Scott Day has become a pretty good friend of mine.. He's a legend of the domain industry. Back when I was knee-high to a pile of dirt, the nascent domain industry abounded with rumors of "the Watermelon Farmer"
A quiet individual who had managed to cobble together one of the most prolific portfolio's of domain names ever, all while farming watermelon in Oklahoma. No small feat in the days before publicized drop times, domain forums, Yun Ye and genetically modified fertilizer ;).
Recipes.com, Webhosting.com, GrandCayman.com .. If the value of Internet based businesses were judged on the reach, resonance and drawing power of their domain names alone (as many value domain investors believe they should be), Scott's portfolio would be a billion dollar enterprise. The man is a Marine, a decent human being... and his portfolio of names is pure Gold.
Well, catching up with Scott at the last TRAFFIC conference reminded me to check out some of his less known, less traveled sites and let me tell you folks.. Scott is showing us all that the future of parked pages are virtually indiscernible from fully developed websites.
Make no mistake .. These are real websites.. no better or worse than the BizRates and Shopzilla's of the world.. Many pages deep with Yahoo Shopping content.. The pay rates on sites such as these 'far and away' eclipse standard PPC revenues which constitute today's benchmark for "multiples of traffic sales revenues" that underwrite deals. A scalable template system with genuine content .. and which can be arbitraged to.
These sites are the genuine article. Scott can market these sites by purchasing related keyword visits from third party publishers and keyword marketplaces, offsetting the cost he pays on that traffic against the revenue he can generate by selling products and services.. and other higher paying advertising.
The decision of when, whether or how much to market the site rests entirely in the domain registrant's hands.. They can turn the marketing machine on or off and decide how much more they want to make, when and why.. spending accordingly.
Compare this dynamic to a large portal site without type-in traffic that has to buy traffic in order to survive.. For domainers, arbitrage is a luxury .. for the traditional shopping portals you've heard of, it's do or die. Which would you rather invest in?
All type-in-traffic domainers enjoy the same tactical advantage.
I see these sites and I really see the future of parking. An indiscernible line. Imagine millions of different sites such as these.. each driving real value and a fairly significant measure of return visitors.
Want to know what the Internet will look like in 5 years? Look at these sites and then imagine that every parking page you stumble across is set up something like this.
These sites make money.. Domain owners will create implementations like these because they make money. They make money, because visitors are pleased by the content they see there and click through. It's a magical symbiotic equilibrium that makes everyone happy. Well everyone except Google.
How do you rank algorithmic search results when domainers with "money making sites" and deep marketing pockets can afford to build better, more user friendly websites than Web2 startups with 50 staff? How do you create an SE algo to block sites that actually give people what they want, without harming your search engine?
At what point does Google turn over their power to another content website and is advertising content?.. Wikipedia has a page for everything I Google. Lately I've been starting about half my searches directly at Wikipedia (bypassing Google) .. I know Wikipedia has the content I'm looking for. Now Wikipedia's founder is talking about starting a search engine. That's what you call a paradigm shift.. An early adopter like me leaving Google.. some of the time. A new search engine created by the folks drawing me away. If Google removes wiki results out of professional jealousy, it weakens Google's Search offering.
Quality domains with related adver-content like Scott's act in a similar way. The reason I like keyword domains with high search counts is that it shows that people actively seek out that phrase.. A search engine can try to steer people away because it doesn't like adver-content, but thanks to type-in-traffic some people will still find you.. Build sites like Scott's which are so satisfying they build return visits and further reinforce the 'type-in' behavior.
Scott has always led the way with ground-breaking parked domain innovations. Years ago he was one of the first to put relevant pictures on his landers.. now that's a minimum standard. Today he's built a scalable templatable system of turnkey shopping sites to overlay on his killer names, (names which garner type-in traffic of their own from outside the Google/Yahoo algorithmic search traffic framework) .. What happens if everybody does this? These sites make more money than traditional parked pages, so you can bet every domain registrant will be doing this in 5 years time..
If you own a domain name, the Internet is coming "your way". If you own a good one, You are going to make much more money than you do today .. give it about 5 spins around the Sun.
Search is an ongoing puzzle that requires ever greater resources to organize information while keeping competitors at bay.. If I was Google/Yahoo I'd be buying a small tranche of every meaningful domain name and content site on the web.. or I'd buy part of those doing the aggregating (Demand Media/ Marchex) It wouldn't be that expensive, and would secure their position at the center of the web for decades to come.