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How accurate are domain appraisal tools?
SmartBranding Team access_time 11 min read

Domain names are intangible brand assets, and as such it is often hard for entrepreneurs to put a value on them. Automated appraisal tools are often a quick fix for that. We’ll go over the most popular solutions and explore how they work.

We will use the same domain name as an example to run on all and see how the estimated valuations compare. We chose CARS.COM.  The reason for that is that similar to it being hard to value a name when you are considering investing in purchasing it, it is hard to put an exact value on it once you own it. Michael Syger did a great analysis of CARS.COM’s IPO, which gives an insight of how valuable the name proved to be for the business after acquisition. So let’s see what automated appraisal tools « think » of it.

The format we chose is the following: 

Overview – Short description of the service/s offered

Disclaimer – We read the small print, since we know it is the part people skip (and shouldn’t!)

Our test – What the tool estimated CARS.COM to be valued at

Conclusion – This one is self explanatory


Estibot.com

Overview

Established in 2007 by a member of the NamePros and DNForum communities, Estibot is no doubt one of the most popular tools out there for anyone looking to put a number on a domain.

They base their valuations on over one a mix of internal and external domain attributes. Internal attributes include information like domain length, extension, word count, pronunciation and other characteristics directly linked to a specific domain. External attributes refer to third party data such as a domain’s search popularity, type-in rank, age and much more. The data is then compared to previously sold domain names and the valuation is based on that comparison.

Estibot offers a range of other services, like Portfolio Monitoring, Market Research, Expiring Domains lists etc. – all tailored for Domain Name Investors. There is a limit   for daily free searches per IP and three paid plans with different extras and number of lookups per day and month.

Disclaimer

The creators note that «All information is provided for research purposes only. Domain valuations and dollar values should not be taken literally. The valuation data is simply an aggregated summary of the various metrics associated with a domain or site.»

Our test

Estibot put a value of $10,399,000 on CARS.COM

Conclusion

The tool is user friendly, has a free version with paid plans and extra services, mostly targeted at domain name investors (Domain categorizer, Bid tool, DNS checker and many others).


Godaddy.com

Overview

Godaddy is the world’s largest domain registrar, so no surprise they have an automated appraisal tool too. 

As per the description on the service on their site, their valuation is based on exclusive algorithm that combines machine learning with real-market sales data compiled from their 20 years of experience. You can download the valuation they provide for free along with comparable domains and their valuation.

Disclaimer

« The estimated value may or may not rely upon this particular domain’s sales data, as the domain may not have previously sold. Sellers may ask, and you may ultimately settle, for a price below or above this estimated value. »

Our test

Godaddy put a value of $25,000 + on CARS.COM

Conclusion

Easy to use, free and without limitations on number of estimations you can get. You can also hire a Godaddy agent to enquire after the domain on your behalf for a fee of $120.


QEIP.COM domain appraisal tool

Overview

QEIP was founded in 2016 and is an acronym of Quantified Experts on Internet Property. They offer two types of appraisals. The automated tool in partnership with dotDB, you can use that for free, and there is also a custom domain appraisal, done by the team, that costs $249 (discounted from $500). The paid version includes a pdf certificate and a call consultation among other services. It is interesting to note they offer short and long term valuation, which is quite logical and smart.

Disclaimer

We didn’t find any disclaimer specific to the appraisal tool, the one that logically seems relevant is this “We do not provide investing advice for our clients we just help our clients to buy and sell domains”.

Our test

QEIP appraised CARS.COM at $ 549,643 for Long Term and the Short Term Price Suggestion is $ 157,041.

Conclusion

It is a simple to use, free tool that offers something unique. It doesn’t offer a lot of other metrics but those can be obtained with the paid service, which also includes a phone consultation and sale methods. The service is more targeted at domain investors, rather than buyers.


Sedo.com

Overview

Sedo doesn’t offer a free appraisal, pricing starts at $99. As per their description, the valuations they provide are « scientifically backed ». Their analysis is based on 10 factors, such as search engine suitability, advertising effectiveness, language complexity, length among others. Once you complete the payment you receive your appraisal within 3 business days.

Disclaimer

We could access Sedo’s appraisal disclaimer for free, which states that « An online appraisal is largely based on critical assumptions, any of which, if proven to be incorrect, could render the value conclusion inaccurate. You agree to assume the risk of such appraisals and shall hold Sedo free of any form of liability in providing the appraisal. ».

Our test

Not available since the service is paid

Conclusion

It is a paid service, there is a free valuation for domains submitted for sale. 


FreeValuator.com

Overview

FreeValuator offers an appraisal for free that is based on factors like domain age, TLD, keywords, website rankings among others. You can also order a paid appraisal for $69, done by an expert appraisal specialist. This covers evaluation of the domain, linguistic analysis, trademark analysis, list of comparable sales and a certificate for the estimated value. There is a limit on daily lookups, you can sign up for a free account and get 3 appraisals per day or get a paid subscription for $5.79 per month for unlimited lookups.

Disclaimer

FreeValuator states that « All services are fully automated and are provided AS IS and AS AVAILABLE without warranty or guarantee of any kind. » and ask you to « …acknowledge that you have been warned and understand that purchase and sale decisions should never be based solely on appraisal information or other information provided on our site or by an Free Valuator employee. ».

Our test

FreeValuator put a value of $135,043.50 on CARS.COM

Conclusion

The interface is a bit outdated otherwise a simple to use service with a lot of extra related services (Alexa Rank check, Domain generator, Crowd appraisals and many others).


Epik.com

Overview

Epik is a domain registrar and host founded in 2009. They offer a free appraisal tool among other services. The estimation gives you information such as keywords, Alexa ranking, Search results and competition, other TLDs taken and many others. They also offer a Professional Appraisal for $395 and a free option called « Fairness option », for when you are contemplating a transaction (we presume that means with Epik involved in the transaction). For the paid option, you will receive a report completed by a domain industry expert within 7 days of your order. 

Disclaimer

« Due to the automated nature of this appraisal, it is not recommended as a definitive basis for valuation but only as a guide. »

Our test

Epik valued CARS.COM at $10,370,000

Conclusion

The free appraisal is simple to use and gives a fair amount of information. They don’t explain what the process of valuation is based on exactly, other than « several factors including the domain extension, number of characters, keywords, domain age and the sales of similar domain names sold in the past », so it’s hard to know how they get to that value. Then again, the same applies to most tools we analyzed. 


Domain Price check 

(operating on pc.domains, owned by Internetx.com)

Overview

The tool is based on AI, analyzing previous domain sales. It provides you with some extra information like TLD facts, keywords, Google trends and other parameters. You can check just the value estimate for free, to access the other details you need to register (for free and limited access) or get a subscription – Business for $19.95 or Advanced for $799.00 

Disclaimer

« The prices shown are non-binding estimates. (Related to the domain value of a domain). » 

Our test

Domain Price Check estimated CARS.COM value at $163,000

Conclusion

Simple to use, most features are paid to access but equally they are more targeted at domain investors or larger corporations with bigger domain portfolios (Compare domains, Watchlist, Pricing models etc.), so the free information is likely sufficient for a simple valuation check.


DomainIndex.com

Domainindex.com is a public service free of charge provided by Domainindex SARL corporation to the domain and the financial industry. Domainindex.com is calculating price indices for domains to track the development of price levels in the domain space. They  provide a set of preset indices of the most important domain areas – Global Domain Index, popular TLDs, type, industry etc., and you can also set your own, more specific settings. The valuation gives you a lot of details on similar domains, trademark risks and similar trademarks, traffic estimates and even acronyms. There is a limit for free lookups, you can sign up for free and get 7 appraisals a day or get some of the other plans, starting at $39/month.

Disclaimer

The company has a disclaimer, stating that « The Content should not be relied on and is not a substitute for the skill, judgment and experience of the user, its management, employees, advisors and/or clients when making investment and other business decisions. Domainindex.com opinions and analyses do not address the suitability of any security. Domainindex.com does not act as a fiduciary or an investment advisor. ».

Our test

DomainIndex.com valued CARS.COM at $22,500,000 

Conclusion

The site looks a bit archaic but provides very detailed free analysis along with the value estimation.


So it looks like automated appraisals can be based on many different types of data elements – domain name age, keywords, extensions, publicly reported domain sales among many others. In reality, we all know of examples for brand names that fail all appraisal comps but still played a huge role in their owners’ success. It I also worth noting that reported sales are those of domain names sold in market places, where the average sale price is in the couple of thousand USD. When a domain sells as a brand asset, those transactions rarely get reported as there is no incentive or interest for buyers and sellers to report any details. Valuation is also subjective, you can see how Godaddy’s automated appraisal for a name they own and sell is different (by far) from the asking price they have on it, for example.

Ultimately, as with any decisions that will affect your business for its lifetime, it is best to conduct your own research and audit and make decisions based on your personal situation, risks and benefits that are specific to your brand. You can check our resources for some tips or explore the experience entrepreneurs share with their brands in our interview series.