How To Conduct a Domain Traffic Test - Part 1

How To Conduct a Domain Traffic Test - Part 1

So many domain owners get incredibly confused by all the different companies that want to monetise their traffic for them. Which one is best? How do I really know if they are better than another? What is the best way to run a test? All of these questions are vital if you wish to get the most out of your domain traffic.

In this article I will unpack the critical success factors of what makes a viable good traffic test so that you will always know that you are monetising your traffic with the right provider.

Escrow.com

For a start, to eliminate any discrepancies in timing, all traffic tests need to be conducted simultaneously. What you don’t want to do is change your DNS to point to parking company A and then a few weeks later change the DNS to parking company B. The two separate periods of time introduce large errors in determining who is the real winner.

Without the proper tools, running a simultaneous test can be difficult but with a good partner this is eminently achievable. As an example, we find that at ParkLogic a number of clients use our services purely for benchmarking one monetisation source versus another. We’re happy to work with anyone on this.

The most important factor in a traffic test is understanding the definition of success. So many people fall into the trap of believing that revenue is the only metric that should be paid attention to. So is that the revenue for December or for September? Is that the revenue where there happened to be a 20% increase in traffic or not? Or how about the revenue when it just so happened that an advertiser paid more for the traffic by a mistake?

As can be seen, revenue, although important, is not the best metric to pay attention to during a traffic test. Many domainers have migrated to RPM (revenue per thousand visitors) in an effort to remove the distortions caused by variations in traffic.

For example, if you make $100 from 1,000 visitors then you have an RPM of 100. Let’s imagine that you did a test and you made $200 from 1,000 visitors from a different monetisation provider. Many people jump to the conclusion that the second monetisation provider is the clear winner with an RPM of 200…..and they would be wrong.

The problem with RPM is that it depends upon the views reported by each of the monetisation providers. Sadly, there aren’t any standards on reporting views therefore each provider has a different set of filters applied to the traffic which can dramatically change the number of views reported and ultimately the RPM.

It wasn’t so long ago that some parking companies used RPM more as a marketing tool to say they had the best in the industry! This was easily achieved by just filtering the traffic more aggressively, reporting less views which meant a higher RPM.

For a proper traffic test what we need is an unassailable metric that can be verified for each monetisation source that we wish to test. The only way to do this is to count the raw unfiltered traffic (ie. URLs) that we send to each monetisation provider for each domain and then see how much revenue that generates. This provides us with a normalised RPM (ie. nRPM) that we can then use for direct comparisons at any point in time.

Let’s take a look at some actual data for a domain (XYZ.com) across a ten day period of time (see below). Day 1 is the latest day’s data and Day 10 is the oldest. There are columns for URLs, nRPM and Revenue for 4 parking companies (1-4). The easiest way to understand what is happening is to read the table from the bottom up so that you can get an idea what is happening as the algorithms seek to move in on the higher paying revenue solutions.

Forensic report

Initially, the domain is only with parking company 4 and on day 7 forced sampling was implemented to expose the traffic to the other parking companies. At Day 6 parking company 4 was being beaten by parking companies 1 and 2. More traffic then flowed to those parking companies and away from two and 4 until parking company 2 began to perform and parking company 4 completely dropped out of the race.

In this example, the traffic flowing between the monetisation providers is very dynamic and moves around quite a lot due to the switching regimes being adopted during the sampling process. There’s a lot of moving parts and reasons why the traffic flows where it does but the whole time the algorithms are focused on increasing the domains revenue.

In the next article in this series I will really unpack how to conduct a structured traffic test and why most domain owners get this wrong.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------

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.

Fix the Problem Enom!
Rightside - What are you doing?

Related Posts

 

Comments

httpscience on 02 February 2016
Reconciliation

Hi Michael thanks for the article.
Is there a variation on results if the domain is pointed to the platform via DNS A Record ( as opposed to place the domain under the platform's nameserver ) ?
For Example,
under a VPS Hosting Account (with root access) one can set up their on DNS/NameServer ( Rather than
a ppc platform, Registrar or Hosting's firms open NSs ), and by doing so, the advantage is the ability to mine / take action on one's own dns's log for leads, hits; another advantage would be to point the Domain ( under the cited architecture ) to the ppc platform not by changing nameservers but by using A record, the traffic will go through
your DNS before going to the ppc's platform ( via A ), in doing that one now knows exactly how many hits went to that domain [ hence tweaking rpm hits would be evident and the domain owner would know ].
There are other advantages ( i dont mean to advertise, but you can visualise what I mean at http dot science ), such as driving traffic to the main domain (parked) from its subdomains ( with legit portals, since the subdomain will reside in your VPS ), also the domain owner will be able to send/receive email from that domain even if parked.

What I do not know is if the above model would receive a lesser amount of traffic
than if changing the nameserver per say. Is there a difference ?
( the only one I can think of, is if your hosting provider/VPS is under a set of IPs with
high firewall filters; but then again under A + own DNS pointing isnt the auth nameserver the Registrar's ? ). I use Bind ( as nameserver solution ).
Looking forward to part II.

Hi Michael thanks for the article. Is there a variation on results if the domain is pointed to the platform via DNS A Record ( as opposed to place the domain under the platform's nameserver ) ? For Example, under a VPS Hosting Account (with root access) one can set up their on DNS/NameServer ( Rather than a ppc platform, Registrar or Hosting's firms open NSs ), and by doing so, the advantage is the ability to mine / take action on one's own dns's log for leads, hits; another advantage would be to point the Domain ( under the cited architecture ) to the ppc platform not by changing nameservers but by using A record, the traffic will go through your DNS before going to the ppc's platform ( via A ), in doing that one now knows exactly how many hits went to that domain [ hence tweaking rpm hits would be evident and the domain owner would know ]. There are other advantages ( i dont mean to advertise, but you can visualise what I mean at http dot science ), such as driving traffic to the main domain (parked) from its subdomains ( with legit portals, since the subdomain will reside in your VPS ), also the domain owner will be able to send/receive email from that domain even if parked. What I do not know is if the above model would receive a lesser amount of traffic than if changing the nameserver per say. Is there a difference ? ( the only one I can think of, is if your hosting provider/VPS is under a set of IPs with high firewall filters; but then again under A + own DNS pointing isnt the auth nameserver the Registrar's ? ). I use Bind ( as nameserver solution ). Looking forward to part II.
Guest - Michael Gilmour on 02 February 2016
RE:Reconciliation

Really interesting questions....hopefully I can answer them all:
Setting the DNS to your own has a number of downsides.
1. Manage time and costs of your own DNS.
2. You need to have multiple DNS servers around the world so that there are minimal delays for users....even possibly anycast.
3. Changing the A-record to a new parking solution is risky as some parking solutions regularly change their A-records due to DDOS attacks.
4. It's better to implement a cName redirection system....but that again starts to get complex (trust me, we know!).
5. I think it's better to partner with someone like ParkLogic (I know this is me) as we provide the raw traffic numbers and just about anything else you require and you don't need to manage any of the parking accounts, DNS etc.
6. Being in control of the MX records is a possible upside but I would once again partner and focus my attention on my strengths (eg. finding traffic domains).
7. The bottom line is I believe that the costs of trying to manage your own DNS (I'm familiar with BIND) just aren't worth the trouble. There is no indication that managing your own DNS will increase traffic to your domains.

I hope that I answered all the questions for you.

Really interesting questions....hopefully I can answer them all: Setting the DNS to your own has a number of downsides. 1. Manage time and costs of your own DNS. 2. You need to have multiple DNS servers around the world so that there are minimal delays for users....even possibly anycast. 3. Changing the A-record to a new parking solution is risky as some parking solutions regularly change their A-records due to DDOS attacks. 4. It's better to implement a cName redirection system....but that again starts to get complex (trust me, we know!). 5. I think it's better to partner with someone like ParkLogic (I know this is me) as we provide the raw traffic numbers and just about anything else you require and you don't need to manage any of the parking accounts, DNS etc. 6. Being in control of the MX records is a possible upside but I would once again partner and focus my attention on my strengths (eg. finding traffic domains). 7. The bottom line is I believe that the costs of trying to manage your own DNS (I'm familiar with BIND) just aren't worth the trouble. There is no indication that managing your own DNS will increase traffic to your domains. I hope that I answered all the questions for you.
Guest - httpscience on 02 February 2016
RE:RE:Reconciliation

hi Michael, thanks for your kind reply.

The architecture that I described, is already up and running. Our cost is cd$180 year ( VPS, CentOS, Apache, Bind ). There are 2700 domains under the server, and
about 700 subdomains driving healthy traffic to main domains ( main domains A-pointed to domainnamesales, subdomains
resolving to VPS, and both main-domains and sub-domains are routed under the custom NameServer ( with Bind ).
We developed the above solution from scratch. It took us 14 months. Indeed, it
is complex, but the main reason to insist on it is the fact that if the domain
is fully under the ppc platform's NameServer then the domain owner loses the ability to get Real Time leads from NS's traffic, no email ability, limited stats and longer ranking gaining, less exposure. The main advantage, is the ability to develop portals on its subdomain at the same time the main domain is parked and earning ppc. We figured the main strength of ngtlds is its Meaning. So if one has
the domain, for instance/ex: Or (.) business ( random ex ) then Or (.) business can be parked via A and Personal (.) Or (.) business under Hosting/VPS can have a portal, gain rank, exposure with a super meaningful string and that benefits the 1stlevel bit that is parked. (ex2: take . or . delivery )
Our problem, and hence the question, is based on lots of tests, we found this to be true:
Given any random domain, say Random.tld has 1000uniques/day and is parked
at the ppc platform.
Now, the same domain, under our solution [ delegation ]'s NS, receives at least 5% less -hits- ( as opposed to under the ppc's platform NS )
We have many theories, but we have not managed to answer the question, as per why !
Please note our solution was done to cater to our own portfolios, we wish not to provide any sort of ppc services,etc. It's just that we really use the dns data, to the purposes of leads in real time with web and email campaigns, so there are actionable patterns we can grasp from it, and for such having the domain in a different NameServer is a big price to pay, I am not familiar with any ppc platform that provides real time raw data, does ParkLogic ? Most seem to have at least 24h delay.
ps: we found CNAME redirects also has a higher loss than 5% [ in our pool of domains and tests ] on top of the above 5% ; but again, we are still trying to find the answer to this. :-)

hi Michael, thanks for your kind reply. The architecture that I described, is already up and running. Our cost is cd$180 year ( VPS, CentOS, Apache, Bind ). There are 2700 domains under the server, and about 700 subdomains driving healthy traffic to main domains ( main domains A-pointed to domainnamesales, subdomains resolving to VPS, and both main-domains and sub-domains are routed under the custom NameServer ( with Bind ). We developed the above solution from scratch. It took us 14 months. Indeed, it is complex, but the main reason to insist on it is the fact that if the domain is fully under the ppc platform's NameServer then the domain owner loses the ability to get Real Time leads from NS's traffic, no email ability, limited stats and longer ranking gaining, less exposure. The main advantage, is the ability to develop portals on its subdomain at the same time the main domain is parked and earning ppc. We figured the main strength of ngtlds is its Meaning. So if one has the domain, for instance/ex: Or (.) business ( random ex ) then Or (.) business can be parked via A and Personal (.) Or (.) business under Hosting/VPS can have a portal, gain rank, exposure with a super meaningful string and that benefits the 1stlevel bit that is parked. (ex2: take . or . delivery ) Our problem, and hence the question, is based on lots of tests, we found this to be true: Given any random domain, say Random.tld has 1000uniques/day and is parked at the ppc platform. Now, the same domain, under our solution [ delegation ]'s NS, receives at least 5% less -hits- ( as opposed to under the ppc's platform NS ) We have many theories, but we have not managed to answer the question, as per why ! Please note our solution was done to cater to our own portfolios, we wish not to provide any sort of ppc services,etc. It's just that we really use the dns data, to the purposes of leads in real time with web and email campaigns, so there are actionable patterns we can grasp from it, and for such having the domain in a different NameServer is a big price to pay, I am not familiar with any ppc platform that provides real time raw data, does ParkLogic ? Most seem to have at least 24h delay. ps: we found CNAME redirects also has a higher loss than 5% [ in our pool of domains and tests ] on top of the above 5% ; but again, we are still trying to find the answer to this. :-)
mgilmour on 02 February 2016
RE:RE:RE:Reconciliation

Awesome questions and it's great to be dealing with someone that has some technical experience. Can I suggest that we take this offline - contact me at mgilmour at parklogic.com and we can swap skype addresses.

Awesome questions and it's great to be dealing with someone that has some technical experience. Can I suggest that we take this offline - contact me at mgilmour at parklogic.com and we can swap skype addresses.
Guest - httpscience on 06 February 2016
RE:RE:RE:RE:Reconciliation

will do ! txs Michael, and Happy Birthday !

0
will do ! txs Michael, and Happy Birthday !
Already Registered? Login Here
Guest
Thursday, 29 June 2017
If you'd like to register, please fill in the username, password and name fields.