How CheckingAccount.com Achieved a 300% Revenue Lift – With Sean Sullivan

A parked landing page oftentimes doesn’t provide enough information to encourage users to click through on an advertisement. Instead, visitors back out and “bounce” off the site.

Enter Sean Sullivan, co-founder of BankAds.com, which develops full websites for one specific niche – banking and credit card domain names. With original content and a better user experience, the websites his company develops drive higher clickthroughs and create stronger relationships with advertisers. One example is CheckingAccount.com, which increased its revenue three-fold.

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About Sean Sullivan

Sean Sullivan, BankAds.comSean Sullivan is co-founder of BankAds.com, a managed monetization solution for banking and credit card domain names, and is co-founder of GoldBullion.com.

Sullivan has worked in web development and Internet advertising since 2001. Prior to that, he worked at an ad agency in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, where he currently resides.

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David E. Weslow, Attorney at Law provides legal representation for clients ranging from individuals to Fortune 500 companies in relation to domain name transactions and disputes, trademark and copyright claims, and web hosting and content liability issues. A former software and web developer, he regularly assists clients with cutting-edge issues involving law and technology.

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Here’s your program.

Michael Cyger: Hey everyone, my name is Michael Cyger. I’m the publisher of DomainSherpa.com, the website where you come to learn how to become a successful domain name entrepreneur directly from the experts. Then when you have a success to share you can come on the show and give back as today’s guest is going to do. Today’s question that we are going to answer is this: How do you grow a single website into a platform and create a scalable business model in a lucrative niche? Joining us to answer this question is Sean Sullivan. Sean is the co-founder of BankAds at bankads.com, a managed monetization solution for one specific niche of domain names. During the course of this show, we’re also going to learn about a couple of Sean’s other projects, including a gossip network and a ton of gold bullion. We will learn more about that. Sean welcome to the show.

Sean Sullivan: Thank you for inviting me on the show Michael.

Michael: So Sean, BankAds focuses on one specific area. Let’s start with the platform. What is BankAds at a high level?

Sean: BankAds is essentially a monetization solution for individuals who own a specific type of domain. And those domains are banking domains, specifically names that would from somewhere to checkingaccounts.com, bankaccount.com, names like that. That is what is considered on the deposit side of the banking industry. So we have a solution for that and we also have a great solution for credit cards as well. So any domain that’s related to credit cards we have a good solution for that as well.

Michael: Now when somebody says monetization platform to me, or monetization solution, immediately in my mind I think parking. Like I’m just going to park it and you are going to show ads. Is that what it is?

Sean: No what we do…The way that this came about my partner and I, my business partner and I needed a solution for our own purposes. And this really came as a result of there not being something we could use and developing it for our own internal purposes and then kind of taking a step back and saying the marketplace could use this as well. So essentially it isn’t a parking solution because parking solutions typically you switch over your DNS and 400 sites, or 1,000 sites, are up in minutes. We are a managed solution so essentially say that you owned a lot of different banking and credit card domains, you would send us your information regarding your portfolios and some of the statistics regarding traffic and different things. And then we take all that data and then essential look at it by individual bases and say alright where should we start? What is the best way to monetize these names in particular? And that is essentially what we do. If you have specific names that…Say you owned gascreditcards.com. We have a solution or a landing if you will specifically for credit cards but only serve up ads pertaining to credit cards that are offering rewards and points. You know that go when you are filling up at the pump with gas. So specific types of credit cards because the more granular you get with the creative design the higher the click through rate, you know the higher the conversion rate.

Michael: So it is a custom developed to either landing pages or micro sites or full websites?

Sean: It’s really a full website. It is a WordPress site. We are a private network. But it is built off of WordPress so they are actually WordPress sites. They actually feature really everything a traditional website should be. The guidelines that you are supposed to operate by as far as terms of service, privacy policy, site map, the contact forms (we actually have a contact form that allows the domain owner to be contacted directly) or have that information if someone is interested in the domain to then pass off to a broker if they are using a broker specifically. And then within the site we also have within the contact form, and it is very clear and easy to understand, a specific contact form if someone has questions about the advertising that is on the site and things like that. So we are keeping those two channels of communication completely separate. The domain owner isn’t going to get emails or questions pertaining to a particular bank’s ad that is on the site or questions about banking or anything like that. Our solution is going to only channel the questions and emails that are pertaining to the domain for an acquisition or a lease or something.

Michael: Got it. So it’s full development to try and maximize revenue on banking and credit card related domain names.

Sean: Correct.

Michael: So why did you banking and credit card, that niche to focus on?

Sean: Over the last 18 months we have been investing heavily in that area. It is obviously a down period right now for the banking industry. And that market is not doing well. And that is another reason that we decided to really bring this to market was because the monetization solutions that exist now don’t necessarily return great rewards for that traffic. And it is still great traffic, it is out there and available for these banks but that is one of the reasons that we developed it. We are really putting great monetization, solution, or revenue stream I should say, and to all the designs.

We have a lot of designs and variations. We do a lot of split testing to figure out what works exactly for what domain. If you own a specific niche domain, and credit cards is a great example, because there are a lot of different card offers out there, but we can actually break out designs that are specifically for travel rewards credit cards for instance. So we have all these different designs and the feedback that we have gotten from our advertising partners is basically dictated that the more refined you get the more that you are making that experience like a custom experience for that particular visitor the better the offer is. Not just for the domain owner because of the conversions but also for that advertiser. And that is really key because if it is not backing out for the advertiser and they are not seeing an ROI they will just end up not spending the advertising dollars on a parked domain or something like that. They will opt out of it. So by keeping the experience as great as possible and really targeting it for that particular visitor to the website we are seeing a much greater success.

Michael: And what kind of success have you seen using your BankAds platform to date? Why is this platform significant in your opinion?

Sean: So again it really isn’t the managed solution. There is nothing that is required from the domain owner. Once they switch over DNS or MX records we then essentially take over. There is no real way for them to go in and manipulate the site or anything like that. And one of the reasons for that is it is a quality control issue. And we can make sure that everything that is on the site is within compliance or different guidelines that are established for banks or credit cards. That is one of the reasons.

But we are essentially taking a lot of different revenue streams and implementing it into the design. And the other thing that is really significant and different is that these are really fully featured sites. And you could, the base site…So if you utilized our service and you want checkingaccount.com and you came to us said well let’s use your solution, BankAds, for this name, we take that name and build it out. You have your base site which I believe is six or seven pages and maybe a little bit beyond that once you are counting Terms of Service and Privacy Policy and all that but you have your base site, you could then continue on to add articles, content. There is a lot of different things and we help manage that because one of the key components of this and I’m sure we will talk about it in a minute is that our revenue model is…we are getting a higher percent of revenue share than most companies with some sort of solution for domains. And the reason that we are doing that is because we are looking at it very long term. And we really feel confident that we have built the best solution possible for these particular types of names.

Michael: Alright so if somebody is listening to this show and they own some banking or credit card names and they are not sure they want to commit to watching an hour of me talking to you about this what is going to convince them, let’s show them the money. What kind of money might they expect by using your development monetization platform for their banking and credit card ads. Why would they even consider using your platform besides the reasons that you have mentioned? Why would they even consider it over you know a parking company that they are currently at?

Sean: Right well aside from…there are a couple components that I think are important. So there is the revenue part and we are pretty confident that they would earn more with our solution. But the other part of it is that the development side of it we are putting best practices into everything. So not just from best practices as far as guidelines established like Google or whoever but best practices from the actual advertiser which the companies that we are partnering with and are placing their ads on the site, they are getting feedback from banks and credit card companies and one of the advantages that I really feel strongly about if you had a portfolio with ten names and they are all great keyword match names in banking and credit cards and you brought them to us.

So the first part of it is that we are confident in believing that you are going to earn more money with us but the other part is that you are going to be growing the value of that portfolio. They go from being parked pages to real sites. And because we are so careful and so strict about best practices in making sure that we are in compliance with all regulations there isn’t a concern about a bank coming in and saying we wouldn’t want to acquire that portfolio because it already had all that stuff all over it.

Michael: I completely get that. That you are adding value to the domain and as a domain investor who maybe owns some of these domains clearly that is an important aspect that they will want to consider rather than just parking it and it is sitting dormant basically. But how much more revenue have you seen using your platform for your own domain names let’s say? And I know that results might not be indicative of future performance and all that sort of stuff. How much have you seen an increase in the domain names that you and your partner own from switching from parking to your monetization platform?

Sean: So I’ll give you those specific details. One other thing that I would say is that if someone was wondering ‘why would I want to use this solution’. I know not all parking companies or solution providers necessarily own domains. Some companies look at it as a conflict potentially. We are so heavily invested in this that we have to find the best solution possible and so we have gone to great lengths and done a lot of research and development to really refine things and lock things down and try to extract as much value as possible. So that would be one major difference. We have scan games so to speak so we are heavily, heavily invested in the banking sector. I mean banking on the deposit side and credit cards. We are so invested in this ourselves that that kind of sets us apart. What we use internally to monetize and extract value out of these domains that we own and we spent all this money on is the exact same solution that we are going to provide you with.

So with regard to revenue increase I can tell you that with…that we acquired checkingaccount.com and it is a significant domain and it was an expensive acquisition. But we were expecting more type in traffic. We were really disappointed with the amount of type in traffic that we got with those. We thought we were going to get more. But roughly it was about ten type ins a day at best, really. And parts with no SEO components or anything like that maybe made $15 – $20 a month. And for a name like that that is (Inaudible 00:13:21). With our solution or essentially the site that exists now in checkingaccount.com, which is very, very similar to all the different solutions that we have working at BankAds we went from the numbers that I went over before to something around $90 to $120 CPM or ECPM. And we have seen spikes that are way above that. When we reach the first page of Google and it bounces back and forth which I can’t count, when we are getting significant traffic the ECPM can spike up even higher.

And one of the things that we have discovered is that the content side of it is really important and if you are writing an article about a particular type of credit card or a cd that a bank is offering and you end up getting organic ranking for that keyword term it is important that you have the monetization solution in place. You know the ads in place that really correspond with that. That is imperative. And that is one of the things that is frustrating about traditional solutions is that you have no control over the ad and that is more important. So with this we have a lot more control but it leads to increased conversions over other traditional development tools.

Michael: Sean what might a domain owner expect…Actually let me ask you this: On checkingaccount.com you used to park it with a parking monetization platform and then you built your own platform and you actually built out the website and you are monetizing it through a few different ways that we will find out during this show, what kind of lift did you see in revenue from moving from parking to the developed monetization platform that you are now offering?

Sean: The domain doesn’t get a significant amount of type in traffic so it wasn’t that much. We had an ECPM of $20 to maybe $30 a month parked as far as earnings. And then once we developed the site and implemented full site design essentially, exactly the same thing pretty much as would anyone experience with BankAds and our solution. The percentages aren’t going to translate out the exact same for everyone. There are other components, but we saw like a 300% lift. There is just a big difference because when something goes…checkingaccount.com parked is a parked landing page and how optimized it is as far as images and things like that that is one thing but click through rate is just going to be pretty low the majority of the time and with the solution that we have legitimately it is a website with information and it looks like a useful site and so that immediate gut reaction that a lot of people have to alright let me back out of this because this isn’t what I am looking for. We don’t have that, we have a much lower bounce rate essentially.

Michael: Fantastic. So your ECPM went up multiple fold in order to drive that lift. Fantastic. So let me ask you a few questions about your personal portfolio Sean because I think a lot of domain investors come on the show and they want to learn the lessons learned that you have to offer. But they also want to know a little bit more about you and what your investments are. How many domain names do you personally own right now? Not the business that you have with BankAds, so any domains you may have contributed to those. Do you have a set of domain names that you personally own?

Sean: I do. I think the last time I did like an inventory was around 400 to 500 names. Something like that, at least 450.

Michael: How do they shake out by TLD? Do you like to focus on the .coms only? Do you like to go for some of the ccTLDs like .me or .CO?

Sean: I do own some .COs, we do have some pretty good .COs. And we are actually bringing those into the BankAds platform. Or I own rather some really good .COs. I’m bringing them into our platform. Obviously I prefer .coms. It’s the most ideal domain to own. But we also own .net, or I own .nets and .orgs and .us domains, some .mes and I think the .me domains are great with respect to creating using the name in conjunction with kind of like a hook. You know where it is call.me. I don’t know who owns that but whatever. It’s working the .me into the domain name to make it a call to action or it’s part of the brand name.

Michael: It’s like a thousand.me with their whole cards online, about.me/MichaelCyger. And it tells everything right there in URL. So I’d like to find out what domain name guests on the show value most in their portfolio Sean. If you had to give away all your domain names except for three, which three would you keep and why?

Sean: When have you asked other people this?

Michael: I ask everybody this question.

Sean: That is a good one. The way that I have to look at this is I have a partner in BankAds and some of the domains that were invested in together, so I have to include those. Checkingaccount.com is arguably our favorite and most important name. It is a really important name for the banking industry. We own an llc.net. Then definitely goldbullion.com and actually goldbullion.com should go before llc.net for sure. But we really like that name a lot and that is something else that we have developed. Was it three or five?

Michael: Three. So we are actually going to talk about goldbullion.com, we are going to talk about checkingaccount.com. We are not going to talk about llc.net just because of time. Is that a developed site right now or is that just a URL or a domain?

Sean: It is a developed site. Just real quickly we did a white label affiliate. There is no real affiliate solution in the incorporation space so we had to create it for ourselves. So we have a back end provider that handles all the registration and all the (Inaudible 00:20:30). So it is a developed site.

Michael: So I also like to find out what entrepreneurs and investors were doing just before their current work. What were you doing just prior to starting this BankAds venture?

Sean: Prior to this up until August I worked at Domain Holdings. And I worked there as the director for premium development. And I also was involved with helping build the platform that they have there as well. Prior to that I was a consultant for about (audio skip 00:21:14) years. I had a very nice relaxed schedule as a consultant. And then prior to that I actually helped my Father with his business for a couple of years because he had a large business and had no online web presence and he really needed help. So I helped him with his business for a little while and prior to that I worked in advertising. Right out of college I worked in advertising for almost eight years, seven and a half – eight years. Shot commercials for local small businesses all the way up to Fortune 500 companies – Disney, I was involved in projects shooting commercials for Magic Kingdom and all that.

Michael: Are you doing consulting anymore? I know that, you didn’t mention it, but your consulting company was named here ONEdevelopment. Are you doing consulting anymore on the side if somebody came to you and said they needed help with something?

Sean: I was. So after DH I had to do consulting. I mean I took on a couple consulting clients and I am working with them currently as these projects are going on. That is great it is just there is so much going on here I just can’t dedicate anymore time to outside projects. So I recently updated T1D with information that says I am no longer available for consulting and I am happy to recommend people.

Michael: Just for the transcribers that was T as in Tom, the number 1, and D as in development .com. Your website. And it is a shame you know we met at the Traffic Conference just a couple of months ago, is that right? Or did we meet at Domainfest?

Sean: Traffic in October.

Michael: Traffic in October, yes. And we sat down and we had some drinks and you gave me some fantastic advice and I appreciated that. I’m not going to go into it on the show but it was great advice. So your current venture BankAds.com you have mentioned that you have a partner on this company. Who is your partner?

Sean: My partner is Brian Styles. And he was the founder of Script Logic which was a software solution company and he developed virtualization software that allows network administrators to gain access to computers remotely. And I believe this was 2000 when he started it. And he sold it in 2007.

Michael: And who did he sell to?

Sean: Quest which is a large software company.

Michael: Is it public how much he sold that company for?

Sean: It is, yes. It is public data.

Michael: Do you know offhand?

Sean: I do, he sold the company for $90,000,000.

Michael: Wow, $90,000,000. So how did you and Brian get to know each other such that you partnered on this new business of yours?

Sean: We are friends and we met through other friends and that was going years back. So we met through friends and before I started working at Domain Holdings I was doing consulting and I was also developing out names like Acquire Domains, filled them out. One thing I didn’t mention, I built up a network of tax legion sites for tax debt and a couple of other verticals. I sold those off and was involved with a directory business and sold off my interest in that. So I think that he saw that I was having success with this stuff really then a very part time basis and he saw that as far as the ROI that is was getting, so he became interested in the domain industry. And we started looking at what was out there. And decided to start investing in domain names, generic keyword match domain names and together to develop out and that was how our thing started. Now as a result of us really attacking the banking side of the business and the credit card side BankAds is now the result of that.

Michael: So let’s dig into BankAds, your monetization platform that develops out banking and credit card domain names. So you mentioned that you owned checkingaccount.com. It is sort of the gem in the portfolio. What other domains do you own that are related to banking and credit cards that you have developed out with your own platform?

Sean: We own bank-account.com, moneymarketaccount.net, bankratings.net and in the credit card space we have a lot of long tail keyword match .com domain names in the credit card space. We like the, they are long tail names but the conversion levels can be much higher and that is one of the things that works well about our platforms. The home page or the landing page, again these are fully developed out sites, but the landing page or the index page of the site is targeted towards that particular visitor. So we own I think we own creditcardsforbadcredit.com. You know names like those.

Michael: Clearly things that people are typing into Google or are searching for and hopefully you are going to, they may not necessarily type it directly in the .com in the address bar (or they may) but you are building out a website for a long tail keyword phrase that is likely going to convert because these people have bad credit and you have the keyword rich domain name and you built out a full website so it likely will climb up the Google and Bing organic search results.

Sean: Exactly.

Michael: Cool.

Sean: Another one was depositaccounts.net is another one of them and depositaccounts.org. We have just a lot. In total I think we have, the company BankAds owns somewhere approximately 300 or 400 banking related domains that are all keyword match.

Michael: Great. So you have got .coms, you have got .nets, you mentioned .orgs, I don’t know if you said any.

Sean: Depositaccounts.org is one that we have.

Michael: And then do you have some other ccTLDs as part of the BankAds portfolio as well?

Sean: We do. We have some .COs and we have been actually picking up quite a few of them. And I think that is pretty much it.

Michael: Alright, I’m going to come back and ask you what you think about using .COs as generic keyword domain names and how they are ranking compared to some of the others. But I want to hold that for the SEO part of the discussion. So how long did it take you to build the current version of this platform that you are using on your domain names in your own portfolio?

Sean: We started to kind of flush out, and again we have been doing a lot of research and development and really a lot of research because again this is a solution that really came about because we needed something specifically for our portfolio. So in terms of like total time it’s been five months or something like that in terms of doing all the analysis. But with regard to physically building the solution and our network it’s two months, maybe a little bit slightly more than two months. Essentially two months.

Michael: And clearly a professional lifetime of experience that you have spent developing domain names and producing content and your partner was developing technology and things like that. I have got a question about you and your partner. I think a lot of people look at a situation like this Sean and they say I’ve got some good domain names but I don’t know anything about development and some people have approached me about buying it and I don’t want to sell it but I don’t know how to develop it. Let me ask you a quick question about how you and your partner Brian contribute to the business. Do you both have the same sort of financial input? If you both say you are going to buy 400 domain names that are banking and finance, do you both put 50% of the money in and both contribute 50% of all the hours that go to building out the platform? How does that work?

Sean: I think that I don’t know if I can get into the specifics and details. We both interviewed our own money into the organization. And Brian has other ventures that he is involved with that take up a lot of his time as well. My primary objective in what I am doing on a day to day basis is managing the technology side of the company and managing BankAds and to a certain extent I am developing one other thing that we will start off later. But I think a partnership, I understand the question that you are asking is how do you structure a partnership in terms of who is contributing what. One person is contributing the expertise and one person is contributing finance or how do you figure that out? I think it is new for every situation and someone has to say if one person is literally just putting in the financial resources and the other person is doing all the work and the other person just wants the check you can figure out well you are going to get this in terms of equity or you are going to get this in terms of revenue share off of the net that is thrown off each month, it really depends. I don’t think that they is necessarily a structure. Brian and I have a neat people partnership but it is not necessarily that would be the case for every individual.

Michael: Sure but I was just asking about your and Brian’s partnership. So you both have contributed equity to the business and you both contribute time. But it sounds like you contribute more time to running BankAds than he does. So does that mean that Brian contributed more money for buying the domain names and you are contributing more of your time for managing the development to produce the revenue?

Sean: Brian definitely contributed more money to this venture because I have natural accompaniment, I mean I have had minor exits, you know sell the domain names or like a network of domain names or something like that. But Brian has contributed more capital. But his contributions he is not necessarily on the phone with all the different…I mean he is contributing a lot in terms of the vision of the product and we work together on these things. So I am definitely involved with more of the day to day side of it and I am certainly leveraging Brian’s expertise and experience and success as much as possible because he is really a great product inventor (I’m not using the right word) but he is really good at product and understanding markets and figuring out how you are going to attack a marketplace effectively with a product.

And his success with Script Logic is really impressive. What has happened as a result for us at BankAds is really somewhat what happened with Script Logic for him because the core product that he went with Script Logic with literally he built something that he needed because he has another company that was doing admin work for different companies and you couldn’t necessarily be onsite to do the work. So his core product for Script Logic came as a result of him needing something and very much like BankAds is now, a result of us needing a solution for our own financial domains.

Michael: It makes perfect sense. Alright so let me dig into building out the site. You use a platform to build out the sites using WordPress I think you said.

Sean: Yes.

Michael: So you are using WordPress to build out each individual domain name into its own full website so that when search engines look at it they don’t see it is just a parked page with a million other domain names on the same IP address. If it is actually a unique website, it has all of the things that search engines look for when they are trying to determine if it is a real website or not. So you are just using a regular WordPress to install. And you are using a custom theme I take it?

Sean: Yes all of our themes are custom. We haven’t worked off any established themes or even the back end structure of it is all customized.

Michael: Where do you host your websites, if I may ask?

Sean: Right now BankAds is hosted with a company called iWeb and we are very happy with them. And we are looking at some other companies as well because we have a lot of other properties that need independent hosting. With regard to hosting and different companies that we have used we are happy with iWeb. There is a company that you have mentioned we are considering using. And then one that we just signed up with that we are very excited about, and this ties into Celeb Gossip, which is something I want to get into later, but we are using WordPress VIP which we have been really, really impressed so far. And it is just really on in this relationship with them but WordPress and Automatic, is the name of the company. They are obviously the authority on WordPress so it made sense for us. It is not necessarily inexpensive a solution, it is pretty expensive but we feel that it is really worth it.

Michael: In what you just referenced we talked prior to the show in our preshow discussion about hosting and I had mentioned that DomainSherpa is hosted on a platform called ZippyKid.com which was bought out by Rackspace. So now ZippyKid is the WordPress expert platform for rolling out WordPress powered websites onto the Rackspace’s cloud with Rackspace being the largest managed hosting services in the world. And I have been delighted with them. Actually, when I bought back my previous company, iSixSigma.com, I migrated hundreds of thousands of pages from Joomla to WordPress and then gave it to ZippyKid to get up and running and I have to say they have been flawless. In January we have 280,000 readers in the month. And so when you are looking at development platforms like you do and like you know, Sean, you want something that can scale up, that can handle large influxes and that can grow with you. And it is much different than just parking it where you are serving a single optimized page that only show ads that come in via JavaScript through a third party network like Google AdSense. And so this is completely unsolicited. ZippyKid does not pay me to mention that. I think ZippyKid is doing a fantastic job and I’m not getting anything out of it but I will recommend them for anybody that is looking for WordPress hosting.

Sean: One thing that I wanted to say regardless if somebody is running a WordPress site they absolutely should try to find a host whether it is ZippyKid or whatever that really specializes in that type of hosting because WordPress is a great, great platform. But it certainly not something that is just a cake walk to have really managed unique – Someone that is an authority on it. So I think that that is really the way to go.

Michael: Yes, definitely. So you build the website, you have your WordPress hosting, how do you get the site ranked Sean?

Sean: So within each site, and again this ties into the fact that we are a managed solution in that you bring your names to us and we do research to determine the best course of action. We can rapidly deploy all these sites and it doesn’t take us a day to build each site or anything like that. And we do it on a pretty quick scale. But it is not like flipping DNS over and they are parked immediately. But essentially we do research and analysis to determine based on the domain name and a lot of other variables, what pages need to be set up correctly as far as titles and keywords and all the SEO components. You know we are looking at things closely to determine the best course of action.

And another part of it that advertising advisory also which you have a domain name that is viewer matched or it ties into an area that doesn’t convert. You know that particular keyword term doesn’t do very well but this keyword term does do well and your domain can SEO for that keyword term as well. We really look at things at a really granular level to determine the best way that we can efficiently build these sites out.

Michael: So if I come to you with a domain name like credit cards or undergraduates.com you would look at that. You would go on the Google Ad Words Keywords Tool and you would say hey it doesn’t get any volume and it is not worth anything because everybody knows that unless you have a parent co-signing, they are not probably going to make a lot of money off them. Or it may not be the case, I don’t know. But basically you do the analyzation of the domain names to find out if that is a keyword phrase that has a high value or not and if it is one that maybe has ancillary keyword phrases that are tied to it, you might say we can develop it out and we are going to build pages specific for these for undergraduates, for high school kids, for people out of work, you analyze and you figure out what pages you want per website per domain. Is that basically what you do to add value?

Sean: That is. And it’s no different than if you went to an SEO company and you said I have this domain what is the best way for me to develop it out? Hopefully they would do research and analysis that they need to properly do that. We take that exact same approach with this. Because we specialize in banking and credit cards we have a lot of the data that we need already and research and analysis has already been done so we can do this on a very quick scale. But that is the result of us owning so many domains in this space between banking and credit cards.

Michael: That makes sense. So let’s say I am a domain owner, I own creditcards.com and I wish…that would probably be one of the primo domain names.

Sean: It’s like having an ATM on your front lawn.

Michael: So the person who owns creditcards.com if they came to you and said I’ve got this domain name what would be your first step if they were interested in potentially working with you? What would you do in order to convince them to come to you?

Sean: First I would run through the streets with joy and be really, really happy that they are bringing creditcards.com to us, that would be great. The first step really, it is so unrealistic the expectation, but that one is so broad that is literally, we wouldn’t know exactly what to do in terms of how to set up the site. We know we have a lot of data that tells us which keyword terms convert higher, not just for the domain owner but for the credit card company. In order for this to be a long term solution that will work well because the credit card companies, really the companies that are managing their ads they are analyzing everything. They are looking at the keyword terms, they are determining what their ROI is on their ads wherever it is – If it is digital, or if it is a parking solution, or if it is ads on CJ, or Commission Junction, no matter they are tracking all of it.

So if you don’t set up where it is going to back out and work not just for the domainer but for the advertiser it is going to create problems later on. We would look at the entire scope of creditcards.com and we would set up individual pages for the keyword terms. It is really the same approach that we do with BankAds for domains. If you own creditcards.bz, really if creditcards.com wasn’t a fully developed site we literally would just break it out per section and have corresponding offers. So you are not going to have an offer for credit cards that are related to travel points and miles and things like that on a page with content that is about credit cards with gas rewards or cash back or student credit cards. You really just need to take the same best practices and apply it to the domain regardless if it is creditcards.com or if it’s mycreditcardsolutions315.com. Hopefully no one owns those.

Michael: so what is the necessary level of traffic and what kind of revenue can you expect. And I don’t even know if you can answer that question Sean. You mentioned that you had checkingaccount.com and it was getting ten type ins per day and you were able to get enormous lift from that. Your platform worked for any amount of traffic? Whether it is one person per day or 10,000 per day?

Sean: It does. The key point of it is that it has to be traffic that really is corresponding to the domain. Occasionally you will have domains that might possibly were developed. It could be a related domain and it is about credit checks. And we don’t have a solution for doing a credit check or getting your credit score or any of that staff. If the traffic is ending up on our page and it is getting there because it previously used to be a credit checking website it is not going to convert. But if it is a domain that is keyword match and has traffic for the keyword match of the domain itself it will convert. And we are building these pages and these sites to leverage all these different monetization streams and we can get very detailed and granular. It would work for a low level domain or a massive domain with a ton of traffic.

Michael: So you have got certain advertisers that want to reach people, you are focused on your niche of banking and credit cards, clearly if the owner of creditcards.com came to you and said I’d like to try your platform – actually they wouldn’t be able to try it. It’s either you are in or you are out. Right, because you are actually going to develop a full website for them. So if I were to understand all of the research and development that goes into building a website associated with this, you are looking for a long term partner.

Sean: We are. Yes we are looking for a long term partner. We are not making individuals sign a long term contract. There are some definite benefits to working with us in a contractual situation because we feel comfortable and motivated to put our own resources into a domain and help it grow and again we are taking a smaller rental share than what would be the average. And the reason we are doing that is we are looking at this at a very long time horizon. And a domainer might bring her name here for 30 months and then bring it to another place for six months. We want you to come and use our service and we are doing everything that we can to really make it impossible for you to want to go anywhere else. And it is not just from an ROI point of view the point is what are you going to earn from that name but also the SEO component side of it, the taking from a parked domain with increased value beyond just the intersic (spelling 00:47:15) value of a domain name.

Michael: So you mentioned revenue split. What is the revenue split between you, the developer, and a domain owner?

Sean: We will actually disclose, I’m not going to disclose it in the interview because we have like people who come and check out our site, check out BankAds and contact us. One thing that we are bringing to this is there is going to be complete transparency with our solution. Typically the domain industry, the different companies that are establishing it, the industry standard is typically between 60-40 direct share – 60 going to the domain owner and 40 to the provider. Or it is 70-30 in some cases. We are above both of those numbers.

Michael: You mean you are going to give more than 70% of the revenue to the domain owner?

Sean: Correct. And if people would like to know the exact amount I will absolutely tell them they just need to contact us on our contact form.

Michael: At BankAds.com.

Sean: Yes at BankAds.com is our website.

Michael: And we will also talk about some contact information at the end of the show. So let’s talk about the monetization of websites, of domain names that are being built into websites that are using your monetization platform. I went onto checkingaccount.com. I saw some Google Ad Sense up there. I saw buttons to click on related to certain providers. What are all the different monetization ways that you monetize a website?

Sean: Certain names will, in our research we have seen that certain names will perform better overall if you implement Ad Sense. Some it won’t it will actually cannibalize some of the revenue. And what we are seeing from a Pay Per Click, I should say that everything within our system as of today is a PPC based solution whether it’s Ad Sense or ads that are on the site through the companies that we are partnering with, they are all engagement just by Per Click. It is not a SPA where someone has to go and fill out a form and apply for a credit card and then depending on whether or not they get approved or don’t get approved you get compensated. Everything is based on a CPC model. So it is all Cost Per Click interaction.

Michael: How do you get a relationship with these advertisers who have banking and credit card offers and get a Cost Per Click relationship set up with them. Usually I’ve only seen Cost Per Leads or Cost Per Action in the past.

Sean: There are some very big companies that do exist that do the CPC based model. They are selective in who they partner with. I don’t think that a majority of them they don’t have the ability to have a domain owner with 1,000 domains contact them and say hey let’s build a website together, and they don’t have the infrastructure or really the need to do that. So you essentially if you weren’t going to use us for example you could go and build your sites, get them to a certain point and I suppose monetize with Ad Sense and maybe like CPA based solutions you get through Commission Junction or any of those affiliate companies. And then after you get to a certain point you go work with a couple of the large providers in this space but they want you to have a decent amount of traffic and a well established site. And they want to make sure you comply with all the different regulations that are involved because they are always financed based. You know we are not collecting data or anything like that. And at the end of the day the credit card companies they want to work with serious people and people who are not going to have questionable websites.

Michael: Just for the transcribers CJ is Commission Junction. What is the range of CPC that you have seen for websites that are on your platform?

Sean: It depends on the banking product. On the deposit sites for banking CPCs for saving and checking money market account those typically are between 43 and $5 per click. What we seen on cds is usually lower and it is a bidding system so our advertising partners have a bidding system much like Ad Words. So it can fluctuate slightly. But cds are less because the cd market is not doing well compare to (Inaudible 00:52:13) interest rates so well so naturally people are not falling all over themselves to get into a cd. So the advertising dollars are lower. But on the savings, money market and the deposit side it’s pretty strong. It is really between it is probably $4 to $5 per click.

So on credit cards it varies. You can see CPCs anywhere from$2 for something that is a less desirable lead. Not lead but less desirable click. For instance credit card companies are ready to willing to spend less on click for bad credit, you know those don’t turn into a client that they want in the first place. So they are just going to default on their credit cards. But on more desirable CPCs can get beyond $6 per click, but we are typically seeing between $3 and $5 per click on the credit card site as well. But one thing I want to get clear, we do have a rough share rate and like I said people can contact us and find out exactly what it is. And it is uniform across the board. Everyone is going to earn the exact rough share split.

The other thing is that we want to make it really well known and clear that we absolutely…when we say you are earning x and we are keeping y it is absolutely true. It would be a weird thing for us just to reinforce how serious we are about that. Anyone that we had worked with, any client that is utilizing our service if they had doubts we can look at that and we are more than welcome to set an appointment with us and come to our office. I literally will sit down and log them in and they can see what I see in terms of what is displayed, in terms of revenue. So we literally are 100% transparency with our organization and that is really one of the major things that I wanted to bring to this solution because I think it is important.

Michael: Fantastic. I love to find out the tactics that helped build something that successful. What specific tactics did you do right when you were building out the BankAds platform do you think was most important to the success of this platform.

Sean: I’ve obviously been involved with the banking side and then the monetization for it for some time now. But one of the things that we do that I think is really imperative for anyone whether it’s a company like ours or an individual building a site and doing this all on their own you need to speak with your advertising partners directly and you need to speak with, if you can, speak with the companies, the banks, the management company that manage their ads and talk to them about what are you guys seeing that is backing out for you in terms of your advertising dollars spent. Talk to them about the layout design they are using and their creatives and why they are doing that because if the company is spending $10,000,000 – $20,000,000, whatever, $100,000,000 during marketing they are clearly doing a lot of research and analysis to find out what works and what doesn’t work. So we strive in getting a lot of feedback and information from our advertising partners so we can implement those same initiatives and those same strategies that they are because if it is successful for them it is going to translate to success for us as well.

Michael: That is a great idea because you probably can’t go to websites that are doing testing or analysis of certain websites in a particular niche, banking and credit cards. And so being able to talk to your advertisers and get some lessons learned from them about what has worked to increase their return on their investment for their own development. That is a great idea. Any tactics that didn’t go right when you were building the BankAds platform that you wouldn’t repeat again going forward?

Sean: We definitely ran into some issues with the architecture of it. And how we were going to deploy sites on a facts scale. Originally we were going to develop a solution that could do it on a much quicker timeline almost where you as a domainer switch over DNS and flip a switch and literally all your domains are built. We think that we are going to be better off long term and especially our clients are going to be better off long term with the solution that we are coming to market with. And making like these individual sites that have original content and there are a lot of different components and it would take a really long time to get into all the details. But we were almost taking an approach where we were going to do this really quickly, or how do we gain scale really quickly and it just became more apparent that it is less about quantity and it is more about quality. So we want quality names, we need quality names within our network and the reason being that we can’t have bad names within the system, some bad traffic within the system because it just punishes everyone else. Actually domain owner A over here has really great traffic and has really great domains and domain owner B over here have really iffy ones or ones that were involved in shady deals. You just have to make sure that your quality of traffic is there. And overall we are more interested in just building the best network possible and we are leveraging our own assets to do that and that is why we invested so heavily into this space because we are bullish on the banking sector. We know that it is going to rebound and the economy is going to rebound. Banks are going to land a lot more. Their spending in advertising dollars are going to amp up. So we are kind of getting out of this economic doldrums especially within the banking industry. So it is moving up. Our approach is really more about quality that quantity.

Michael: After I get off this show, before it airs I’m going to go buy some banking and credit card names that I can point and work with you on those Sean. So let me ask this. You say that you want quality names, you don’t want bad traffic, I’m not sure I clearly understand what that means. Correct me if I’m wrong. Nobody is typing in moneymarketaccount.net. Am I right or am I wrong?

Sean: I think we get a couple type ins a month. I mean what is funny is I’ve seen as if the .com is parked and I’m sure that this isn’t often the case, I imagine this is the only explanation for it but – because we have names where the .com is parked and we own .net or .org and it does get pretty decent type in traffic. I mean we have some .net names that are pretty long tail but they still get 20 – 30 type ins a day and that is surprising compared to something like checkinaccounts.com which only gets ten. I can be hit or miss. The .net can get type in traffic. And it think that would be the case if the .com isn’t developed we try such and such .net now.

Michael: But from my perspective, I’m totally ignorant to the process, two type ins per month for moneymarketaccount.net if that was the number it might as well be zero. It’s not why you are buying the domain name. You are buying it because it is a keyword rich domain name that if you build out the website when somebody types in money market account into Google or Bing it will be at the top of the list. The number 1 position of the organic rankings.

Sean: Hopefully but that takes work and even on long tail terms it still takes time and it still takes work but again that is why the solution that we are building is we are building every component possible. It is really about completing all the search engines but we really focus on Google.

Michael: Right because they serve 93% of all web thousands out there. So what is a good name and what is a bad name? I’m not sure I quite understand that.

Sean: I think that sometimes there are names…So a domain that we would probably be less interested in bringing on board would be if he owns creditcardsforbadcredit.com I’d say great. It is a keyword match and it is a long tail term and it get excerpts for terrific. If it was badcreditcreditcards11.com or something that is adding some other components to it at the end of the keyword string I think those are names that are going to be difficult for us to get ranked and I think that they are not going to get type in traffic. So those are the kind of names. The other part of it is that there are names that maybe there is kind of arbitrage going on that or they have SEO – there are different things that you can do to manipulate domains and send traffic that isn’t directly related but you are hoping that it will convert. That is the kind of stuff that we really can’t do because again our focus is long term. And we want to be a solution that people are going to use long term and that the advertisers are going to be pleased. And as our quality moves up and the volume moves up we will be able to actually negotiate higher rates as far as what the company is going to earn per click and then pass on obviously to the domain owner. So it really has to be quality traffic and quality names.

Michael: So I understand the quality names. Quality traffic, what difference does that make? If I bring you abc.net and it gets two type ins per month but the keyword phrase matches for what people are looking for or it is a keyword phrase but it has a thousand type ins but you are looking at this well clearly it is not getting a thousand type ins with bad credit cards for credit card convicts or whatever. Clearly that is a bad domain name with probably bad traffic because why would it get that much traffic on a parked domain. So I still don’t get the idea of this bad traffic.

Sean: Bad traffic maybe isn’t the right way to put it. Maybe traffic that has very little chance of converting. The domain owner and advertiser, actually I was trying to think of an example of a domain because I don’t want to use someone else’s. So debtmanagement2.com is a domain that I own. It is carried over from when I had this network of tax debt sites. So that domain gets pretty decent traffic and debt management is associated with credit card debt so even if that domain gets 1,000 visitors a month and you redirect it to a landing page that really doesn’t make sense. you could say it is loosely related that someone with credit card debt maybe they are going to want to roll that to another credit card. You know that is the kind of thing where again it is probably not going to work out for you.

What we fear could happen is somebody could take, they have a domain that has all that traffic that is loosely related to credit cards or banking and then they send that traffic to this keyword match domain that does make sense to use it can really skew things because you could say that domain was creditcardsforbadcredit.com and that gets 20 type ins per month then the ECPM is x. And no you send all this traffic from your other site or domain that is loosely related but not really. It is not really qualified traffic that would really back out for the domain owner or the advertiser. Once you send all that traffic to that domain not only is it going to most likely not convert, not back out for the domainer’s advertiser but it is also going to really skew the data and the numbers. So you are going to say wow I have all this traffic and the ECPM is really low. So you are multiplying the traffic by 50x, going from 20 to 1,000 but you are going to completely dilute the actual realistic revenue number.

Michael: And that would be bad for you as the platform because now you have got people and a lot of traffic coming in that is clicking but isn’t going to convert so then the advertiser is going to say hey I’m spending a lot of money but I’m getting no return and then it is going to affect probably at least that website and other people on the network.

Sean: Right, and that is what can happen and there is a lot of traffic that just in my opinion it is not…the actual click through rates are going to be really low. So you are better off taking those names and try and find another solution for them whether it is development or something else. But again we are so heavily invested to the banking side of the business and the credit card side of the business that we are trying to build the best long term solution for everyone, the domain owner, the advertiser and our company as well.

Michael: So what if I owned, oh I don’t know, creditcards.se, or creditcards.it, or creditcards.cc would any of those…clearly credit card is a seven figure number. If you own creditcards.net it is probably five or six figures. If I were to buy creditcards.cc maybe I could buy it for $1,000. I don’t know. Somewhere on that order of magnitude. Is that something that is even worthwhile for me to approach you and say can you build out creditcards.cc for me?

Sean: I think that we would bring it into our platform. I haven’t really seen any, I should say that, I have seen a couple .cc domains that are developed, that rank but at the end of the day the search engines obviously favor some of the more established domain extensions. The space is so competitive. You are not just competing with the other well positioned SEO play websites. If it is cardratings.com or whoever. Somebody who is ranking well for credit cards. You are not only competing with them but you are competing with every bank. It is the competition level is so high.

Michael: So that one is so enormously competitive of keyword phrase.

Sean: Well we would absolutely take it into our platform and maybe it will get type in traffic. It is unlikely but we will give it a shot. We are not going to turn away keyword match domains if it is an extension that doesn’t make sense but we advice everyone to put their development dollars into that, I wouldn’t really feel comfortable doing that. And I would say yes absolutely spend $5,000 a month on links and content. It is a zero sum name.

Michael: Let me ask you a couple SEO questions. You are building full websites. You have a real host. You are not creating millions of websites that are on the same account where Google is going to look at it and say yes he has got a lot of websites but it clearly is looking like a farm. Do you get a unique IP address? This is something that I have wondered personally. Do you get unique IP addresses for each website or do you operate off of shared IP addresses?

Sean: We actually have. So the thing is I understand the reason that people want to do that. We actually have a DNS server so we require that you point you’re a records to a certain address and you point your DNS records to BankAds.com. So my philosophy is there is really, you don’t really want to do those things necessarily to try to hide from Google because it’s Google. It is very easy for them to determine who is running a network and who isn’t. And the kind of like game to try to stay one step ahead is one that really no one is going to win. Instead of being concerned with those things (which are absolutely valid points) but instead of being concerned about that we are really building a product where I purposefully am building something where I meet with Google or their web team as far as monitoring quality.

And I’d say look at our solution and tell me how that is not a good experience for the visitor. You have valuable information for them pertaining to the keyword match domain or the topic in general. We have advertising offers that connect to major banks. This is major banks or credit card companies. As far as the partners we are leveraging to do all this they are major, major corporations with market caps that are hundreds of millions of dollars or even billions of dollars. So we are working with all the right people. In terms of the experience for the visitor to the site it is really a great experience for the visitor. My opinion is if you build something that even if it is somewhat of an automated solution or a rapidly deployed solution it doesn’t mean that you have to sacrifice quality or experience. So instead of trying to play the thing where I stay one step ahead of Google because I have a network I’d rather just build something where they really can’t fault it at all.

Michael: I agree wholeheartedly. If you are providing good content and it is valuable to people and they are going to organically link to you and Google is going to find that and they are going to hopefully rank it over a bunch of other websites that are dynamically produced in a multitude and blast it out for sheer quantity. So I’m with you on that. So we have spent probably about an hour so far Sean on BankAds which has been tremendously useful on helping me understand how you are building out this platform to serve a particular niche and how you are doing it differently than other people in the industry. I also wanted to learn about a couple of other websites that you had. The Celeb Gossip network and then Gold Bullion. Let’s talk briefly about Celeb Gossip network. So we can talk a little bit more about Gold Bullion. So tell me what the Celeb Gossip network is.

Sean: So the Celeb Gossip network is a network of sites where it is a women’s entertainment network primarily because that is the majority of the audience for those sites. Essentially it started off somebody emailed me about a domain celebritygossip.us. I have a great and phenomenally supportive girlfriend who sees me working almost constantly. So I work 18 to 20 hours a day. But I thought okay here is this domain celebritygossip.us. Why don’t I buy this and then develop a site and it could be a fun project. And maybe I had an ulterior motive to sucker into my world of development and get her hooked. So then she couldn’t complain if I was up at 4:00 in the morning working. So in any event it started with celebritygossip.us and she got her best friend Samantha involved who happens to actually be Brian’s fiancée. So it’s essentially my business partner and friends. So it is all this group of friends working with one and other. She got Samantha involved, they launched the site. It just grew really quickly. There were some things that they needed in terms of SEO and my role as really as someone to help them build up this network of sites and build up celeb gossip network.

It originally started out as celebritygossip.us. I really gained attraction quickly and we kind of took a step back and said wow this is something that could become a real business. So at that point I went out and I negotiated the acquisition of CelebGossip.com and since then we have been going and building more and more in terms of other sites and we are expanding beyond just gossip. It’s the women’s entertainment social media sphere, that whole arena. CelebTweets.com, CelebMugShots.com and about twelve other sister sites. So it has grown really, really quickly and Erica and Samantha have been really dedicated to it and the truth of the matter is that regardless of the structure and the planning…You can plan something perfectly to a tee and have great plan of action without the execution it will fail miserably. And they were writing articles and working with writers that we brought on every day, seven days a week, grinding it out.

So the site has a pretty significant following. The growth has been staggering. And I wish I could replicate that exact same growth for checkingaccount.com and these other sites because you know it has gone from parked domain to a massive amount of traffic in a short period of time.

Michael: What kind of traffic are we talking about Sean?

Sean: CelebGossip.com, I’m comfortable disclosing that it is more than 1,000,000 visitors a month. It is a significant amount of traffic. We went from nothing to with celebritygossip.us, we went from nothing to 2,000 visitors per day within 60 days which was insane. Since then we did the rebrand and we have a lot, the network has grown quite a bit. There is a lot that I am not going into a lot of detail on because of time but there are a lot of things that we have done. We are doing some paid search as well. And the growth has been pretty phenomenal.

Michael: I just want to ask, clearly Erica and Samantha are running the sites. They are the founders I think you said. But you have a role as well. What is your role within the Celeb Gossip network?

Sean: My role has been to essentially assist them in developing the network. Obviously I have, Erica is an attorney and Samantha was a software executive. So my experience in building a site and a network of site kind of developing the architecture of it and helping plan out the end result. It is really what I have been contributing. But in terms of everything else the design of the site is Erica and Samantha. They built something that is kind of different. The design and the layout is very different than anything else out that is out there right now. It is current celebrity news and gossip mixed with factoids about gossip form 50 years ago. So it is the old and new kind of mix.

Michael: Do you think we can get Erica and Samantha on a show in the future Sean?

Sean: Absolutely!

Michael: Alright here is what I’m envisioning. I’d love to get Celeb Gossip talking about how you grew it from a parked page to over a 1,000,000 per month across the network: CelebGossip.com, CelebTweets.com, CelebMugShots.com. And then I want to talk about the business aspect, I want to talk about the content aspect because clearly these sites are defined by the content that is being produced and I want to know how they, maybe they work, maybe they have a life outside or they do extracurricular activities. How do they produce so much content to bring in this enormous reach. And then I want to cut the show and switch to you and I want to talk about how you architected this site. I want to talk about how you accelerated the traffic. I went to the websites and I saw that you are using subdomains in parts of the website and why you chose to use subdomains for certain celebrities. So how does that sound Sean?

Sean: That sounds great.

Michael: Alright, when can we get Erica and Samantha on?

Sean: Whenever…Samantha might be traveling but we can work it out. So I would say relatively soon.

Michael: Alright we are going to do that. Sounds fantastic. So one of the other projects that you have with your partner Brian Styles is GoldBullion.com. Is that correct?

Sean: Right. That is correct.

Michael: What is bullion?

Sean: Bullion is a term that is used to described essentially gold, silver or platinum or really any precious metal that is either a coin or a bar. It signifies a metal element that doesn’t have intrinsic value. You know you can invest in gold and you can buy gold coins just valued on their weight. Or you can buy coins that have intrinsic value because of their age and grading and all things like that. So bullion really applies to investing in gold as far as just the investment side where you are not buying collectable coins and things like that. It is just the weight. The element that you are investing in.

Michael: And this is part of BankAds.com, your partnership with Brian?

Sean: Actually we have a parent company that owns all the different units with the exception of Celeb Gossip network. That is Samantha and Erica on their own. But we have a couple of different businesses and there are a couple of other things that we have as well. So the parent company owns GoldBullion.com.

Michael: What is the business? What is the idea behind GoldBullion.com? What are you trying to solve?

Sean: A lot of people are interested in investing in gold. And obviously gold and silver have gone up in value quite a bit. Essential our goal is to create a marketplace that will allow an individual if they want to invest in gold, silver or platinum to find an authorized and reputable dealer or precious metals dealer in their area. So the way that it works now is that we have three national advertisers. They are essentially in large companies that do all their business online. So people call up or order online and then the gold or silver gets shipped to their home. Then we have the directory side of the business which is individual dealers and specific geographical areas because in our research what we found is there is really two different types of investors.

There is an investor who will never do business online and purchase or invest through an online website. And that doesn’t necessarily have to be through a website it could be over the phone. They want to literally go to somebody’s office or go to some place and see the item itself and then take it home. So we are creating a marketplace that allows people to do either. Buy from a large commercial company that is only internet based and shipped all over the world and has a lot of different product offerings and we have a solution for that. But if you are someone who just wants to go and find something local we have a solution for that. And we make sure that every advertiser is legitimate and not operating in kind of a shady manner because there are a lot of fly by night companies and individuals who are taking advantage of misinformed investors.

Michael: I haven’t done all of my Mayan Calendar end of the world prep yet. I haven’t bought my guns, I haven’t bought my gold yet, I’m way behind in my planning. So tell me are there a lot of people that actually buy gold to have at their home?

Sean: There are. There are two industries that are doing phenomenally well besides the individuals that are selling whether they are a large national company or local companies. But there are a lot of people who are investing. But the other industry that is doing really well is safe companies because there are people who don’t want to keep it in the bank. One of the reason that this happened and the acceleration has been great for the gold investing industry is because the banking sector is so shaky and people were afraid of keeping their money in a bank. So to keep gold coins in a safety deposit box is just like madness to some people. So there are a lot of people who want the coins in their homes. They get a safe.

I’ve seen videos on You Tube where literally guys are showing them and they keep them in their office drawer and it’s $100,000 worth of coins sitting in their office drawer and not locked. It’s just like bizarre. So there are a lot of individuals…One other side to this that I think is interesting is that silver has gone up in value quite a bit as well and one of the problems with silver is that it is not an easy commodity or metal to invest a lot of money in unless you are actually getting it locally because of the weight associated with it. Gold is around $1,700 an ounce, silver is $2,500 roughly something like that. So to buy $50,000 worth of gold is like 20 or 25 coins. To put $50,000 in silver coins you are going to need somebody to back a truck up to your door. You don’t want to ship that. So that is another interesting part.

Michael: What is the business model behind GoldBullion.com?

Sean: We are a directory and so we have three national advertisers and we have the local directory. One of the things that I think is important, I guess again it is quality versus quantity is carrying over to this as well. We are only allowing two advertisers per U.S. county to advertise. So if you are a precious metals dealer in Miami you might want to secure your spot in Dade County because there is only going to be two spots. The reason that we do this is that we are more interested in rapidly deploying this network of highly vetted, individual precious metals dealers that we are sure are legitimate. And they are going to serve only the individuals who are using GoldBullion.com well. So I would rather have two great advertisers per U.S. county than ten.

Michael: So this site is actually launching, we talked about it in the preshow, officially March 1st. This interview is coming out March 5th. So the site is live. You can go to GoldBullion.com and check out the directories. So if I am in Seattle and I type in Seattle it will present hopefully two, a maximum of two, dealers in the area, jewelers, suppliers, I’m not even sure what you call them.

Sean: Precious metal dealers.

Michael: Precious metal dealers that I can go to. I can look at the gold, I can buy it, I can carry it home and lock it in my safe. And they pay you a monthly fee to have that directory listing? Is that correct?

Sean: Yes.

Michael: Do you give discounts for longer term contracts if they sign up for six months, twelve months or…

Sean: We have discussed it and we are just now about to start the sales process so we literally haven’t sent out emails or made phone calls. We already have a couple advertisers who have already locked up and secured their advertising. So we don’t have like if you were to go next week, or now and go to the site, we hope but we will most likely not have anyone in Seattle just yet. And the problem with a directory is what do you do? Do you populate it with people before hand? So the thing is that we have the traffic and we have what we need so we are just going to move along and add precious metal dealers as our site grows.

Michael: So let me ask you. How did you get the two advertisers…So which areas are these two advertisers populating?

Sean: One is a local company that is based in Fort Lauderdale just through a family friend mentioned to them. They own a business but…

Michael: So they have got Fort Lauderdale locked up. Maybe another one will come in but they have got Fort Lauderdale.

Sean: Right. So they have that and most of it was word of mouth. Oh GoldBullion.com are you kidding? They wanted to buy the domain and all this stuff. I said it’s not for sale. And the other one is a national dealer that I had just been communicating with and they reached out to me and said hey when is this going live and they said that they were interested. So we haven’t even started the sales process yet but we’re…

Michael: So does the national dealer then buy five major areas L.A., New York, San Francisco, is that the way they are proceeding?

Sean: No I think that really, and again it really comes down to two different precious metal buyers. There is going to be the person who purchases over the internet or over the phone and that really applies to the national dealers. And then there is the local buyers. So I don’t really think it would serve our visitors well or our advertisers in those areas to kind of mix. It is really two separate things.

Michael: Okay so that national advertiser may have a banner that runs across the site because they can serve anybody in the U.S. whereas the one in Fort Lauderdale buys just the directory listing for Fort Lauderdale.

Sean: Correct.

Michael: Okay. How are you going to bring in two dealers per geographic area? What is going to be your process to go out and reach out to these people? Is there a directory that you buy you then email or you call them? How is that going to work?

Sean: We were able to secure a list essentially and what we found is that we are having more success in planning this ramp up to do the sales process to reach out. One of the things that I thought was better was that we actually look at all the different publications and magazines and use that as a basis to compile a list of perspective companies that approach because authority to advertise in print and similar publications and other websites in tune with advertising and that is important. That is what we found was a better approach to take these outside resources where it is established that these people are already advertising and then build your list from there. The other part is it allows us to kind of quantify at a glance pretty quickly if someone is legitimate or not. They can help speed that process along because if someone is going to spend $4,000 or $5,000 a month on a full page ad in Coin World they are not going to go and burn clients for three months and then be off forever.

Michael: So how much does a listing per city cost?

Sean: We are still kind of kicking around pricing. But I think it is pretty definitive and decided that we were going to go to market with…The national listings I’m not going to disclose. There is only three of them so it really doesn’t matter. We are going to be between $250 and $300 a month for the local listings.

Michael: And maybe higher in larger cities than smaller cities?

Sean: Again because we are doing…there is exclusivity with this, there is only two dealers per county that would make sense to do that. I feel like it is unnecessary because truthfully even if somebody is in Albuquerque, it is a smaller market than say like Los Angeles but if you are a really successful and professional precious metals dealer in Albuquerque you can still do really well and the $250 or $300 a month that we are asking from you is going to be a drop in the bucket compared to doing bus bench ads and all this different stuff. If they are precious metals dealers that jump on to the bigger more populated areas right away it is terrific for them. They are getting it for a fraction of the price of what it is probably worth.

Michael: Are you planning only for a U.S. roll out to begin with? Or are you handling every single city in the world?

Sean: No we are just doing the U.S. for now.

Michael: You said earlier that on day one you have traffic.

Sean: We do. So gold bullion gets pretty decent type in traffic to begin with.

Michael: What kind of type in do you get?

Sean: We see anything from, I would say the lowest would be like 20 type ins a day to the highest we’ve had over 100 type ins a day, but that’s pretty extreme. I think that on average we are probably around 40, something like that. But we do have some SEO ranking a little bit so we get a little organic traffic but one of the things that are done to make sure that this is as successful as possible and on as short a timeline as possible is I’ve gone out and secured leases to keyword match domains or domains that are really applicable. You know investors who are looking for precious metals investing. So essentially that allows me at launch to have a website that has a significant amount of traffic where I can make sure that advertiser is going to be getting an ROI. That I’m not going to get an angry phone call and they are like hey I’m not getting any leads, no one is picking up the phone and calling. And we have a system internally built within GoldBullion.com. Google Analytics is great but we can also track everything down to if someone clicks on the little phone icon I can tell people how many times people have done that. We can get very granular with details. But going out and securing traffic ahead of time…

Michael: So does that mean that you actually contacted domain name owners who own something like Buy Precious Metals or Buy Gold or something like that and you say I want to pay you for all your traffic and they say okay and then they just redirect all the traffic to you?

Sean: Right essentially. It is a strategy that again it allows you to…I mean it is something that I like to do and for the directory model it is something that makes it easier for you to quantify and figure out how long your burn rate is going to be in terms of if you are in the red or if you are actually in the black. It’s easier from a directory model to do it. If it is something where it’s a CPA where you are getting x per lead it is more difficult to calculate. But essentially what I have done is I have done out and contact a domain owner with significant domains that are associated with gold metals investing or precious metals investing and I’ve said what have you earned parking this domain? And they tell me, show me the stats and I’m like okay great. I then take that data and figure out okay can I offer this person 20% more to lock this down for 12 months and do a redirect. And get that traffic in place. If you can make the math work you know then you can have something at launch you know is going to be profitable from you launch date or will quickly accelerate that.

Michael: What a great strategy. I never thought about doing that before. Most people I think consider Google Ad Words and they go there and they say oh it is going to cost me $1 per click. I don’t even know if you typed in precious metals or buy gold on Google how much the Cost Per Click would be in that case.

Sean: It gets pretty high if it gets targeted. It is expensive traffic.

Michael: Yes it is expensive traffic. So you can go find domain names that are parked and get the owner to tell you how much they are making and you will offer them 20% more and they will sign up for that.

Sean: Right I mean that’s an abbreviated version of it but that is essentially it.

Michael: Fantastic, that is a great idea. I need to think about how I can use that on some of my websites.

Sean: Yes it’s something that we also did with CelebGossip.com that helped accelerate our growth. But I really (Inaudible 01:35:56) but I think it is a great strategy and there are not that many keyword match domains that get a really significant amount of traffic that either aren’t developed but there are some examples. If I were building out, if I were going to offer an auto part catalog to people the first person I would call would be Larry and Ari and I would be like hey can I lease the traffic from autoparts.com from you for x % over what it earns historically over the last 12 months. So that is really the approach. Try to find domains. It is really time consuming. It is really one of those things that is difficult. That it is time consuming and I am usually doing that stuff between 2:00 and 4:00 in the morning.

Michael: So it could be, or it is in fact cheaper than Google Ad Words but it takes you a lot of time to find those domains and contact them and create a relationship and find out how much they are making which is probably difficult for people to tell you unless they know you are legitimate. So you have to invest a decent amount of time into that relationship that they feel comfortable providing it. And you make an offer and you either accept or reject it. Do you get a lot of people who reject that kind of offer.

Sean: A lot of people don’t want to disclose exact traffic stats. It is extremely common. One of the things that I have found that helps that I would use TMD.com as a way to kind of give a face to the other person on the other end of it.

Michael: Yes otherwise it is just a random person calling you.

Sean: We have construction going on at the office here. We are renovating our new office space and so there is some stuff going on.

Michael: Fantastic. Alright Sean we have spent a great amount of time. I can’t wait to check out GoldBullion.com. The final question for you Sean is this. If someone wants to sell you their banking or credit card domain name. This is the area where you and your partner Brian are experts in. What is the going rate for those kinds of domains.

Sean: It really varies. I mean there are so many variables that can determine it. It is not just the potential value based on the keyword root so obviously the main extension is one thing. I mean I would say and this is reflected in what has happened in terms of mergers and acquisitions and mergers and acquisitions by end users in the last 24 months. But you will see names that aren’t developed and that are parked that really great keyword match domains that end up getting acquired by somebody like Bank Rate or Clint Street or whoever it is. And they are paying them much, much smaller amount of money for that domain name than they are if it is a built out site. So I think that, well it is a really broad question. I mean it is hard to say. But I think creditcard.net, we didn’t buy it, somebody else did, it’s a great name but I think that went for $170,000 maybe three months ago. Something like that.

Michael: So that one was clearly valued on the intrinsic value of the domain name itself and not necessarily income it is generally.

Sean: Correct, yes.

Michael: So you can’t throw out a blanket statement that ten times EBITDA or you can’t even say because it depends on if it is a good premium or ultra premium domain name that is going too far out way money that is being generated by the parked domain.

Sean: Yes I mean there are just so many components that really effect it. But I will say that where, and this is public data, although the accounting methods, it is interesting. You know you can read quarterly findings of different companies that made acquisitions and the way that they account for it is really obviously for taxation purposes. But what we have seen in terms of publically known data as far as acquisitions by companies like Bank Rate or private equity funds is that typically the majority of these deals get done before EBITDA and that is really typically the lead spot for those type of acquisitions. If somebody came to us and said now we have this great domain, it’s a 100 type ins a month and it’s creditcards.com and we just want 6x EBITDA on the parking revenue we would jump on it in a second because that is a no brainer. I should say we would jump on it in a second but I prefer that we really just develop it and use our platform and see what we can do with that. I feel guilty buying a parked domain based on traditional parking revenue. I think I would feel a little guilty about that. Knowing everything that I know about what these sites do in terms…once they rescale…I mean creditcards.com is just an insanely valuable and it is a cash machine. You can dig through Bank Rates quarterly files and figure that stuff out. It is pretty impressive.

Michael: If anyone in the audience has a follow-up question, please post it in the comments below and we’ll ask Sean to come back and answer as many as he can. If people want to follow you Sean, what’s the best way for them to do that? Do you have a Twitter account or public Facebook account or anything?

Sean: I am on Facebook. I think it is /Sean1379. I would say Twitter I’m not really into Twitter. I think just email or if they are interested, the best thing for anybody that is interested in monetizing their banking or credit card names go to BankAds.com and emails are going to be going to me or there are other people here who can answer questions.

Michael: Alright, BankAds.com contact form will go to you. I’m going to urge the audience, as I always do, if you received value out of this interview, please go out and find a way to say thank you to Sean, he provided a tremendous amount of information.. You can say thank you by posting a comment below. By posting a question, by linking to the video, by Google+ing on one of his sites, or just visiting his sites. Sean, if someone has a banking or credit card domain that they think might be a good fit for your platform, they should contact you. You would like to hear from you?

Sean: Absolutely.

Michael: Alright and BankAds.com is the platform that you can go and get the contact form and if you want to check out what Sean and his partner Brian are doing you can go to checkingaccount.com as a good example. Sean Sullivan, co-founder of BankAds.com, thank you for being a Domain Sherpa, sharing the details of your domain development platform, and thank you for helping others become more successful domain name investors.

Sean: Thank you for having me Michael. It’s been a pleasure and it is fun coming on the show. I appreciate it.

Michael: Thank you all for watching. We will see you next time.

Sean: Thank you.

Watch the full video at:
http://www.domainsherpa.com/sean-sullivan-bankads-interview/


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16 Responses to “How CheckingAccount.com Achieved a 300% Revenue Lift – With Sean Sullivan”

  1. Eric Jenkins says:

    Michael…….

    Thanks for another great interview. Seans use of WordPress is very interseting. WordPress is a great platform and there are a ton of tutorials on how to use it.

    It was also very interesting to hear Seans thoughts on longtail keywords. I took a look at some of Seans sites and they are really, really good.

    Good luck Sean and thanks for the interview.

    Eric Jenkins

  2. Vic says:

    Hi Sean,
    Do you accept people from outside the US?

  3. BankAds says:

    Stephan,

    OnlineChecking.net and BondInvestment.org are examples that are a good fit. We need banking and credit card domains that are pretty targeted. If you want to sign up please go to http://www.BankAds.com and submit your contact information and I will be in touch.

  4. Good grief, I swear I didn’t spell or grammatically miss that post. Something deleted letters that would have made that post make sense!

    What I’m saying is: I have another 15 killer banking/credit domains to include:

    BUSINESSCAPITALIZATION.COM
    ONLINECHECKING.NET
    BROKERNYSE.COM
    CREDITSCOREBUILDERS.COM
    WORLDMONEYCARD.COM
    STOCKMARKETANALYZER.COM
    STOCKANALYZER.NET
    NETSECUREBANK.COM
    CREDITVENDORS.COM

    If these domains interest you, I have 15 others as good or better.

    cheers!

    Stephen Douglas
    Successclick.com
    “Successful Domain Management™”
    “Own Your Competition™”
    RESUMÉ: Linkedin.com/in/successclick
    TitleDomains.com (Domains For Sale Archive)

  5. Hi Sean,

    I wanted a separate post for the potential bank/credit domains you might want to build out.

    Here we go:

    LinkToMoney.com – (yes, I bought this domain in 1999. Huge)
    FINANCIALWORLDREPORT.COM
    Authorizes.org
    FightCreditReports.com
    ChangeCreditReports.com
    WorldCoalMarket.com
    MoneyAppreciation.com
    BondInvestment.org
    InternationalCompanies.org

    I just checked on of my databases. I figured if you liked these, you’d really lek the others.

    cheers!

  6. Hey Sean,

    I’ve watched as you have built up your domain projects. This one looks good so far.

    I will absolutely bring over the following domains if I know you consider them premiums, and will help me get original content on them. I will also bring in my writers to do this if it’s possible.

    Before I go full bore in supporting your service, using my blog and 300+ loyal members, give me a quick summary of domains I think will work for you. Those that you say won’t work, will help me prevent my readers from submitting domains in that same genre, to save you time!

    Let me know, and I’ll bring you some customers. Oh, and I take it you have some sort of refcomm agreement too, yes? I couldn’t find it on your website, but I’m sure you have a payout for guys like me who can push in hundreds of users who trust what I say. However, I won’t tell them lies, I will explain it like it is… according to you — all legit. That’s great!

  7. BankAds says:

    Just to clarify, lower Alexa score is a good thing. Even I forgot about that for a second, lol. Lot’s more good news coming from BankAds in a couple weeks. Stay tuned!

  8. Don Gillett says:

    Great interview Michael. We contacted Sean and he has developed 4 of our banking sites for his bankads.com network. We have dropped several million places on Alexa Ranking since he took over the sites. Great fit. All because of you!

  9. Christian says:

    What about BankSlips.com? Can this be used for something? I’ve had it for a while.

  10. Peer says:

    Hello Mike – Great interview as usual. and Sean – Thank you for sharing your knowledge

  11. Richie says:

    Absolutely amazing insight, loved watching the video and gave me some excellent ideas for my niche even though it is miles apart from what Sean does.

    One thing I would like to know, with redirecting the domains for more traffic … would it have an affect on the domain after it had been used? And what type of redirect do you use? What hurdles did he face with the owners regarding the protection of their domains?

    I had this argument with a few other domainers a few weeks ago about simply parking domains to developing at the very least a small website to show some sort of history and get more traffic. I do this with even the worst of my domains, but now after watching this I may take it even more seriously.

    Great interview, it has given me some great ideas and will hopefully kick my a**e back in gear!

    • BankAds says:

      A couple things. You don’t want to do too many re-directs. Also you always want to do 301′s. I wouldn’t go beyond 20 personally. And any 301 needs to be really related to the site you’re sending it to.

      One of the best things you can do (but it is not easy at all, so prepare for hearing a lot of people saying NO!) is find a KW match site that’s got some ranking but the owner is really struggling to make any money with it. Convince them to allow you to lease it for “X” amount of time. 1 year, however long. But tell them it’s just going to be re-directed. Be honest and upfront.

      Why would someone agree? Because if you know that they’re making $50 a month off of this site, but you need the traffic and you think it’s going to back out for you then make a really strong offer. Pay them $400 a month for the traffic. That $600 yearly gross is now nearly $5K.

      Again, the financials have to back out for you. But the reality is that the traffic will help your site and possibly give you an SEO boost. And when the lease is over they flip the switch and their site’s back and within 60 days it will most likely bounce back to where it was at.

      I’ll go into further details when Erika and Samantha have their show on CGN and I jump in at the end to talk about some of the specifics. But I’ve got an even better tip on one of the easiest ways to find leads on sites like this that you might be able to convince the owner. But I’ll go over it on the show next time. Michael, remind me!

  12. Anunt says:

    Great interview as always!

    My question to Sean is: Your partner came across a nice fortune from selling one of his companies…so why dont you guys invest some of that money into some premium category killer dot com banking and credit card domain names instead of using those long tail hand registered .net, .co domain names?

    You guys are extremely smart and have the funds to invest…on top of that, you are spending 16 to 20 hours a day working…so why waste the time and energy with bull crap domain names?

    Fun Fact: CreditCards.com sold for $2.75 Million in 2004 and re-sold for over $100 Million in 2006.

    Once again, great interview guys!

    • BankAds says:

      Anunt,

      Well BankAds isn’t just about us, it was originally. But we see the potential it has to hopefully change the landscape of “parking” for this vertical of banking and credit cards.

      And don’t knock the long tail names, they convert well and they often rank a lot easier. I haven’t looked in a long time, but my old network of debt lead gen sites were built off of KW match . net GEO’s. MiamiDebtConsolidation.net, AtlantaDebtConsolidation.net. Others like TaxRelief.net and DebtConsolidationLoan.net are still doing well years since I sold them. I do get your point 100% though. But we still think that domain owners can still do well even if the domain is a .net, .org or .co.

      Even more fun facts: It was CreditCards.com and CreditCard.com for $2.75M in 2004. And according to a recent BankRate filing, they bought it in 2010 for $155M. If BankRate didn’t get CreditCards.com and CreditCard.com as a package and the singular was available for $2.75M we’d snap it up.

      Better yet, we’d partner with the owner to develop it and all profit that way. The reality is, most of the true category killers are long gone. We were extremely lucky to get
      CheckingAccount.com and the rest of our banking portfolio.

      We’re bullish on the US economy and this great country returning back to better times.

  13. Chuckie says:

    It’s interesting concept and story, thanks for sharing Sean. Michael, excellent job as always.

    I’d like to know more about the Celeb Gossip business, if possible.

    • Thanks, Chuckie. From what Sean has told me about CelebGossip.com, it’s a pretty innovative build case study. I hope to have that as a stand alone show in a month or so.

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