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The Lowdown



August 2006 Archive

Here's the The Lowdown from DNJournal.com! Updated daily to fill you in on the latest buzz going around the domain name industry!

Compiled by Ron Jackson (Editor/Publisher)

 

Verisign (the operators of the .com and .net registries) has issued their quarterly Domain Name Industry Brief. The report is full of interesting stats and offers further evidence of the explosive growth being enjoyed by the domain industry. In the second quarter of 2006, total domain registrations hit the 105 million mark, the first time the 100 million landmark has been passed. That is a 27% jump from this time a year ago. 10 million new domains were registered in 2Q-2006, 33% more than the same quarter in 2005! Verisign said country code extensions showed especially high growth, with ccTLD registrations in the second quarter jumping 10% higher than in the first quarter of this year. The introduction of the European Union's new .eu extension in April had a lot to do with that, of course.
Posted Aug. 31, 2006

Sedo.com has announced a new partnership with registrar Stargate.com that will give Stargate customers direct access to the more than 5 million names listed at Sedo's popular secondary market site. If a domain is not available for registration and is also not  listed for sale at Sedo, Stargate can still use Sedo’s domain brokerage service where an experienced domain broker will work to acquire the domain for the Stargate customer. By working together, the two companies will give buyers the option to pay for a premium domain name or register an alternate name or lesser known extension without leaving the registrar's site.
Posted Aug. 30, 2006

In still another sign of the times, Canada's biggest newspaper, The Toronto Star has announced that it is launching a downloadable afternoon edition, the StarPM, available in PDF form on its Web site starting Sept. 5.  The paper claims this will be the first downloadable afternoon edition from a North American newspaper but you can bet it won't be the last. A number of American newspapers have similar plans in the works. The new downloadable edition already has support from five major advertisers, further feeding the influx of ad dollars to the web.
Posted Aug. 30, 2006

A new article posted at CNN.com by Business 2.0 Magazine writer Paul Sloan discusses the rising interest in country code domains. Titled Staking a claim on domains beyond dot-com the piece details where the action is in ccTLDs
Posted Aug. 30, 2006

The deadline for public comments on ICANN's proposed contract renewals for the .org, .info and .biz registries passed yesterday with an overwhelming outpouring of opposition to approval of those agreements. As of this morning more than 750 public responses had been posted on ICANN's official discussion boards, with almost unanimous opposition to the contracts being voiced by domain registrants, registrars, small business owners, non-profit groups and even members from ICANN's own policy committees. Fewer than five posted supporting statements and most of those identified themselves as registry officials (the very people who could reap massive windfall profits if ICANN's plan to let registries charge anything they want is allowed to stand). The full ICANN board is scheduled to meet Sept. 13 to decide the next step in the process. Given the clear message that has been sent from the community they are supposed to serve, it is hard to imagine ICANN approving the lopsided contracts. In our opinion that would be suicidal for the Internet oversight body, but stranger things have happened.
Posted Aug. 29, 2006

Proposed New ICANN contracts could devastate the .Org, .Info & .Biz registries, so we want to remind you that the deadline to lodge your opposition is 5pm U.S. Pacific time today (Monday, August 28). If approved, new contracts for those registries would allow them to charge any price they wanted for any domain registration or renewal. As we noted in our statement sent to ICANN today, "Why would any business or website developer invest their time and money in one of those extensions when ICANN has left the door open for those registries to unilaterally become partners in the enterprise through extortionate renewal price increases at some point in the future? If these contracts are approved as is, .org will be dealt a crippling blow and the new .info and .biz extensions will be smothered in their cradles." If the absence of a sensible contract price is permitted in those agreements, what would prevent ICANN from allowing .com and .net to do the same? You can read comments others have made on this vital issue to you and your business and post your own comments through links on this page at the ICANN website. Be sure to email copies of your comments to the address given for each of the three registries and reply to the confirmation emails you get back from ICANN so your statements will be accepted and posted on their site. 
Posted Aug. 28, 2006

Former Pool.com President and CEO Michael Arrington was the subject of an interesting article in Business 2.0 magazine this week (written by Paul Sloan and Paul Kaihla). After building Pool into a very successful drop-catching company, Arrington left and started his own blog at TechCrunch.com, covering the high tech industy in Silicon Valley. The article, titled "Blogging For Big Bucks" covers the success Arrington has had in producing revenue from his blog. The story says his ad sales have soared from $6,000 a month to $60,000 a month this year alone. The article also gives other examples of bloggers who were able to turn their passion for writing about particular topics into profitable enterprises.
Posted Aug. 25, 2006

DomainSponsor.com is putting together a DomainFest in Los Angeles that will run Wed., Sept. 20 through Fri., Sept 22. The gathering will give domainers on the West Coast a chance to get together in a convenient location to network, listen to speakers and enjoy some good times. There will be no on-site registration so you need to go to the DomainFestLA.com website to fill out the required RSVP form. The show agenda is also detailed on the website.
Posted Aug. 24, 2006

Domain owners need to take immediate action if they want to lodge objections to approval of proposed new contract extensions for the .biz, .info and .org registries. George Kirikos discovered that the current proposals leave the door open for the registries to adopt the kind of variable pricing model used by the .TV registry. This means those registries could start charging thousands of dollars a year to renew domains people have already developed and turned into valuable businesses. Kirikos detailed the situation in a post at the DomainState forum. ICANN is currently allowing public comment on the agreements but that will end Monday (August 28) at 5pm U.S. Pacific time. Frank Schilling of Name Administration, Inc. has already posted a compelling statement that lays out the danger the agreements pose to domain registrants and developers. 
Posted Aug. 23, 2006  

iREIT.com (Internet REIT, Inc.) announced a major new partnership with popular domain forum DNForum.com today. Forum owner Adam Dicker will join iREIT as Executive Vice President and iREIT will provide capital to increase functionality and bring new features to the forum which has more than 30,000 members. The partnership should also help iREIT (who is the subject of our current Cover Story) add to their portfolio of more than 400,000 domain names. iREIT CEO Bob Martin said,  “iREIT is actively acquiring high-quality domains and looking to build our relationships with domainers, and DNForum will enable us to reach these users while providing much-needed liquidity to the market.” In a letter to forum members this morning, Dicker said "iREIT will give members an opportunity to sell and monetize their domain investments...iREIT has the ability to pay cash upfront, can offer a premium for quality properties and can often sign a deal within 24 hours. With iREIT’s support, DNForum will also be working on ways to streamline and improve the domain marketplace functionality of DNForum to make it easier than ever to buy and sell domains."
Posted Aug. 22, 2006

The United States hosts two-thirds of all of the world's domains according to a new report issued by IPWalk.com today. That is 12 times more than the runner-up country, Germany. The article says there are currently more than 77 million global top level domains (.com, .net, .org, .info and .biz) registered worldwide and 52 million of those are hosted in the U.S. When broken down by extension, .US dominance is most pronounced with .org domains, with American companies hosting just under 70% of those. The least dominance is in the .info extension, with only 51% of those hosted in the U.S. (not surprising since .info acceptance has been strongest in Europe). Just under 69% of all .com domains are hosted in the U.S. The five largest hosting countries in the world and the percentage of global domains they host are the United States (67.23%), Germany (5.71%), Canada (3.60%), the United Kingdom (3.37%) and China (3.22%).
Posted Aug. 21, 2006

Dotster.com has come up with an innovative way to market their registration and website services. The company will conduct a national talent search to find and sign four female company ambassadors who will receive contracts to represent Dotster at high profile shows and events. Models and actresses are invited to auditions that will be held in Miami (Sept. 21), Atlanta (Oct. 5), New York (Oct. 19) and Los Angeles (Nov. 2). The winners, to be named the Dotster Dots, will be outfitted in the latest designer fashions and casual wear and travel the country for a full year, starting in 2007. Everyone who auditions will also be entered in a sweepstakes that will give $10,000 to the person whose name is drawn. To audition, you must be at least 18 years of age. For more details on the program and how to enter, you can call 1-800-405-7660
Posted Aug. 21, 2006

In still another sign that the web is on its way to replacing TV for many viewers, CBS-TV announced that the CBS Evening News will be simulcast live on the web starting Sept. 5, the date that new anchor Katie Couric comes on board. If you are not in front of your computer at 6:30pm (U.S. Eastern time) to view the show live, no problem, you can watch the whole show, or individual stories, on demand when your schedule allows (something TV doesn't let you do). CBS also said it was setting up a new blog, "Couric & Company," that will include written and video contributions about the news from CBS personnel.
Posted Aug. 19, 2006

.Info fans will want to check out a new article from Mara Miller that was just published in Sedo.com's August newsletter. The story, titled  A Quiet but Strong Rival to the .COM, details steady growth in .info registrations and aftermarket sales this year. Miller projects that if current registration growth rates continue, .info would pass .org in registrations by 2010 and .net soon after that. Of course, .info has benefited from very low promotional pricing (good for the first year only) from the central registry, Afilias. However, that has proven to be good business for Afilias who found that many who were initially attracted by the low price renew their domains at the full rate when their first year is up. In addition, the low introductory price has encouraged use of the extension, and thus wider recognition for .info among the general public. 
Posted Aug. 18, 2006

Pioneering drop catching company SnapNames.com has just rolled out a new low-cost public domain auction service with bids starting as low as $9. The company's original private auction service will also continue unchanged. The private auction system is open only to those who place pre-orders and minimum opening bids are $60. That auction focuses on premium expired domains. In the public auction no pre-orders are required. You simply download the current list of available names and bid on any that interest you. You can also join auctions in progress at any time. SnapNames Chairman and CEO Sudhir Bhagwan said “In addition to the premium names we make available every day, our customers are interested in access to value-priced domains. Our new Public Auctions will be the best place on the Internet to find good domain name assets for investors and end-users at all levels.”  
Posted Aug. 17, 2006

An Associated Press story from Pat Eaton-Robb today is another great example of just how much the web is taking over all forms of media and entertainment. The article discusses how small colleges are reaping huge benefits by putting live broadcasts of their athletic events online. In the past, unless a school was a major football or basketball power, they were almost always ignored by national TV networks. The web now makes it possible for even the smallest schools to broadcast their games around the world and fans are paying for the privilege to watch. In addition to the millions of small businesses coming online each year (fueling the demand for relevant domain names) every kind of media outlet is moving to the web to take advantage of the global reach that only the Internet can provide.
Posted Aug. 17, 2006  

Competition in the pay per click parking space is lowering the entry barrier to programs that had previously been restricted to owners of large high-traffic portfolios. Sedo.com announced today that many of the features previously only available in their SedoPro program, including higher payout rates, would be extended to all Sedo account holders effective immediately. Sedo's Chief Strategy Officer Matt Bentley said “Up until now, only large portfolio holders and registrars could enjoy the benefits of a professional-level domain parking service, but we’ve leveled the playing field by offering the same detailed analysis tools, customizable layouts, and high-end earnings to anyone with a Sedo account.” Sedo’s new domain parking service is free to use and does not require an application to join.
Posted Aug. 16, 2006

Just got word that the U.S. Department of Commerce  has renewed its contract with ICANN (the organization in charge of overseeing the technical infrastructure of the Internet, including the domain name system) for five years. The U.S. government has said it intends for ICANN to run the system without government oversight at some point but with the contract renewal that independence will not come until at least 2011. The Commerce Department and ICANN are still negotiating a larger "memorandum of understanding" that governs the Internet agency. That agreement expires on Sept. 30.
Posted Aug. 16, 2006

Domain owners will be interested in a new article published by USA Today "Google Search Ads Find Momentum". The story details how domain investors are capitalizing on the boom in search advertising. In one passage, Marc Ostrofsky, president of iREIT.com (a company that is profiled in our current Cover Story), is quoted as saying, "I put up a website, add the Google ads and wait for the money to start flying in." The article also quotes Ostrofsky as saying that the company (which owns over 400,000 domains) generates more than $10 million a year. We are told Ostrofsky actually said earnings were "in 8 figures", so saying "more than $10 million" is technically correct, but imprecise as the number could fall anywhere between $10 million and $99 million.
Posted Aug. 15, 2006

Mass High Tech published an article on the domain boom today that discusses rising interest in America's .US extension, .biz and .info. The story, written by Christopher Calnan, acknowledges .com's position as the "waterfront property" of the web, but also cites increasing demand for alternatives due to the high cost of prime .coms. New England limestone importer, HR Stone, selected HRStone.us for their company site. Bob Quinn, senior principal of the company, said he initially considered altering the company's name to fit a domain name with a .com extension, but decided a .US extension would distinguish HR Stone as an American business while allowing it to keep its name intact. The article says, "HR Stone, which employs six, has plenty of company as small and midsize businesses increasingly turn to .biz, .US and .info extensions to offset the shortage of .coms."
Posted Aug. 14, 2006

The land rush for Viet Nam's new .VN country code extension starts tomorrow (August 15). Other than a requirement that you have a company name, there are no residency requirements for .VN. In the past, only second level domains, like .com.vn and .org.vn, were available for Viet Nam. Those extensions typically cost in the range of $200 each. According to one of the main registrars that will offer .VN, EuroDNS.com (who will provide .VN service through their Asian portal at AsiaDNS.com), prices for the new first level names will be €48 per domain, with a one time set up fee of €38 (€78 total, which as of today is $99.14 per domain). You can get 20% off that amount by using a discount code EuroDNS is offering to our readers: DNJOURNAL_VN (we receive nothing if you use the code, it is provided solely for the benefit of those interested in this extension). According to EuroDNS, Viet Nam has a population of 84 million and an Internet penetration of 15%. VNNIC is the central registry for Viet Nam.
Posted Aug. 14, 2006

Dave Morgan posted a good column at MediaPost.com today (free registration required to read) on the online advertising boom. Morgan said "Revenues are way up...Traditional media is in disarray. Traditional media executives are scurrying to develop "digital strategies" to save their companies and their jobs. Venture capitalists and their money are everywhere, and the valuations that they are paying are skyrocketing." But in the piece, Morgan also cautioned against arrogance, reminding readers of the 1999 bursting of the dot-com bubble. "Of course, there's a lot that's different this time around," Morgan said. "Online advertising actually works now! It's delivering results and ROI that have never been seen in this industry before. It's great being the belle of the ball, but we should take to heart some lessons from the last time around." He goes on to detail those lessons and we think he makes some valid points that can help us learn from history, so that we don't repeat it.
Posted Aug. 10, 2006

The investigation into the highly criticized roll-out of the European Union's new .eu extension is widening. In a new article at Wired.com today, writer Robert Andrews said "EURid, the Belgium-based organization charged with operating the .eu space, is facing accusations that it allowed sharks and speculators to rig Europe's domain system, and politicians are pressing the executive European Commission to investigate "possible fraud and mismanagement" by the body." Diana Wallis, a British liberal who serves on the European Parliament's legal affairs committee, has asked the Commission to give a "full explanation of how the .eu domain allocation has been handled." Wallis said, "If the scale of the abuse is anything like what appears to have taken place, this will represent a major EU scandal and commissioners will need to be brought to account."
Posted Aug. 9, 2006

Marchex, Inc., the first public company to buy a large domain portfolio (the original Ultimate Search holdings) have announced their second quarter 2006 earnings. Though the company reported a loss, the analyst at Motley Fool, Rick Aristotle Munarriz, liked what he saw in the report, especially the company's 50% jump in total revenue for the quarter. Munarriz said, "The kinder and gentler Marchex is a good one. Its content-rich sites now welcome search engine visits and that means garnering free traffic from search-engine result pages, instead of relying only on mostly direct type-in traffic."
Posted Aug. 9, 2006

Kanoodle has acquired one of the industry's leading registrars, Moniker.com. At the same time Kanoodle announced it will reorganize as a parent company named Seevast that will oversee three separate operating divisions, including Moniker which will continue as an independent unit with the same management team headed by CEO Monte Cahn and President Eric Harrington, the company's two founders. 
Posted Aug. 8, 2006

Marchex, Inc. has announced that it has launched updated implementations of its more than 75,000 ZIP Code Web sites. The company also announced that it has launched MyZIP.com as a destination Web site that covers city and ZIP Code locations across the United States. MyZIP.com will also serve as the umbrella brand and gateway into Marchex’s ZIP Code Web sites and the associated city and local content. All of these sites now offer hotel, restaurant, travel, local attraction information and reviews targeted to individual locations or ZIP Codes in the United States. The driver for this product evolution is Marchex’s Open List, a search technology and user-generated content platform that offers targeted aggregation of vertical and local content. 
Posted Aug. 8, 2006

Your daily newspaper may end up being free of charge. To combat the loss of readers  to the web, a story in the International Herald Tribune says an increasing number of newspapers, especially in Europe, are going to a free distribution model. Quoting from the article, Piet Bakker, Associate Professor of Communications at the University of Amsterdam, said "Almost all over Europe, you see circulation going down for paid newspapers.  At the same time, the economy is improving, helping the advertising market. Free newspapers are seen as the best way to take advantage of this. Meanwhile papers that continue to charge are trying to offset reader and advertiser loss by cutting jobs. Bear Stearns analyst Alexia Quadrani told Editor & Publisher magazine "the newspaper industry's ad revenue is barely moving - up 0.5% so far in 2006 - but circulation continues to drop so  newspaper publishers will likely reduce costs by eliminating more workers." The continuing flight of ad money from old media to the Internet is a primary factor in the escalation of prices for domains with traffic.
Posted Aug. 7, 2006

Hot on the heels of the Forrester Research report (detailed in yesterday's post) on the migration of younger viewers from TV to the web comes corroborating evidence from ABC-TV. The network has announced results from a test conducted in May and June in which full-length episodes of such popular shows as Lost, Desperate Housewives and Commander in Chief were made available as free downloads at ABC.com. ABC says more young viewers watched the shows via the web than  during the programs first runs on over the air TV! The implications of this for network TV are stunning. The test was so successful, ABC said they would re-launch the web download operation as a full-time service this fall. ABC said the average age of web viewers was 29, compared to an average age of 46 for those watched on the traditional network, still another indicator that the upcoming generation will fuel spectacular growth on the web. 
Posted Aug. 5, 2006

With the Internet so hot right now, some people are wondering how long the boom can continue. Some say that, even now, we are just at the beginning and a new report from Forrester Research on technology adoption provides strong support for that view. People between the ages of 18 and 28 (GenY) spend 12.2 hours online each week, or 28 percent longer than those 27 to 40 years old (GenX), and almost twice as long as 51 to 61 year olds (Baby Boomers). Ted Schadler, Forrester Research vice president and co-author of the study, said "All generations adopt devices and Internet technologies, but younger consumers are Net natives who spend more time online than watching television. Younger generations live online, reading blogs, downloading podcasts, checking prices before buying, and trading recommendations." With the upcoming generation preferring the web to TV, advertisers will almost certainly continue to "follow the the eyeballs" and invest increasingly larger amounts of their budgets on the Internet.
Posted Aug. 4, 2006

CNNMoney.com has a nice piece on domains today aimed at helping small business people understand the market and value of relevant domain names. The article, written by Jessica Seid, features Afternic President Roger Collins and Dotster VP of Marketing George DeCarlo. There is also a comment from a Savannah real estate agent explaining why it was well worth spending $2,400 for her domain (SavannahMLS.com) in the aftermarket. 
Posted Aug. 2, 2006

The drive to make PPC pages look more like full-blown websites continues to pick up steam. NameMedia.com, operators or a large search network (and owners of BuyDomains.com) has purchased Morefocus Group Inc., a company that develops proprietary online content on more than 5,000 topics delivered across its network and to a database of more than 10 million consumers. Terms of the deal were not disclosed and Morefocus will remain in its San Diego headquarters. NameMedia is based in Waltham, Massachusetts.
Posted Aug. 1, 2006


If you've been out of the loop lately, catch up in the Lowdown Archive!


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