”, then lots of apologies while the client pushed back that the problem was in the DNS somewhere, and finally the registrar pointed to the status of “Server Hold” in the Whois information and pointed our client to the unsuspend site for .xyz.

And on further quizzing the client’s registrar indicated that this was a common occurrence with .XYZ domain names…..which didn’t sound very good, and would have been useful if that was the first thing they checked.

Just for the record, getting a domain unflagged by some of these “monitoring companies” is next too impossible. In fact, at one stage I had whizzbangsblog.com flagged by a company (no idea why) and after months of filling out forms I gave up. In the end I took the attitude that if Google flagged my blog as safe then that was good enough for me!

So what’s the problem with all of this? If any .XYZ domain is flagged by any monitoring company in the world (false positive or otherwise) the domain can be banned. In fact, given our client’s experience, if the domain is not banned then the .XYZ registry is acting in a preferential manner and my guess this is breaking either their contract with ICANN or the registrars.

If you’re looking at your .XYZ domain portfolio and parking them then I’d think again. There is actually an obligation on the part of the XYZ registry to ban the domain and there goes any potential revenue (small though it may be) to help pay for the re-registration costs.

So let’s imagine you’re a business (like our client) working away at developing a brand on a .XYZ domain. A dinky little backwater monitoring company has a glitch in their software that flags your domain as suspicious. Immediately your website is taken down (by the registry) and as a business owner who knows nothing about phishing etc. you’ve got to find out what the heck happened while you’re losing sales! This is crazy!

In the end, our client gave up with the .XYZ domain and went with a .COM….probably what they should have done in the first place. There’s many good reasons why .COM is so big and one of them is they don’t behave in this ridiculous manner.

Recent Comments
Wolftalker
Never did like .xyz.
17 August 2016
mgilmour
Good article!
19 August 2016
mgilmour
Given the uncertainty that this presents to business I would also advise that they did not try and build a brand on a .XYZ domain.... Read More
19 August 2016
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15 Comments

The Percentage of Advertising Revenues Google Pays Domainers

The Percentage of Advertising Revenues Google Pays Domainers

I don’t know why it’s taken me a little while to update some of my analysis but there has been a big reporting change by Google which got me a little excited. In the past Google only reported an overall aggregate Traffic Acquisition Cost (TAC) but now this has all changed.

Since Q1 2015 Google has broken out the numbers for the network members from the distribution partners. You may ask, what is the difference and where does the domain industry sit?

Distribution partners are people like Apple, who charge Google for real-estate on iPhones etc. Google has hidden the amount that companies like Apple take by publishing the amount of revenue as a percentage of the overall Google website revenues (an odd metric actually). This means it’s impossible to reverse engineer the financial relationship…..which actually makes commercial sense.

On the other hand, for the first time ever Google has released the TAC to network members and this is the segment that the domain industry sits within. According to the reports, Google is paying out between 68-70% of the advertising revenue to this channel.

This begs a really simple question, if Google is paying out this amount then why have many domain investors experienced drops in their revenue?

To answer this question, we need to appreciate that the domain channel is one small part of the overall Google Network. This means that although on average Google is paying out between 68-70% of the advertising revenue the domain channel may be getting more or less of this figure.

So it’s time to do a dive into the data. The first stop was to pull out the average Google normalised RPM (nRPM) figures for a VERY large domain portfolio for each Google reporting quarter. I then graphed the quarterly percentage change over time (see the blue line on the graph below) and I then compared this to the payout figures that Google released for the network (the yellow line).

Google TAC and nRPM

What we can clearly see is that the two lines nearly mirror each other. When Google pays out more, then the normalised RPM increases and when it pays out less then it immediately drops. But the huge swings in nRPM don’t really make sense when you compare it to the small swings in the Google average payout…..unless there is something else going on.

The only reason this would occur is if there is an artificial gain control for the overall domain industry that is being triggered by Google. In fact, one of these exists and it’s called smart pricing. In other words, a small change in the overall Google payout results in a massive change in what the domain industry receives. I think this has less to do about quality and more to do about Google making its numbers.

So here’s the really fun part. Since we now have a percentage change in the nRPM and also the % paid out by Google for a quarter we can multiply these two figures together and get a pretty good read on what the industry is actually paid out as a percentage of the gross advertising revenue!

Now here's the catch. We also have to assume that the Domain Industry was initially paid in Q1 2015 about what the average for the whole Google Network. There could be some scaler at work here but I tend to doubt it.

The below graph shows that in the recent 2016 quarter the domain industry received 91.4% of what Google received from advertisers. In fact, we’ve been on an upward trend since Q2 2015.

Overall Google Payouts

I know that many of you will cite specific examples where you’ve seen advertisers paying $50 for a click and yet you only get pennies. These specific perturbations in the data will continue to occur because what I’m looking at is averages and trends.

So right now we should be living in the golden age of Google payouts so get ready for a sharp trend down.....unless there is some corporate reason why Google would keep the payout rates high.

Now here’s where it gets REALLY interesting. Armed with this data the domain industry knows a big chunk of the Google quarterly report BEFORE anyone else does. In fact, with a little more effort I wouldn’t be surprised if we could pull just about the whole report apart!

This really got me thinking about whether we as an industry actually sit on a gold mine of data that would allow us to predict the movements in the Google share price……now that would be interesting!

I should say that if you plan on using this data for investment purposes you should first of all get some professional advice.

Recent Comments
vanclute
... am VERY curious to hear what you can predict regarding the google share price. That could be some real fun right there... K... Read More
12 August 2016
mgilmour
Yes.....it will be facinating! Wish me luck :-)
12 August 2016
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