I am beginning a series in which I ask questions of some of the most influential companies and/or individuals in the Direct Navigation industry. This will be an opportunity to learn about the people, the products, trends and inner workings. My first series of questions is with NameMedia.

I had the chance to sit with David Zakur – Director Affiliate Division, Brian Carr – SVP/GM Direct Search Services and Kirsten Frederick – Product Manager Affiliate Division.

I hope you enjoy reading the the first 5 questions and answers below. Part 2 will follow early next week.

1. Can you tell us more about NameMedia and the services it offers?
Many domain portfolio owners know NameMedia as the company that owns 900,000 domain names as well as BuyDomains.com, the Afternic marketplace and the SmartName parking service.  In addition, NameMedia also owns many of the largest and most active enthusiast community sites on the web, such as including Tarot.com, Geek.com, Photo.net, DavesGarden.com and Craftster.com.  For example, Tarot.com is the horoscope provider to AOL, MySpace, Google and a network of thousands of affiliates. In all, we  have more than 11 million registered users that post more than 1.5 million posts a month in our communities.

2. So where has NameMedia been for over a year?  You haven’t has as strong of a presence as you’ve had in the past.
Throughout 2008 we were in a government mandated “quiet period” as our IPO filing was under consideration. That is no longer a factor, so we’re pleased to be back in the public conversation. For example we had a very large presence with 12 team members at the TRAFFIC West show last month and are looking forward to other shows and announcements soon.

3. What are some of the trends that you are seeing in the PPC space – either good or bad?
There is definitely an emphasis on quality across the major PPC providers, which becomes increasingly more important each day.  I think that it was easy for some of the lower quality domains to get lumped in with the good quality domains a while back, as the tracking or segmenting systems simply weren’t there.  Simply put – if you own legitimate domain names that attract natural traffic, then you are in a great position that will only get better as the lesser quality competition simply fades away.

4. What is your take on the recent decline in RPCs across all providers and parking companies? Do you think that the economy has a lot to do with it, or are the ‘heydays’ of domain parking simply a thing of the past?
Overall, the entire industry of search engine-based advertising is getting smarter.  There are more tools for tracking quality and conversions than ever before.  Advertisers are able to target better and opt-out of certain channels – all leading to a greater efficiency in order to achieve a strong ROI.  Combine this with a weak economic climate which generates less competition, and it all points in a downward direction.
With that said, the good news is that the only place to go is UP, and almost all indicators are pointing that direction.  We have seen a slow but steady rise in RPCs, along with a steady rise in both traffic volume and CTRs.  We expect that this steady incline will follow with the macro-economic indicators, and that we should see a much stronger and positive advertising climate once we reach the holiday shopping season.
5. How does NameMedia develop its new product offerings, and bring such seasoned products to market so quickly?
NameMedia is constantly researching and innovating new monetization options for domain owners.  We also have the luxury of testing possible solutions out on our own portfolio of almost a million domain names before we release products to our affiliates.  This ensures that the solutions we offer are vetted and proven to be the most profitable and easy to use by the time they come to the market.