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.

Part 2 - How to Price Your Domains for any Market

Part 2 - How to Price Your Domains for any Market

This article continues directly on from How to Price Your Domains for any Market

One possible way to derive the mid-point number is to examine the average advertising spend by market vertical. We can then pin the mid-point for this data as being worth $2,000.


The below chart shows the “drink” category as being at the approximate mid-point in spend. This would suggest that domains above this category would have a higher mid-point value and domains less than this category a lower mid-point value.

Global spend by vertical

Once again, with a little bit of Excel wizardry we can calculate the financial sector average domain spend being at $1543, which little less than the $2,000. Once again, we have a problem where the methodology being used is linear where in fact it may not be the case. Nevertheless, the financial services industry is a little above the mean point for the market verticals so our numbers shouldn’t be too far out.

We can now update our financial demand curve chart from the previous article so that now looks like the one below.

Demand Curve

So where does this entire analysis go wrong? Domain investors are less concerned about the left-hand part of the demand curve but argue incessantly about the right side of the graph. They should rightly do so.

Since we know the mid-point we can plot a reasonable price for each domain. On a keyword by keyword basis we can allocate the level of demand divided by the total demand for all those keywords above the mid-point. We can then multiply this ratio by the $1543 we calculated earlier. And presto! This will mean that “homerefinance.com” is valued at $613,475!

We essentially then do the reverse process for those domains worth less than the mid-point. By using this method, we have the following valuations for the suite of “second mortgage” domains we looked at earlier.

Secondmortgagerates.com - $1,157
Secondmortgageloans.com - $1,548
Secondmortgage.com - $1,683
Refinancesecondmortgage.com - $3,669

The question needs to be asked, do these values look sensible? Yes and also no…..and here’s the double conundrum for the domain investor.

For a motivated buyer, these valuations can be out by a factor of ten. The pricing will be influenced by the what you glean from the conversation and this is the “art of the deal”. It’s one of the reasons why some domain investors work exclusively with select brokers.

The second issue, is how long do you want to hold your domain assets? If you’re prepared to hold your domains for ten years, then start dividing the prices by an increasing value of 10% per year. This means the first year the domains will be worth ten times the above and the second year 10% less etc.

BUT if you are wanting to sell the domains with some science behind the pricing then these don’t feel absurd. A component that I have not taken into account is the excess in supply for the volume of searches conducted on each keyword. This can potentially influence the pricing discussion.

Now before you jump up and down claiming your domains are worth far more than what I’m suggesting then ask yourself these simple questions.

Am I looking at a domain that is close to the right-hand asymptote? If you are then the methodology will likely be a little shaky.

How many offers have I received in the last 12 months for this domain? In other words, are you pricing your domain outside of the market's expectations.

What is the average offer size? If you have received offers, what are they?

Over the years ahead I plan on continuing to refine the model to dig into what else that can be influencing a domain sale’s price. What I don’t want to do is get into market comparables. In my opinion discussion comparables completely undermines the uniqueness of a domain and potentially pushes a buyer to look for other options.

I hope you have found these couple of articles an interesting read. Please leave any questions and comments below.....I'd love to receive some :-)


1457 Hits

Part 1 - How to Price Your Domains for any Market

Part 1 - How to Price Your Domains for any Market

As I’ve stated in a previous article, pricing domains can be a difficult task. Many domain owners firmly believe that the price completely depends upon the buyer. The problem with this position is that it runs contrary to the fact that priced domains are more likely to sell. In this article, I’m going to attempt to put some mathematics behind pricing domains in ANY market vertical.


I made my first attempt at pricing domains in an article last year. At the end of the article I suggest that a lot more thinking needed to go into the model…..so here goes!

I’m a firm believer in economic theory and the rules of supply and demand. High prices are the result of a combination of high demand and low supply while low prices are a function of both large amount of supply and low demand. You can see the rules of supply and demand all over the business world; from oil and iron ore right through to dog food.

Supply and demand lead me to attempt to build a demand curve for a set of keywords in a market vertical. I entered mortgage, loans and finance into Google’s keyword tool and out popped 703 keywords with both the estimated volume of traffic, recommended price point and demand (ie. competition) for that keyword.

After a little bit of Excel magic I was able to produce the below demand chart for the financial category. I will be the first to indicate that you can actually get a more accurate curve with greater numbers of data points but the essence of the demand curve will remain intact. The interesting thing is you can also build the same sort of curve for any group of keywords.

Demand Curve

So what are we looking at? This is a pretty good picture of a marketers view of the keyword landscape for their particular market. Remember, this does not provide a picture of what they are spending but how much they value a particular keyword.

The only reason marketers will consistently pay more for certain keywords is because the traffic from that keyword provides a return on their investment. This is the why each keyword has a different price point. This means the demand curve is a mirror of the conversion rate for each keyword.

We do know that the average keyword domain sells for around $AU2000 ($US1,500). It could be then said that keywords around the “weighted mean” (ie. the point at which the areas to the left and right of the chart are equal) of $21 will attract the $2K price tag. Domains down the curve will sell for less than $2K and those above this point will sell for more than $2K.

For example, “second mortgage rates” has a bid price of $12.60 which slides it about 25% down the curve from the weighted mean which would suggest this domain is worth around $1,500. On the other hand “second mortgage loans” (a more targeted keyword) is selling for $21.33 and places it right about the mean and a price tag of $2,000. “Second mortgage” is a shorter keyword and has a price tag of $22.86 which pushes up the demand curve by 5% which suggests the domain is worth around $2200.

These prices are guesstimate and I will attempt to do a more accurate pricing later in the article. What’s interesting is keywords such as “refinance second mortgage” is 45% higher on the demand curve than the mean and are deemed more valuable than the shorter keyword versions. So why is this the case?

Remember the demand curve will only keep in place if the underpinning metrics of a sale are met. It’s not just about traffic volume or “brandability”. Ultimately, it’s all about sales! This suggests that people that click on the keyword “refinance second mortgage” are more likely to purchase a second mortgage compared to individuals that click on “second mortgage”.  In fact, we can calculate the number as being nearly 40% more often.

This flies-in-the-face of the assumption that a short domain is a good domain. Sometimes shorter keyword domains provide more traffic but they bring a lot of tire kickers who don’t purchase products or services. The simple act of typing in more letters can be one of the more interesting qualifiers of whether a consumer will purchase or not.

For instance, everyone would assume that “best loans” is a great domain….and yet, the marketers don’t like that keyword and push it down the demand curve. What they love is “home refinance” and are prepared to pay top dollar for traffic from that keyword.

Here’s the problem with this analysis. The amount of $2,000 for the weighted mean is an assumption for this market vertical. I believe that every market vertical will have an average value that domains are sold for…..the majority of this type of information is held by the incumbent marketplaces.

What I’m saying is that for the finance sector rather than $2,000 it could actually be $10,000 or even less for the weighted mean. In my next article I’ll continue to dig and pull out more on the mid-point number.


1231 Hits

Why My Mother's a Genius!

Why My Mother's a Genius!

There’s nothing worse than when you feel you’re thrashing. If you’ve never heard of “thrashing” then you’re likely to be one of the few lucky individuals that have never experienced it either. Thrashing happens when you have so much on your plate, you end up jumping from one activity to another and never completing anything.


Thrashing originated as a computer term to describe the hard drive head as it moved across a platter of disks. When users add and delete files, disk fragmentation occurs and the hard drive head has to jump like a jackrabbit all over its surface in order to access a single file. In a non-tech talk.…you hear what sounds like mice scurrying around in your PC.

The technical boffins solved this problem by constantly “defragmenting” the hard drive and rearranging all of the file parts so the hard drive head moved to one spot to pick up the file. We can learn a lot from this approach.

So the other day I found myself on three IM chats, a skype conference call, emails pouring in and a things to do list a mile long.

As an aside, I’ve used the far more sensible metric system all of my life and yet saying my things to do list is a kilometer long just doesn’t sound right. I tip my hat to all of you recalcitrant Americans who insist on still using miles, gallons and ounces rather than kilometers, liters and grams.

I’ve often wondered though how you express thousands of something? Is it kilogallons? Do you ask your local shop for a kilo-ounce of sugar? Then again, you’d probably end up filling up your entire kitchen with that much, so probably not.

So back to my thrashing around skype, IM and emails. After muting the mike on skype (I hope I did anyway) I let out a little scream, smiled and began to politely extricate myself from the myriad of noise that I really didn’t need to be a part of.

That’s the thing. Thrashing normally occurs when you stick your nose into places that it really doesn’t belong. After getting a whiff of what’s there you feel obligated to do something about the problem and clean up the mess. Note to self….other people are quite capable of cleaning up their own messes.

So I looked at my list, had a bit of a delirious chuckle and began removing all those things to do that I didn’t have to really be involved with. In the process I discovered a long last feature of skype…..the away button. It gave me the time to think rather than react.

At the end of my review process I had a more manageable list and I followed my mother’s instructions. For some reason, most mothers are absolute geniuses when it comes to getting stuff done. It’s probably the fact that they have vast amounts of experience ensuring that children are fed, clean and not sticking their little fingers in power sockets. My mother was brilliant at stopping me from doing the latter btw.

What did my mother say? She said, “Get your list together, start one task and don't stop until it’s finished.”

What a brilliant piece of advice! Before computers were invented and hard drive heads weren’t even a technician’s dream my mother solved the problem of thrashing. I sometimes wonder if the techies just sat down with a few mothers we could have had the world of the Jetson’s by now…..what a lost opportunity.

So I did what my mother told me and my MBA be damned. Who needs a master’s in business when you have an expert with a bachelor of common sense to look up to! It was amazingly liberating. Stuff got done, people stopped complaining because I was delayed in finishing a task and I had a smile on my face.

That’s when I realized, that I’d left skype on “away”…..no wonder I’d suddenly gained so much time.

Have a great weekend!



819 Hits

The Quality of Your Domains

The Quality of Your Domains

This is one of the most difficult topics to cover and it’s easy for a domain investor to throw their hands up in the air and say, “It depends on the buyer.” Although this is a true statement, it is sometimes used as an excuse for lazy thinking. Let’s begin to unpack this most difficult of topics.


For a start, everyone will have different opinions on pricing and much of it will be tainted by their own experience. Selling a domain for a lot of money doesn’t make you a genius, it just means you’ve sold a domain. What makes you smart is if you’ve had a deliberate strategy for the sales of your domains and that strategy is unfolding in a successful outcome.

A fundamental error that many domain investors do is look at their portfolio of a thousand domains and multiply it by an average sales price of $1500 per domain. They then congratulate themselves on owning a $1.5 million-dollar asset. If this was true, then what would stop you from buying 9,000 more domains so your portfolio is now worth $15m?

The reality is that unless you have a very unusual portfolio, 90% of the domains aren’t getting any offers. If you look at your offer stream over the past 10 years (assuming you’ve been around that long) then you’ll probably discover that number is pretty close. This of course, depends on the quality of your domains…..more on this later.

So are the 90% worthless? Ask yourself this question. If I have a shack that’s falling apart on the edge of a crumbling cliff in the middle of the desert. How much is it worth? At some stage, I’ll pay someone to take it off my hands so you don’t have do to any maintenance!

The second question you need to ask is, “Do you feel lucky?” If you answer “yes” then keep the shack and pray that someone comes along and puts an offer in to buy it. If this miracle happens, then grab it with both hands. Don’t negotiate…..just sell the shack!

Many domains are like this. They are ramshackle shacks in the middle of nowhere that no one wants to buy.....I hat to say it but just drop these domains. The market has spoken and no one is making offers.

Here's the trap many investors fall into. Logically, a domain renewal fee of $10 per year is small compared to the potential windfall of selling it for $1500. You can convince yourself that even if you waited 150 years you would still be profitable. What’s the problem with this perception?

The problem is that having one domain dramatically reduces the likelihood of a sale. It’s like buying a single ticket to the lottery and you have a very small chance of winning. You can double your chances simply by buying another ticket…..but you also double your ticket expenses.

If we were to apply this to domains, then having two domains means you’ve just dropped your “time for a sale” to remain profitable from 150 to 75 years. At 3 domains, your number drops to 50 years and at 100 domains the figure is now 1.5 years. If you have 1,000 domains, you need to sell a domain every 55 days just to remain profitable.

So far I’ve been talking about average figures but let’s take this a step further with applying the thinking to the quality of a stock domain portfolio (ie. All domains selling at $1500). The below bell curve shows that for a portfolio of 1,000 domains those with higher quality will experience a sales events on average less than 55 days and those of lower quality will have much longer sales cycles.

Bell Curve

The more or less domains you have will simply alter the position and value of the average point. What’s interesting about this curve that it potentially shows you the quality of your own portfolio. I should also mention the underlying assumption is that a portfolio is high quality if it is profitable.

If you are sitting with 1,000 domains and you have a sale a few times per year then my advice is to start dropping domains immediately. You’re effectively subsidizing your business every year as you reach into your pocket to pay the renewal fees. You're on the wrong side of the curve....

There’s another curve that needs examination and has a lot to do with supply and demand. More on that in another article.


1083 Hits

Saturday Musings - Whizzbangsblog's Upcoming Anniversary

Saturday Musings - Whizzbangsblog's Upcoming Anniversary

Last night we invited a couple of friends around for a barbeque. It’s a quintessentially Australian thing to do and no, we didn’t have a shrimp on the barbie (besides, we’d have prawns). I find there’s nothing quite as relaxing as sitting outside watching the sun set while you feel the cool refreshing breeze on your face.


It was then that it hit me….I’ve been blogging for nearly ten years! After checking the whois on whizzbangsblog.com I found the actual ten year anniversary date is the 7th April! Time flies when you’re having fun!

One of the things I most cherish is hearing from you, the readers of whizzbangsblog. Each comment spurs me on to keep writing and digging into all the possibilities that business and domains represent.

I don’t think I’ve ever asked it before but I would love to hear from you about whether you find the articles helpful, challenging, funny or something else altogether. Also, it would be great if you could let me know which articles you have enjoyed reading the most.

I'm planning on compiling a lot of the comments (assuming I get any) to be part of the anniversary celebrations....so don't be a stranger and let me know what you really think!

Many thanks for being a reader here….

Have a great weekend,



807 Hits