Millions of domains are parked at such places as Fabulous, Sedo, or Parked.  These domains are undeveloped with many waiting for high-end buyers willing to pay top dollar.  Parking pages can generate a great deal of income for the domain owner.  How it works and what the effects on the internet are todays topic.

I have not found the exact origins of parking or what the very first company was but parking was born from the need of early domainers that were grabbing up hundreds and thousands of dropped domains.  Dropped domains are ones that have expired and while being released into the registry they are picked up very quickly.  The drop market is very lucritive and I will save some of that discussion for another post.

Domainers started to gather hundreds and thousands of domains.  Finding ways to monetize them was a real challenge.  The possibility of maintaining them all as website wasn’t viable.  The idea of letting them sit and not making any money was near sickening.  It was easy to see all the traffic on some domains as people were typing in generic keywords and terms directly into the navigation bar.  So the trick was to minimize effort and maximize profits.  PPC was a growing segment with Google Adsense leading the way. Parking was born.

In it’s essence parking domains is similar to parking your car. You drive it up to the valet and go to the movies while your car just sits around waiting for your return.   A domain owner only needs to create an account at any number of parking companies and then redirect their DNS to them. The rest is normally handled by them.  You do nothing but collect a percentage of revenue.  How much revenue is split from parking company and domain holder varies greatly but some payout as much as 100% (Bodis) and some as low as single digits.

Most professional domainers deep into parking will expend some time into research and finding great keywords or landing pages.  Keywords are the special words they will associate with the advertising.  An example would be superhost.com and using the keyword “hosting“.  This will pull information from a feed.  A feed is provided by the parking companies advertisers based on a number of factors but the set keyword is the main factor.  Now when you view superhost.com you will get ads based on hosting.  They will be relevent results that will attract a click-thru and both parking company and domain owner will get paid.  Somewhere an advertiser has just helped destroy a good domain.

If you have a negative vibe about my attitude with parking you’re right.   I do have serious reservations about the viability and the need for parking pages.  I have concluded that the negative effects of parking are greater than the positives.

First let’s peek at why parking is good.  Domain owners without an ability to develop quickly have a simple and direct method to advertise.   It’s simple and easy.  Parking pages can benefit surfers by redirecting via the ads to relevent results.  Advertisers have an effective method to reach end-users.

But what’s wrong with all that?  The problem is the same as any undeveloped item.  It will never prosper. Domains and the URL system were not created to be monetized in this way.  Surfers are often given a very generic unappealing web page that in-short are just ads.  It’s trickery.  Surfers are unaware they are giving money to the domain owner by clicking what appears to be a link to a relevent page.  Lastly parked domains are often very good domains that if developed would serve the greater good.

This is why parked pages are like billboards on the highway.  They are nothing but ads as you drive on by.  Inherently there is nothing wrong with that but imagine if you will any prime location being used this way.   It is stagnant. It’s ugly.  There is never an opportunity for development to the average joe.  Any highway property is usually worth a great deal.  The most minimal usage for any property is parking or advertising.  Domainers have found a way to do both on the internet. The experience of the internet is greatly diminished by not allowing great keyword domains that obtain amazing traffic to be developed.  Even domainers that park realize development unlocks the greater potential but for the most part but they can’t realize that potential themselves and expect a bounty of sorts to pass on the domain.

We live in a society of capitalists.  There is greed all around us everyday.  The internet for some years felt different. It was a place where the average joe could make a living and start something creative. Now all the good domains are taken and a great portion of them by domainers with no intention of ever developing.  That is a shame.

Parking companies have experienced a decline in recent years as the economy has slipped.  Some are already fearful that parking is near an end as they have minimal leverage with their feed providers to increase revenue for them.  In fact it’s worse than that.  Google is wise enough to know that the lazy parking crowd isn’t going anywhere and they are in a position to have no choice but take cuts in revenue.  Unlike developers that can choose different methods of income the parking domainer has no choices.  Even if moving to different parking companies most use the same feeds.  The only major differences are the landing pages.

There is a sense of a shakedown in the domainer community.  The top echelon of domainers have become rather quiet lately.  Some have stopped blogging completely stating they are short of time and need to focus.  Is there an underlying message that they are losing revenue?  That’s for you to decide.  Next time you visit a parked page.  Don’t click anything except the close browser window button.  Otherwise you’re helping to feed this machine that is threatening to destroy the potential of the internet.