ZeroPark formally unveiled itself in a big way to the domain community during Webfest in February.
Although the zero-click domain monetization company is relatively new, it has some familiar faces. You may recognize ZeroPark Director of Business Development Mateusz Drela from previous domain conferences, when he worked for Elephant Traffic. Elephant Traffic’s customer base was later acquired by Team Internet AG, which rolled it into its DNTX platform. Drela then joined ZeroPark.
I recently caught up with Drela to learn more about ZeroPark.
DNW: How did the company get started and who is behind it?
Drela: ZeroPark was co-founded by Robert Gryn, who teamed up with Codewise, a development company based in Krakow, Poland. He was looking for partners that could help him realize his vision of a user friendly self service ad platform with a strong technological foundation. The guys behind Codewise had little experience with domaining or the online ad industry in general.
Robert persuaded them to abandon all other projects and work with him on developing ZeroPark. Robert is now the owner of Codewise, which controls ZeroPark and is currently working on developing a new product, Voluum.com.
Robert approached me to join in on the project when it was still in it’s very early stages. However, I refused as back then I was still involved with Elephant Traffic and still had hope that it could succeed. In retrospect, I regret that decision.
DNW: How is ZeroPark different from Elephant Traffic?
Drela: To describe the difference between ZeroPark and Elephant Traffic, it’s best to start with the similarities. Both companies have essentially the same business model, i.e. both monetize domain traffic on a zero-click model, through a network of direct advertisers. And this is pretty much where the similarities end.
The main difference that we always want to point out (but which is not immediately obvious) is the technology. At Elephant Traffic, the tech side was always seen as secondary to the “business unity”. As a result, the technical deficiencies were often an obstacle to business development.
At ZeroPark we want the technology to be the drive of our business. We currently employ 11 senior developers (at Elephant Traffic we had 2), we created our own database technology to allow us to process huge volumes of data, and huge traffic loads, extremely efficiently. As a result, we are currently able to offer our customers access to 450 million unique visitors from 8 million domains per month.
Furthermore, we do business in a very different way. At ZeroPark, we focus on the self service. Our platform has been designed to be as user friendly and intuitive as possible. It has been based on PPV networks, which most online marketers are familiar with. We’ve done away with domain names and decided to focus on keywords, as again, bidding on keywords is something that online media buyers are much more familiar with than bidding on domains. We made it really easy to optimize campaigns, which had a great impact on advertiser retention. Taking such an approach, we were able to limit our business team to 3 people – Robert, the CEO; myself in charge of securing the traffic and the advertisers; and Bartek Dawidów – our CTO.
Lastly, to summarize the most crucial difference to our advertisers between Elephant Traffic and Zero ark, in one sentence: we have much more traffic, at lower prices, and it’s more easily accessible.
DNW: Do must domain owners work directly with you or through a parking company?
Drela: The vast majority our traffic comes from parking companies. We find that model to be much more scalable and much more resource efficient. Of course, working with domainers directly provides a chief advantage, in that their traffic becomes “exclusive” to your network. You can offer the advertisers access to domains, which they could not get anywhere else. You also do not have to compete for each visitor with multiple other bidders. If you acquire good inventory, you can make excellent margins.
The drawback of working with domainers directly is that it’s very time consuming and in a lot of ways inefficient. You’re essentially working on a domain-per-domain basis, i.e. you’re trying to pullout the “juicier” bits of any domainer’s portfolio and finding customers who could pay more for that traffic than Google. Furthermore, each domain has to be managed individually, as domainers are very keen on maximizing their revenue at the domain level.
By cooperating with parking companies, we participate in a real time traffic exchange. If we have an advertiser for traffic from a particular domain, we respond with a bid. If the bid is high enough, we receive the visitor. This set up adds “automation” to the traffic supply side of the business. We do lose a certain degree of control over the traffic, but it frees up our time and resources and allows us to focus 90-95% of our attention on the advertiser side of the business.
DNW: There’s a lot of competition for zero-click traffic these days. What makes ZeroPark different?
Drela: The competition in the 0-click space comes from three types of companies: 1) “Mainstream” ad networks, which are finally realizing the value of domain traffic and learning to work with it; 2) Parking companies, which are selling off their inventory to direct buyers; 3) Companies like ours, which aim to make domain traffic available to the broader online advertising community.
For mainstream ad networks, domains are just another traffic source, which they throw into the mix to increase their inventory. We do not see these companies as major competitors, as working with domain traffic requires a specific approach and know-how, which these companies simply do not have. We know that we’re competing for domain traffic with such established companies as AdMarketplace or Adknowledge, but we still manage to outbid them on a large portion of the traffic.
Parking companies have the obvious advantage in that they control the traffic and know exactly how much it’s worth. But they’re limited by their contracts with their primary ad providers. And, as of yet, none of the parking companies has managed to build out a platform which would allow them to open up their inventory to the broader public. This is what we have done and it’s something that definitely gives us an advantage over them.
When it comes to companies that operate in exactly the same space as us, the ones that are really out there are DNTX and Trellian. Only these companies have self service platforms, which provide marketers the access to domain traffic. When it comes to these companies, we’re both competing and cooperating. We actually think it’s beneficial to have more companies, which actively promote domain traffic, as most advertisers are still unfamiliar with it.
How are we different than either of them? We’d like to think that our sophisticated pricing mechanism makes traffic bought from us more affordable. We also think that our platform makes it easier for marketers to build successful campaigns and optimize their ROIs.