January 2010 - Issue #54
2009 was certainly a year of ups and downs. Most of us who have made money from domain parking will agree that it was mostly a year of downs. The year started off on high note with DOMAINfest Global, which included a party at the Playboy mansion. Parking income had already started to slide, but there was some optimism in the air. (Oversee.net is reprising their conference in a different venue, and the Playboy Mansion party will again be included).
Domain development was touted by many as an alternative to domain parking, but domain owners found this to be expensive and time-consuming. Income from newly developed sites rarely reached former income levels from parking companies. Fully developing a domain actually means running an Online business, and owners of multiple domains rarely have time for this.
Some scandals in the larger domain industry also touched the domain parking space. Thought Convergence, parent company of TrafficZ, sued Jay Westerdal for violating his contract with them following his sale of DomainTools. Jay is a bright guy with ambitious plans for future businesses, but you could sorta see that coming. Both parties suffered tarnished images as a result.
Later in the year Oversee.net's SnapNames service admitted that an employee was shill-bidding against other bidders. The company reported that the shill bids occurred between 2005 and the third quarter of 2009. During that time period approximately 1 million auctions took place; and the employee reportedly bid on about 5 percent of them. Oversee admitted the wrongdoing, most of which occurred before Snapnames was bought by them. The event still tarnished their image.
2009 saw more consolidation in domain parking. Sedo bought RevenueDirect in May, and followed this in September with the purchase of ParkingPanel. Some of the features of these companies (especially RevenueDirect) found their way into Sedo, but for the most part they got more customers.
My business lost money in 2009 for the first time since domain parking came onto the scene. Some of this was my fault, as I continued to spend on conferences and CPA training that I hoped would replace PPC income. I found CPA is a different animal and much harder to do on a part-time basis. For me 2010 will probably be a year of cutting back expenses and adding a focus on monetization through domain sales.
The upcoming T.R.A.F.F.I.C. Las Vegas show (January 21-23 at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino) is the first produced by Rick Latona. He has ditched Rick Schwartz's "invitation only" policy and opened the show up to all (finally). The new Rick has followed the lead of "fun" conferences like Domainer Mardi Gras and skipped ealry morning sessions. According to the show schedule there are no morning sessions at all. The content starts at noon. Like Mardi Gras, Las Vegas lends itself to late night activities. The show also offers more networking events, and half price tickets have been liberally available. Monetization topics include "CPA as an Alternative to PPC" and "Optimizing Your Domain Portfolio in a PPC Environment."
DOMAINfest Global Follows from January 26th through the 28th at the Fairmont Miramar Hotel in Santa Monica - a new venue for this show. Oversee.net has pulled-out all the stops, returning to the Playboy Mansion and inviting Frank Schilling, Ron Sheridan, and Adam Roux to be the judges for the show's new Pitchfest contest, which focus on domain monetization. The contest is designed to explore new products or services designed to enhance the value of parked or developed domain names. Pitchfests are often seen as blatant self-promotion and attendees at other conferences avoid such presentations. It will be interesting to see if this new approach gains popularity with domain owners. You can read their press release for all of the details.
Domainer Mardi Gras follows in February. Their sessions actually start a little earlier than T.R.A.F.F.I.C., at 10:45. On the agenda are topics such as "Domain Name Investments in 2010 and beyond. Where is the industry heading?" I should be on a panel at the Conference - but I'm not sure which one yet. Domainer Mardi Gras was apparently a small conference last year with a focus on fun (as can be seen in this video). Last year it was sponsored by Modern Domainer magazine, which apparently is no more. This year Parked has taken over as host, with a few additional sponsors announced. This may be my last conference for a while as I work on cutting expenses in 2010. How about you? Check out their Preview Video here (Rated PG-13).
Is parking still worth it? Absolutely. Many of my domains continue to earn some good income if they get traffic. While you try to sell your domains you should still park them. Domains awaiting development should also be parked.
Yahoo-based services seem to be taking a hit first, as Yahoo announces changes in mondtization. Google seems to be making note of changes in Yahoo, and following quickly with cuts in domain income. Where to park now?
Stability and predictibility may be more important than finding the absolute best deal right now. Avoid new or untested parking companies. The major players are likely to be around for years to come.
Our recommendations take into account both income and stability.