Here’s the 2nd part of the NameMedia Q and A that I did recently. There is actually a total of 9 Q and A, not 10, between the 2 articles. enjoy.
1. So what are the latest NameMedia features for Domainers?
We’ve been hard at work for the past year on many aspects of our SmartName, ActiveAudience, & GoldKey systems. For simplicity’s sake, we can divide these accomplishments into 3 areas – Infrastructure & Technology Upgrades, UI Enhancements, and New Features.
Infrastructure & Technology Upgrades
We’ve put a great deal of time and money into ensuring that we have the fastest, secure, and most-redundant technology available. We’ve even gone as far as upgrading to a new datacenter as our former one couldn’t meet our storage and speed requirements. Anyone who works in this field knows that this takes a great deal of time, effort, and careful planning to ensure that you create a manageable and scalable platform. We are 110% confident that we have done this to support our existing parking business, but also that it will give us the flexibility and support needed to offer the new services that we currently have under development.
Our parking systems were some of the first to market, and a lot has changed since then. We’ve spent so much time adding new features, that it was time to take a look at what gets used, what doesn’t, what can be done better, and how we can simply make the site’s design more ‘relevant’ to today’s design styles. We started by re-evaluating where the money is actually made – the landers. We released about a ½ dozen new template options to our affiliates in Q4 2008, which are all performing as well or better than before.
Based on the feedback we received from the templates, we agreed that it was time to upgrade the rest of the system’s user interface. This included organizing all the system ‘s functionality into a new, ease-to-use header with drop down lists, creating a tabbed ‘edit domains’ rather than a long scrolling sheet or options, and even an updated dashboard when you first login.
The third area of focus has been on new features. As mentioned above, we completely re-wrote the “dashboard” that a user sees upon login to the site. This now give a complete snapshot of the user’s account, without having to hunt and peck around in 5 different sections. We list out detailed stats for the past 5 days along with MTD revenue, all revenue by portfolio, the top 5 ‘gainers & losers’ WoW so that any issues are presented immediately, a ‘news’ section, and lastly all of the dedicated Account Manager’s contact information.
Beyond this, we have been focusing on diversification of revenue beyond PPC from the major providers. To this end we now offer a highly customizable, and SEO-friendly eCommerce solution which has proven to be extremely successful. The RPCs are a little lower than traditional parking, but the CTR’s are 2-3x of what we see on a parked page. This more than makes up for the decreased RPC, and has really allowed our customers to put a little effort into a site and reap recurring rewards. These sites were designed aroud SEO rankings, and consistently show up in Yahoo and Google’s search results .
We’ve also expanded our relationships with traditional PPC providers, which allow us to test between them and provide the highest RPC for each domain. This also breaks us away from the mercy of one feed provider’s decision to allow a domain to be monetized or not. If one provider doesn’t want the domain, we have others who do.
2. Can you tell us more about the iPhone application that you announced at TRAFFIC West, and why you chose to develop it?
We chose to develop an iPhone app to allow our domain owners to access their account dashboard from anywhere, at anytime. Looking around the conferences (or conference rooms) at the amount of people with a mobile device that has taken the place of their laptop, it occurred to us that access to this information at all times is critical.
The app simply emulates the dashboard that a user sees upon login – the last 5 days of data, MTD revenue, portfolio stats, top 5 ‘gainers and losers’, any news that we are pushing to our customer base, and lastly their Account Manager’s contact information should they have any questions.
We are currently developing a more robust app, leveraging the push notification of the new 3.0 version of the iPhone software, which is expected to be released this month. You can download the app through the iTunes store for free by searching for ‘NameMedia’ or clicking here.
3. What do you think is the direction or ‘next big thing’ in domain monetization?
There are really two areas where we think a shift and/or opportunity will occur – Mobile and Content – and we are hard at work on both. As mentioned earlier, we research and test all our new offerings on our own portfolio first, so that we know that what we offer to our affiliates will generate them increased or incremental revenue.
With respect to mobile – the shift to portable computing devices as a primary way to access the internet is snowballing. Game changers like the iPhone, the new Blackberries and Google-based Android devices are giving users USABLE screen sizes and speeds all the time. We need to be targeting our templates, site offerings, and more to this rapidly changing market. Expect to see more and more from us in this area before the years’ end.
As for Content – anyone can monetize a great domain name, especially with time and resources to build out a domain. The real trick is developing a scalable solution that can be applied to hundred, thousands, or more low-traffic domains which comprise the ‘tail’ of everyone’s portfolio. We learned a lot during the development of our ecommerce solution about getting domains to go from zero visits to a ranked site that earns recurring revenue with basic maintenance each month and are hard at work developing a solution for our affiliates soon.
4. What is your opinion of mini site types?
As mentioned above, we’ve tested and researched almost all of these companies, with many tests still ongoing, as more than $30M worth of our domain inventory is in various stages of development right now.
So here’s a tip: When you see one of these mini-site companies asking for your traffic, paste one of their example “success story sites” onto an independent site that scores domain names for SEO prowess, suh as WebSiteGrader.com. Many that we looked at actually produced some sites with a lower SEO grade than some of our parked pages, so there is negative value on these sites if you’re looking for long-term growth. Amazingly some actually require you to pay them for the effort of making your domain portfolio SEO worth less than a parked page.
At NameMedia we’ve always tested and put our own sites and revenue at risk first, with ongoing testing and development with more than a dozen development providers during the past 15 months. As a result, we’ll be launching some exciting options for domain portfolio owners soon – and as always, domain owners will know they have access to the same tools and best practices and learnings that we’re using to publish our own sites.