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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