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The Lowdown



April 2007 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)

 

Executives at traditional media and entertainment companies believe user generated content on the web is one of the biggest threats to their business. A survey of senior company leaders conducted by consulting firm Accenture revealed that 57% of the respondents see the rapid growth of amateur digital videos, podcasts, mobile phone

photography, wikis and social-media blogs as one of the top three challenges they face today. In addition, 70% of respondents said they believe that social media, one of the largest segments of user-generated content, will continue to grow, compared with only 3% who said they view social media as a fad.

Accenture's Gavin Mann said "This is just the beginning for a rapidly changing landscape where the media content environment grows more fractious and the user gains more control and power. Traditional, established content providers will have to adapt and develop new business and monetization models in order to keep revenue streams flowing. The key to success will be identifying new forms of content that can complement their traditional strengths.” 

The study included interviews with industry giants like Roger Faxon, CEO of EMI Music Publishing; Leslie Moonves, CEO of CBS; Doug Neil, senior VP of digital marketing for Universal Studios; and Sir Martin Sorrell, chief executive of WPP Group PLC. They and their counterparts at other companies have apparently decided they will have to join the fray. 68% of the respondents said they believe that within three years their businesses will be making money on user-generated content and 62% said they believe their companies will make money through advertising and sponsorships of social media (good news for websites offering that kind of content). Asked to identify which type of content offers the highest growth potential for their industry over the next five years, short form video was an overwhelming winner, cited by 53% of the respondents, followed by videogames (13%), full-length film (11%) music, (11%), consumer publishing (9%) and business publishing (4%).
Posted April 30, 2007

With the continued audience migration away from old forms of media to the web, the Audit Bureau of Circulations (ABC) latest numbers from the newspaper industry, released this morning, will come as no surprise. For the fifth straight semi-annual reporting period overall

newspaper circulation experienced big drops, despite easing comparisons. For all papers reporting daily circulation, the Newspaper Association of America (NAA) said that daily circulation fell 2.1% while Sunday tumbled 3.1%. Some of the largest declines occurred at metro papers. The Dallas Morning News hemorrhaged 14.2% of daily circulation while Sunday fell 13.3%. The Miami Herald lost 5.5% of its daily circulation and 10.1% of its Sunday circulation. The Los Angeles Times lost 4.2% of its weekday and Sunday was down 4.7%. You can see the numbers for the top 25 American newspapers here.

For the past couple of years, there has been a push by publishers to focus on total audience data, which takes into account Web site visitors as well as their print readers. The NAA launched NADbase in the fall of 2005, which tracks the readership of print and online of about 100 newspapers. ABC said it is in the beginning stages of approving a combined audience figure to be used on their semi-annual reports detailing paid circulation.
Posted April 30, 2007

ICANN has finally been cleared by a U.S. Federal Court to terminate disgraced registrar RegisterFly.com’s accreditation as soon as possible. Yesterday ICANN announced that Judge Manuel J. Real had issued a preliminary injunction that also orders Registerfly to give

ICANN current and accurate data for all of RegisterFly’s domain names (something Registerfly failed to provide despite being directed to do so April 16 when the court issued a temporary restraining order against them). ICANN has invited accredited registrars to submit "statements of interest" starting Monday (April 30) to act as a transfer provider, so Registerfly customers can gain access to their domains. The registrar handling the transfers will temporarily hold the names and help registrants transfer to any ICANN accredited registrar of their choice. Unfortunately is is believed that thousands of domains have already been lost during the meltdown at Registerfly and that inaccurate registration records there may make it impossible to identify the owners of thousands more.


Will Registerfly finally 
be exterminated?

The Court decision also requires RegisterFly to immediately post a notice on its web site stating that ICANN has issued a notice of termination of the company's accreditation to serve as a domain registrar. That notice had not yet been posted this morning (April 28) and the company was still taking orders for domain registrations. The "ICANN Accredited Registrar" seal has finally been removed from the site, something ICANN had demanded several weeks ago, but the final nails still remain to be hammered into the coffin.
Posted April 28, 2007

Demand Media's long-awaited relaunch of the .TV extension is set for Tuesday (May 1). Premium domains that were taken off the market when Demand Media contracted with Verisign to take over retail management of the extension late last year are to be made available again

Demand Media's Quinn Daly speaking at last month's 
eNom Resellers Summit

Tuesday on a first come first served basis. Demand will also unveil a set of proprietary tools that day that they say will make it possible for anyone to produce their own personal video channel on a .tv domain, complete with social networking features. James Barclay at AllThings.tv just published an interview with Demand Media VP of Marketing and Communications Quinn Daly covering the changes that are coming to .tv next week. The .tv relaunch is also a major topic in our April Cover Story on Demand Media CEO Richard Rosenblatt. Rosenblatt told us the company planned to spend heavily to promote .tv this year. Daly told Barclay "Our objective is simple: make .TV the hottest TLD. We are going to do this by driving consumer adoption of .TV as a personal portal to discover, program and share rich media based on each user’s interest. We are also going to

do this by promoting great examples of marquis .TV sites. The launch day for .TV – May 1st – is also the one year anniversary of Demand Media. So we have a lot to celebrate."
Posted April 27, 2007

Tidbits. I've seen a lot of interesting bits of news and information today, so rather than focusing on one item I'll touch on several. An auction for Rex.com will close at Sedo tomorrow morning and with the current high bid standing at $395,000 (which has met the reserve), if a transaction is completed it will be the highest sale ever made from the Sedo website. Sedo has done larger deals as brokers (including Vodka.com at $3 million last fall)...I continue to be 

Can anything stop the 
newspaper ship from sinking?

stunned by how quickly the web is sinking the centuries old newspaper business. First quarter earnings reports are coming out and they are abysmal for the papers. McClatchy Co. saw their earnings plunge 67.5% to $9 million from $27.7 million a year ago. At E.W. Scripps earnings sank about 9%, compared to the same period in 2006 and even worse, their  hope for the future, an interactive media division, is projecting revenues 50% lower than previous estimates. Adding to the perfect storm, the poor housing market has caused one of the newspaper's best revenue sources - classified real estate ads - to take a significant drop this year. There will be more bad news when the Audit Bureau of Circulations releases its latest numbers next week. Insiders say total daily circulation for the six months ended in March will be off about 2.5%, while Sunday is down 3%. It is even worse in major metro areas like Dallas, Miami and San Diego where a 5% or more drop is expected...

Traditional electronic media like TV has not been immune from the web fallout either. Network TV ratings have taken an unexpectedly large dip this season. Live-only broadcast ratings are down anywhere from 11% to 15% - a big decline from the last three years when broadcast viewership has been basically flat versus the seasons before. Analysts are not sure why but point to the Internet, poor programming, time shifting via DVRs and cable TV as the likely culprits. The networks are now making more than 250 of their shows available online in an effort to follow and retain their audience. It remains to be seen how that gambit will work out. Having grown up as a media junky who loved newspapers, magazines, radio and TV (and very much loves the Internet today) watching this cataclysmic audience shift from the old mediums to the new has been one of the most remarkable changes in my lifetime. It is also why I believe so much in domains. They are the foundation that web media outlets (and online businesses of every kind) are built on.
Posted April 26, 2007

If you are interested in the protecting your domain assets don't miss the Domain Masters web radio show tonight at 7pm U.S. Eastern Time on WebmasterRadio.fm. The weekly  

show is usually hosted by Moniker.com CEO Monte Cahn, but Cahn is traveling today so noted domain attorney and co-founder of the T.R.A.F.F.I.C. conference Howard Neu will be hosting tonight's program. Neu is also a veteran broadcaster who hosted his own TV talk show in South Florida for many years.

Neu's guests will be fellow attorney Phil Corwin who is the Legal Counsel for the Internet Commerce Association (ICA) and ICA Executive Director Jude Augusta. Corwin is also a highly experienced lobbyist in Washington D.C. and the ICA has him working on behalf of domain owner's interests in the Nation's Capital. He is expected to talk about what he is doing there to try to diffuse the increasing number of threats to the assets of domain owners, including unwarranted price hikes in registration 

Howard Neu
will host Domain Masters tonight

fees, ICANN encroachment into regulatory areas that go beyond the scope of their mandate, their mishandling of the Registerfly situation (that has resulted in the loss of thousands of 

ICA Executive Director Judge Augusta (left) 
and ICA Legal Counsel Phil Corwin
will be
guests on Domain Masters radio tonight

domain names and web businesses around the globe) and many other issues. 

Augusta will discuss why the ICA needs the help of individual domain owners and all companies with a stake in this industry to counteract the forces that are threatening the rights of domain registrants and, in the case of professional domain investors, their very livelihood. Several major companies donated the initial seed money needed to get the ICA started but to give domain owners a real voice in their future all hands are going to be needed on deck. 

If you miss tonight's live program, within the next month it will be added to Moniker's archive of previous web casts so you will be able to listen as your schedule allows. 
Posted April 25, 2007

ICANN is the USSR of the Internet - that is the title of a must-read article by Burke Hansen published at the The Register today. The article features Hansen's interview with Karl Auerbach, the last publicly elected board member at ICANN, who was North America's direct 

Karl Auerbach

representative on ICANN's Board of Directors (before the organization eliminated seats held by those who had been publicly elected). Auerbach told Hansen "It is amazing how much ICANN resembles the old USSR. ICANN is very much like central bureaucracy that is drawing up five year plans for the internet. And like the USSR that had a never ending problem with getting the right products to customers, ICANN has warped internet innovation in the domain name space with enough red tape to choke a Godzilla or two." Auerbach said ICANN is a very closed organization that from day one has had a circled-wagon mentality of "us versus them". Auerbach, like thousands of domain registrants, was also highly critical of the sweetheart deals ICANN has handed out to domain registries.

 "ICANN and NTIA have been like Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny to Verisign. Verisign's negotiating team is so good at negotiating the pants off of ICANN and NTIA that we ought to send 'em to the Middle East to work out a peace settlement! It is amazing how ICANN and NTIA transformed Verisign's job to maintain .com and .net  into permanent ownership," Auerbach said. Auerbach added, "It's also pretty clear that ICANN has been derelict in its responsibilities; and that dereliction is costing the community of internet users roughly $380,000,000 every year, year-in, year-out. And that does not count the tax that ICANN imposes onto the internet community, a tax that cumulates to tens and tens of millions of dollars every year."

"ICANN likes to say that it is not a governmental body. But with performance like ICANN's, and with its system of taxation, not to mention its closed doors and user-exclusionary processes, ICANN certainly looks and smells like a governmental body," Auerbach said. "ICANN is almost irrelevant - except for the fact that it is collecting monopoly rents and controlling a marketplace for the massive benefit of the trademark and DNS registry industries and the mirror-image massive detriment of the community of internet users. Apart from the financial costs and the damage that 

ICANN is causing to internet innovation, the great potential damage that ICANN can cause is to be a model for future institutions of internet governance. ICANN is best conceived of as a sign that says "do not take this road". Those are just samples from Hansen's article. Do yourself a favor and read the entire piece
Posted April 24, 2007

Is the honeymoon over for social networks? At a time when everyone is buzzing about Web 2.0 features like social networking and user generated content, In-Stat reports that their future remains somewhat uncertain. Even though online communities (social networks) have 

experienced stellar growth in recent years, the high tech market research firm sees both membership and monetization as key issues for social networking sites and predicts that only sites that can overcome these issues will survive. 

In-Stat analyst Jill Meyers said "In order for a social networking site to be successful, it must attain a critical mass, and competition is fierce to attract new members." Site operators are still struggling to find profitable business models. Though eMarketer projects that ad spending on social networks will reach $865 million this year, $525 million of that is expected to go to one site - MySpace.com. That leaves other rivals like 

Facebook, Bebo and Friendster to fight over the remaining $200 million

Just having a social networking site is certainly no guaranty of success. According to comScore Media Metrix visitor growth rates have ranged from a 40% decline for LiveJournal.com to a 1,177% gain for Sconex.com. Meyers said some site operators might do well to break out of the youth-oriented pack and look at a different set of demographics. "Despite an increasingly older MySpace community, Baby Boomers are frequently overlooked when it comes to social networks," Meyers said. "So far, sites have focused their attention on a younger demographic, which is finite, fickle and limited in expendable income."
Posted April 23, 2007

"Major newspaper companies announced even more ominous results during first-quarter conference calls on Thursday," Erik Sass wrote in his Media Daily News column today at MediaPost.com (free registration required to read). Sass added that online ad growth for

the newspapers' web editions is also slowing at the very they need it more than ever. The giant Tribune Company kicked off the bad news with its announcement than first-quarter earnings slumped to $.08 cents a share from $.32 in the same period last year. Also Thursday the New York Times announced their overall profit fell 9.9% from last year. In contrast, online revenue at the Times jumped 21% and it was up by 17% at Tribune, but those are slower growth rates than in the past. Last year the Times online growth rate was 39% and it was 29% for the Tribune. Newspaper analyst Ken Doctor from Oversell Inc. said "While newspapers' online properties may continue enjoying double-digit growth throughout 2007, it's increasingly unlikely to offset the big drops in print ad revenue." Going forward, Doctor predicted "more clustering of newspapers, a lot more cost reduction in production costs and as many cuts in circulation costs as they can manage. Then, they'll have to circle the wagons around the newsroom and the advertisers and hunker down."
Posted April 20, 2007

The .org registry has followed the lead of the .com, .net and .info registries in announcing a wholesale price increase effective October 18, 2007. PIR (the Public Interest Registry), 

operators of the .org registry, sent a letter to registrars yesterday notifying them that prices would rise from $6.00 to $6.15. Last week it was announced that .info prices (determined by their registry, Afilias) will go up by the same amount three days earlier on October 15. The contracts that PIR and Afilias have with ICANN allow them to raise prices by as much as 10% a year but both decided to limit their increases to 2.5% this year. Earlier this month Verisign, who operates the .com and .net registries, announced they were boosting .com wholesale prices by 7% (to $6.42) and .net prices by 10% (to $3.85), also in October. These are all

prices the registry will charge individual registrars. It remains to be seen how the wholesale jumps will affect retail prices charged by the various registrars like GoDaddy, eNom and Network Solutions.
Posted April 19, 2007

Registerfly Update: ICANN's application for a temporary restraining order against moribund registrar RegisterFly was granted Monday by U.S. Federal Court Judge Manuel J. Real. Real ordered Registerfly to hand over to ICANN current and accurate data for all of its domain names.

With that registration information, ICANN belives it will be able to follow through with their plan to initiate a bulk transfer of Registerfly names to another registrar. That would allow many victimized Registerfly customers to finally regain access to their domains, though thousands of names may have been permanently lost during the company's meltdown. The Court has also scheduled a preliminary injunction hearing for April 26, 2007, which, if ICANN prevails, will extend the force and  

effect of the temporary restraining order for a longer period of time. ICANN also plans to continue pursuing RegisterFly in the Central District of California court for, among other things, breach of contract. A copy of the restraining order can be seen here
Posted April 18, 2007

Google has decided to ban adult names from its AdSense for Domains program starting May 31. In a letter to AdSense partners yesterday, Google said "Effective May 31, 2007, adult domains are no longer allowed in the AdSense for Domains program. We define adult domains as 

any domain whose name, content or advertising is lewd, graphic, or profane; this includes domains with profanity in addition to those with obscene content. This means that you must remove any adult domains from your AFD (Adsense for Domains) portfolio by May 31." In a FAQ about the policy change, Google offered this definition of adult domains: "Adult domains are domains whose name, content, or advertising includes adult content—i.e., any content that refers to or suggests nudity, partial nudity, sexual imagery/acts, lewd/graphic or profane 

language. If you still are having difficulty distinguishing between adult and non-adult domains, please contact your partner manager for guidance or refer to the FCC's definitions of obscenity and profanity, found at http://www.fcc.gov/cgb/consumerfacts/obscene.html."
Posted April 17, 2007


Real estate tycoon Donald Trump
(who also stars in NBC-TV's The Apprentice) usually gets what he wants. Not this time. The billionaire businessman took a fancy to the domain name TrumpFurniture.com and filed a WIPO complaint to try to take it away from the current 

owner (eStore of Brooklyn, New York). eStore didn't even bother to respond to the complaint but Trump still lost as the panel noted that his name is also a generic word that can be used with other words (such as furniture) that the Trump name is not associated with. Sole panelist Douglas M. Isenberg wrote "The nature of the “other word” is particularly important where the trademark is not exclusive to the complainant. In this case, the Panel observes that the TRUMP trademark is also an English word with multiple meanings (including, for example, to “produce a sound as if from a trumpet”; “playing card in the suit that has been declared trumps”; “outdo”; “proclaim or announce with or as if with a fanfare”) and also a part of trademarks owned by parties other than Complainant. In light of the above, the Panel is not

persuaded on the record before it that the Disputed Domain Name is confusingly similar to a trademark in which the Complainant has rights."
Posted April 17, 2007


Major corporations have been filing more and more lawsuits
aimed at stamping out "typosquatting" on their trademarks. The practice involves registering domains that are misspellings of famous brand names, then collecting revenue from pay per click ads placed

on the pages surfers reach by mistake. A California based company called CitizenHawk hopes to capitalize on the backlash from trademark owners with a new service called TypoSquasher. In a press release announcing the service today, the company described TypoSquasher as an "on-demand, Web-based solution that crawls the Web to search for possible misspellings of domain names, identifies instances of typosquatting that infringe on trademarks, sends notices of fraudulent activity to domain owners, interrupts the flow of money being paid to cybersquatters, and automates legal action to get fraudulent sites stopped for good." 

Overstock.com, a public company traded on NASDAQ, is one CitizenHawk's first customers. Overstock's affiliate program manager Jake Bailey said “Using TypoSquasher, we’ve already identified and removed affiliates from our program who were infringing on derivations of our brand URLs. Before utilizing this service, we had to find all the infringements on our own. TypoSquasher is the only solution that allows us to discover and deal with our ‘fat finger URLs’ in one place.” ("Fat finger" is computer lingo for the unintentional inclusion of a keystroke when typing). The cost of the TypoSquasher service starts at $995 per month.
Posted April 16, 2007

Researchers Explore Scrapping Internet. If a headline like that doesn't get your attention then nothing will! That is probably why the online edition of the South Carolina newspaper TheState.com used it today above an article from AP writer Anick Jesdanun about U.S. government funded research into rebuilding the web. Jesdanun wrote "A new network could run parallel with the current Internet and eventually replace it, or perhaps aspects of the research could go into a major overhaul of the existing architecture. These clean-slate efforts are still in their early stages, though, and aren't expected to bear fruit for another 10 or 15 years - assuming Congress comes through with funding." Though no immediate changes are in the offing, there is a lot of interesting food for thought in this article.
Posted April 13, 2007

How Madison Avenue let down Corporate America and how both failed. That's is the provocative title of a must-read post from T.R.A.F.F.I.C. Conference co-founder Rick 

Rick Schwartz

Schwartz at RicksBlog.com today. In a post every corporate CEO, brand manager and advertising agency should read, Schwartz says the failure of corporations to acquire the generic domains that define their categories has been one of the biggest mistakes in business history. 

Using Hotels.com as an example, Schwartz told a Hyatt executive "Imagine if Hyatt had gotten hotels.com. Instead of you being 1 of hundreds of hotels listed, including all your competitors, and paying for each lead or each booking, Hyatt would have received ALL the leads. Would that not increase sales? Would that not increase market share?"

"Step in Madison Avenue. These folks are sooooo hooked on "Branding" that they forgot the REASON they brand is to INCREASE SALES. So their REAL job is to increase sales. THAT is ultimate branding. Having your product everywhere. Funny how in time they have LOST SIGHT of that basic core contract. So Madison Avenue failed the hotel industry as well. IMAGINE, of all these high paid execs at all these companies and not a single one could figure it out. Figure that if they own a domain like Hotels.com they would be a leader in their sector. But they are all so hung up on BRANDING that they would rather IGNORE a reservoir of new business. New business snatched directly from the competition!" That is just a brief snippet from Schwartz's commentary. You can read the whole piece here.
Posted April 12, 2007

 

After selling millions of dollars worth of domain names in auctions at the T.R.A.F.F.I.C. conferences, Moniker.com is taking it's act into more and more new venues. They first branched off into the adult market with a live auction at the Internext Expo in Las Vegas

earlier this year. Now they are set to sell off some great generic gambling domains in a Silent Auction at the Casino Affiliates Convention 2007 at the NH Grand Krasnapolsky Hotel in Amsterdam May 3-5. Over 2,000 names will be on the block, including Poker.com, Slots.com Jackpots.com and many other gems. All CAC 2007 attendees will have exclusive access to this auction. Conference attendees will be provided with a free, special password granting them access to the online auction and bidding which will be hosted on the Moniker.com Web site. More information on the auction can be found here

Auctioneer Joel Langbaum (L) & Moniker.com 
CEO Monte Cahn in action at T.R.A.F.F.I.C. 
live auction in Las Vegas (March 2007)

Individuals not attending the CAC 2007 will also be able to participate by purchasing an absentee bidder registration for $99. Interested individuals should contact sales@moniker.com or call 1-800-688-6311. Official auction dates, rules and procedures for all Moniker Live and Silent Auctions can be found by visiting www.moniker.com/liveauction.
Posted April 11, 2007

 

Update on the Registerfly Class Action Lawsuit: The Dummit Law Firm (who initiated a class action suit against Registerfly, ICANN and eNom) has sent out an update announcing that tomorrow morning (April 11) at 9:30am they will have a hearing with Magistrate Judge Sharp in U.S. District Court in Greensboro, North Carolina regarding their request for a preliminary injunction (Editor's Update April 13 - the hearing has been continued to a later date). Clarke Dummit wrote, "We have requested that RegisterFly immediately release all domain

names, allowing them to be transferred to a new registrar. However, since we believe that RegisterFly may be on the verge of shutdown, we are also moving for an immediate injunction, asking the Court to order that RegisterFly turn over all data to ICANN, so that information still “trapped” will be safe when RegisterFly inevitably crashes completely. While the hope is that the Court will grant an injunction requiring the release of all domain names, and that RegisterFly will comply, data escrow may, at least, protect you from permanent loss of ownership, even if we are unable to get RegisterFly to

release domains without further court action. This is an inadequate remedy at best for those still trapped, but we hope to get the parties moving toward a resolution." You can read court documents at the Dummit web site where they also have a page for more regular updates.
Posted April 10, 2007

Media Moguls Make Their Move Online. That's the title of an interesting new article by Ronald Grover posted at BusinessWeek.com today. Media companies are falling all over themselves, trying establish their own franchise in the Web 2.0 world of blogs, social networks and especially online video. Google, News Corp. and NBC Universal have bought their way in with acquisitions while others, like Viacom, are building their own. Grover's article details some of the new programming traditional media companies like Disney, Time Warner and others are rolling out to try to make a smooth transition to the web.
Posted April 9, 2007

It's Sunday morning and those of you who still subscribe to a print newspaper will probably spend a good part of this Easter Sunday leafing through a 5-pound slab of newsprint. But with the dramatic changes roiling the newspaper business, how much life is left in that paper you're looking at today? In one of the more interesting articles I have seen on the topic, MediaPost

writer Dave Morgan wrote in his Online Spin column this week (free subscription required to read) "Ad revenue in most large newspaper markets will keep dropping 3-5% per year for the next five years. Real circulation - excluding the tons of papers dumped on schools, hotels and the constantly-churning “free ten-week trial”  will keep dropping 3-7% per year for the next five years. Those two things are going to happen. Major metropolitan newspapers are largely powerless to stop them. Why? It’s simple. Every day, fewer people are reading daily newspapers than did the day before. Every day, more people are using the Internet for their news and information. Every day, the cost of energy, health care, pension benefits, wages, ink and newsprint in the cost-heavy industry goes up. Every day, more talented people leave the industry than join it. Every day, someone somewhere launches another new niche media product - many times, a print product - that continues to whittle away advertising revenue. That is daily newspapers’ future, and they must confront it."

Morgan added, "Not only has this slow death killed morale at the papers, but it has typically been done with no vision for the future. The only future for those who survive cuts is hope that they will survive the next as well. Death by a thousand cuts - not a great way to operate a healthy business." He went on to suggest ways some papers might survive (including cutting their content in half). In an interesting coincidence, the same day Morgan's column came out, McClatchy Newspapers (owners of the Miami Herald and the Sacramento Bee among others) announced a deal with Yahoo! to provide the online giant with foreign news and commentary. McClatchy apparently decided if you can't beat them join them and it will be interesting to see how many print operations follow their lead in the months and years ahead.
Posted April 8, 2007

As we head into this Easter holiday weekend, many of you will have time to relax and catch up on some reading. With excellent new domain blogs blossoming like spring flowers, you certainly have a lot of quality material to choose from now. T.R.A.F.F.I.C. Conference 

Co-Founder Rick Schwartz is the latest domain pioneer to join the blogosphere as RicksBlog.com just bowed this week. Another fresh view comes from Australia's Michael Gilmour who debuted Whizzbang's Blog on Thursday. Those welcome additions come just a few weeks after the birth of impressive blogs from Frank Schilling (SevenMile.com) and Sahar Sarid (Conceptualist.com) that are being widely read and creating a lot of buzz. When you add these new sites to the

top quality blogs that have already been publishing for some time now, you might think there would be an awful lot of overlap. After all, they're all writing about the same topic - domains. Yet each of these writers has managed to stamp their work with their own unique personality and perspective. 

New bloggers (L to R) Rick Schwartz, Michael Gilmour, Sahar Sarid and Frank Schilling

These people have the kind of experience and connections it takes to offer truly valuable insight and break real news. If a guy like Jay Westerdal was not taking time to write the Domain Tools Blog, we would have all missed his revelation yesterday that it only costs Verisign 

14 cents to maintain each .com name in their registry (yet they just announced a price increase to $6.42 this week). Writing is hard work and unless you try to write every day yourself, I don't think you can appreciate how much time and effort the people I've mentioned above, and many other bloggers, are giving of themselves (without compensation other than your appreciation) to further the industry. 

Are there too many blogs out there now? Absolutely not. I'm sure each of you could come up with a long wish list of people you would like to get insight from on a daily basis. Unfortunately, we will never see daily blogs from some of the people on our personal dream teams due to the significant time commitment required. Realizing that makes me all the more appreciative of those who are sharing their time, energy and expertise now.  
Posted April 7, 2007  

 

Jay Westerdal
Domain Tools Blog

The Internet Commerce Association is calling on Congress and the U.S. Department of Commerce to look at the price increases Verisign announced for .com and .net domains yesterday. ICA Legal Counsel Phil Corwin said, "The 7% increase for .com and the 10%

increase for .net are the maximum allowed under its registry operator contracts with ICANN, and come at a time when the pricing of other Internet services such as bandwidth, access and anti-hacker protection continues to fall. The announced increase for .com is particularly questionable, given that had the contract been put out for competitive re-bid rather than negotiated in secret to resolve litigation brought by VeriSign against ICANN, the base price would likely be at least one-third to one-half as much as VeriSign’s $6 starting point.  Indeed, .net pricing fell by one-third when a re-bid brought market forces to bear, and the .com registry fee should be less than the $3.50 now in effect for .net given the greater operating economies of scale for that far larger top level domain."

Phil Corwin
ICA Legal Counsel

Corwin added, "The ICA believes that responsible public officials engaging in thorough scrutiny of this announced price increase are likely to conclude that the new price for .com is unreasonable and that VeriSign’s announced intent is inconsistent with the general public interest as well as the specific interest of domain name registrants."
Posted April 6, 2007

Writer David Kesmodel is reporting that phone company giant Verizon has filed a federal lawsuit against iREIT for trademark infringement. Kesmodel wrote "The suit, filed in iREIT’s 

hometown of Houston, accuses the closely held company of operating more than 90 domains that are typographical variations of its trademarks, including verizonwirelessgames.com, virizonpcs.com and virizonwirles.com. Verizon says iREIT has been displaying pay-per-click ads on the sites for various products that compete with Verizon’s. The phone company is seeking an injunction barring iREIT’s use of the names, as well as

damages of $100,000 per name under the Anticybersquatting Consumer Protection Act, which was enacted in 1999." 
Posted April 6, 2007

Mark Klein has joined Sedo as the company's  Director of Business Development. Klein had been the Business Development Manager at Tucows for the past five years and has over twelve years of sales experience in internet solutions. At Sedo, Klein will be responsible for managing relationships with key partners, identifying new strategic partnerships and administering international, wholesale and distributor sales.  Sedo CEO Tim Schumacher said, “Mark is a great addition to the Sedo team, bringing with him a successful sales record and an in-depth understanding of the domain market. We’re looking forward to the future growth he will drive for the company.”  Klein replaces Jude Augusta who is now the Executive Director of the Internet Commerce Association.
Posted April 6, 2007

The price hike everyone knew was coming for .com and .net domains will hit on October 15th of this year. Verisign today gave registrars a six month notice to get ready for the increase. Registrars currently pay Verisign a total of $6.25 for .com domains ($6.00 + a .25 ICANN fee). In mid October that will jump to $6.64 ($6.42 + an ICANN fee that was recently reduced to .22). It is a 7% jump in the base registration fee, made possible (along with future increases) by the most recent contract ICANN approved for Verisign to handle the .com registry. Verisign is also raising the wholesale price of .net domains to $3.85 (plus the .22 ICANN fee). That is a 10% increase over the current rate. The question now, is how much will individual registrars raise their prices when the wholesale price hike hits?
Posted April 5, 2007

 

Australia's .au extension is currently one of the most restricted ccTLDs in the world. Owners are not even allowed to sell their domains, but major changes may be on the way. The Australian Domain Authority ( the organization that administers .au) commissioned

Nexus Research to study public opinion on several issues, including allowing .au domains to be sold, easing registration requirements and allowing registrations in the top level .au extension (currently, only second level .au registrations, such as names in .com.au are permitted). Today Nexus released some preliminary results from their surveys. 51% of current domain registrants favored being allowed to sell .au while 38% were opposed. When the samples was expanded to the general public (including many non domain owners), the margin of those in favor slipped to 36% for vs. 30% against (the remaining respondants answered Don't Know or Don't Care). On the matter of

allowing top level .au registrations, 33% of current registrants were in favor and 26% opposed. However, among the general public 46% opposed changing the current second level only policy while 34% was in favor of opening up the top level. It is not known when final decisions will be made on any changes.
Posted April 5, 2007

The fortunes of domain owners are very much tied to the boom in online advertising. Everywhere you look there is more evidence that the tidal wave of ad money headed to the web (and away from traditional media) just keeps getting bigger. The London-based WPP Group is

one of the biggest advertising companies on earth. In a very interesting item by Enid Burns posted at ClickZ today WPP CEO Martin Sorrell said only about half of the money spent by the company's media buying agency, GroupM, now goes to traditional media with the balance going to new media (primarily meaning online and mobile), outdoor, market research and public relations. Sorrell said those areas are growing faster than traditional media.

"Newspaper is most threatened by new media, followed by radio and TV. Probably the least affected is outdoor and cinema, though the question is raised as to how we're all going to consume films in the future," Sorrell said. He especially likes the prospects for mobile advertising which is becoming a priority for Internet giants like Yahoo, Google and eBay. “Today there are twice as many 

Sir Martin Sorrell
CEO, WPP Group

mobile phones as Internet connections,” Sorrell said. "Start experimenting with mobile, test, refine, repeat. Growth will be driven by the decline of mobile data costs, adoption of mobile search, and higher data speeds enabled by 3G networks. The opportunity for marketers lies in finding ways to lower the cost of data services through advertising."
Posted April 4, 2007 

 

Interesting article from Declan McCullagh at News.com today speculating that ICANN might be interested in moving out of the United States and restructuring as a private international organization in an effort to insulate itself from civil lawsuits and government interference. ICANN was recently named in a class action lawsuit as a result of the Registerfly.com debacle and the ICM Registry is also believed to be considering a suit after ICANN rejected their proposed .xxx extension last week. McCullagh wrote, "The speculation 

today about ICANN is that it could relocate to Switzerland. An August 2006 analysis from ICANN makes it clear that the Swiss framework for such international groups would be an especially attractive one. In the U.S., international organizations are governed by a 1945 law that grants them "immunity from suit" and says their property and assets "shall be immune from search." Employees are generally immune from income taxes and from customs duties and taxes. Plus, legal immunity would certainly help ICANN eliminate some of its expensive litigation headaches." 

However, McCullagh also noted that the Bush administration seems to be tightening its grip on ICANN which could make it difficult for the organization to implement any plans to relocate and restructure itself.
Posted April 3, 2007

 

While the U.S. has the world's largest economy, Europeans and shoppers in the UK actually spend more money online per capita than Americans do. Ad dollars are following the money and the migration to the web has been happening at a remarkable pace in Great Britain. In a column at MediaPost.com today (free subscription required to read), Seana Mulcahy noted that the latest figures from the Internet Advertising Bureau showed that British advertisers spent just over £2 billion online last year - overtaking the amount spent in national newspapers. "UK advertisers are

also spending more online than on radio (£582 million), outdoor billboard sites (£932.5 million) and in business magazines (£1 billion)," Mulcahy said, adding "What is more striking is the continuing rate of growth. Online grew by 41% last year...and the U.K.'s online ad market share is almost double the global average of 5.8%."
Posted April 2, 2007


Yesterday (March 31) was supposed to be the day
that Registerfly lost its ICANN accreditation and would no longer be allowed to register domain names. However a post

Registerfly gets
stay of execution

on the official ICANN blog yesterday announced that the moribund registrar has gotten a 30-day stay of execution. That won't make the thousands of customers who have lost domains or money to Registerfly happy, but ICANN's Registrar Accreditation Agreement allows registrars that are about to be terminated the right to initiate arbitration and delay cancellation of their accreditation for at least one month. The ICANN blog says Registerfly took advantage of this provision, so ICANN can not immediately follow through with their plan to move names registered at Registerfly in bulk to a new accredited registrar. ICANN's blog entry noted, "This clearly does not help registrants. It is another example of RegisterFly putting its own interests ahead of its customers."
Posted April 1, 2007  


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