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August 27, 2012

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Launch of LeaseThis.com Gives Domain Owners a New Option for Domain Monetization

Choosing the right domain names

Park it, develop it, sell it
or try something new?

By Ron Jackson

For years now the primary options for domain monetization have been to park your names and rely on pay per click (PPC revenue), develop your names and run ads from networks like Google AdSense or Yahoo Publisher (or better yet sell directly to advertisers), or to sell the domain for a profit.

Parking is the easiest route, but going down that road may mean leaving a lot of potential revenue on the table. Good development work and marketing can increase profits dramatically but development is labor intensive (or costly if you hire someone else to do the job). If you can find a buyer, selling is an easy way to cash in, but you then have to say goodbye to your asset and potential future price appreciation forever.

Leasing domains has also been an option but due to the intricacies of lease contract negotiations and the legwork required to match interested advertisers with domains related to their business, it has been an option that only a handful of domain owners have used. A new company, LeaseThis.com, seeks to change all of that and make leasing a primary monetization option that will be as simple to use as today’s popular domain parking programs

The company has already lined up national advertisers who are looking for domains to lease and is now accepting domain listings from portfolio owners to meet that demand. Company CEO Jonathan Boswell and his staff have spent most of the past year criss-crossing the country to build relationships with major ad agencies, owners of global brand names and other potential advertisers. After months of pitching the value of premium domains as an advertising platform to all of the right people, they have finally rolled out their shiny new monetization vehicle.

LeaseThis.com, co-founded by Boswell, Ammar Kubba and Kevin Vo, officially launched their site January 19th with an array of real estate domains that are available for lease now. Other categories are slated to follow soon, including shopping, finance, travel and entertainment to name just a few. LeaseThis.com says their patent pending technology that makes the Internet's premium domains available to individuals and businesses around the globe will be the bridge that connects domain owners directly with advertisers.

Jonathan Boswell
CEO, LeaseThis.com

“Domain owners will provide our inventory and we will work with them on setting appropriate lease pricing,” Boswell said. “Their domains will always be making money because we will have them on a PPC program of their choice at times when they are not being leased by an advertiser. There are a lot of variables so we can’t predict exactly how much more a specific domain might earn at LeaseThis.com, but we guarantee it will earn more than it will make on PPC alone. For some domains it may be three times more, for others it could be ten times PPC revenue or even higher.”

Domain owners will have the final say on pricing, the length of lease terms and other issues that are important to them. Currently, the minimum lease term starts at one month and can be increased in 30-day increments as far out as the domain owner wants to go. You can choose to offer lease arrangements with an option to buy or set a price to sell outright if you wish. LeaseThis.com also plans to offer brokerage services to those interested in selling to end users.

LeaseThis.com has a formula for filtering domain portfolios so they can quickly identify and feature names that will be more attractive to advertisers. The domains will be ranked so that companies looking for a name to lease can look at premium names, browse through a middle tier, or search all names in the LeaseThis.com database. 

Rob Grant

Rob Grant played a major role in getting LeaseThis.com out of the gate by being the first person to place a premium portfolio in the system. He is the President of RealEstateDirectory.com, a company that owns a massive portfolio of highly targeted real estate domains.  “I wanted to help create a new revenue channel,” Grant said. “I did not want to remain dependent on Google and Yahoo (the main providers of PPC revenue) and this looked like a very smart alternative. For a vertical portfolio like mine is is especially good because it is possible to forge a direct advertiser relationship for thousands of domains at once.”

Grant accompanied Boswell and Kubba to the National Association of Realtors convention in New Orleans in November and the trio said real estate agents who visited their booth were extremely enthused after seeing a demonstration of the company’s platform. Grant’s HollywoodRealEstate.com was one of the sample pages that immediately grabbed realtors attention and opened their eyes to how a highly targeted domain name could broaden their reach.

Screenshot from HollywoodRealEstate.com

That page is built on one of the templates that LeaseThis.com makes available to domain owners who list with them. Kubba said that advertisers love it because they get exclusivity on the page, click fraud is not an issue and the flat monthly leasing fee makes dependable budgeting a snap. You’ll note that the top half of the HollywoodRealEstate.com page features the domain name so the owner’s brand value remains intact while it is leased. The advertiser’s site is presented below the domain name. "We also add long-term value to the domain name by incorporating search engine optimization into our template pages, which we expect will build up residual traffic over time," Kubba said.

Of course, some advertisers may want to simply lease a high traffic domain and redirect that traffic to an existing site, rather than use a LeaseThis.com template, but it is up to the domain owner whether or not they want to allow redirection to a page that would not highlight their domain name.

As a start up operation, the main thing LeaseThis.com wants to do now is beef up their inventory of domain names available for lease. You can add your portfolio through the simple sign up procedure on their site. Kubba, who is already well-known in the domain business as the COO at TrafficZ.com, said you can choose the parking company to use when your domains are off lease. If you are a TrafficZ customer, he noted that you will have some added benefits and functionality, but the PPC aspect of the system is not exclusive to TrafficZ.

Grant noted that LeaseThis.com could open up a whole new avenue for domain owners that has not been available before. “For example, brandable domains that don’t make much in PPC revenue could be very attractive to some advertisers,” Grant said. “We need to break away from the past and push to the next level and unlock the value in domains.”

Kubba added that if more domains are moved to leasing that will lower the amount of PPC inventory which should push bid prices up, helping that industry in the long run as well. 

Ammar Kubba

You may think that the odds of getting many of your names leased is relatively small but Kubba doesn’t think so. “We actually have more demand than we do domain inventory,” Kubba said. “Most professionals have more domains than they will ever be able to develop, so they owe it to themselves to test this system and see for themselves how much more they can earn than they are getting through PPC.”

Boswell and Kubba both emphasized that their main goal was to keep the system very simple for advertisers and domain owners, taking the mystery and difficulty out of the domain leasing process. They plan to continue adding functionality and features to the system and say that within a year the platform will have advanced dramatically. This is just the first step, but for domain owners, it looks like a step in the right direction.


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