The domain business is still about parking. That is still where the money is made and if you haven’t realized this yet, then you are getting something wrong. In many ways a large part of the aftermarket is held up by the parking business as parking earnings are reinvested etc.
In many ways, parking hasn’t really evolved over the last 5 years too much. It’s still quite similar. Parking companies are an entity that acquire an ad feed and are a mediator between domainers and the upstream ad providers such as Google and Yahoo. They ad a little twist with optimization etc but that’s it. Nothing fundamentally has changed over the last 5 years.
What is starting to happen and will continue is a margin squeeze for parking companies, it’s not really an envious spot to be in to be honest. A significant catalyst to that are services like Above.com (great service btw, really recommend it). Plain and simple, they send your traffic to wherever it pays best in an automated fashion. Hence parking is really becoming just a commodity because domainers are going to send their traffic simply where their traffic pays best. This should force parking companies to inovate more but also will force them to cut their margins. At least some good news to domainers!
This is really happening now and will grow even more so in the future (that is if evil Google doesn’t force the ban of redirects). DomainSponsor is now receiving more than 10% of it’s publisher traffic via Above. For namedrive I estimate it’s likely to be more like 20%. That’s a lot of revenue.
Parking companies should quickly realize that they have to start inovating more to be able to get more traffic from domainers. They should look into alternative forms of monetization like zero-click, lead generation, CPA. Or their margins will be squeezed further and eventually the middlemen could be cut out entirely.
As parking is more commoditized it looks obvious that the parking companies that built up/acquired their own portfolios have a decent hedge against this. Owning the traffic is vital. From this point of view the smart parking companies have been Oversee, HitFarm, Parked, NameMedia – they all have very sizeable portfolios of their own. Sedo has something as well of it’s own, not huge though. But for example Namedrive and Trafficz (not completely sure about Skenzo) have very limited portfolios and hence the margin squeeze could effect them much more than the others.
The second thing that will be vital in the future is owning the advertiser relationships if you don’t want to be squeezed. Parking companies should start going more direct to advertisers, it is a necessity for the future. Because in the end we are pretty much reliant on Google. Google can squeeze all of us.