#1 GoDaddy.com - Home of the $1.99 domain name

DevHub Reviewed ... Again

It was a year ago that I did my first review of DevHub - and came away impressed. I continued using the platform to develop a geo domain and some other product names. The more I used it, the more limitations and frustrations I found. The glitz and glamor of drag and drop site design very quickly fades and the underlying functionality of the tools you are provided starts to show some serious holes.

That's not to say I haven't had any success. In fact, I've gotten ranked for various keywords and in total my half dozen sites that weren't getting any significant traffic parked are now receiving an average of around 700 visitors a month or so the last few months. Most of that is to one site in particular - an adult toy, exact match .US domain (and largely due to Yahoo ranking it #2). And at various times, my other sites would pop up on the first page of a search engine and I'd get some nice traffic spikes. So there's traffic and it's gotten to be fairly consistent. So let's talk about the next step: revenue.

The revenue is horrible

My RPM (revenue per 1k page views) is just as bad as my worst performing parked domains. Someone else may have a different experience, but in my book, generating < $2 in revenue in a month where I had over 2k page views is just pathetic. Is it because the sites aren't optimized? Entirely possible, but honestly I don't know *how* to improve the performance because DevHub provides absolutely no metrics about where that revenue is coming from save their breakdown by CPA, CPM, CPC, etc. What I need to know is *which* products are working, which affiliate offers are producing and which ones aren't (one could argue none of them are working but I'll get to that in a second).

And then when they do break down on a daily basis where the revenue is coming from, a disturbing picture appears: the CPA is horrible! On many, many occasions, the CPA is a single penny. CPA! That means someone bought something, took an action... and my share is a whole freakin' penny. Even at a 50/50 split of Amazon CPA revenue, assuming Amazon is paying it's a mere 3-4% commission, it means that the product that was purchased had to have been worth less than a dollar! And that's assuming a very demanding 50/50 split. Honestly the split has to be a lot worse than that for those numbers to work out, but as they don't tell you the split, they don't tell you the products that were purchased, they don't tell you the ad unit that was clicked... You have no idea!

Now onto the review!

But this is a review of the newly redesigned DevHub, not a condemnation of their revenue sharing (okay, it's both!). The new look of DevHub is really fun, with lots of game design elements and "social networking" features. That is, if you define social networking features as tons of popup spam telling to you "share this on face book and twitter". The game design features are an interesting twist as you get points and coins as rewards for adding more content to your site and customizing it's layout using the same rather limited theming tools that were available before. There are least a half dozen things in the "marketplace" for you to purchase with your coins or you cold hard cash - things that were essentially available to you without having to spend your coins or cold hard cash before. This is a new feature and the marketplace just launched, so I'll give them the benefit of the doubt that the marketplace will eventually be flushed out. But if the marketplace is as ignored as the widgets were in the previous release, then I don't think the game concept is going to be anything but a nuisance. The good news is that you can apparently turn the game elements off, but the only setting I found to do this is in my account settings and when I tried to turn it off it said that data was required. I'm guessing in order to change the game elements, I have to also reset my password. Who knows.

In my original reviews, I identified a number of issues that bothered me regarding things like duplicate products being displayed (at varying prices), widgets not working at all, missing features (like creating my own directory site), etc. Surely, a year later and a whole new version being launched will mean that these basic problems will be addressed, right? Nope. Oh, the broken widgets aren't broken any more.. they are just gone. There are a few new features that have snuck in like the ability to include your twitter feed, but the "product selection" process is still just as broken as before. They now offer you the choice of which product feed you want to use - Amazon, Shopping.com or Pop Shops, but even inside those feeds you get duplicates. You still can't hide a product you don't want displayed either, so it becomes a frustrating game of "if I create 3 product feeds of 1 product each with just the right search keywords I'll be able to display the list of products I really want". And without dipping into your own google adsense or other ad provider accounts, you won't have any choice over the type, layout, etc of the ad unit you want to display.

To sum up

You might think I hate DevHub, but really, I don't. I do hate the closed nature of it - especially in regards to reporting, the poor revenue share, the risk of being delisted at any moment when Google finally gets sick of them, the lack of focus on making the product better and more useful (instead of the current focus on making it more "fun") and limited design options... but other than that, it's a fine platform! Really! If you want to just throw a site up and put a few monetization features on it, then it certainly works for that... I've spent less than an hour per site and those 6 hours or so of time have yielded a whopping $20 in revenue from various sources - mostly in the last 6 months. That's a yearly rate of maybe $50 - enough to cover the registration fees for those 6 domains.

Until DevHub gets serious about helping developers optimize and profit from their site, there's really no reason to invest heavily in the platform. Instead, invest in building your own solutions, buying off the shelf products and keeping 100% of the revenue for the extra effort. If nothing else, you'll sleep a lot better knowing you aren't at the whim of DevHub.


  1. Hi UtterDomain! Thanks for your balanced review. We really do take your comments to thought, especially since its coming from a more experienced programmer who focuses on profits.

    Now that DevHub is gamified, we are turning that same new level of quality to improving monetization for our more advanced DevHub users like yourself.

    - First thing you'll see come out the door is the revamping of our monetization modules (which you are right, haven't been updated in a year). We are working through the Amazon module right now and should have something up by next week. Not only will it give you the options to address problems in product selection, it will also have ability to let you create a full page of products. Would love to hear your thoughts on that when we put it up as many of the other $$ modules will be getting that same upgrade/treatment. We are putting a lot of effort into this so you can earn mor than $50 for 6 hours of work. ;)

    - Secondly the Marketplace will definitely have more products arriving and in a few months we'll allow our users to place their own things on the market: templates they make, sites they create!

    Can you share some of your new DevHub sites (on the new platorm) with the readers so we can get a better sense of what you're now able to create?

    Cheers and thanks again for your thoughts and using DevHub!

  2. Yes, I had pretty much the same experience with DevHub.com. It seems like it should be a big moneymaker, but in the end it wasn't. It is certainly worth a try if you have domains that get no revenue, since income can only go up, but until they find a better way to monetize their traffic, it is not something I will use.

  3. @DevHub Team - thanks for listening! You can check out accentpieces.net. It had been on page 1 of google for the term, but for an unknown reason it's been delisted at google (though it's #1 at yahoo). Why? I only have one explanation and it's not pleasant - Google may be clamping down on devhub.

  4. I have had the exact same experience at Devhub. I agree with Eric also. I will only put any copletely non performing domains on this platform and hope for the best. I think Devhub means well and wants to improve but they are still a long way from being a complete development solution.

  5. I've said it before and I'll say it again - automated systems that say that they implement "SEO" and an Amazon API can not work.

    If you are going to build a domain project and you actually value your domain name or your money, then build a site where each page is individually optimized on it's own set of SEO criteria generated from market and traffic research - if a system does exist that actually does incorporate SEO, then the domain will still suffer because generic and generalized SEO techniques applied across the domain / system do not work.

    There are no quick and easy automated methods for domain development, and automated Amazon stores use duplicate content up the wahzoo with nothing to combat it.

    Ask yourself, why on earth would Google, a company that has said over and over again that they put an emphasis on quality in their search results, list your site over anyone else's site when all there is, is content syndicated from Amazon with NO SEO?

    I'm not saying that you can't use syndicated content, but it must be understood that there needs to be a counter-balance to it, AND SEO!

    Not to mention that DevHub allows trademark domain names into the system - I just looked at some of their featured sites - nothing like a crappy looking trademarked golf club domain name with crappy and stagnant product inventory, no SEO, and a teddy bear ad pop-over. That's class baby..