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The Lowdown



August 2008 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  
(DN Journal Editor/Publisher)

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Several tidbits for you today as we close out another week in the domain business and head into the big Labor Day 3-day holiday weekend in the U.S.  First, in still another sign of the 

shifting media times, prominent Chicago Sun Times sports columnist Jay Mariotti has quit after 17 years on the job because, after going to Beijing to cover the just concluded Olympics, he said he realized that sports journalism had become "entirely a website business. There were not many newspapers there." Mariotti told the rival Chicago Tribune that most of the journalists covering the Olympics were "there writing for Web sites.'' 

Mariotti, who also appears on ESPN cable TV added, ""Everyone is hanging on for dear life at both (Chicago) papers. I think probably the days of high stakes competition in Chicago are over. To see what's happened in this business...I don't want to go down with it.'' Thanks to Brad Evers for sending the link to that story.

Jay Mariotti

Also thanks to Adam Strong at Domain Name News for sending me a link to a related item from Xbiz.com about a number of consumer magazines reporting that their website traffic was was up strongly at a time when print editions are seeing big losses in ad revenue. It has become clear that the web is the future for print publishers IF they can survive long enough to make the transition. The problem they are having is they are losing print revenue so quickly they haven't been able to make up the losses with their website properties. I write frequently about this historic shift from print (and from radio and TV) to the web because it is the biggest media upheaval of our lifetimes - and many domain owners will benefit. Every domain name is potentially a media property that can reach every corner of the globe with virtually no overhead. That is a tough combo to compete against. 

Elsewhere, the administrator of Great Britain's popular .uk extension says the ccTLD has just passed 7 million registrations, having added more than 1 million new registrations since July 2007 (most of those in .co.uk). Only two other countries have more total registrations, Germany (.de) and China (.cn) with more than 12 million each. 

T.R.A.F.F.I.C. Co-Founders 
Rick Schwartz & Howard Neu

Moniker continues to whittle down the list of the domains that will be included in their live auction at T.R.A.F.F.I.C. New York next month. You can see the current list of front runners here as well as get other  relevant information on the sale. 

In a related note, we will start emailing our August newsletter out within the next 24 hours. It will feature an extensive T.R.A.F.F.I.C. New York preview article based on interviews with show co-founders Rick Schwartz and Howard Neu. Schwartz also took the opportunity to make some frank comments about the current state of the industry that will undoubtedly ruffle some feathers. You will want to read what he has to say whether you are planning to go to New York or not. To get on our opt-in mailing list you can sign up for the free newsletter here.

(Posted August 29, 2008) To refer others to the post above only you can use this URL:
http://www.dnjournal.com/archive/lowdown/2008/dailyposts/08-29-08.htm

A feature in Microsoft's next version of their Internet Explorer browser (the beta of version 8 was released yesterday) has a new browsing privacy feature that will double as a knee to the

groin of their arch-rival Google. IE8 users can select an option called InPrivate Browsing that Microsoft says will help "prevent your browsing history, temporary Internet files, form data, cookies, and usernames and passwords from being retained by the browser, leaving no evidence of your browsing or search history."

 

The reason Google will hate this is they have their sights set on entering the display advertising business (a key reason they bought DoubleClick). Their plan was to examine the browsing history of Google users to see what they are interested in, in order to serve up graphical display ads that those users would likely click on. In other words, even before the visitor conducts a search, Google could show them a relevant display ad based on what the visitor's surfing history tells Google about that user. If a lot of IE8 users utilize InPrivate, thus blocking Google's view, Google would appear to be, to use a technical term, SOL with those visitors.

None of this will have any effect on Google's lucrative search business (which provides over 90% of their revenue) or on PPC and the domain channel. However, it does show you how a small change in technology could upset the best laid plans of mice and men.
(Posted August 28, 2008) To refer others to the post above only you can use this URL:
http://www.dnjournal.com/archive/lowdown/2008/dailyposts/08-28-08.htm

DN Journal Exclusive: Two of the best-known figures in the domain industry, both of whom already hold doctorate degrees, are heading back to college!  Dr. Chris Hartnett and 

Dr. Kevin Ham (both of whom were featured in DN Journal Cover Stories this year) have been accepted into Harvard's prestigious Advanced Management Program, the highest level executive program offered by the Harvard Business School. Dr. Hartnett and Dr. Ham will join 165 other executives from 45 countries around the world for the intensive two-month program that will have them sequestered in a classroom 14 hours a day, six days a week. Dr. Hartnett and Dr. Ham are close friends and Hartnett serves on the board of the company Dr. Ham founded, Reinvent Technology.

Dr. Hartnett told us he will be flying from his Heavenly Mountain, North Carolina home to Boston tomorrow to begin the program. "When we emerge at the end of October, hopefully with our fully accredited degrees from the Harvard Business School, we are hoping we will be better prepared to launch Reinvent's Global Initiative which has been in the works now for the last 6 months," Dr. Hartnett said. "We feel that pulling back the bow for these 60 days will allow our Reinvent arrows to fly high when released and will firmly hit the target upon our graduation, which is scheduled for October 24th with the closing ceremonies and graduation dinner to be held at the Four Seasons Hotel in Boston ."  

Hartnett added, "The only down side to this whole adventure that I can see is we both will be missing the New York T.R.A.F.F.I.C. Show for the first time and we will be having the “Best Day of Our Lives” in a classroom instead this time, so that should be quite the challenge. Don Ham will still be there at T.R.A.F.F.I.C. holding down the fort for 

Dr. Kevin Ham

Dr. Chris Hartnett

HitFarm. In the event we fail to reach the desired levels of “Best Day Bliss” we are sure to return to the following T.R.A.F.F.I.C. with some great stories and with a strong desire to have the best T.R.A.F.F.I.C. Show of our lives ever. Will miss you all and please give our very best to everyone!"
(Posted August 27, 2008) To refer others to the post above only you can use this URL:
http://www.dnjournal.com/archive/lowdown/2008/dailyposts/08-27-08b.htm

Two well-known domain companies have filled key executive positions by naming new vice presidents. WhyPark.com has named Stephen Douglas to be their Vice President of Business

Stephen Douglas

Development. Douglas was the executive producer of the 2007 Domain Roundtable conference in Seattle and has also served as the senior domain consultant to both BulkRegister and SnapNames as well as an adviser to GoDaddy and DomainHop

WhyPark President Craig Rowe said, "We’re excited to have Stephen on board. He brings an incredible amount of industry expertise, and his energy and passion for the business is contagious. Stephen’s refreshing approach challenges the status quo. We look forward to his contributions as we continue to launch new services and enhancements.” 

Douglas, who said he began investing in domain names in the mid 1990's added, “I like pushing outside the space to find much-needed solutions. That’s why I look forward to working 

with WhyPark. Their innovative domain-building system is absolutely essential for today’s domain investors. I’ve wanted for years to find an inexpensive solution to build out my domains with relevant, index-friendly content. When I saw that WhyPark’s system does this easily and with little expense, I was hooked."

As WhyPark’s VP of Business Development, Douglas will manage large domain portfolio programs and strategic partnerships ad well as lead general marketing programs and analysis.   

Sedo.com has also welcomed a new member to their management team with former Oversee.net executive Sam Nunez coming on board as Vice President of Product Management. Sedo said Nunez will manage the product roadmap for the Sedo online marketplace, define marketing requirements and feature changes and drive their execution. 



Sam Nunez

Sedo CEO Tim Schumacher said, “A well known insider within the domain industry, Mr. Nunez is an excellent addition to the Sedo team. His extensive, global expertise will help Sedo to enhance its leadership position and expand the company’s product offerings.”  

Nunez, who holds an M.S. degree in Computer Engineering from Ecole Centrale in Paris, as well as an MBA from U.C. Berkeley, added "I look forward to helping Sedo strengthen its market position in the global domain name marketplace. Sedo will continue to leverage its tremendous success with online auctions, as it extends other services such as live auctions, globally.”

At Oversee.net Nunez was in charge of product 

management for Domain Sponsor. Prior to Oversee.net, he worked at Ask.com as Group Product Manager for Search Personalization and Platforms and at Silicon Graphics, where he launched, among other things, the company's first online store in 1998.
(Posted August 27, 2008) To refer others to the post above only you can use this URL:
http://www.dnjournal.com/archive/lowdown/2008/dailyposts/08-27-08.htm

With the big slowdown we are seeing in the general economy, several friends (many of whom are seeing their jobs threatened in the traditional media business that I toiled in for many years as a print, radio and TV reporter) have asked me if there are still opportunities to make a living with domain names or on the Internet at large? 

As a young TV reporter I was still writing on a manual typewriter and working for someone else. I never could have dreamed of the kinds of opportunities the Internet would open up in the future - opportunities that are open to everyone today.

I tell them that it is my belief that there are not only many great opportunities out there, there are probably more of them now than at any time in history. That belief was underscored for me when I started thinking about a note Tim Davids posted on a private domain forum this morning commenting on my last two Lowdown posts (which are below today's post). Davids noted the vast technology change spanned by those two posts - one about the new iPhone and the other about the declining fortunes of the radio business (where I started my media career as an 18-year-old broadcaster). I replied to Tim's post with the following comment:

"This has definitely been a fascinating time in history to be alive. The degree to which technology and the way media is delivered and received has changed so dramatically 

in such a short period of time that it is truly mind boggling. When I finished broadcasting school ( a few months after that photo in the August 25 post was taken) I went to work for a little 500-watt AM radio station in my home town. The owners had spent half a million dollars putting the station on the air and its coverage area only went out a few miles in a very small town (with inflation factored in, a half million then would be the equivalent of around $2 million today).

Now any kid can register a domain for under $10, download some free software and broadcast to the entire world with virtually no overhead. When I started out you had to get past the gatekeepers (station owners, publishers, general managers, etc) to work at something you loved to do. Many talented people never made it through the gauntlet and gave up. Today there are no gatekeepers. With respect to media, any one can own their own online newspaper, magazine, radio station or TV station and distribute their content globally. If you have a talent for what you do, you also get to keep all of the revenues instead of working for someone else who determines the ceiling on what you can earn. It's a wonderful world we live in now. Despite the current economic trouble - today's opportunities outstrip anything that could have been imagined before the Internet."

Another member of that forum, Owen Frager, told me that, in an email to his clients yesterday, he had circulated a link to a story called 9 Ways You Can Take Advantage of This Terrible Economy. One of his readers took him to task for that, claiming that one of the items on the list "Start a New Company" was horrible advice given the current economy. 

The reader told Frager "I hope nobody else thinks that a shrinking market, companies closing down, means you jump and start a new company. Companies closing means demand is down so far there aren't enough sales to keep more doors open. I write about economics and have been doing so for more than two decades. That section in the newsletter about starting a company was very off base and makes me shake my head."

Owen Frager

Now if this reader has been talking about starting a new brick and mortar company I would have to agree with her. Been there, done that and I'm not going to do it again. But with the opportunities on the Internet today I don't think she could possibly be more wrong and out of touch with the possibilities that are there for the taking today. 

Frager was able to cite an example of his own. "With cheap hosting, shared photo drives, Saas, and third party alliances, web business is very efficient - you don't need the millions your 

Opportunity is knocking and the 
whole world
is waiting on the 
other side of the door.

employer did to start it. If I could build GrandNames into a 100 page site with a $79 WordPress template with my own two hands, and add a social community (including video presentations interactive by guest speakers) in seconds after reading about NING in the Wall Street Journal - all for FREE - anyone can do it," Frager wrote.

That's the beauty of the world we live in today. Anyone can do it. Sure, many new online businesses will fail, just as they do in the real world. But when you are only out $79 instead of your life savings you can try over and over again until you find a formula that works. I believe we have all been given specific gifts or talents. If you can identify and apply your particular talents to the unique global delivery 

platform that the Internet provides you have a chance to seize an opportunity and control your own future in a way that previous generations could never have dreamed of.

(Posted August 26, 2008) To refer others to the post above only you can use this URL:
http://www.dnjournal.com/archive/lowdown/2008/dailyposts/08-26-08.htm

First it was newspapers, then magazines, then TV - now the latest report of sinking traditional media revenues comes from radio. According to Radio Advertising Bureau (RAB) stats 

released late last week radio ad revenues have sunk 7% in the first half of 2008 compared to the same period last year, and the decline accelerated to 8% in the second quarter. But, as has been the case other media, there was one bright spot for radio - you guessed it - online

Radio's off-air revenues (which the industry defines as sources other than over the air broadcasting - primarily online) is soaring at double digit rates. MediaWeek wrote "...radio off-air revenue is "exceeding expectations," increasing at a compound annual 

growth rate of 12.3% over the past two years. The RAB has forecast off-air revenue, made up primarily of online activity, to pass $2 billion in 2009."

CL King & Associates anaylst Jim Boyle told MediaWeek that the radio industry has failed to recognize that their traditional over-the-air revenue streams may not come back unless they come up with some revolutionary changes. "There is a notable sense of denial of how harsh the prospects have been and continue to be for radio," Boyle said. "The classic CEO reply is radio is not bleeding as badly as newspapers." None the less all of the traditional media sectors are bleeding - today only one medium continues to grow ad revenues at double digits rates - that is our medium - the Internet.

P.S. If the radio photo above looks a little dated that's because it is. That's me at age 18 in broadcasting school, long before anyone had even dreamed of the Internet (in fact radio had barely been invented when that photo was taken!). 
(Posted
August 25, 2008) To refer others to the post above only you can use this URL:
http://www.dnjournal.com/archive/lowdown/2008/dailyposts/08-25-08.htm

My new iPhone 3G arrived today. When I first looked at the iPhone in the AT&T store the day I ordered it late last week, I immediately visited a couple of big websites to see if the people

who are saying the iPhone is a .mobi killer were right. My first impression was that this device could indeed spell big trouble for an extension devoted to bare bones sites.

With the Safari browser you can go anywhere on the web,  zoom in on any part of a page and move around to read whatever you want. However, after spending about a half hour browsing with it at home today, I'm not so sure. It did get a little tedious zooming in, out and around full scale sites after awhile. By the time I went to MLB.com (major league baseball's site) it was refreshing when it automatically loaded a mobile optimized site that fit the screen perfectly with all of the relevant information I needed and no further need to pan or scroll around the screen.

Of course, a site doesn't need a .mobi domain to do this (MLB.com, for example, doesn't use one) but it had me rethinking my initial reaction that the iPhone is the death knell for .mobi. Even on an advanced device like the iPhone, having sites branded as "made for mobile" (as .mobi is), could be a plus. I'll have a more informed opinion after using it for several days. The navigation around big sites will likely feel less tedious as I get used to the iPhone's touch screen finger control method, but at the moment, I'm thinking that rumors of .mobi's death at the hands of the iPhone may be premature. 

That's not to say .mobi doesn't have other hurdles to clear, just that the iPhone alone may not be the grim reaper. While its effect on .mobi could end up being neutral, the iPhone certainly reinforces the supremacy of .com by putting only a .com button on its keyboard to help people quickly complete entry of web addresses. If you want to use any other extension, you have to type it out. 

Next item: For those interested in joining other domainers from around the globe for a great time in Australia this fall, the agenda has been posted for the T.R.A.F.F.I.C. Down Under conference coming to the Gold Coast November 18-20. Fabulous.com, who is based in Brisbane, Australia will be hosting the event and having been round the Fab crew for years now, I can assure you they will make sure everyone has a great time and learns a few new things about the business while they're at it. 

Before closing out another week I also want to mention a very worthy charity auction project that SmashFactory.com is helping produce. They've teamed with auction site Bidjit.com and Escrow.com to put together a Bids for Kids domain auction that will raise money for St. Jude Children's Hospital.

Anyone can submit names to the auction which will charge a 15% sales commission with 10% of that fee going to St. Jude. Names will be accepted from now until September 15, with the final catalog to be posted online September 22. The three-day auction will then run October 1-3 on Bidjit.com. Check it out, it looks like a win win situation for everyone involved.

(Posted August 22, 2008) To refer others to the post above only you can use this URL:
http://www.dnjournal.com/archive/lowdown/2008/dailyposts/08-22-08.htm

I am clocking in late with today's Lowdown post (one of the best things about being your own boss is you can play hooky once in awhile without getting fired!). I have only been able to get online for a few minutes over the past 24 hours. Last night was my daughter's final night at home before heading back to college for here senior year so we all went out to dinner last night. After we got back I snuck a quick peak at DomainNameNews.com's live blogging of results from

Moniker's live auction at the Search Engine Strategies conference in San Jose which was still underway. 

The final results from that event were unfortunately awful with just $15,950 in total sales according to Moniker's site. An extended online auction in conjunction with the event will continue through Thursday, August 28, but it doesn't look like the SEO crowd has much interest in domain names (which could mean some bargains will be available for the rest of you in the ongoing online auction). The results from this auction were in sharp contrast to what we saw in Moniker's last live/online auction at the Internext Expo earlier this month where $828,825 in total sales were booked. 

Early this morning it was off to the airport to get our daughter on her way back to Philadelphia for her final year at Penn (next year it's on to medical school for four years - meaning I am going to have to start selling a lot more domain names!). Next, in an effort to help out the anemic American auto industry it was on to a local car dealership to buy our first new car in five years. If you have been through that process you know how quickly that can kill a whole day! 

We finally closed the deal and drove off the lot just in time to catch Tampa's rush hour. A couple of hundred emails were waiting when I got home so I have been whittling those down and, for those of you still waiting, will catch up with the rest Friday morning. 

One note that was waiting for me was Page Howe and Marshall Gilliam's announcement that they had taken over management of the GeoDomainList sales newsletter founded by Jeff Kubarych of DNFolio.com. The free GeoDomainList focuses on acquiring and offering pure city geo domains for sale in .com and other extensions, as well as place, region and county names. The list also includes geo targeted domains with a city or state name paired with a service, profession or web application, as well as brandable domains suitable for development and end-user resale. I'll be signing up myself tomorrow (as soon as I catch up with the rest of those overdue emails!).

Page Howe

(Posted August 21, 2008) To refer others to the post above only you can use this URL:
http://www.dnjournal.com/archive/lowdown/2008/dailyposts/08-21-08.htm

New domain auction site Bido.com has decided to close down for an undetermined amount of time after having their one-name-a-day online auction go down in midstream for the second 

straight day today. After the latest technical mishap Bido co-founder Sahar Sarid wrote on his blog, "We believe the right thing to do now is to spend time figuring out the issues and come back when we are ready. It may be few days, weeks, months, none of us really knows. All who submitted domains to Bido we will work with you to get it back to your accounts." Sarid said. Two other company services, DNZoom and Portfolio Help are to continue normal operations. 

While Bido tries to get a handle on their problems, Moniker will be back in action tonight with their latest live domain auction at the Search Engine Strategies conference in San Jose. It is scheduled to get underway at 8:45pm U.S. Eastern time (5:45pm Pacific). You can download the auction catalog from this page.

In other auction news, the latest one-week premium domain auction at Sedo's GreatDomains.com gets underway tomorrow afternoon and will run to approximately 2pm U.S. Eastern time Wednesday August 28. Some of the name on the block are Citizen.com (there is a high quality watch company that could really use this great generic domain), UD.com and Receipt.com, to name just a few. 

NameMedia's busy aftermarket sales platform, the AfternicDLS, has extended its reach with a  deal to become the exclusive provider of aftermarket domains to registrar Name.com. Beginning this month, Name.com customers will have full access to more than 800,000 domains targeted toward small to medium size businesses (SMBs).

Pete Lamson, the senior vice president and general manager of NameMedia’s Marketplace

said, “NameMedia has developed the world’s largest network of SMB targeted resale marketing partners.  Our mission is to create a global network of SMB focused domain buyers and sellers. The Name.com partnership we are announcing today is an important milestone towards this objective."

Name.com Founder and CEO Bill Mushkin added, “This was an easy decision to make. The Afternic Domain Listing Service has established itself as the industry’s leading venue for the sale of premium domains. We’ve been impressed with the consistent quality of their inventory and business for a long time.” 
(Posted
August 20, 2008) To refer others to the post above only you can use this URL:
http://www.dnjournal.com/archive/lowdown/2008/dailyposts/08-20-08.htm

Veteran domainer Rick Latona spends a lot of time traveling around the world. After a recent trip overseas where he saw many country code and IDN domains being advertised he came home wishing he had taken ccTLDs and IDNs more seriously. Latona wrote about that in a 

post on his blog today. Rick is one of the sharpest guys in the business so his blog is on my daily reading list, but I don't get a chance to leave comments at his and other sites I visit as often as I would like because of time constraints. 

I did comment on Latona's post though because, in addition to the subject matter being of interest to me, I felt I should respond to a comment earlier in the same thread that characterized my view of America's country code, .us, in a way that while well intentioned, was not quite accurate. After writing my response, I thought it might be worth expanding on it a bit and posting it here since many of our readers are interested in the prospects for ccTLDs as well.

Rick Latona

I have always liked country codes and with Internet penetration having now reached critical mass, allowing people to find a local provider of just about any product or service online, the various local ccTLDS are more attractive than ever.  I think the same can be said for IDNs which have many of the same characteristics as ccTLDs in that they identify a domain as being local in terms of language in the same way that ccTLDs identify domains as being local by the geographical location they represent. Over the past year or two I've noticed in the voluminous sales data that we receive a steadily increasing number of aftermarket sales for .es (Spain), .fr (France), .ca (Canada) and many other country codes in addition to the long-time ccTLD powerhouses .de (Germany) and .co.uk (Great Britain).

With respect to .us I do like the future prospects for the American country code and have a large portfolio of them, but I would have to temper the characterization of how I view them that was posted by someone else in Latona's comment section. They said I have been 

talking " passionately" about .us though I've actually written very little about the extension. However, when asked about .us (as I was recently by Forbes Magazine) I tell anyone who asks that I see a lot of potential there. 

.Com is so popular and heavily mined that many small to medium sized businesses have no chance of  getting a keyword or phrase relevant to their business in .com. If they are U.S. businesses I think the most logical alternative for them - as it is for businesses in other parts of the world - is their local country code. My .us sales have increased slowly but steadily every year (in both number of sales and the average value of each sale) since I started buying them in the spring of 2002 (shortly after the U.S. government opened the extension to all American citizens. 

However I have never said, as the commentator in Latona's thread indicated, that .us is going to be "huge" in the "near future." It can take many years for recognition of non .com extensions to develop (and for most of them recognition never does develop - one reason why I think the vast majority of proposed new extensions ICANN plans to start rolling out next year are doomed to fail - but that's another story). 

.US may eventually reach a "tipping point" where it has achieved enough recognition that adoption will accelerate (much as we have seen .ca, .es, .fr and others accelerate the past couple of years), but no one knows when or if that will happen. I personally think that it will happen, but if I had a truly reliable crystal ball I would be at the horse track right now rather than writing this post. 

You basically have to go with your gut instincts on how things will play out over time. Given how the rest of the world uses domain names, I see .us as a common sense long term bet for appreciation as the Internet continues to expand and people need relevant domains that mean something and are memorable to web users. The cost of entry is low and if Americans eventually follow the lead of so many other major countries,  the rewards could be significant. 

It is becoming more and more about "local" on the web so as an American, if I cannot get the term I want in .com, I now lean toward .us over .net (which, with its much higher level of recognition, would be most people's preferred alternative) or other options. The .us extension imparts a valuable message in the domain name by telling surfers where I am based. In most countries outside the U.S., web surfers look to their local ccTLD first because they want to deal with someone from their country who speaks their language (same with IDNs). There is also an aspect of national pride there that ccTLDs benefit from.

To a large degree, despite our cultural and linguistic differences, people around the world are the same, so I think Americans, when forced to look for an alternative to a specific term they want in .com (due to lack of availability or the high cost of the .com domain they want), will increasingly give serious consideration to their .us extension. I don't think anything on the horizon is going to have any impact on the dominance of .com, but there are always opportunities in niches and I think all of the industrial world ccTLDs and the IDNs are among the most interesting and promising niches out there right now.
(Posted
August 19, 2008) To refer others to the post above only you can use this URL:
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One of the world's top domain companies, Oversee.net, laid off approximatley 10% of their workforce Friday, with the cuts evenly distributed across their DomainSponsor, SnapNames 

Mason Cole, Oversee.net
VP of Corporate Communications

and Moniker divisions. I spoke with Oversee's Vice President of Corporate Communications, Mason Cole, about the layoffs this afternoon. "Everyone is being impacted by the weakness in the economy and even though Oversee is a  very sound company we have to behave responsibly and make necessary corrections until the economy rights itself and starts growing again," Cole said.

One key point Cole added was that Oversee has not changed any of their plans for the balance of 2008. "None of Oversee's products, services or partnerships will be affected - Moniker will stage all of the live auctions they have scheduled, Domainfest Global will have another great conference in January and everything else we have planned will go forward." Cole said. 

In our March 2008 Cover Story on Oversee 

co-founder and CEO Lawrence Ng, Ng said the company had about 200 employees at the end of 2007. The acquisition of Moniker.com that was announced in January added a few dozen to that figure so the 10% cut across the board likely affected 25-30 employees. No one from upper management was laid off at any of the Oversee divisions. The realignment was made at the middle management and staff level. 

Cole said that the economic downturn had affected all of Oversee's divisions uniformly -  no single part of the business was under performing - it was simply a matter of the economy affecting business activity overall.
(Posted August 18, 2008) To refer others to the post above only you can use this URL:
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Attorney John Berryhill has foiled another reverse hijacking attempt, perpetrated this time by a company called Hero of Switzerland who tried to use the WIPO process to steal the domain Hero.com from its rightful owner. The complainant is a food products company that 

Attorney John Berryhill

uses the word Hero on some of their product lines, but are probably better known in the U.S. for their Beech-Nut brand. 

"Hero" is clearly a generic word and it is used by many different companies to market their products and services. Still, the Swiss company thought they were somehow entitled to the hero.com domain even though it  belonged to someone else who has been using it in their business for well over a decade now.

The current owner, The Heroic Sandwich of Berkeley, California, used Hero.com as the name of one of New York City's first internet cafes in mid 1990s and after that venture closed, continued to use it as the name for a consulting service. It was clear that Heroic had every right to own the domain and should not have had to spend money fending off the pirates who tried to steal it. 

Fortunately the Hero.com owner made a good choice in enlisting the help of one of the industry's foremost attorneys in Dr. Berryhill who made mincemeat of the complainant's argument in winning a reverse hijacking decision against them. You can read all of the details from the WIPO decision here

This case is another reminder that there are bad actors on both sides of the playing field. We all know there are trademark infringers operating in the domain space who have hurt the image of the entire industry, but there are also corporate entities who grossly overreach the limited bounds of their mark, and resort to attempted theft as happened here. These cases deserve to get as much publicity as the ones that cast a negative light on domainers. Respecting the rights of others is a two way street
(Posted August 15, 2008) To refer others to the post above only you can use this URL:
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Hard to believe the T.R.A.F.F.I.C. New York conference is just a little over five weeks away. This will be the show's second trip to the Big Apple and if it is even half as successful as the first one in June 2007 was this will be another can't miss event. The lead sponsor of the 

conference, TrafficZ is wangling a tasty carrot in front of their clients who haven't decided whether or not to attend yet. 

If TrafficZ customers register for the Sept. 23-26 show by Wednesday August 20, the company will pay for their hotel bill for the first two nights at the Brooklyn Bridge Marriott. That's a savings of $598 for showgoers who use the popular parking service. To take advantage of the offer TrafficZ said their customers can simply register for the show and book their room from the link at the conference website. Then, once you have received a hotel confirmation number, email the confirmation, along with your name, to RSVP @ TrafficZ.com. Your credit card will be refunded for the proper among after your registration has been verified. 

In another bit of T.R.A.F.F.I.C. New York news, Moniker has released a preliminary list of the top candidates for their live domain auction at the show. Names like Ad.com, Stock.com, Bond.com and Asset.com are on the list and all would be naturals for NYC as a global advertising and financial center. Moniker is also still taking submissions for the Sept. 25 sale. 

TrafficZ customers can get two free nights here - the Marriott at the Brooklyn Bridge - where T.R.A.F.F.I.C. New York will be staged Sept. 23-26

Page Howe, the subject of our new August Cover Story that was posted today, has especially fond memories of last year's Moniker auction at T.R.A.F.F.I.C. New York. That's where he sold Seniors.com for $1.8 million. Amazingly, Howe had another $1 million sale just four months later with Guy.com. We have more on those megadeals and the inspiring inside story of the rise, fall and rebirth of Howe's Internet business in the new article. Hope you enjoy it.
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Hot on the heels of the item we posted yesterday about a downturn in the magazine business comes word that the New York Times is slashing staff at two newspapers they own in our area. According to a report in the Tampa Bay Business Journal the Lakeland Ledger is dropping  

36 employees and the Sarasota Herald-Tribune is cutting 33 people. Both papers have now lopped off about a third of the number of employees they once had. 

Ledger Publisher Jerome Ferson said “It is with deep regret that we find ourselves in circumstances that require us to reduce the work force. This is a very dynamic time we are in. I would characterize it as a struggle of epic proportions, but we have a base of talented employees that are capable of rising to the challenge.” 

I am left with mixed feelings about this kind of news. Those of us who do business on the Internet are benefiting mightily from the migration of readers and advertisers from traditional media to the web. However, having been a TV reporter in the Tampa Bay area for 17 years I still have many friends at the local papers, radio and TV stations and I hate to see any of those people lose their jobs. 

I do feel that in the long run it could end up being a blessing in disguise for some of them though. Their talents translate well to the web and I think many could become very successful as owners of their own media properties. With a domain name, a cheap hosting account and the ability to produce compelling content, something those professional journalists certainly have, there is no reason they can't become their own bosses and thrive in the new media world being created before our eyes. 

The kind of historic upheaval we are currently seeing in the media business has undoubtedly created pain for many but it has also created new opportunities that are there for the taking for those able to adapt to new ways of delivering news and information.
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As the foundations of traditional media continue to crumble, print magazines are the latest medium to find their necks in a noose. We've frequently written about the problems in the newspaper industry and more recently about analyst's projections that broadcast TV is headed 

for a big tumble as well. Now comes dour news in the magazine industry's latest financial report issued by the Audit Bureau of Circulations (ABC) Monday. Today Erik Sass detailed the bad tidings in his Media Daily News column titled Mags: The Hits Just Keep on Coming (and these are not good hits). 

Sass noted that according to the ABC figures, "several broad categories are seeing both circulation and ad pages drops - including newsweeklies, women's lifestyle and fashion, shelter and business titles." On average, newsweeklies saw circulation fall 2.8% since the start of the year and ad pages fell a whopping 17.5%, with much steeper drops at some individual titles. At women's fashion and beauty titles, circulation tumbled an average 10.6% and  women's lifestyle mags experienced an average circulation drop of 11.5%. Sass 

added "Business titles also took heavy hits in the first half of the year, with circulation down about 6.5% on average, and ad pages down 8.5%." Erik's column has a title by title breakdown showing how all major magazine titles fared in the opening half of 2008.

With the downturn in the general economy there is no way to know how much of the magazine business decline is related to economic conditions and how much can be attributed to magazine readers and advertisers migrating to the web. Whatever the case may be, this is still another illustration that in this day and age, the Internet is the place to be.
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A new article about the domain business at Forbes.com is currently the top-ranked story on the highly influential business news website. The article, titled Flipping for Domains, was 

written by Charlie Foster who dropped me a note to let me know that the piece was the #1 story at Forbes.com today. Foster's article includes quotes from a Connecticut teenager, Steven McDonald, who said he has grossed $325,000 from flipping domains. There are also comments from Sedo.com COO (and Internet Commerce Association President) Jeremiah Johnston, DNForum.com owner Adam Dicker and myself. 

I caught Foster's article just a few hours after finishing Wall Street Journal reporter David esmodel's book The Domain Game while flying home from a weekend trip to Chicago last 

David Kesmodel
Signing a copy of The Domain Game

night. Many others have already praised Kesmodel's work on this book and you can now add me to the chorus. It's obvious that a lot of hard work and research went into a well balanced book that instantly becomes a key reference for anyone interested in the history of the domain industry and where it may be headed in the future. 

All of the key figures are covered with many previously untold anecdotes that will give you some real insight into how those people became so successful. Kesmodel also canvassed a cross section of experienced domain investors to get their advice for industry newcomers. That section alone will help you avoid a lot of costly mistakes if you are just starting out. 

So don't miss it - the price is a pittance compared to the value of the information in this volume. Besides David could probably use the 

extra income since he has a new mouth to feed now. His wife Tanya just gave birth to a beautiful baby girl (their second daughter) Thursday night (August 7th). Our congratulations to them on the new arrival, something even the top spot on the New York Times best seller list couldn't top! 

While I was away for a rare three-day weekend (accompanying my wife to her high school reunion in southwestern Michigan) Moniker.com held their live domain auction at the Internext Expo in Hollywood, Florida where they rang up $578,650 in sales. An online auction in association with that event  is still underway and will wrap up Thursday (August 14). Meanwhile Moniker has announced the inventory list for their August 20 live auction at the Search Engine Strategies conference in San Jose (an accompanying online auction will continue through August 28). The names that will be on the block include Ad.com, Rebate.com (and Rebates.com), Searching.com and Brand.net, just to name a few.

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Editorial note: There will not be a Lowdown post Friday (August 8) as I will be traveling all day. Have a great weekend and I will be back with you on Monday! 

Domain owners are in the media business even though they don't always think of what they do in that way. The best thing about that is that the media business is a pretty darn good place to be right now. At Media Daily News this week columnist Joe Mandese kicked off his 

latest article with this sentence, "Despite broader issues in the overall economy, the media industry continues to be among the fastest growing industrial sectors in America." Better yet, Mandese cited a new study from private equity firm Veronis Suhler Stevenson (VSS) that details how the biggest waves within the media business are all breaking in favor of those of us who operate online

VSS said that "newspapers, long the dominant U.S. advertising platform, have fallen behind broadcast TV this year, which itself is poised to be usurped by the Internet within the next three years." VSS Executive VP James Rutherfurd said that in 2002, traditional media soaked up 95% of all ad spending. It has now fallen to 85% and Rutherfurd said it will plunge to 68% by 2012. 

VSS projects that ad spending on new media will climb 21% to $81.67 billion in 2008, and will account for 17.7% of total advertising and marketing spending, up from just 6.9% in 2002. "By comparison, traditional advertising and marketing will inch up only 0.4% in 2008 to $378.48 billion, including a 1.8% decline in traditional advertising, despite the influx of political and Olympics advertising, as newspapers, consumer magazines and broadcast radio all post declines for the year," the report projects.

The Internet land rush is still on despite a weak economy. Businesses of all kinds, and especially media businesses, want to operate on the web where the overhead is low and the reach is wide

Domains are the new printing presses for disseminating news and information, they are the storefronts for the millions of businesses setting up shop online and they are the billboards for businesses new and 

old that are moving their advertising to the Internet. I continue to believe that domain owners are in the right place at the right time as the media business continues to work its way through one of the biggest upheavals in history. 

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Auction news is coming at us from every direction today. Moniker has released the full catalog for their adult live domain auction at the Internext Expo Friday (August 8) in Hollywood,

Florida. An online auction being run in conjunction with that event starts tomorrow and will continue to August 14. Moniker will also be running an online only auction tied to the Affiliate Summit conference in Boston with that sale running August 10-21. As if August wasn't already busy enough for the Moniker crew they will also be running a live auction August 20 at the Search Engine Strategies show in San Jose. That event will also be accompanied by an online auction August 20-26. Looking ahead to next month, Moniker is accepting submissions for their live auction at the New York T.R.A.F.F.I.C. conference September 25.

The New York T.R.A.F.F.I.C. show will also mark the live auction debut of Thought Convergence's new Aftermarket.com platform. The site is now open and accepting submissions for their September 24 sale (one of at least four live auctions that will be staged by different providers during T.R.A.F.F.I.C. New York). More information on the Aftermarket.com live auction is available here

RickLatona.com will also be holding their first live domain auction at T.R.A.F.F.I.C. New York, also on September 24, and today Latona announced that his auctioneers will be World Livestock Champion Auctioneer Matt Lowery. Nice coup for Rick who always manages to make a big splash. 

Meanwhile. the new .me registry's premium domain auctions are still underway. So far Insure.me (which ends tomorrow) is drawing the most action with a high bid as of this writing of more than $37,000. Others already bid to the five-figure level include Brand.me ($18,540), Hug.me ($15,025) and Match.me ($12,265). As we write this the latter three auctions still had anywhere from 5 to 25 hours left to go. The top auctions closed thus far have been LasVegas.me ($15,105), ChatWith.me ($15,035) and Picture.me ($10,240).

One other note today recognizing Sedo.com for a nice charitable gesture. Throughout the month of August Sedo will be raising money for CHF International to construct new wells in Dhabardulel , Ethiopia . The wells will make accessing clean water easier for the more than 30,000 villagers in Dhabardulel affected by the 

severe drought occurring in the region. Sedo will set aside $10 from every $1,000 or higher sale in its popular marketplace (and $1 for every smaller sale) with half of the total amount collected going toward the well building effort and the other half to a randomly selected buyer or seller who closed a transaction through Sedo in August. This is the first project in a new SedoCares initiative announced this week to help address social and environmental issues that are affecting our world today.
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The Domain Roundtable Conference is heading east. The 2009 conference will be held in Washington, D.C. at the Grand Hyatt Hotel June 14-17, 2009. This will be the first 

Roundtable conference on the east coast. The event was started by Name Intelligence (the parent company of DomainTools.com) in 2005 and the first three annual shows were held in the Seattle area where Name Intelligence in based. This year the conference moved down the coast to San Francisco where the event was held this past April.  

Soon after that show it was announced that Thought Convergence, the parent company of TrafficZ.com, had purchased Name Intelligence. That put Thought Convergence in the 

conference business and the 2009 event in the nation's capital will be the first Roundtable staged under their banner (TrafficZ is also the lead sponsor of the T.R.A.F.F.I.C. conference and they plan to continue supporting that event as well). Though the dates are now posted at DomainRoundtable.com, the site will not open for show registration until approximately September 1

Taking the conference to Washington D.C. is a smart move in my opinion. In addition to being a great city with unique attractions, Washington will play an increasingly important role in the future of the domain industry. Congress will consider bills (like this year's ill advised Snowe Bill) that could greatly impact the business, the Internet Commerce Association is based there (which helped them effectively combat the Snowe Bill) and the Department of Commerce, who oversees ICANN, is also located in D.C. 

By holding the Roundtable conference in Washington domain owners will be given an opportunity to be seen and heard by key decision makers and counter a lot of misinformation that industry opponents have spread among important players there. It is going to be an important event, so mark your calendars now.

In another show note Fabulous.com and T.R.A.F.F.I.C., who are joining forces to stage the T.R.A.F.F.I.C. Down Under conference in November,  announced that all profits from attendees and event sponsorships will be donated to the Internet Commerce Association (ICA), the non-profit advocate for the domain name industry. T.R.A.F.F.I.C. Down Under will be held November 18-20 at the Sheraton Mirage Resort on Australia's famous Gold Coast.

A joint  press release from the show organizers and the ICA said "The ICA is a grass roots organization which has been formed to ensure domain services and owners are robustly represented in areas of great risk and importance to the global domain community. The ICA utilizes dues and contributions to enable activities related to legislative lobbying, regulatory representation, industry public relations, legal test case support, industry publication of statistics and reports, revenue research, and market intelligence. In order for the association to continue

and expand its activities, it requires the support and participation from current members, and also from the entire professional domain name community."

Fabulous.com's Chief Strategy Officer Dan Warner said, “This is a fantastic opportunity to support the ICA while networking with prominent domainers and industry leaders. We have planned an event where delegates will work and play hard in an environment like no other.” 

ICA Executive Director Michael Collins added, “We greatly appreciate T.R.A.F.F.I.C. Down Under’s contribution to the association, and we hope the community will follow suit and support ICA by attending the event in November.”

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It's no secret that PPC returns have been diminishing over the past year. Many domain owners are switching their focus to aftermarket sales or domain development to help offset the decline in revenue. In the past week we've also seen new initiatives spring from the domain community aimed at improving monetization options. 

Recall Media Group's Bido.com unveiled a new program called Portfolio Help (to reach this page that has more details on the program you have to register at Bido.com) that aims to improve parking returns rather than abandon the pay per  

click platform all together. Their strategy involves getting portfolio owners to band together so they can shop a larger block of traffic to the highest bidder. Their site says "Just because you may be happy with your existing parking provider doesn't mean that you're getting the best possible rates. Keep in mind there may be more than one rate available, such as individual rates, or bulk rates. For individuals, bulk rates can be very difficult to obtain. With our combined volume, however, we are able to pull together to get outstanding rates that benefit everyone."

For those who want to venture beyond parking, Rick Latona's new AEIOU.com site offers an affordable solution. Latona explained the new offering in a post on his blog Friday saying, "We’ve been building, SEO optimizing and marketing our domains as mini-sites for a couple of years now. I hate parking and most of you 

know this. When we build a site we put custom written content on it and then do link building on the domain so that Google and the other major search engines will feel it is relevant. The end result is that the names get listed in the search engines and have rankings that continue to improve."

Latona added. "What we’ve put together is a simple formula and an assembly line process that can quickly and cheaply allow us to take any domain, slap a simple design on it, 5 pages of custom text, and a day of intense link building all at an affordable price. Because we use separate experts for each task and pump out hundreds of sites per week we are able to offer this service to you, the domainer, for $250 or less per name." 

There's one other interesting new service we want to note today, but this one involves managing domain news and information rather than monetization. Many of you are already familiar with 

Domaining.com, a site that pulls headlines from various domain news feeds and posts them in chronological order so you can scan the latest information from a wide variety of sites in one place.  

A new RSS aggregation service has now entered the fray at DNHeadlines.com. Their twist is that they keep each site's headlines together in individual sections devoted to each source they draw from.

In an interview with Sergio Rodriguez at Facebook.com, DNHeadlines creator Michael Rhodes explained the rationale behind his approach saying "I had researched RSS Mashups, but just couldn't get on board with the idea of mixing all kinds of great content together. An RSS Mashup would have buried the scope, continuity, and tone of the content contributors, and valuable interesting content would get bumped off the list when new mashed content is updated. I decided on RSS Feed aggregation; a method by which targeted feeds are parsed, pulling out the bits I need like the title, the most recent ten posts and the first 200 characters, and the root web address for the header."

The result is an in depth, neatly organized compilation of recent news and information from close to four dozen sites around the web. Domaining.com and DNHeadlines.com are quite different from each other as a result and they complement each other well. Domaining.com gives you a quick overview of news from the past 24 hours while DNHeadlines offers a broader range of recent material that stays in view for a week or more. Domain news junkies will want to bookmark both sites.
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Hot Link! Entrepreneur Magazine has published a very nice article on the domain business by Laura Tiffany titled Imminent Domaining. The piece has extensive quotes from Howard Hoffman (PPCIncome.com), John Motson (DNXpert.com) and myself. The piece does a nice job of explaining this industry to the magazine's audience of serial entrepreneurs - a group that is always looking for new opportunities. I continue to believe that domains offer one of the best opportunities in the business world for those who do their homework and invest wisely.
(Posted August 3, 2008)  

Interest in domain development continues to rise as domain owners seek ways to offset declining PPC revenue. That makes a new seven-part series on Domain Development at SearchEngineGuide.com especially timely. Author Stoney deGeyter just released the 6th part of the series (with the final installment due soon) called Seven Building Blocks of a Destination Website: #6 Voice

Stoney deGeyter

In the latest chapter DeGeyter wrote about how to craft the content on your site, regardless of how many people contribute to the writing, in a way that allows the site to convey its own special personality. "Understanding who your audience is and what type of voice will speak best to them is key to developing an effective voice that goes beyond just engaging your readers with your product or services. To engage them, you must be engaging," DeGeyter said. 

Before you start developing your web content 

DeGeyter believes you first need to determine what kind of voice you want your site to have and how you'll ultimately deploy it. He added that your voice could have any of several possible characteristics - it could humorous, serious, whimsical, thoughtful, brutally honest, etc. He gives specific writing examples of each in his latest article.

By giving your website a voice DeGeyter said, "you create a unique personality that each visitor is able to identify with. This personality you have developed is then able to do more than just sell your product or service, it becomes one of the main draws that brings visitors back time and time again. The visitor no longer feels like a guest, but instead has become a friend." 

It's an interesting series that is well worth reading for anyone planning to tackle the development process.
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