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April 03, 2014

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The Next Big Thing in Domain Monetization?: New Companies Are  Making the Dream of Affordable Mass Development a Reality

By Ron Jackson 

Domain name portfolio owners have long dreamed of a day when it would be possible to affordably develop a large number of their names at once. That day is now here, but there are still many questions to be asked. The most important one being "will mass produced mini-sites make more money for me than the traditional solution, domain parking?"

We set out to get the answer to that and other questions about a rapidly growing new sector of the domain industry devoted to mass development. Since this category is so new (most of the companies started offering their services just months ago) there aren't many long term track records to go by yet. That being the case, we called on top executives at five of the best known companies in the space (in alphabetical order); AEIOU.com, DevHub.com, SiteGraduate.com, WannaDevelop.com and WhyPark.com and questioned them at length about the services they provide.   



Mass production has been introduced 
to website development. Could this 
be a marriage made in heaven?

As was (and still is) the case with parking companies, we think the smartest thing to do is to review what each of the mass development companies offers, then test several of the services to see how they perform for you. Keep in mind that it takes time before development will start producing new traffic for your domains. You may want to test with domains that have received little or no traffic while parked to see if mass development services can breathe life into them.

Mass website development is a new 
space but it is already getting crowded.

You will have even more options to choose from in the weeks ahead. At press time, we were aware of two more newcomers (both with ties to well-known figures in the domain industry) who are about to roll out solutions of their own. We plan to take a look at those as they develop and will likely produce a follow-up article to complement this one.

So why is everyone trying to crowd into the same phone booth all of the sudden? The primary reason is the dramatic decline in PPC (pay per click) revenue over the past year. Prior to that most were satisfied with the healthy revenue good domains earned from current parking platforms. Now they are desperate for a way to offset the PPC decline and mass development looks like it could be a viable alternative.

By having content added to your landing pages you may be able to attain higher rankings in the search engines which in turn would drive more traffic to your domains. If the content is regularly updated by your service provider (or by you) there would also be a reason for people to keep coming back to the site. That increased traffic can be monetized in a number of ways including the old standy, Google AdSense, as well as options like affiliate programs, lead generation or selling space directly to advertisers.

The problem domain owners have always faced is that full scale development can be expensive and it is extremely time consuming. For most individual entrepreneurs  it would be impossible to develop more than a handful of decent websites in the course of a year. The new mass development companies have come up with a middle option between parking and full scale development that relies on what are typically called mini-sites. These usually have a limited number of pages that can be added to as time goes on. Content is plugged in right away by the service providers and most allow you to add your own (or third party content) as well. SEO techniques are often employed too and the end result, proponents claim, is an increase in traffic and return on investment for the domain owner. 

Before we let leaders from the mass development companies make their case for moving beyond parking, we wanted to make sure the scales are balanced by having a leader from the parking industry, Parked.com President Donny Simonton, comment on the new mini-site "craze" and how he thinks it stacks up against today's PPC providers as a monetization solution.

"We keep track of every domain that goes in and out of our system and where they go if they do leave us," Simonton said. "I havenít seen a single ďbigĒ domain move to one of these mini-site/content companies as of yet.  We have seen people who have domains parked with us that donít generate any hits or revenue move their domains to some of these content/mini-site companies and then usually a few months later the domains are back with us, but now they have traffic and now they are making money. So the mini-site/content companies do help domains get traffic."

Donny Simonton
President, Parked.com

"I think one of the big advantages to the small companies like this, is they donít have to follow all of the same rules that we have with Yahoo or Google on how a page has to look and what can be on a domain.  They can add some really unique content to hopefully get placed high in the search engines, but at the end of the day, you have to make money to be able to even renew your domains and this is where most of the mini-site/content companies need the most help.  I have tried most of the mini-site/content companies and I definitely think they have a place in the business," Simonton said.

Like many other PPC companies that have evolved and innovated over the years, Parked.com allows customers to add a lot of their own customized content to their parking pages. The PPC companies have also been around for years and have strong brand recognition so you have to wonder, if the new mass development companies start taking away a significant portion of their market share, would they enter the mini-site space themselves?

"We are always looking at different ways to help our customers monetize their domains better," Simonton said. "There are some advantages to adding content and some disadvantages as well.  The two biggest advantages are that the domains could be get 

more search engine traffic because of the additional content and the domain may look more like a real site.  The biggest disadvantage is that when a site has content on it the click thru rate is about 30% less than it was without content on the page.  Coming up with a way to combine a domain parking feed and a content system would be the best of both worlds, if you could come up with a way of keeping the CTR (click through rate) high."

I asked Simonton how Parked is planning to offset the revenue decline in the PPC industry, how they will 

counter the mini-site challenge and, given the poor outlook for the general economy, what he sees as the prospects for domain monetization, regardless of platform or approach, in the year ahead.

"We have all seen that the revenue from domain parking on a domain level is down compared to this time last year," Simonton said. "The traffic is still there, the clicks are still there, but the RPC (revenue per click) is just not the same as it was before.  The lower RPC is mainly because of the economy the advertisers just arenít paying what they did last year.  We could always just focus on improving the RPC but that usually means that you have keywords that are not the most relevant for the surfers, this is why we always focus on the most relevant keywords which is why we have the highest CTR in the industry today."

Simonton added, "I think with the changes in the economy you will have less domainers at this time next year.  You will see a lot more consolidation in the domain parking, registrar, and mini-site/content companies over the next 12 months.  But the most important thing I see is that you will see a new product/company rise up with a unique twist and mash all of those individual products into one."

Now let's see what leaders in the mini-site space have to say.  Each company we are profiling has their own unique approach to solving the task of mass development. Our exclusive interviews with the individual company leaders will fill you in on who is behind each company (and their level of development experience) as well as what strategy they employ in an attempt to bring the most traffic to the sites they produce for you. 

Since most of these platforms allow you to add your own or third party content to what they provide, we also have a bonus profile about Tinbu.com, a rapidly growing provider of free auto-updating content that you can install on your own sites. 

Tinbu.com VP of Marketing Peter Hayward 
discussing the company's services during a 
networking session at T.R.A.F.F.I.C. New York.

We are devoting a separate section to each company so that you can easily go directly from this page to each one you want to learn about and do so in any order you wish. You will also find links to all of the companies at the end of each individual profile page so you can easily navigate through them one by one as you compare what the various services provide. 

There is a ton of valuable information in this report so you may want to come back to this intro page repeatedly as time allows to continue your reading and research on these new monetization solutions. Without further adieu, you can begin by clicking any of the links below to read our exclusive interviews with leaders of the innovative companies that are making mass development a mainstream option.



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