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Webcam worth-while?

What kind of advertising revenue can I expect?

3:43 am on Mar 9, 2007 (gmt 0)

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WebmasterWorld Senior Member jtara is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

joined:Nov 26, 2005
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Starting in 1995, I put up a popular outdoor webcam as a hobby project. Actually, it was one of the first outdoor webcams. I have a commanding view of the harbor area of my city, one of the top-10 U.S. populatation cities. The site was popular with locals, tourists, snow-bound northeners, and military families.

The site was on a 4-letter .net domain name that was not related to webcams or my city.

Besides the webcam, the site had a collection of generally non-commercial links to other sites with information about my city, or about the harbor, nautical-related sites, points of interest that could be seen from the cam, etc. The site had quite good links in, many from authority sites (including links from every site above it in search results).

The site eventually become the #4-5 listing for my city name on popular search engines. At one time it ranked higher than our popular zoo.

About 3 years ago, I sold the domain name for mid-$xx,#*$!. It was sold to someone who had numerous travel-related sites in different cities, and wanted to consolodate the under a single domain name. Quite frankly, he also wanted to buy the search engine position.

I allowed the new domain owner to install a fancy new web cam (26X zoom, pan/tilt) at my location, and install a DSL line, which I was allowed to use as backup to my normal Internet service.

About a year ago, the new domain owner sold the domain to a large software firm (OK, the largest software firm), who apparently bought the domain to protect their trademark interest in their newly launched 4-letter .com of the same name.

The (now former) domain owner continued to operate the webcam on a different domain, but recently I received an email thanking me for my help in the past, and informing me that they were discontinuing the DSL connection (and, thus discontinuing the webcam). No mention was made of retrieving the webcam...

(Not asking legal advice - I'll ask my lawyer about the ownership of the property, and I do have a detailed sales agreement that he can review (he wrote it). I am assuming that they have no use for the camera, it's been expensed, and they'd have to PAY somebody to come out and get it...)

During the period that the new owner ran the site, the search engine rankings dropped, I presume because of the dilution from travel-related services that made it less uniquely relevant to "city name". (Because it now related to "city name travel", and that's a very crowded field.)

The old site had a "name" (unrelated to the DOMAIN name) - e.g. "CityName Widget Cam" - but, unfortunately somebody else registered "CityNameWidgetCam.com" in 2000, and it's currently one of those awful parking/revenue pages that sends you around in circles. I don't intend to try to acquire that name. There's a reasonable alternative available, "CityNameOtherWidgetCam.com", however. And, technically, what the cam shows really is an "OtherWidget", not a "Widget", anyway.

I think I can fairly quickly re-establish most of my old links, including ones from the city, chamber of commerce, military sites, local boating-related sites, etc. I would re-establish the former link list (updating it of course) and perhaps introduce some new material - articles about the area, perhaps a photo-sharing feature, etc. I think I stand a good chance of re-establishing the site on the first page of search engine results for my city name.

The question is, is it worth-while, financially? I would be happy for it to break-even, and certainly overjoyed it it could turn a profit. I only ever had advertising on the site for a brief time, but this was at a time when PPC had not yet taken off (it was a banner advertising network) and I don't think Google even yet existed. I think it was bringing in perhaps $100/mo for a time and then trailed off, and the ads got too annoying so I shut them off.

The expense would be apx. $60/mo to upgrade my cable Internet service to a commercial offering at the same speed. (i.e. this would allow me to stream the video to my web site without violating the Terms of Use...) I have a VPS where I could host the site itself at no additional monthly cost. (The person I sold the domain to was paying $120/mo or so for DSL, plus about $150/month for a hosted "relay service").

Does it sound like Adsense revenue could cover this? Are there better places I can go for revenue?

I don't want to muck much with the content. I know what I need to get to the middle of the first page on the SERPs. Here's a nice, live picture of our beautiful bay (or harbor...). Here's some nice links to largely non-commercial sites about my city and the harbor. Thank you very much, enjoy the view, here's a few unobtrusive ads.


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