Update from the T.R.A.F.F.I.C. Conference in Hollywood...
Seminar topic: Are domain owners too dependent on parked pages? Will lack of transparency doom PPC as a long term solution? How do you choose which name to develop first? Is it time to partner up?
Here are a few highlights of answers given by the panel:
Ari Bayme, managing director of Modern Capital, spoke about the benefits of working with a company to park a site and get money from pay-per-click advertising.
"What I like about PPC is that it provides the closest thing to a benchmark" for revenue figures, Bayme said. And using a parking company "will give you a lot of good ideas as to what areas you want to develop on that domain."
He gave the example of Healthcare.com's owner, which assumed that it would be best served with links to pharmaceutical advertisers. But once it was with a parked company, it soon became apparent that it was more popular with advertising of healthcare jobs.
"The best thing about PPC is that it lets you know you have a relatively steady stream of income," Bayme said. "The best thing about PPC is that you can always go back to it and keep collecting your monthly checks."
He also told the audience that don't believe just because you develop a couple of domains you'll make money. Yes, it is true that a developed domain name will make more money and it will be more valuable, but it doesn't mean it will sell for a lot.
David Castello and Michael Castello of Castello Cities Internet Network have been very successful with sites like PalmSprings.com and the recently redesigned Cost.com.
"Whenever you partner with someone, it’s more than money," David Castello said. "There has to be a chemistry."
"We have a lot of opportunities because of the names that we have," Michael Castello said. "Domain owners with good quality names have the options."
"You’re navigating this new wild west," David Castello said, adding, "In a lot of ways your kind of alone out there. Networking is the way to move above any level you’ve come in at."
"The No. 1 rule I have ... what does the visitor want to see on that site? It’s pretty much what I want to see on that site," Michael Castello said. "Cost.com is a big name. It’s probably bigger than what we can handle at this point."
Michael asked the audience to consider: "Are you thinking short term or are you thinking long term? If you want to flip some names, that’s fine. In this game don’t think you have to go to the big guys to deal with this business."
Michael Gilmour, author of Whizzbangsblog.com, said the No. 1 issue for domainers is a lack of transparency in working with parking companies. The general feeling he said is: "Parking companies are paying great, great support, but gee I just don’t trust them."
The problem is largely due to the fact that numbers and worth of domain names are hard to prove, and there are no standards in measuring those values, he said.
"It’s very easy to develop a domain, Gilmour said. "It’s very hard to build out a business."
Dr. Christopher Hartnett, retired CEO and founder of USA Global Link, touched on the transparency issue and said, "eventually people will demand transparency" and that the current way parked companies do business will not last for long. And he suggested to the audience that the group at this conference come together to push for a code of conduct for domain names that is backed by an organization like the ICA (Internet Commerce Association). That would help break down the problems of being associated as a cybersquatter.
Jonathan Boswell, CEO of LeaseThis.com, touched on when to partner with someone.
"Do you do what you’re looking to develop a domain for? If you’re not, then you should partner," Boswell said. His example was if you are a real estate broker, it makes sense to develop that yourself. But if you are owner of a domain name of a topic you don't know much about, then it is good to partner with someone who is familiar with that subject.