Name Monetizer - July 2008 - Issue #36

Domain monetization
continues to move in different directions as traditional parking companies look for new models to help domain owners make money from their domains.   One trend involves instant development of full-blown sites.  See the next article for information on SmartName Shops - a nice new instant development platform.  ICANN got a lot of attention in June for opening up the domain name system to an infinite number of top level domains (TLDs).  Don't look for these new TLDs until 2009 at the earliest, and it will cost 6 figures to claim such a TLD.  Large trademark owners are probably the first customers.  Look for .apple or .microsoft on the horizon.  Domain experts are split in their views of how this will affect existing TLDs.  Most see dotcom as holding it's value for years to come.
 
 
We have initiated coverage of SmartName this month, largely due to their new 'SmartName Shops' program. 
 
SmartName is the premium service from Name Media - the parent company of Active Audience and GoldKey. They purchased the SmartName service that was originally developed by Ari Goldberger and Larry Fischer in March of 2007. NameMedia quickly moved the parked domains to their new system that offers over 500 themes (including all of the themes available at Active Audience and GoldKey and more). Some long-time customers balked at the changes, so NameMedia brought back the older platform as "SmartName Classic" for those original domain owners (many of whom had created custom templates for their domains). New applicants are added to the new platform.  Many of the services at SmartName are similar to those at ActiveAudience and GoldKey, but SmartName also offers some unique services, such as the new "SmartName Shops."   You can request a SmartName account here, but be aware that this is a fairly selective program. 
 
SmartName Shops are full-fledged ecommerce sites that you create almost instantly.  TechnologyLiquidators.com is the most basic site that can be created.  This one took about 2 minutes to build.  Spending more time will get you an even more customized shop, such as BabyBag.net.  It's worth your time and effort to do this, as the custom text you add can help search engine rankings.  You can also buy AdWords or other ads to send people to your SmartName Shops.  Is this the return of arbitrage?  I guess it depends on how well Shopping.com monetizes your stores. 
 
Developing your domains this way is a long-term proposition.  Don't expect immediate pay-per-click results that rival Google or Yahoo-bases services.  If you do it right, traffic to your stores will build over time, resulting in much greater income 6 months from now.
 
I recently interviewed Brian Carr, whose title is Senior Vice President and General Manager of Direct Search Network at NameMedia.  He shared the following information on SmartName Shops.
 
What is SmartName Shops?
Since its inception, SmartName.com has always been the place where domain developers can control their sites, such as by uploading custom photos and hand-selecting keywords at a time when other platforms didn’t allow it.
 
The SmartName Shops addition is the culmination of more than nine months spent at NameMedia researching more than 20 ecommerce providers, from CPA to CPC and product provisioning. We continue to rate them rate them on more than a dozen metrics, such as their partnership teams and policies, click-through rates, size of product catalogs, and flexibility in implementation. We saw successes with the current implementation, and that’s why we’ve made it available to our partners.
 
What’s exciting is that now on SmartName domain owners can develop a network of fully customized e-commerce sites, complete with their own header images, self-made network brand, hand-picked keywords, images and customized content. It’s all done on the same SmartName.com interface, so their regular parked pages are easily managed alongside fully developed ecommerce sites.
 
What makes it different from other programs?
This is not domain parking. It’s site development. With SmartName Shops, your domain portfolio can easily have SEO-friendly ecommerce sites with multiple pages indexed on search engines. For example, our BabyBag.net domain went from being a single parked page to a fully developed site with 12,963 products, including customer reviews, comparison prices, several brands, and multiple stores. It is now indexed on major search engines – it’s on the first page of search engine results for the searches for “Baby Bag”.

Now think of having a your own network dozens or hundreds of ecommerce stores in your portfolio, all under a brand name you decide, all judiciously linked – not link farms -- with your own content and flair. And we know transparency is key as well. Since this is site development and not domain parking, you can even add your own Google Webmaster tool links, and Google Analytics code, so you can track the traffic and SEO progress on your own if you’d like.

What was the largest challenge that SmartName Shops solves?
Scale. Many of the sites we tested were limited in the number of products beyond certain categories. But SmartName Shops have millions of products available for domain owners to build shops in the long tail. For example, at Domain Roundtable we had one domain developer challenge us on whether his domains for “balaclavas” would have any products available on SmartName Shops. And indeed there are 333 different balaclavas available for sale, and the SmartName.com platform immediately breaks them down in the left navigation by brand, price, material and store name.
 
Is the option available now for all SmartName users?
Yes. All they have to do is contact us and we’ll turn it on in their account. The primary reason for that is it’s still relatively new and we want to make sure folks understand this is domain development and to walk them through the interfaces and answer any questions. For example, they’ll want to add their own custom content, and describe their sites for the “About Us” text, which are some of the pivotal things necessary to gain SEO benefits. And their mindset is pivotal. Domain developers know it can take anywhere from three to six months to gain SEO traction on domains, so we wouldn’t recommend turning an entire portfolio into ecommerce overnight, but certainly a portion of a portfolio should be set aside and continually optimized for SEO.
 
We realize some domain developers don’t necessarily have the time to add their own content or design their own logos. We have solutions for that as well. And we’ve found that for some domain developers, it’s a great way to get their computer-savvy son, daughter or niece or nephew involved in domain development by adding the content and analytics codes to the sites and doing some tracking.
 
How is CPA revenue calculated vs. CPC Revenue?
It’s all CPC revenue, and there’s a good reason. We tested many CPA programs and although they work on an individual domain level, the challenge is scaling to hundreds or thousands of domains and the daily revenue reporting. For example, a credit card CPA program may have a 45-day window for payment, because the company will do background credit checks, etc, and it takes a while to get paid after you’ve sent the lead. Or if a lamp is purchased on a shopping site, there is often at least a 30-day wait period in case the lamp gets returned before payment.  So to launch a scaled platform, we actively pursued a CPC model for ease of daily reporting and product selection right now.

Can domain owners promote these domains the way that they would promote a website?
Yes. Again, this is not domain parking. These are fully developed websites with custom content and attributes.
 
Will this product evolve beyond these fairly simple 5 page shopping sites?
Absolutely, in fact they already have. Keep in mind sites like BabyBag.net have almost 13,000 product pages available when they launch. The five major pages you reference are the tabs on the sites. This allows domain developers to select up to five keywords, which will become the tabs to further showcase the major products or stores. On those tabs they can add custom header and footer content all they’d like.
 
We are testing a myriad of new templates and ad placements constantly. Whenever we find winning formulas that are sustained, we get it in the hands of our SmartName customers as well.
 
 
 
 
TrafficZ has completed some changes to their 5.0 backend that makes it easier to read.  The default is not dark letters on a white screen.  Some had complained that their orange and brown design was hard to view on some monitors.  TrafficZ has also recently added automatic testing of up to four landing pages at a time when you park a domain with them. 

What's up with Sedo and Sedo Pro?  I've been seeing some apparent stats issues with Sedo this month.  I've reported it through their new support system and it seems to be fixed.  Some things about Sedo still bother me.  Sedo tries to be all things to all people.  They represent BOTH buyers and sellers in domain transactions, and they don't always fully disclose this fact.  In real-world real estate transactions in the U.S. this would be an unethical conflict-of-interest.  
 
Sedo announced in June that it is implementing changes to their parked domains network. According to Sedo:
'One of these industry-wide changes is the implementation of organic search results on parked domains. Organic searches will appear at the end of a search results page that is generated when visitors click on a related link or enter a search term. These unpaid links should improve the user experience and the relevancy of the content. Another change required of our advertising partner, is that visitor clicks on your parked domains will now open the target page in the same window.  Both of these changes will be rolled out globally and users may see variations in CTR. However, with the new Auto Layout Rotation tool improving CTR at 11% on average, this should counteract any negative effects. We are also working on several new parking features which will be rolled out in the coming months to improve your parking experience with Sedo.'
Some astute domainers have commented online that all Google based parking companies now have natural listings on parked pages. Sedo was actually the last one to actually implement it. DomainSponsor has had similar listings for over a year.
 
Yahoo's announcement that they will include Google-based ads apparently does not extent to parked domains.  Julia Mackenzie reported in June that "Word out today is that Google are happy to monetize all of the Yahoo network except parked domain names. Im not sure what this is implying or what effect this will have, but to me it all reeks of yet more evidence of  Google distancing itself from domain parking."  Check out her blog for a fresh point-of-view on the domain industry.
 
Donny Simonton of Parked apparently does expect to see some Google ads on Yahoo-based domains, but only for U.S. and Canadian traffic.  According to Donny (as quoted on NamePros)
'What is the biggest problems Yahoo has from a parking perspective? They have a limited number of countries they support. I've talked to them about this many times and Yahoo has this idea of what they should and shouldn't support. But at the end of the day Google supports basically every country in the world, Yahoo supports about 50. To me a perfect solution would have been for Yahoo to basically backfill all countries so if Yahoo didn't have support in China they would query Google and show those results. Google would get a lot more traffic, Yahoo would know what countries they need to focus on, we would only have to deal with one company, and our partners would have the best of both worlds a Yahoo and Google feed. If Yahoo did something like this their stock would be over $40 today, not at $23.  Instead we get a Google backfill only on US and CA traffic. The stock goes down and will probably continue to go down.'  (Donny Simonton on NamePros.com)
Parked is highly recommended for their Yahoo (and now Google?) monetization, and they pay twice a month.
 
Andrew Allemann of DomainNameWire reported in June that Domain Embarking's Google AdSense account was cancelled.  DomainEmbarking was designed to quickly create "made for AdSense" sites for domain name owners.  They reportedly shared 50% of their AdSense income from ads on the domains - but now they report that they will pay no money until at least September.   If you had domains at Domain Embarking you should move them elsewhere. 
 
 
 
   
Recommended Services - There were no changes in our recommendations this month.