Domain Name Valuation Based on Revenue Multiples
Industry professionals occasionally debate about whether buying based on a pay per click revenue multiple is smart, and on what revenue multiple is appropriate to make a purchase. Naysayers (like myself) will argue that there is much more to a domain name than PPC, so simply using a revenue multiple is short sighted. Many who use revenue multiples argue that it’s one of the easiest and best ways to value a domain name, and it is especially important when buying a group of names or a portfolio.
While I don’t believe names should be bought or sold simply on a PPC revenue multiple, I do believe domain names should be bought based on some sort of revenue multiple. In any major business, marketing spend is typically allocated based on the return that is expected from the investment. Most of the time, the company will use a model to project a return based on expected response, lifetime value, depreciation, attrition…etc, etc. They will input the variables they know from past experience and make an educated guess on variables they don’t know. This gives an annual rate of return and can help place a value on an investment.
Using similar calculations based on my past experience, I come up with a value for a domain name before buying or selling it. I like to use 3-5 years as the amount of time to earn back the initial domain investment, but it varies depending on the domain name and my plans for it. With geographic domain names, I can determine approximately how much revenue I will be able to generate based on advertising sales, and I can justify a purchase price based on that. Had I used PPC multiples, I probably wouldn’t have been able to justify my purchase price.
When doing a calculation such as this, keep in mind the cost to develop and maintain the website, the cost of data and data entry, and the time it will take you to make the sales or the cost of paying someone to make the sales. Just because a domain name can make $100,000 per year as a website doesn’t mean the name is worth $300-500k based on my thinking. Since the cost of building and maintaining a website can be high, and the time considerations can be great, it is important to keep these figures in mind. While this isn’t perfect, it can help determine the value of a domain name to make an offer or a sale.
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