While at the domain investor meetup in Chicago, I met someone whose company has an interesting business model that monetizes trademark domain names. While I think it is highly risky for people to own domain names that contain famous trademarks or are typos of famous marks, I thought Protected Parking’s business model was interesting.
I understand that Protected Parking has deals with major branding owners that allow them to monetize domain names that likely would be considered cases of cybersquatting. It is also possible that keyword domain owners could use their services if their domain name is in a vertical that monetizes well with the company.
I asked Marlon Phillips, the company’s Vice President of Sales, if he could share more information about his company, and here’s what he told me:
“Protected Parking monetizes brand typo domains for major brands with full agreement from the brand owner. By partnering with Protected Parking the domain name is masked from the advertiser, providing anonymity. The user is redirected to the correct brand site via Protected Parking’s affiliate agreement. When a user transacts on the brand owner’s site, commission is generated.
Advertisers see this as an alternative to pursuing the UDRP route as it enables them to recapture the traffic with no initial cost and much less effort. The feedback we have had from brands has been overwhelmingly positive. Protected Parking is managed by the same team that runs Barefruit.com, an error monetization service for ISPs that has developed relationships with over 10,000 brands over 10 years. This background places Protected Parking in a unique trusted position with large brands.
Protected Parking provides a fresh alternative to traditional CPC monetization from Google and Yahoo which is on the decline. Feedback to date shows average gains for domain owners are a 200-400% increase in performance compared to traditional parking solutions.”
Marlon also shared the “current average RPMs across the Protected Parking network:”
- Travel – $300-$1,200
- Dating – $1,050
- Apparel – $100-$600
- Electricals – $500
- Flowers – $500
- Technology (cellphones, laptops) – $100-$300
From my perspective, the risk of a cybersquatting lawsuit outweighs any potential reward, but I would be naive to think that there aren’t companies out there who are willing to take the risk. Even domain owners that use a service like Protected Parking for their domain names could face a UDRP and/or a cybersquatting lawsuit. To reiterate and make it clear, I think buying or owning trademark domain names is very risky. I also think going out and registering potentially infringing domain names to monetize them is, to put it bluntly, very stupid.
That said, I know there are people and companies who do own domain names that are likely infringing, and perhaps Protected Parking is a service that can help monetize those domain names.