Michael Gilmour has been in business for over 32 years and has both a BSC in Electronics and Computer Science and an MBA. He was the former vice-chairman of the Internet Industry Association in Australia and is in demand as a speaker at Internet conferences the world over. He has also recently published his first science fiction book, Battleframe.

Michael is passionate about working with online entrepreneurs to help them navigate their new ventures around the many pitfalls that all businesses face. Due to demands on his time, Michael may be contacted by clicking here for limited consulting assignments.

How to do a Domain Traffic Test – What are you measuring?

How to do a Domain Traffic Test – What are you measuring?

“What are you measuring” seems like an obvious question when you are conducting a traffic test with a new monetisation company. From experience, most people get the answer to this question completely wrong.

When you are running a traffic test you are NOT seeing if you can earn more money. This may sound strange but it’s the simple truth. What you should be actually measuring is the capabilities of the new company to optimise your traffic for a better result. More money (although important) is merely a by-product of the optimisation activity.

Escrow.com

For example, we recently had a client place their domains with ParkLogic for optimisation and as time went by we just couldn’t beat their numbers. In fact, it seemed that the more effort that we put into the optimisation the worse thing became.

It was at this time that I had an epiphany (ie. a brainwave!). It just so happened that the client provided their baseline data in Euros from back in August and we were being benchmarked against these numbers. Since the ParkLogic system uses $USD we dutifully converted the baseline data from Euros to $USD when we received it.

The below graph tells you the story of the relationship between the Euro and USD during this period of time. The Euro has fallen from $USD1.36, when we did the initial conversion for the baseline data, to $USD1.09 (bank rate). That was a fall of 25%!

Exchange Rate

So the fact that we were providing the client around a 5% uplift wasn’t the real result at all. The real result was 5% + 25% = 30%. To clearly show this we applied today’s exchange rate to the baseline data so that we could clearly measure our optimisation efforts and nullify the impact of the exchange rate.

Another example is we were optimising a domain portfolio and the results were absolutely stellar! In fact, we were beating the baseline data by about 250%. Naturally, the client was really happy with the results but something was annoying me about the numbers….

A quick comparison analysis showed that one domain was getting a number of clicks paying $80+ each. We removed the impact of this domain as we did not believe that it was sustainable and redid our analysis. The uplift was still around 135% but I was more comfortable with this number being sustainable.

In both these examples, only paying attention to the money earned column would cause you to completely miss the actually impact of the optimisation effort. It’s not just the data but interpreting the data that is critical to getting the most out of your domain portfolio.

Another simple example is when you have domains that are seasonal in nature that affect the result. These should be removed from any analysis to determine whether the new company is actually adding value. They have the potential to either inflate or deflate the numbers and cause you to come away with a completely incorrect picture of the new monetisation company.

I live a breath numbers all day every day and I would like to say that I’ve seen everything…..but I know that I haven’t. When measuring the impact of any change you must first of all have a clear baseline and then have a metric that you can actually use to measure the impact of that change. It’s the art combined with the science that produces results….and both are constantly evolving.

In a future article I will begin to unpack what metric is critical for determining whether a new monetisation company is performing or not.

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Michael Gilmour has been in business for over 32 years and has both a BSC in Electronics and Computer Science and an MBA. He was the former vice-chairman of the Internet Industry Association in Australia and is in demand as a speaker at Internet conferences the world over. Michael is passionate about working with online entrepreneurs to help them navigate their new ventures around the many pitfalls that all businesses face.

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How to do a Domain Traffic Test – Baseline Data

How to do a Domain Traffic Test – Baseline Data

Doing properly structured domain traffic tests are absolutely critical to extracting the complete value from your domain traffic. What it also means that you need to get down and dirty into the numbers to really understand what’s going on. I’m going to unpack what I mean by this and how we typicaly conduct traffic tests at ParkLogic.

First of all, let me say that doing a properly constructed traffic test is not for the faint hearted and is NEVER as simple as changing a nameserver.

Escrow.com

I was speaking with a domain owner that has been in the industry for many years and still believes that changing the nameservers for their domains is how you start a traffic test. It’s one step in a larger plan and is rarely done straight away.

The first stage in any test is to establish what you are measuring against. For example if all of the domains are currently parked at Company A then the least you need to do is download the last months data to benchmark the success or failure of the test. This set of data is known as the baseline.

There is no point in messing with the baseline data and scaling it up to make the new company “work harder”. I’ve seen data multiplied by a factor and then sent through as “baseline” data. I've even been provided as a baseline the best the domains have ever performed in their history!

Let’s think about this for a second. Let’s imagine the test beats this manipulated data. This is good news because it means the new monetisation company is awesome! The question of what do you do if the test fails is much harder to answer. You either look like an idiot because you leave the domains with the new test….which means the new company knows that you messed with the data or you move the domains away and take a monetary hit. This is even more stupid. So please don’t mess with the baseline data.

Next, hold the baseline data very loosely. Baseline data by its nature is a snap shot at a particular point in time. You need to not only look at the numbers but understand what they mean. This will involve doing an analysis at the domain level and understanding why there are wins and losses.

For example, there is no point in holding the new monetisation company to account for education domains if the test is being conducted in July and the baseline data is from May. Of course education domains will perform better then! In your own thinking you need to remove these types of domains from any test.

All baseline data needs to be reduced to daily numbers. This helps average out the traffic and revenue data across an extended period of time and allows the new company to snapshot a week of data, turn it into daily data and compare it to the baseline.

In many instances you should also screen capture all the high value domain names at the current monetisation company. I would normally recommend leaving this up to the new company. These screen captures can be used to help unravel why some domains may be performing worse than others during the test.

The absolute minimum requirements for baseline data is views and revenue. If you don’t have either of these then you really shouldn’t run any test at all…..it’s just a waste of time.

What we have often done is told the client to leave their domains exactly where they are. We then ask them for access to their current monetisation company account and change the nameservers to ParkLogic. We then route 100% of the traffic back to the existing monetisation company.

This allows us to establish URLs (raw traffic), Views, clicks and revenue. From this we can establish a normalised RPM (revenue per thousand URLs). This number is the ONLY number that will clearly display who is winning in any future test.

After a week of running traffic to establish a normalised baseline we then test a percentage of the traffic elsewhere….but more on this later. By creating a baseline in this method you have a completely accurate measurement of success or failure.

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Michael Gilmour has been in business for over 32 years and has both a BSC in Electronics and Computer Science and an MBA. He was the former vice-chairman of the Internet Industry Association in Australia and is in demand as a speaker at Internet conferences the world over. Michael is passionate about working with online entrepreneurs to help them navigate their new ventures around the many pitfalls that all businesses face.

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The Road Less Travelled

The Road Less Travelled

Each one of us is travelling on our life’s road. Sometimes it feels like the open freeway and you’ve got your right foot firmly planted on the accelerated while other times you feel like your four wheel driving and dodging potholes.

In my own life I’ve had many off-road journeys and most of them were times that I really don’t want to repeat. For example, I woke up one day to discover that I was not going to be paid $1.5 million that I was due. That was a moment that I’ll never forget… When I look at my time in the domain industry I must admit that I feel like it’s been the open road the whole way…..got to love domains!

Escrow.com

In my times in Los Angeles I’ve learned a number of things about getting from point A to point B. It’s either 20 minutes or 3 hours, depending upon the traffic. If your life feels like you’re in the middle of an LA traffic jam and every light seems to be red then this is my recommendation.

Take the road less travelled. Take the side streets and back streets….don’t stay in the jam. In other words, if you can’t get through your problems then go around them.

I see people stuck in traffic jams in their businesses all the time. They believe that if they just keep on doing what they are doing long enough then something will break for them. This may be the case, but you may want step back and take a look at why your business has reached an impasse. I’m all for persistence but I don’t believe in keeping on doing the same thing over and over again and hoping for a different result. It’s easy to be so busy working in your business that you completely forget to work on your business.

For example, about 18 months ago both my ParkLogic business partner and I took a step back to more fully understand what was happening in the domain industry. With the knowledge that we had gained over the last 8 years we made the huge decision to invest in rebuilding our entire platform from the ground up. ParkLogic is now positioned to take advantage of the changes that will be made shortly to mobile advertising.

My wife knows that every couple of years I get really irritable and just plain unpleasant to live with. After being married for 28 years she now kindly ushers me out of the house and tells me to go and do some thinking and get a fresh sense of “rightness” about life.

I typically go down the beach with a notepad and pen, sit and watch the sunset and just think. I get away from the freeways and just park my “life’s car” on the side of the road. I think about where my family is headed, businesses, investments and finally what I’m doing to become a better person.

It’s a lot of introspection but after a day or so I return home refreshed, reinvigorated and with a smile on my face…..much to Roselyn’s relief!

So what’s on my notepad? Typically a lot of action statements and tasks. Things such as, take my daughters out on a date, spend more time with a particular friend going through a rough time, donate my time to a particular worthy cause, investigate domain sales platforms, finish book two of my scifi series, make sure that I ride my bike each day, go on a diet (I hate that one), investigate a new technology to add value to ParkLogic clients and the list goes on and on.

Now that the items are written down I feel that I don’t have to worry about them but just work through each of them and get them ticked off the list…..it’s much less stressful for me. I can then pull my life’s car out of the viewing area and back into the fray.

The danger with driving your life’s car without taking some time out for a few checks is that you could end up either broken down or in a crash. Being broken down typically results in trying to get some help from a friend but if you’re involved in a crash then it can be a lot more serious. So take some time-out to take stock of your life prior to racing down the road.

I have a few questions for you. Where’s your car going? Are you stressed? Are you powering down a road that leads to nowhere? When was the last time you just stopped and took a hard look at your life? These questions and many others like them are ultimately what drives us forward….my advice is to make sure you get the answers before your car is damaged.

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Michael Gilmour has been in business for over 32 years and has both a BSC in Electronics and Computer Science and an MBA. He was the former vice-chairman of the Internet Industry Association in Australia and is in demand as a speaker at Internet conferences the world over. Michael is passionate about working with online entrepreneurs to help them navigate their new ventures around the many pitfalls that all businesses face.

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mgilmour
I wish that I was Joe!
27 January 2015
impulse
Great posting!
27 January 2015
mgilmour
Thanks for that Eric!
27 January 2015
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Namescon - The Week After

Namescon - The Week After

So it’s about a week after Namescon and I’m sitting at my desk still feeling a little sorry for myself due to the jetlag. It’s always a mad scramble after returning from a conference.

Conferences are the place where an incredible amount of business is conducted in a very short time. I could be a bit rude and suggest that it’s similar to other activities in life but I think that I just won’t go there.

Escrow.com

My typical Namescon day began at about 7:15am where I woke up with the sun on my face. I always sleep with the curtains wide open to help shove my body into my new time zone. It may sound stupid (my wife thinks it is anyway) but it seems to help me out.

My first meeting is usually for breakfast at around 8am and I end up with a meeting scheduled every hour until 8pm that night. On the last day the time slots typically dwindle down to 30 minutes. So when I say that it’s a hectic pace, it really is.

I had the strangest feeling when one of my meetings didn’t show up on the last day (they were delayed) and I had 30 minutes spare. I sat down a bit bewildered wondering what to do. It was if the heavens had opened up and blessed me with 30 minutes of my life back. So that I wasn’t letting my son down (he’s part of my team) I played a quick round of “Clash of Clans” on my phone. If any of you play the game then message me and feel free to join my clan. :-)

So what am I really saying about Namescon. It was crazy! There was so much business to do, people to meet and really interesting conversations to be had. I loved it!

A funny thing did happen on the second to last day when Scott Ross, a few other domainers and I saw a whole bunch of hotel security guys go to bust a domainer that tried to abscond with a bunch of donuts. I think that they were hungry….don’t blame them….so were we! I’ve never laughed so much in all my life….precious moments.

So what was it that made Namescon so good? Was it the hotel? The Tropicanna was actually pretty average but I’m happy as long as I have a clean bed and it ticked that box.

Was it the sessions? Perhaps, I heard some great reports from a number of the sessions….I just wished I could have attended more of them. There were some world class speakers presenting and multiple streams to choose from. My ParkLogic business partner attended quite a number of the sessions and on the whole the he thought that the ones he attended were outstanding.

What I found really made Namescon a great event were two things. The organisation was nothing short of superb. The whole Namescon team should be congratulated on their amazing effort….I would like to really thank Matt, Mark and Angie who all helped me get set for one of my sessions. Nothing like dealing with a speaker with special requirements…!

What I did notice was that nothing was too much trouble for any team member….including Jothan, Richard and Jodi. They all worked really hard to ensure that everything flowed as smoothly as possible for the attendees.

Which brings me to what makes a conferences great…..it’s the people that attend. Business is conducted between people and there was just so many great people to meet, get to know and then knock out deals with. I would like to thank everyone that took the time to attend Namescon as ultimately, it’s you that made it an awesome event.

So I’m looking at my calendar for the next 12 months and couldn’t help notice that there isn’t very much in the way of domaining events scheduled. With any luck TRAFFIC will be back in May…..I really hope that I didn’t miss the very last one. I would just love it, if there were three conferences per year that grew to have the impact of Namescon. It’s put the domain industry back on the map in a major way.

Below are a few shots from Namescon to give you an idea of the size and scope of the event.













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Michael Gilmour has been in business for over 32 years and has both a BSC in Electronics and Computer Science and an MBA. He was the former vice-chairman of the Internet Industry Association in Australia and is in demand as a speaker at Internet conferences the world over. Michael is passionate about working with online entrepreneurs to help them navigate their new ventures around the many pitfalls that all businesses face.

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mgilmour
Hey Dietmar! That is so true! Please accept my apologies and feel free to add the event to the domaining events calendar here.... Read More
23 January 2015
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Namescon - There and Back Again

Namescon - There and Back Again

After the short flight from Vegas, I once again find myself in the Qantas club at LAX dreading the 15 hour flight home. I must admit that I couldn't resist going to qantas.club......it's owned by a domainer. If you happen to be the person that currenly owns the domain then I would highly recommend tha that you get rid of it....but onto Namescon.

In one word, Namescon was brilliant. The entire Namescon team should be congratulated for putting on an event that was incredibly well run. I'm sure that there were a number of mad scrambles behind the scenes but from an attendee and speaker's perspective everything appeared to be calm and controlled.

For example, I had to have a few things changed in the setup of the room for my session and nothing was too much trouble for the support staff.

What really struck me about Namescon was the energy. It was buzzing! I felt like I'd been transported back to 2007 and the heyday of the domain industry. The numbers of deals, buying and selling was incredible. I loved rubbing shoulders with a heap of really smart domain investors who seemed to be inspired with a fresh sense of purpose and excitement.

While I was there it was great to see Barbara and Ray from TRAFFIC (Howard couldn't make it) and here about some of there plans for their own conference. What really struck me was that there seemed to be some sort of coopitition (co-operative competition) between them and Namescon. I wouldn't be surprised if TRAFFIC becomes a very different conference now that Rick's has retired.

Just before my flight is called.....I would like to say that it was really good to see so many of the old domaining crowd make the effort to attend Namescon. Each one of them have an amazing amount of experience and to hear what they are up to is truly inspirational.

Anyway......there will be more when I land in Australia......cheers!

 

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mdafni
Sounds like it was a great show. Really wish I could've been there again this year!
16 January 2015
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