Is PPC traffic, as annoying as it is, really so profitable?
January 31, 2011 4:15 PM   Subscribe

I wanted to purchase a lapsed domain, now a PPC site, to give back to the former owner. It has a pagerank of 2. The person who snapped the domain wants $3,000 USD for the site. Is domain snapping on such a low-ranked site really that profitable?

I guess what I'm asking is if anyone has (and is willing to admit to having) experience snapping up domains and using them for pay-per-click traffic. Is there that much money to be made off such an annoying and unhelpful move?

Other details--mostly relevant to your curiosity, not what I'll do in this case: there is no trademark infringement, and the domain name is not the person's exact name but a first name and adjective--so UDRP looks to be out of the question (and if it weren't--if this were a slam-dunk case, which it isn't--for $3,000 I'd recommend UDRP over trying to buy it for the same amount, just to give the other person the finger).
posted by johnofjack to Computers & Internet (8 answers total)
Best answer: Well, look at it this way: they paid all of $7 or less for the domain. They usually spread their bets all over the place, build a huge portfolio, use PPC/search spam to get traffic, and collect at least enough revenue to cover the cost of the domain each year. Anything else is gravy, and when someone comes along and wants to buy the domain, they can set the price they'd like.

There's a more-than-decent chance they'd be willing to negotiate the price down, but these kind of people really don't have to sell just any domain they have when an offer comes in. They sell their domains and command decent prices because it's what someone else wants and they get a bit hung up on that. Meanwhile, they cover their costs with ads.

Offer them something lower, like $250, and see what they counter with.
posted by disillusioned at 4:30 PM on January 31, 2011

Response by poster: I offered $100 and that's all the more I was willing to pay for an unexpected gift I'm not making profit on.
posted by johnofjack at 4:34 PM on January 31, 2011

Response by poster: Also: really? Just $7 to snatch up a domain? Yikes ... if only there were some good way to deal with people who buy domains just as a money-making opportunity.
posted by johnofjack at 4:36 PM on January 31, 2011

There is no incentive for them to lower their price to meet your offer. As mentioned above, it's basically free for them to just squat on domains - and someone might come by after you and have the cash to waste on buying it. I have tried to negotiate before and always find the process ludicrously frustrating. They are essentially holding the domains for ransom.

Good luck.
posted by carlh at 4:44 PM on January 31, 2011 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Yeah, I see the economics of it now.

The person I wanted to give the site back to will just have to find another.

It sucks that it's so trivial--and economically viable--to fill the internet with crap.

Thanks for the answers.
posted by johnofjack at 4:45 PM on January 31, 2011 [1 favorite]

If they balk at your $100, another option is to go to somewhere like, ugh GoDaddy's Domain Alert Pro Service and pay like $18 for a year of monitoring it. The second it becomes available GoDaddy snaps it up for you.

I had a domain I purposely let expire that I wasn't using anymore. Didn't think much about it, until a friend asked what was up with the porn on my site. And this wasn't the wholesome adult entertainment from Porn Valley either. This was some nasty stuff. It amazed me that someone would buy my expired domain name as it wasn't a common term and I hadn't done anything on it to generate any traffic in 2 years (I had a blog but deleted it so going to the site literally said "[this page is intentionally blank]". So I tried to get it back so as not to associate my old domain with stuff.

I signed up for the thing with GoDaddy and a few months later got a notice that I could claim my domain. As more time has passed, renewing the domain has even less value for me so I let it lapse again. Now it is parked at GoDaddy and I can pay $70 to get it back (plus whatever the new owner wants). Of I could go to that Domain Alert Service, pay $20 and wait until it expires in November.

Either going through a domain monitoring service or doing it yourself by seeing on the whois record when it expires and manually trying to get it yourself will be cheaper, but you'll need to wait until it expires to do anything.
posted by birdherder at 5:21 PM on January 31, 2011 [1 favorite]

The technical term used for what you've run into is often called domain parking. The staking claim aspect for the purpose of resale is a part of the domain parking business that shouldn't be allowed to happen, and fortunately there are some legal options you can persue. If the domain parking is closer to the definition of cybersquatting, you might have some recourse by submitting a complaint with InterNIC. You may also want to see if the ACPA applies in the original owner's case. Either way I'm fairly sure its not an easy and swift process, so wish you the best of luck!
posted by samsara at 6:28 PM on January 31, 2011

So it does actually cost them an annual registry fee for the domain, and $100 for a domain that isn't getting any traffic is pretty decent. PR2 is nothing special although it has minor SEO value. If they won't sell it for $100, move on--not worth your time and certainly not worth your money.
posted by Elminster24 at 11:27 PM on January 31, 2011

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