Blogs about how you can best sell your domains or stories about how you may have sold or bought a domain in the past.

Buying and Selling a Traffic Portfolio - Part 5

Like any industry where buying and selling is involved there is a potential arbitrage gap between what the seller is generating and what the buyer can potentially earn once a transaction is complete. This can dramatically change the return on the investment.

A simple example would be if a seller has all of their domains parked at Company A and they received a 75% payout. As the buyer, you know that at the same company you receive 85%. That’s a 13.3% greater payout. This means that if you paid 24 months revenue for a portfolio you should get the payback within 20.8 months.

Escrow.com

If a seller has all of the domains at a single parking solution then there are a considerable number of additional ways that you can increase the revenue. Over the years at my company ParkLogic I’ve found that the maximum any parking company typically wins in a portfolio is 20% of the traffic.

This means that if you are acquiring a portfolio that has been parked at a single parking company then you can at least improve it 80% of the time. That’s a great outcome! At ParkLogic we also have a real-time bidding system in front of the traffic that sends the traffic direct to advertisers to provide additional revenue uplift (enough of the sales pitch!).

The reverse of the above is when you find a portfolio that is parked all over the place or where there may have been some special deals in place that underpinned the revenue line. For example, let’s imagine the portfolio had a group of domains that were all going to a particular affiliate company? Will the deal also migrate with the domains or will the deal suddenly vanish once you parted with your hard cold cash?

Likewise, for domains that have “slept around” they are likely to be fully optimised. Be careful of buying these portfolios as there is unlikely to be much of a “free” revenue uplift from optimisation. What I would recommend is to ensure that you can establish an account with the optimisation company prior to the acquisition. We have a number of ParkLogic clients buying and selling domains between them to more secure their ROI.

I’d also be careful of fad domains. These are domains that are popular for a time and then the traffic just dies off. So do your due diligence on the traffic by requesting stats across six months and then view the traffic data on a domains by domain basis to see if there are any trends that you don’t like. Spikes in traffic and downward trendlines tend to be the bad ones to look out for.

Particularly look out for what I would call the “lucky click” domains. These are domains that may be sold in amongst all the others that have a tiny amount of traffic but got a $30 click. You’ll probably never see that click again but if you buy these domains you’ll be paying a lot for them. To find them calculate the RPM for each domain (revenue / view * 1000). Sort the domain list from highest to lowest and you will discover that these domains are typically sitting right at the top…..get rid of them from the deal.

The wise purchaser will take the time to thoroughly go through a list of domains and indicate which ones they are prepared to pay for and which ones they aren’t. The seller will try and keep the portfolio together as an aggregate to stop this type of cherry picking. In the end it will become a negotiation. The strength of your position in the negotiation will be determined by how much homework you have done at the analysis stage.

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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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Buying and Selling a Traffic Portfolio - Part 4

So you’ve done your due diligence on the domain portfolio that you wish to acquire and everything looks like it’s good. All you have to do is part with your hard earned cash and wait for the authorisation codes so that you can transfer the domains into your registrar. So what’s the problem? A lot!

What happens if you send off your money and the seller decides not to transfer the domains. They now have your cash and the domains. What happens if you send your money and the domain statistics have been fabricated? What happens if you transfer your dollars and discover that the stats have been pumped up with purchased traffic? These are all good questions and I’ve heard story after story of people who have been burned by unscrupulous sellers…..so my advice is BEWARE!

Some buyers try and solve this problem with a contract. Personally I find that they are almost worthless. If you have a person that is prepared to steal your money then reneging on a signed contract is probably nothing big for them. So what’s the solution?

In a nutshell I would recommend using an escrow service. With a good quality escrow service both parties (ie. the buyer and seller) can agree to specific terms and a middle-man handles the actual transaction.

For example, you transfer your money to the escrow service and the funds are not sent onto the domain owner until the domains are under your control. This at least stops people from running off with your money and the domains. You can actually specify a variety of conditions that are agreed by both the buyer and the seller that the escrow company can verify before the seller can get their hands on your cash.

Seller financing has become very popular. The escrow company holds the domain in their account while the financial obligations are met. Say $12000 being paid in 12 monthly instalments of $1000. My only caution is can you imagine the headaches involved if the escrow company ceases to operate or becomes insolvent during a transaction of this kind. This wouldn’t be pretty!

There are a number of Escrow companies that domain owners use with Escrow.com being by far the most popular and the longest established. Over the years, they’ve spent a huge sum to ensure that they are in compliance with the various governmental authorities that manage the escrow industry and ensure that it’s clean.

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Buying and Selling Traffic Portfolios - Part 3

In the previous two articles we looked at managing legal risk and also the different types of traffic that often flow through to domains. In this article I will be examining the other influencers on the returns from a traffic portfolio.

The first thing to look at is where the traffic is coming from. For example, is it mainly USA or is it from China? Chinese traffic tends to be paid much less than traffic from the USA.

A number of years ago I did an analysis on the penetration of credit cards in a specific geographic region and how this influenced earnings per click (EPC). Cash based economies like China tended to have a much lower EPC. The reason being that marketers have a much more difficult time tracking spending money online to ultimate sale of the goods if the transaction is constantly being pulled off-line.

I personally believe that over the years ahead many of these burgeoning economies will adopt credit cards and the online cycle will be complete for marketers. So watch this space!

When you buy a traffic portfolio you are always looking for any “free” upside. An example of this would be if you were getting paid 90% from a monetisation provider but the person selling the portfolio is only getting paid 80%.

We’ve had ParkLogic clients purchase portfolios that have been held at a single parking company and then placed on our system. From experience, typically no parking providers wins more than 20% of the traffic on our platform which means that the acquisition would receive more revenue 80% of the time if move to other platforms. This typically provides a 30% uplift in revenue via our algorithms and processes and this dramatically reduces the payback period for the investment.

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Buying and Selling Traffic Portfolios – Part 2

This is the second part in a series on buying traffic domain names.

Once you’re comfortable that the legal side of the portfolio has been addressed then you really need to dive into the traffic numbers and do some research into where the traffic comes from.

So let’s get back to basics. You’re about to purchase a traffic portfolio. The first question that you should ask is, “Where does traffic come from?”

Traffic typically comes from the following sources:

1.    Direct type-in

Generic or short domain (eg. Beds.com, gx.com.au)

2.    Typos

Typo of a generic domain (eg. Fruit spelt fruit)

Typo of a weak trademark domain (eg. Joespizashop.com instead of Joespizzashop.com)

Typo of a brand (eg. Verison instead of Verizon)

3.    Link based traffic

4.    Purchased

5.    Hijacked traffic such as tool-bars and NXD traffic.

In the above list of places where traffic comes from I’m making no attempt to try and pontificate on whether they are appropriate traffic sources. I’m only indicating that they are sources of traffic. So please do not get upset at the mention of typo, trademark, purchased traffic etc.

Many years ago I purchased my second domain name and it failed miserably to provide any sort of return. Each and every year I faithfully registered the domain to remind myself to ALWAYS ask the question, “Where does the traffic come from?” In my case, the domain had a lot of Russian bot traffic that didn’t monetise at all. There’s nothing like a $10 annual learning course to remind you of an important lesson.

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Buy and Selling Traffic Portfolios - Part 1

I was reading a forum recently and another domain investor was asking about how to price and how to buy traffic domain portfolios. It was a really interesting question that caused me to think about how I price my own portfolios and what I look for when seeking to buy.

It should be stated right up front that everyone has a different risk/return appetite. Some people love to live on the edge and push the limits while others prefer to have a more sedate, stable investment profile. Whatever your risk/return ratio I’m sure that you will appreciate the following pointers.

Traffic domains are typically sold on multiples of months of revenue. So if a domain was earning $10 per month from being “parked” (ie. advertising revenue) then you may pay 24 months revenue for this domain. This would make the purchase price $240. Note that this equation inherently takes into consideration the registration cost of the domain for the two years.

The number of months that you pay for a traffic domain is greatly influenced by a number of factors that I will go through in this series. How much you are willing to pay will ultimately depend upon your risk profile. As a benchmark a domain traffic portfolio typically sells for 24 months revenue but like I said this can be dramatically influenced by your risk profile.

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