5 With Andrew Rosener... CEO of Media Options | DomainInvesting.com
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5 With Andrew Rosener… CEO of Media Options

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Media OptionsAndrew Rosener, founder of MediaOptions.com, is another classic example of someone who just happened to stumble into the domain industry.  He had purchased a few domains of personal interest in the late 90’s, but it wasn’t until 2005 that he really saw the potential of domain names when he was contacted by an importer of specialty ham from Spain in order to buy several domain names he owned.  After completing that deal he immediately started looking at the domain market and trying to figure out where he could make more money.

Despite his late start, Andrew’s rise in the domain industry has been pretty remarkable, and you’ve likely noticed some of his sales at the top of the DNJournal sales charts. For instance, HX.com was the top publicly reported sale last week, and the prior week AutoInsurance.org took the top spot.

Andrew is now an active domain investor himself, but his primary business is in premium domain brokerage as well as operating one of the most popular domain investment newsletters in the business. If you haven’t signed up for it yet, I recommend you do so when you get finished reading this interview.

I’ve gotten to know Andrew over the last year, and I am always impressed by his knowledge of the domain industry and other interesting things.

ES: What’s the most frustrating aspect of your job and how do you cope?

AR: The most frustrating part of my job is the administrative work that is required in managing my newsletter and responding to hundreds of inquiries a day from domain owners who would like to submit their domains for our newsletter or brokerage service. I’m averaging around 500 emails per day at this point and it has become nearly impossible to respond to all of them, although, I try very hard to. The way I cope with this is my wife! Seriously, she has basically taken over the domain newsletter for us and since then it has grown tremendously.

ES: How has the domain business changed in just the last few years and what is your company doing to adapt?

AR: I think the most profound change that I see in the domain industry over the last few years is the type of names which are most desirable. While many people were shrugging off .net & .org domains as being of no value, I continued to invest in and broker some of the top Lead Generation keyword domains in those extensions. I picked up hundreds of premium one & two word domains which have rapidly increased in value recently. As the SEO space and Domaining has quickly merged, you are seeing a lot of domainer/developers come into the space with deep pockets, willing to invest whatever it takes to get the exact match keywords they need for their verticals.

ES: What advice would you give to someone just starting out on how to build their domain portfolio?

AR: Focus on quality, not quantity. And when I say quality, I mean names with proven value. Either they are short (2 – 5 characters) and HIGHLY brandable, or their value is directly related to specific metrics such as Exact Match Search Volume, CPC, Traffic, Revenue, etc…

ES: How does selling a domain name to a large corporation differ from selling a domain name to a domain investor? What tips can you offer domain investors who want to sell to end users?

AR: Selling to End Users is tough. Plain and simple. It requires a lot of time and you need to educate most of them on exactly how the domain will benefit their business and justify the asking price using real metrics which they understand. In my experience, to sell a mid 5 figure domain or 6 figure domain to an end user, it requires weeks or even months of discussion. Obviously, if you want to sell good names for $1,000 – $5,000 to small or medium sized businesses that can be accomplished through emails and persistence. But larger sales I would recommend you use an experienced broker, perhaps even find one who has made sales in the same industry as your domain falls.

ES: What trends are you noticing in the domain business, and how do you recommend that domain investors capitalize?

AR: I’ve never been one to follow trends. For better or worse. I have always tried to stick with what has ALWAYS worked. For me, that means domains which have clear purpose and meaning and fit within the metrics I use for valuing domain names. Or domains which I feel will have staying power no matter what changes Google makes in its search algorithm, such as 2, 3 & some 4 letter domains. But if you want to talk about trends, then I would look to Michael Berkens’ & Frank Schilling’s blog posts where they update us daily, weekly or monthly with the offers they have received on their domains. I think this is a great indicator of trends.

I’m seeing a clear trend towards short brandable domains. Names that make sense for a new startup and are easy to pronounce, spell and pass the “radio test”. My problem with buying those types of domains, is that unless I can get them for a few hundred dollars, I just don’t know how to justify the prices, they are totally ambiguous. But those guys just have a great eye for these types of names!

ES: Speaking of Domain Values, is there a specific way that you valuate domains?

AR: I get asked this question all the time by people when I have to respond to them that I am either not interested in listing their domain in my newsletter, or I’m not interested in listing it because of their asking price. The answer is YES, I have a very specific way in which I judge the value of a domain. Unfortunately, it would require a novel to describe it all, but here is the gist of it. I like, and I’ve found I’m most successful in selling, domains which have high exact match keyword search volume according to Google Adwords Keyword Tool. My valuation is directly related to the number of searches the keywords in the domain gets. High search, high value. Then I take into account the CPC or Lead Value. Let’s say the standard CPC is $1 for example. If the keyword CPC is less than that, then I devalue the domain a bit. If the CPC is significanlty higher, then I increase it’s value using a factor which I won’t disclose.

I also take into account the length of the domain and of course the extension. Unlike most people, I feel that .org has the second highest valuation after .com. I’m a big fan of .org domains (good ones) and I’ve put my money where my mouth is by investing in them. If the name is specifically for ecommerce, then yes, I prefer .net. But even then, i still don’t mind a .org.

There are a lot of people who have very different valuation methods than mine, and certainly I don’t claim to be the best by any stretch of the imagination. But what I will say is that if a seller is willing to sell a domain within the range I set using my metrics, more times than not, we sell that domain. Reason being that my metrics are justifiable. They are not ambiguous or based on “What is that domain worth to me”. The same applies on the buy side. If I purchase a domain at a price which falls in the lower end of my value range based on my metrics, I have almost always been able to sell that domain at a profit with very little effort.


About The Author: Elliot Silver is an Internet entrepreneur and publisher of DomainInvesting.com. Elliot is also the founder and President of Top Notch Domains, LLC, a company that has sold seven figures worth of domain names in the last five years. Please read the DomainInvesting.com Terms of Use page for additional information about the publisher, website comment policy, disclosures, and conflicts of interest.


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Comments (20)

    Kevin M.

    Great interview. Always a pleasure to hear Andrew’s insights on brokering and domaining.

    April 14th, 2011 at 2:05 pm

    BullS

    Lots of people concentrate on SEO but…..my algorithm I created concentrates more on Search Engine Monetization.

    Search and Monetize!!!

    April 14th, 2011 at 2:15 pm

    Andrew

    Man – I forgot to give a shout out to my latest development project which is almost ready to launch – Spearfishing.com

    Check it out (http://www.Spearfishing.com) and sign up for updates and special offers we’ll be making as we launch – the site is going to kick butt!!!! (Big thanks to Tia Wood on this project).

    April 14th, 2011 at 2:20 pm

    Steve K.

    Great job Elliot.

    April 14th, 2011 at 2:30 pm

    BullS

    Spearfishing…that cruel almost as bad as shooting the elephant.

    I have caught 500lbs halibut with just rod and reel.

    Where your sportsmanship?

    April 14th, 2011 at 2:49 pm

    JNet

    Keep up the good work Andrew !….you too Elliot !

    The Spearfishing.com logo looks sharp.

    April 14th, 2011 at 3:15 pm

    Jeff Edelman

    Very interesting read, guys. It was a pleasure meeting Andrew at DomainFest.

    April 14th, 2011 at 4:18 pm

    Gazzip

    “I’m seeing a clear trend towards short brandable domains. Names that make sense for a new startup and are easy to pronounce, spell and pass the “radio test”.”

    The majority of domain sales reported seem to fit that category. Not about PPC or search metrics but more about the Brand value.

    Endusers like brands

    @Bulls

    I have caught a 9350 lb Elephant with just a bun.

    Where’s your sportsmanship? :)

    April 14th, 2011 at 4:44 pm

    Jame_W

    Top post Andy i totally agree mate, Andy if you put your head to it i think you can make MediaOptions.com the next sedo and i think you will have huge sales in the auction catch you soon Andy, Also Elliot as usual your blog is quality.

    April 14th, 2011 at 6:54 pm

    David J Castello

    @Gazzip
    Welcome to the party :)

    April 14th, 2011 at 6:57 pm

    Andrew Rosener

    @Gazzip

    The key to what you said “…domain sales reported” – the vast majority (I would say 80% – 90%) of all the biggest sales which happen are not reported. Most of those HUGE sales are based on metrics such as search volume, CPC & lead value – NOT on brand value. They are sold to companies who want a competitive advantage in the search engines in a competitive vertical.

    I don’t mean to discount the value of brandable domains – not in the least – but I do want to emphasize that keyword descriptive domains are still king and represent the vast majority of large sales in my humble opinion…

    April 14th, 2011 at 7:05 pm

    David J Castello

    @Andrew Rosener:
    Gotta disagree with you on that one, Andrew. We’re seeing the opposite here. We just sold Driven.com for 225K. It made a whopping $15 a month in PPC revenue. The company who bought wanted it to brand themselves. We get six figure offers monthly for Banana.com, Kennel.com, Bullion.com, etc, etc for the same reason.

    In my opinion, they’re both valid reasons to sell to endusers, but I have to tell you that as soon as a Buyer starts asking me about CPC/lead value I know he’s buying the name for a lesser reason – and that means he’s going to offer a lesser price than if he’s looking to brand himself.

    The most we’ve ever spent on a name was six figures for Nashville.com in 2003. We never once asked any questions about CPC, lead value, etc. Didn’t matter because we already knew what we wanted to do with the name and we doubled our investment quickly.

    April 14th, 2011 at 8:25 pm

    Rob Sequin

    Congrats to Elliot, Andrew and the comment posters.

    A well done article from top to bottom.

    More like this and we all win.

    April 14th, 2011 at 10:03 pm

    Scott Neuman

    Elliot, and Andrew. Great article. always glad to hear from other brokers and domaineers and appreciated your thoughts and insights. Please be sure to keep me on the mailing lists.
    Scott Neuman
    Recordweb Communications
    Domain Portfolio Services

    April 14th, 2011 at 11:38 pm

    Andrew Rosener

    @ David

    Please don’t get me wrong – I don’t mean to downplay brandable keyword domains in any way. If anything, they are the foundation of this business. Domains like Bananas.com are irreplaceable and priceless. But their values are not measurable. In order to take the domain business to the next level, we need a yard stick.

    But my point wasn’t so much about the value of these domains, it was about what is actually selling NOW. For every pillar brandable domain sold such as Driven.com – there are 2 or more “Lead Generation” or Ecommerce keyword specific domains sold (IMO), and my feeling is that this is purely because of metrics. The price can be justified and investors and companies like that.

    You mentioned your acquisition of Nashville.com. Even if you didn’t look at metrics for this domain prior to acquring it (and I’m NOT talking about traffic or parking revenue at all) – the fact of the matter is that the 6 figure price you paid for Nashville.com is justifiable. It can be calculated based on hard facts.

    There are about 90,000 exact match searches in Google alone every single month for “Nashville”. Take into account the value of holding a top position in Google for that keyword and what it would cost to “buy” that position from Google – add to that some magic JuJu – and you would arrive at a DOMAIN ONLY (before you developed it) price / value between $150,000 – $225,000. Now, Nashville being Nashville I’d put a multiple on that just because. But you see my point.

    April 14th, 2011 at 11:43 pm

    David J Castello

    With our acquisition of Nashville.com we were playing the part of the Buyer/Enduser. 2003 was still feeling the repercussions of the 2000/2002 crash and many thought we overpaid at the time. My point was that as a Buyer/Enduser we never asked for any info about Nashville.com. We wanted the name, had a monetization strategy and paid top dollar. We see these same characteristics in the Buyer/Endusers who approach us today. They never ask about traffic, CPC, etc and they offer top dollar.

    April 15th, 2011 at 12:05 am

    @AndrewHazen

    Well done Elliot and Andrew – thank you for ALWAYS sharing….your knowledge and willingness to open up and share with others is tremendous!!

    Keep truckin!!

    – @AndrewHazen

    April 15th, 2011 at 8:29 am

    Domain 6 Star Ltd.

    A great article for those who competed in this market 10 years ago. But what should people do who start today? I have around 500 domains and all of them bought directly from the registrars. Does that make any sense?

    April 15th, 2011 at 1:50 pm

    Steve

    Excellent interview – thanks for the insight…

    April 15th, 2011 at 5:52 pm

    Sameh

    Great read.

    Well done, Elliot. Thanks for sharing, Andrew.

    April 16th, 2011 at 8:26 am

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