Some Domainers are Just Dumb

Are you domaining with ancient or modern tools?

I was reading an article on TheDomains.com about domain traffic monetisation and the comment list ended up being filled with doom and gloom. I found the comments tended to spring from domainers harkening back to the “good old days” when raking in money from their traffic was easy. Many of them also showed a complete lack of understanding about how monetisation has moved on from the “good old days”.

Escrow.com

I will once again say upfront that I’m one of the founders of ParkLogic and we monetise domain traffic but in a very different manner from ANY other provider. We work with almost all of the traditional parking companies and many of the global advertising networks. This gives us a unique perspective on the industry, and I believe provides us with some authority to speak on the subject of monetisation.

I would first like to tackle the common misconception that parking providers are thieves. Contrary to popular belief, we find the parking providers are not fraudulent and stealing your money. They are often as in the dark as you are as to why a domain’s earnings have fallen apart or why a clawback was applied to your account. Google is pulling all of strings and they don’t share squat with their partners.

Before you go accusing your account manager of theft think twice. They are actually your best friend who represent you to their larger organisation. I’ve heard of some account managers being treated despicably and it’s about time some bad domainers act a little more professionally. Thank goodness most domain investors ARE professional in their approach.

That all being said, have some parking providers attempted nefarious behaviours in the past? Absolutely! In fact, on the whole these companies are no longer in business. They’ve either been caught out by their customers or partners for doing the wrong thing and have now been expunged from the industry. This means the companies that have survived are generally pretty good.

Now let me comment on the state of play of domain monetisation. Is it dead? Nope. Is it dead for some people? Yes. The major reason why domain investors believe that domain monetisation is dead is because they keep on doing the same thing they always have. Go figure?

Let’s think about this for a bit. Many domain investors complain about declining revenues and then do nothing about it. They may change parking providers but that’s just like changing which cabin you’re going to sleep in on the Titanic.

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Jay
I notice you promote .icu I am owner of lifesavings.icu and funny enough, I was on the registry site for .promo and noticed the us... Read More
21 October 2019
mgilmour
Great point Jay!
21 October 2019
mgilmour
Matt, I couldn't agree with you more. I remember writing an article in 2008 where I said, we are in a bubble and everyone should s... Read More
21 October 2019
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Why domain traffic is so valuable

Getting to the real value in domain traffic.

Have you ever wondered why advertisers keep on paying for domain traffic year after year? Despite all the naysayers out there saying that domain traffic monetisation is dead it seems to keep on getting better….yes, you just heard me right.

Escrow.com

Domain monetisation isn’t just about views, clicks, RPM and the like. Domain monetisation is all about matching advertising to user intent and this is why it’s so valuable for advertisers. When a person goes to a domain name, they have an intent behind their query about what they are looking for and this is incredibly powerful. The user has already passed from wondering what to look for to seeking to find.

The great majority of people who are in a seeking to find mode are wanting to purchase when they find what they are looking for. The difference between looking up something on a search engine versus domain traffic is that a person looking up something on a search engine is seeking information while a person typing in a domain name is seeking to buy.

Many years ago, I read a report that Google produced outlining that domain traffic produced better results for advertisers compared to search traffic. It was at a time when Yahoo reigned supreme in the domain space but it wasn’t long before Google aggressively went after the domain industry as the traffic converted for advertisers.

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joezepy
Hi Michael, Do you have any stats as to how much of Google's ad business comes from domains? Do you know where that might be acq... Read More
16 August 2019
mgilmour
There isn't any definitive data on this but my guess is that it's several billion dollars a year to Google.....of course, the indu... Read More
17 August 2019
mgilmour
Hi Todd, All good questions. I can only say that at ParkLogic we've been developing a platform over the last 2 years to do exactly... Read More
17 August 2019
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Running a Proper Domain Test

Are you getting the most from your traffic?

I’ve been in the business of managing domain traffic for nearly two decades, the last of which has been as one of the co-founders of ParkLogic. In this article I will share with you how a proper analytic traffic test should be constructed and the pitfalls that so many people fall into….which ultimately robs them of increased revenues.

Escrow.com

Let’s imagine you have a reasonable amount of traffic revenue at your current monetisation partner. By reasonable I mean at least $250 per day. For those of you that think this is impossibly high then you can stop reading hear and continue to believe that domain traffic monetisation is dead. Everyone else can keep on reading.

Let me say from the outset that if you have left your domains with the same parking company for more than a few months then I can almost guarantee that you’re leaving money on the table. For a start, we see that around 60% of all domains achieve greater results from non-Google sources.

In constructing a test, you need to have around $100/day of revenue (based on the previous month’s stats) from a couple hundred domains. Some domains should be doing a few dollars per day, while others should still have traffic but do no revenue. This will provide a good statistical sample that will help verify whether the new monetisation partner is actually performing or not.

Any new partner worth working with should then ask for these numbers. If you think you’re being clever and not providing them by asking them to perform their “best” then all you’re actually doing is delaying the optimisation cycle. The new company will have no idea where to concentrate their resources unless they have the numbers.

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Domain Traffic Monetisation Continues to Grow

For those of you that listen to the naysayers and believe that monetising your domain traffic is dead then think again. The reason why domain traffic continues to be valuable is because advertisers want to reach potential customers.

Escrow.com

This demand for quality traffic has continued to increase while the volume of high value traffic has decreased as domains were dropped. Since the supply is diminishing and the demand increasing then the price paid for the traffic has gone UP over the last few years.

The question has to be asked, “If the price being paid by advertisers is going up then why are most domain investors experiencing a decline in their traffic based revenues?”

The answer is really simple. The advertising aggregators (of which Google is the largest) is taking a bigger slice of the pie. Ask yourself a really simple question, “How much of your earnings are exposed to Google?”

If the answer is “a lot” then don’t be surprised by the decline in your earnings. Albert Einstein said the definition of insanity is doing the same thing and expecting a different result. Are you doing the same thing as you’ve always done?

So how do you get an improvement in your results? I like to think about this in a similar manner to the gold rush. Many years ago, a farmer stubbed their toe on a rock, only to discover the rock was a nugget of gold. This was like the first domain investors monetising their domain traffic. It was an awesome time of easy money!

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mgilmour
That is true. What Google does have is a breadth of advertisers. I think this competitive advantage will be eroded over time but i... Read More
30 May 2018
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Maximising Domain Revenue

After publishing the article, “Getting Dirty in the Domain Data”, earlier this week I ended up having an interesting discussion with a domain investor. I thought that it would be worthwhile continuing to pull apart the data from the previous post to help many domain investors understand why optimising traffic across multiple monetisation solution is so beneficial.

Escrow.com

I will be referring to the data from the previous article so you may wish to read it if you haven’t done so already.

Sampling by Changing the DNS

Many domain investors sample different parking providers by changing the DNS. This method is fraught with many problems that largely stem from comparing results from single sources across different periods of time. Some of the challenges are:

1.      What are you measuring?
Revenue is not a good measurement of success as there will be different levels of traffic at different points in time. Since parking companies count traffic different you can’t rely on the produced Revenue Per Thousand Visitors (RPM) numbers.

2.      Data Distortion
When testing different parking providers over different periods of time you can get massive distortions in the data from seasonality in both the domains and the time of year. In the example from the previous article the domain had massive results in May to July due to it being a travel related domain.

3.      Traffic Leakage
There is a propagation delay each time you change the DNS and this creates more traffic leakage and no new information. In some extreme cases where the TTL (Time To Live) for the domain is long the DNS may not update for months for some users.

The Cost of Information

Some investors believe in splitting traffic equally across multiple solutions and then at some point in time sending all the traffic to the monetisation company that pays the most. This is one of the worst ways to optimise domain traffic and here is the reason why.

There are a lot of strategies around sampling but they basically boil down the single question, “What did the information cost?” In other words, if I was earning one dollar with one company and then sampled another company and found they were paying 90 cents then the information cost me 10 cents.

Minimising these "information costs" is crucial to optimisation. From the example domain, A.COM, in the previous article if we sample the traffic equally across the different parking companies then the portfolio would have earned $1611 versus $2217 or 38% less overall (ignoring direct advertisers).

Every domain needs its own sample regime. At the most simplistic level domains with less traffic should be sampled less often compared to domains with high levels of traffic. In each case, what you are after is a statistically significant result that allows you to decide where to route the traffic. If you don’t have a statistically large enough sample, then you’re guessing.

Real-Time Decision Making

All traffic routing decisions need to be made on a real-time basis. Based upon the data, decisions need to be made literally milli-second by milli-second. I can only speak for my company, ParkLogic, as we use dynamically changing data from multiple inputs to alter not only the routing decisions of traffic but what is displayed on the page and ultimately which advertisers are engaged.

As an example, we track over 250 different metrics for every domain every day and process this data to alter how the traffic is routed. Layered over the top of this daily data we then can then incorporate external dynamic data such as geo-based weather.

Everything must lead to a decision....otherwise it's just intellectually interesting but pointless.

Winning Solutions Constantly Change

If you sample other solutions (however you decide to do it) and then lock that solution in for an extended period of time, then you will be losing. The data from the previous article clearly shows that even for a single domain the winning parking company changes constantly (see below table).

For example, if we routed ALL the traffic through to Voodoo (average winner) and applied Voodoo's payout rates each month then Voodoo would have paid out $436 for the ten-month period. The domain actually earned $4531 for the same period of time (including direct advertisers). The reason for this was a combination of an advertiser paying a lot for the traffic in May-Jul and other parking solutions beat Voodoo the majority of the time.

This doesn't mean Voodoo is bad....as they actually did win for a couple of months. Remember the data is summarised on a monthly basis and can only testify to the fact that the same behaviour exists at the daily and even changes milli-second by milli-second.

Winners

Benchmarking Results Must be Done Simultaneously

I mentioned this point briefly when discussing the problems with sampling via DNS but it is important to reiterate it. Testing new solutions must be conducted at the same point in time otherwise distortions in the results will occur and incorrect decisions made.

Let’s imagine I used the domain’s revenue results in June as the baseline data and compared this to any new parking company in September. I could erroneously conclude that the new company was hopeless! Remember that A.COM (in the previous article) is a travel domain and has extraordinary performance in June.

Understanding Data

I’m in a discussion right now with a customer where about one hundred of their domains just aren’t performing. I’m not worried about this customer leaving ParkLogic as we are both working through the data to understand why their performance is down.

Too many domain investors immediately bail on their existing partner and whip their domains out somewhere else in the vain hope they will perform better. This syndrome has a saying, “The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence.” In other words, you will always think somewhere else is better than where you are.

My advice is don’t do a knee jerk reaction and move your domains. Sit down and dig into the data and really understand what’s going on with the traffic. We are in an industry that is built upon data and if you wish to get abnormal returns then it’s vitally important that you get your arms around it or work with a partner that can help you do so.

 

I hope the few items I’ve raised here in this article will help give you a fresh perspective on your own domain portfolio. Over the years I’ve found that earning more from domain traffic is not always the solution that investors are after. What they want to know is they are maximising their returns and there is proof that this is being done.

Anyone can have a good or bad month but knowing that there are systems and experts in place that are monitoring and understanding the results is really where it’s at. This is particularly the case if you must report to investors or a board. Having the data to confidently know that everything that can be done is being done often alleviates the concerns of the most aggressive directors!

Greenberg and Lieberman

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mgilmour
I agree.....we take that responsibility on at ParkLogic and aggregate all payments into a central single monthly payment. This is ... Read More
01 November 2016
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