How To Conduct a Domain Traffic Test - Part 2

This is the second article in the series on conducting a domain traffic test. The first article can be read by going to: How to Conduct a Domain Traffic Test - Part 1

For the past 8 years I’ve been looking at nRPM (normalised RPM) numbers and routing traffic to the best solutions at any point in time. This has produced significant gains for clients and well worth the effort of getting messy in the numbers.

Escrow.com

So now that there is an agreed set of definitions for metrics what do we need to do to conduct a traffic test? There are two main approaches:

1.      Using baseline data

2.      Using the existing monetisation account

When conducting a traffic test most domain owners provide us with the previous month’s stats to be measured against. One of the problems with this is that we don’t have the raw traffic numbers to generate a normalised RPM. One of the good things is although the stats are taken from a different time period they can be useful in focusing attention on which domains are clear winners and losers. Regardless of the outcome we need to understand why we are winning or losing.

For example, what’s the point in claiming victory if the domain has twice as much traffic during the testing period compared to the baseline? Although good, it would be false to say that it was due to traffic optimisation.

For larger traffic tests it’s far better to adopt option two and run the test by integrating the existing monetisation account into the traffic mix and then sample around 20% of the traffic elsewhere. If the new monetisation sources win the traffic, then all of that domain’s traffic is then moved to the new provider.

For example, let’s imagine that you have all of your traffic going to an account at Domain Sponsor. You want to check out if they are still the best solution for your traffic so you ask me to setup a traffic test. The first thing we do is integrate your existing Domain Sponsor account into ParkLogic and then leave 80% of the traffic still flowing through to DS while we test other monetisation solutions with the remaining 20%.

So rather than having to move all of your traffic you are now only risking 20%. Remember that 20% will earn some money (hopefully more than DS) so your revenue risk is more than likely going to become a win. What’s even better is that we can clearly establish a nRPM for the traffic flowing through to DS and know beyond any doubt who is actually paying the best at that point in time.

With traffic optimisation it’s vitally important that each domain is reviewed and treated as a unique case. There is no point in optimising across an entire portfolio is you don’t also focus on the domains themselves. It’s like the old saying, “look after the pennies and the dollars will look after themselves.” The domains are the pennies and the portfolio is the dollars.

The next article will continue to unpack what metrics we focus on in a traffic test.

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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. 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.

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Guest — Vishal
Sounds like a good method to check domain traffic stats.
18 February 2016
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Finding the Gold in Domain Traffic

I’ve had many domain investors ask me what is the difference between domain traffic monetisation now versus five years ago. The best way to understand this is to use a simple mining analogy.

During the gold rush floods of people poured onto the gold fields in search of their dream nugget that would make them rich. They looked everywhere and in a number of cases, individuals found a mother-load of gold. 

Then someone came up with the great idea of using a pan to “pan for gold” in creeks. They worked out that heavier gold nuggets would wash into the deeper parts of the creek and all you had to do was sort out the gold from the other rocks. More miners struck it rich with this innovation and gold fever seemed to be catching!

Escrow.com

This is very similar to the early days of parking domains. Initially, all you had to do was find a domain with traffic and point the DNS to a parking company. Magic happened and you received a cheque each month.....cash was raining into the industry!

Now let’s move on with our gold rush…

As gold became more difficult to find miners moved from the creeks to digging shafts into the sides of mountains. They’d pull out the rocks and use a sluice to wash the muck to pull out the gold. The new sluice technology was incredibly innovative and made previously unprofitable mines viable.

In the domaining world it didn’t take long for individuals to realise that by using a complicated spreadsheet and a heap of “look-up” statements they could point some domains to parking company A while others to parking company B. This would then potentially increase the revenue but it required a lot of manual labour. It's the sluice but not full automation.

So where is the domain industry now compared to the gold rush? Right now, to extract all of the domain-gold we are driving shafts six miles deep into the earth’s crust. The crust is actually mass data and systems that plough through the muck and extract the gold.

So this brings up an interesting point….where are you in the spectrum of the domain gold rush?

Are you still putting all of your domains with one parking company because it’s easier? Are you using a traffic splitting system or are you digging into sophisticated analytics each and every day to extract every penny from the traffic?

If you are still parking all of your domains with one company then please let me know as I’d be reasonably confident that I could find a buyer that would be more than happy to relieve you of your portfolio. They would then take the domains and go up with technology curve to extract more value from the traffic.

Before looking at the following case study I will fully disclose that all of the data comes from ParkLogic of which I have a stake. I will also say that ParkLogic is a company that drives very, very deep shafts into the bedrock to search for domain-gold on behalf of clients.
 

Case Study

At the end of July a new client came to us with a portfolio to see if we could extract any additional value from their domain traffic. Prior to ParkLogic receiving the domains they had been using a commercial rotation company to send the traffic to a number of parking companies. The baseline data from May 2015 was around $145 per day.

The first chart shows both the revenue and trend for the portfolio. It’s obviously a pleasing result for the client with the revenue continuing to increase despite the typical downturn that's expected during the USA summer.

b2ap3_thumbnail_20150902_revenue.gif

The second chart shows the normalised RPM for the portfolio. A normalised RPM is VERY different from an RPM that is typically displayed in a parking company interface.

A normalised RPM is when the revenue is divided by the RAW TRAFFIC for the domain while an RPM is the revenue divided by the VIEWS. Why is this different?

Raw traffic is the unfiltered traffic that a domain receives while views is the raw traffic multiplied by some filter applied by the parking company. Since every parking company has a different filter then you get some very different RPM numbers that are quite often used as a marketing tool.

The fact that the normalised RPM trend is increasing indicates that more money is being earned for each piece of traffic. This is good news!

b2ap3_thumbnail_20150902_plrpm.gif

So what’s the bottom line?

By driving a really deep shaft into the data, so far, we’ve managed to increase the revenue for the portfolio by 27.35%.  I’m reasonably confident that over time the portfolio will settle down to around an overall increase of 40%.

Not surprisingly, these numbers actually hide the true results for the portfolio.

If we were to take all those domains that displayed the same level of traffic as the baseline then the increase for them is actually 84%! For domains that had at least 80% of the traffic the number is a 62% increase. In other words, if there is the same level of traffic for a domain we knocked it out of the ballpark. These numbers can be viewed in the below graph.

Percent

Every domain investor needs to ask a simple question, “Where am I on the technology curve?” If you are still “panning for gold” with all of your domains at a single parking company then the data clearly shows that you are not getting the full value for the traffic. I would recommend to at the very least get stuck into Excel and get the sluice working for you.

I will be attending “DomainFest” in Macau later this week and also “The Domain Conference” in Fort Lauderdale at the end of the month. Feel free to reach out to me if you would like to discuss this further.

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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. 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.

 
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impulse
Great posting. You said we should ask ourselves "where are you in the spectrum of the domain gold rush?". But, the bigger question... Read More
02 September 2015
mgilmour
Thanks for that! I know people that are still building traffic domain portfolios right now. The mining side of the equation is how... Read More
03 September 2015
vanclute
Nothing to see here... move along...
03 September 2015
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Critical Insights Into the Domain Industry - Part 3

I remember speaking at TRAFFIC Vegas 2008 and I put up the below graph on the projector. I indicated that the industry was in a mini-bubble with domains at hugely inflated prices. I had a large number of people come to me after my session and tell me that I was nuts. Was I wrong?

I believed that we were at point A in the chart and the mini-bubble was in full swing. So why did I stand up and pour call water over the partying atmosphere? To understand what I was seeing we need to understand the industry at that time. This is the state of the industry back in 2008:

  1. Market valuation were being underpinned by a few select domainers – no market depth.
  2. Domain investors were massively reinvesting their parking revenues
  3. Debt has entered the market.
  4. Flurry of new small investors hoping they weren’t too late.
  5. Lack of domain liquidity

Escrow.com

Anyone of these factors alone would inflate prices but combined, they created a massive bubble. Domains with little to no value went for crazy prices and traffic domains sold for insane multiples. The euphoria was like a contagion that was eating away at the heart of the industry as it danced to some strange beat. More and more people wanted to join the celebration as if there would be no end.

I’ll never forget seeing a domain magazine enter the market (remember we are niche) and then a second magazine appeared! This is when I personally sold the vast majority of my own domain portfolio….the writing was on the wall. I was out! I took the money, spent 6 months traveling, got my pilot’s license and paid for the kid’s school fees. Life was very good.

Since that time there’s been a lot of blood in the water as domain investors that had raised debt/equity capital discovered they were in a new world - point B. The Global Financial Crisis (GFC) was the icing on the cake and Google, correctly put the squeeze on payouts….don’t forget they have shareholders in a turbulent financial market.

When seeing the GFC storm first hit I read a domain blog suggesting that it was great to be in the domain industry and not be subject to the financial winds. I immediately wrote an article saying that if you believed the writer then you were living in a fool’s paradise.

Let’s think about the GFC and the factors above. Market makers left as they battened down the hatches of their own financial situations, parking revenues declined courtesy of Google, debt financing dried up and new investors vanished. I’ll deal with the final factor in my next article…so let’s hang onto that one.

During this time I know of quite a number of companies that have either had to tell investors that their ROI will now be over a much longer time frame and some even had to liquidate assets to crystalise losses. Many of those individuals that raised debt have found themselves selling their house or have gone into bankruptcy. This is a sorry tale but one that has been a nightmare reality for some.

It has been really difficult for these individuals as they were like shooting stars that shot across the sky in a blaze of glory just to burn up. Most are no longer in the industry, some stole from other domainers, others suffered massive personal problems as the financial pressures came to bear and quite a number ended up with serious health problems due to stress.

I remember calling up one such person to see what I could do to help them out. They sounded like a shadow of their former self. My advice to anyone that has gone through financial hardship is to get help sooner rather than later. For the rest of us that have survived those years….we need to thank God that we’re still here!

I say to my kids that the cheapest way to education is to learn from other people's mistakes. Our industry needs to learn from those turbulent times and learn both the good and the bad from those people that blazed across the sky. We also need to learn from those people that are still around and remember those times....there are still quite a number around.

One of the things I love doing at conferences is getting together with this group of domainers and discussing what kept their heads in the game during those years and what they're doing now. They typically don't make a big show about what they are doing but nevertheless they are inspirational individuals and are ALL in my "Hall of Fame".

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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. 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.

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Guest — Martin
It's all too easy for domainers to forget that this is a real business, some will make lots of money, many will not. I only purcha... Read More
04 June 2015
whizzbang
I agree, Thank God we made it this far. Quite a journey full of experiences and hardship. Maybe the ones no longer here weren't me... Read More
05 June 2015
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Saturday Musings - Relationships Not Things

I’ve had a lot of people asking me why I’m not at TRAFFIC in Miami. I’ve been to every TRAFFIC conference for the past 10 years (other than the very first) and I’ve found them exceptional events for developing business. So why aren’t I attending this time?

It just so happens that my daughter Elise is turning 16 and despite my love for TRAFFIC she trumps it. I wouldn’t miss her birthday for anything. So I am really sorry to all of my great friends at TRAFFIC but you got beat out this time……but I will be there in 2015!

When I think of my decision it’s all about what I regard as important in my life. Do we work to live or live to work? I love my work but the reason why I work is so that I can live a more fulfilled life. It's focusing on people and relationships not things and money that provide a richer better life. In this case it was my relationships with my daughter that won the day.

The order of importance for me is my relationships with God, Roselyn (wife), my kids, work colleagues, friends etc.  I find that if I have these priorities in the right alignment then life is good. Sure, I can break the rules for a time but there’s always a cost.

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Guest — James Tuplin
It is by reading posts such as this, I am reminded why you are one of the very few people I look up to and respect in this industr... Read More
01 November 2014
Guest — Domenclature.com
I co-sign Tuplin... Happy Birthday, and many many more to Elise ... Read More
02 November 2014
mgilmour
You both are way to kind with your comments. Thank you for your thoughts and I will pass on the "happy birthday's" to Elise!... Read More
02 November 2014
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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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