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The Lowdown



December 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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The Internet has now passed newspapers and trails only TV as the most popular source for news according to a new report from the respected Pew Research Center for the People & the Press. In 2008, 40% of Pew's survey respondents said they got most of their national

and international news from the Internet, versus 35% for newspapers. That is a huge 16-point jump for the Internet which had only a 24% share in Pew's survey just one year ago

With non-stop horror stories about he decline of the newspaper industry everyone knew that the Internet was steadily gaining ground on the papers, but this is the first time the web has 

completely overtaken newspapers in the minds of news consumers. The web now has its sights set on dislodging TV from the top spot and that change already appears to be well under way

The Pew report said "For young people the internet now rivals television as a main source of national and international news. Nearly six in ten Americans younger than 30 (59%) say they get most of their national and international news online; an identical percentage cites television. In September 2007, twice as many young people said they relied mostly on television for news than mentioned the internet (68% vs. 34%)."  By overcoming that 34-point deficit in just one year, the Internet is obviously gaining momentum at a spectacular pace. It will surely pass TV in the under 30 demographic by this time next year on its way to becoming the #1 news source among all media platforms.
(Posted Dec. 31, 2008) To refer others to the post above only you can use this URL:
http://www.dnjournal.com/archive/lowdown/2008/dailyposts/12-31-08.htm

Pingdom.com just published an interesting article analyzing the upsurge in WIPO disputes over the past five years. They found that the number of WIPO cases has doubled since 2003. That reversed a trend from 2000-2003 that saw disputes dropping each year.

While Pingdom posits that the introduction of Google Adsense might be the key factor in the increasing number of domain disputes I think a bigger factor has been the steady rise in domain values that began in late 2003. When mainstream media started reporting on the domain boom, awareness of the high value of good domains became far more widespread. That prompted legal experts in our annual State of the Industry reports to predict that WIPO cases would shoot up as covetous parties looked for ways to get their hands on those valuable assets without paying market value for them. 

In our January 2006 report, attorney Ari Goldberger noted, ""We witnessed a big increase in domain name disputes in 2005 as the increased value of domains justified the associated legal costs. There were also more attempted reverse domain name hijackings and domain thefts. Domain owners need to make protection of their domains a primary part of their business strategy, being careful to avoid collisions with parties that own trademarks identical or confusingly similar to their domains. That means being careful to avoid PPC links for products sold by such trademark owners or their competitors. In 2006, as ecommerce continues to grow internationally, there will be more and more disputes of all kinds involving domain names - the real estate and storefronts of the Internet." 

Pingdom's new report shows how prescient Goldberger was when he made those comments almost three years ago. Since complainants have won 85% of WIPO cases even those with flmsy claims are emboldened to make a run at domains they would like to take from current owners. 

We have several other bits of news for you today. The aftermarket for Australia's .au ccTLD domains just got a big boost with the announcement that a major Aussie registrar, NetRegistry, has signed an agreement with a new Australian domain sales site, Netfleet, to help develop and promote their aftermarket platform. Netregistry CEO Larry Bloch thinks the Australian aftermarket has a lot of growth potential but added, “Currently our efforts are 

focused on education as much as anything – most people do not even realize that (.au) domain names are now tradeable assets so it’s a question of creating the industry as well as satisfying the demand."

Organizers of the T.R.A.F.F.I.C. Silicon Valley 2009 conference coming up in April are reminding those thinking about attending that tomorrow night (Dec. 31) at midnight is the deadline to get a free 7-DVD set as an early registration bonus. The DVD's feature Steve Forbes, Terry Jones, Tom Gardner, Barbara Corcoran, Jim McCann, John Reese plus Andrew Miller and Mike "Zappy Zapolin" speaking at previous T.R.A.F.F.I.C. shows. 

NameMedia has also put out word about another free BuyDomains webinar coming up Thursday, January 29. This one will cover "How to Leverage Google Analytics to Support Your Small Business Goals". The agenda is scheduled to touch on these topics:

  • Why the Right Domain Name is Critical for Your Small Business Website

  • How to Read Reports, Compare to Regular Stats and use the Data

  • Overview of Organic and Paid Search

  • Q&A Session

(Posted Dec. 30, 2008) To refer others to the post above only you can use this URL:
http://www.dnjournal.com/archive/lowdown/2008/dailyposts/12-30-08.htm

The collapse of newspapers triggered by the migration of readers to the Internet has started a chain reaction that is causing related dominoes to fall one by one. According to a story in the 

New York Times, "The Comics Are Feeling the Pain of Print", the venerable comic strip, a newspaper staple for over a century, is the latest traditional institution facing extinction.

Like the papers, major comic syndicators are hoping to save themselves by moving to the web themselves. The author of the Times article, Leslie Berlin wrote, "In November, United Feature Syndicate, which distributes 50 comics, including “Peanuts,” 

Dilbert” and “Get Fuzzy,” made its full archives and portfolio available free on its Comics.com Web site. The company also added social networking features for tagging and rating comics. Visitors can have comics sent to them via e-mail or RSS feed." 

Berlin added, "In the past, Comics.com displayed the current day’s strips and a 30-day archive free. Anyone wishing to see older comics or receive comics via e-mail had to pay a subscription fee of less than $20 a year. However, The syndicate decided that the subscription model “was limiting the audience for comics, and It appears to have been right." After the charge was dropped, November traffic to the site increased 48%, to 571,000 unique visitors in the U.S. alone.

Comics.com is currently more of a marketing tool than a major source of revenue. Lisa Wilson, senior vice president of syndication for United Media, told the Times the site does bring in money from advertisers, including cellphone companies and Netflix, but its primary function is to build a fan base and provide links to sites where fans can buy books, calendars and other items featuring characters from the comics. Wilson said the site is “a platform for what comes next.”

Yet more evidence that the future of almost all forms of media is on the Internet. That migration is one of the key factors underpinning the value of memorable domain names like Comics.com, a name that is playing a key role in the shift of comic strips to the web.
(Posted Dec. 29, 2008) To refer others to the post above only you can use this URL:
http://www.dnjournal.com/archive/lowdown/2008/dailyposts/12-29-08.htm

The dates and location for the 2009 GeoDomain Expo have been announced. After being held in Chicago this past July, the show moves to San Diego in 2009 and also gets a change of 

season with spring time dates April 24-25. Mark Burgess and his team at SanDiego.com will be hosts for this fifth annual edition of the geodomain industry's premier event. 

The 24th and 25th (a Friday and Saturday) are the public show dates. As in the past, there will be 

private sessions for Associated Cities members only the day before the show officially opens (those sessions will be held on Thursday, April 23). The conference is staged by Associated Cities and they have posted more information about the 2009 event on their website

While you are at the Associated Cities site, be sure to check out a new article published this week in which several well-known geodomainers; David Castello, Jessica Bookstaff and Sean Pilfold share their bullish expectations for the geodomain business in 2009.

Incidentally, for those who attend both the GeoDomain Expo and T.R.A.F.F.I.C., the April 2009 dates will be a convenient fit. The next T.R.A.F.F.I.C. conference will be held in Silicon Valley April 27-30

With the GeoDomain Expo closing on Saturday night (April 25), you can travel up the California coast on Sunday (April 26) and be at the Santa Clara Marriott in plenty of time for the opening of T.R.A.F.F.I.C. on Monday (April 27). For show goers from the East Coast that will be much easier than making two trans-contintental trips in April.

Marriott Hotel - Santa Clara, California
Site of T.R.A.F.F.I.C. Silicon Valley 200
9

This will be T.R.A.F.F.I.C.'s second appearance in the Silicon Valley. A very successful show was held at the same hotel in 2006.
(Posted Dec. 26, 2008) To refer others to the post above only you can use this URL:
http://www.dnjournal.com/archive/lowdown/2008/dailyposts/12-26-08.htm

 

 Merry Christmas to each and every one of you! 

Somehow, not only for Christmas but all the long year through, 
The joy that you give to others is the joy that comes back to you. 
And the more you spend in blessing the poor and lonely and sad, 
The more of your heart's possessing returns to you glad. 

John Greenleaf Whittier (1807-1892)

Christmas began in the heart of God. It is complete only when it reaches the heart of man.

In a story that has transcended the domain business and made headlines at every mainstream business news outlet, Verizon Communications Inc. said it has been awarded $33.2 million in what it called the largest cybersquatting case ever. A federal court in 

California ruled that  OnlineNic.com, a large, long-established domain registrar based in San Francisco "unlawfully registered at least 663 domain names that were either identical to or confusingly similar to Verizon trademarks." The company was awarded $50, 000 per name for OnlineNIC's "bad-faith registrations" that were intended to steer traffic away from Verizon's sites (federal law provides for a penalty of up to $100,000 per name). 

 

OnlineNic lost by default because they did not even bother to show up in court to defend the case, a very surprising situation given that a judgment of this size could bankrupt the registrar. A couple of thoughts immediately crossed my mind when this news broke. #1 - what could OnlineNic have possibly been thinking! Verizon has been vigorously going after those infringing their trademarks for a long time now and their 2007 lawsuit against iREIT was major news in the domain industry that OnlineNic had to know about. Why would they hold a massive lot of clearly infringing names when doing so put a huge target on their back and their entire business at risk? 

The second thing that came to mind is how does Verizon continue to win judgments against cybersquatters when Verizon is one of the most active cybersquatters on the Internet themselves!? As anyone who uses Verizon as an internet service provider knows (they happen to be my ISP too) any time you mis-type a name in your browser, the typo (if there is not an existing website with the 

misspelled name) leads to Verizon's own in-house landing page with PPC links monetizing those typos - including countless trademarked terms. For example, I just typed HulettPackerd.com into my browser and was sent to a Verizon page loaded with PPC links to Hewlett Packard products (see screenshot below).

How is this different from what OnlineNic just lost $33 million for doing? Infringement is infringement. Make no mistake, I think OnlineNic was dead wrong (not to mention plain stupid) for what they did - but I think Verizon is dead wrong in what they are doing in monetizing other company's typos too. Do you think they are turning the money earned from pages like this over to Hewlett Packard? Neither do I. The rules should apply equally to everyone. When Verizon does it they call it a "service". When someone else does it they call it "cybersquatting". I think it is the latter, but in any case what is good for the goose is good for the gander.
(Posted Dec. 24, 2008) To refer others to the post above only you can use this URL:
http://www.dnjournal.com/archive/lowdown/2008/dailyposts/12-24-08-2.htm

Name Media has decided to pull to their planned IPO citing market conditions, according to their regulatory filings. The Massachusetts-based domain conglomerate (parent company of

BuyDomains, the AfternicDLS and several parking services), originally filed for a $172.5 million IPO in November 2007. In a news report today, Reuters is reporting that the number of companies that have withdrawn a planned IPO this year now rises to 103

Reuters said, "The market turbulence has led to the slowest year in IPOs since 2003, with more than three times as many deals withdrawn as those that have gone ahead. 26 tech companies have canceled their IPO plans this year. Those deals would have yielded an estimated $2.5 billion in proceeds, according to Thomson Reuters data."

 

(Posted Dec. 24, 2008) To refer others to the post above only you can use this URL:
http://www.dnjournal.com/archive/lowdown/2008/dailyposts/12-24-08.htm

PC World magazine presented an interesting piece of domain history in a new article published this week about The Internet's 100 Oldest Dot-Com Domains. Writer J.R. Raphael 

noted that the first dot-com domain registered was Symbolics.com on March 15, 1985 (a good trivia question to ask around the bar at the next domain convention). Raphael added, "The site belonged to a computer manufacturer 

known for its Open Genera Lisp and Macsyma computer algebra systems. Symbolics declared bankruptcy in the early 90s but is still under operation with new owners. That means Symbolics.com is the Internet's oldest still-functioning dot-com domain - and, I must say, it still looks like it was designed in 1985."

Only nine more domain names were registered in the 12 months following the registration of Symbolics.com. The ten oldest domains include four 3-letter domains (a category that remains popular to this day). Those historic ten names are: 

1. Symbolics.com: March 15, 1985
2. BBN.com: April 24, 1985
3. Think.com: May 24, 1985
4. MCC.com: July 11, 1985
5. DEC.com: September 30, 1985
6. Northrop.com: November 7, 1985
7. Xerox.com: January 9, 1986
8. SRI.com: January 17, 1986
9. HP.com: March 3, 1986
10. Bellcore.com: March 5, 1986

When you consider that any name could have been registered in those early days, it is a bit surprising what was NOT registered - but back then no one had an inkling how valuable domain names would become a little over a decade later.  You can review PC World's entire 100 Oldest Domains list here
(Posted
Dec. 23, 2008) To refer others to
the post above only you can use this URL:
http://www.dnjournal.com/archive/lowdown/2008/dailyposts/12-23-08.htm

Veteran domainer Mike "Zappy" Zapolin, one of the co-founders of the Internet Real Estate Group (IREG) that we profiled in a 2005 DN Journal Cover Story, met with Israel's President, 

Shimon Peres, last week when Zappy was a featured speaker at the Globes Israel Business Summit in Tel Aviv. Israel's Globes business magazine also ran a profile of Zapolin just before his appearance at the conference.

In that magazine interview Zappy said, “Although the current economic situation is dismal, the Internet is a ray of light where it is possible to do business on a larger scale than ever before. Today, 21% of content consumed is online, but just 7% of the money channeled to the advertising industry reaches the Internet. This gap will narrow.”

At IREG Zappy and his partners scored big with the sale of Beer.com for $7 million, CreditCards.com for $2.75 million and Shop.com at $3.5 million.

IREG's Mike "Zappy" Zapolin and Israeli 
President Shimon Peres last week in Tel Aviv

These days the company concentrates on developing their prime generic domains, like Chocolate.com, rather than selling them. IREG also owns gems like Insurance.com, Patent.com and Jeans.com.

When Globes asked Zapolin how the current recession would affect online advertising he noted, "It’s true that the growth rate in the online advertising industry is slowing, but it’s still growing, and it will only continue to grow in the coming years. Advertisers are now abandoning traditional advertising channels and rushing to the Internet, where it’s possible to measure the marketing and to create a high ROI (return on investment).” In another interesting tidbit from the interview Zapolin revealed that he is planning to publish a book soon that will include tools for finding good domains and tips for creating reputation, reliability, and traffic.

(Posted Dec. 22, 2008) To refer others to the post above only you can use this URL:
http://www.dnjournal.com/archive/lowdown/2008/dailyposts/12-22-08.htm

The U.S. Government has joined the chorus saying "Not so fast!" to ICANN's plan to start rolling out an unlimited number of new global domain extensions next year. In a report just released this afternoon, Reuters reporter Kim Dixon said the U.S. Department of 

Commerce, the branch that oversees ICANN, sent a letter to the domain name system's oversight body yesterday (Dec. 18) stating "It is unclear that the threshold question of whether the potential consumer benefits outweigh the potential costs has been adequately addressed." 

Commerce went on to say that ICANN needs to prove it can handle a potentially huge influx of applications and how it will police issues related to intellectual property rights. The government agency also said that any introduction of new names must not jeopardize the stability and structure of the domain name system. You can read the full text of the DOC letter here.

With the Commerce letter coming in the wake of objections lodged by a trade association representing thousands of nationally known brands and trademark holders, an anti new TLD tide is obviously on the rise. In any case it appears that the rollout of new extensions will have to be delayed while ICANN deals with all of the objections that are now coming to the fore. Thanks to David Castello for the tip on this breaking news.
(Posted Dec. 19, 2008) To refer others to the post above only you can use this URL:
http://www.dnjournal.com/archive/lowdown/2008/dailyposts/12-19-08.htm

If you missed yesterday's GoDaddy Radio Show featuring GoDaddy Founder and CEO Bob Parsons chatting with Domain Name Wire's Andrew Allemann the program is available for 

replay on the GoDaddy Radio home page. Parsons invited Allemann to come on the program to talk about articles Andrew posted at DNW that were critical of GoDaddy. Those articles prompted Parsons to order a couple of major changes at the company including a rollback in starting bid prices for high traffic domains at GoDaddy's aftermarket auction site, TDNAM.com and a decision to shut down a domain warehousing subsidiary called Standard Tactics.  

I thought Allemann and Parsons both came off very well in what turned out to be a cordial information-rich discussion. Most corporate CEOs automatically become defensive in the face of 

criticism and seek to demonize their critics. Parsons' response was the exact opposite. He welcomed Allemann's critiques and said hearing unbiased outside opinions like that are invaluable in helping the company fix things that aren't being done right. 

Allemann came to the discussion very well prepared and brought up a number of other questions about GoDaddy policies that elicited answers from Parsons that produced a lot of insight into the company's reasoning. Knowing Andrew and being a fan of his work, I knew he would be up to the occasion and he certainly was.

Though GoDaddy has been called out on more that one issue this year their customers obviously feel they are doing a lot of things right. They are the world's biggest registrar and now command 46% of the new registration  

Andrew Allemann
DomainNameWire.com

market. Though the private company doesn't release exact figures Parsons said their sales topped $250 million this year and were in the neighborhood of $500 million

When you reach those kinds of dizzying heights it is easy to become arrogant and think that you know it all. To his credit Parsons, who was featured in a 2004 DN Journal Cover Story, still comes across as a regular guy who, despite amazing entrepreneurial success, has managed to keep both feet on the ground and his ears open to new ideas. Kudos to both men on a good show.

Sedo's Martin Osusky

While we are handing out compliments, Sedo deserves one as well. The aftermarket giant announced Wednesday that it has received an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau (BBB).  The A+ grade is the highest the BBB awards and it represents the organization’s belief that Sedo is operating in a trustworthy manner and will make a good faith effort to resolve any customer concerns. 

Sedo's Director of Customer Relations Martin Osusky said, "This A+ rating reflects the knowledge, patience and commitment of Sedo’s Customer Support Team. I’m proud to see Sedo being recognized and rewarded for the level of dedication we provide to our customers every day.” You can see Sedo’s Better Business Bureau profile here.

(Posted Dec. 18, 2008) To refer others to the post above only you can use this URL:
http://www.dnjournal.com/archive/lowdown/2008/dailyposts/12-18-08.htm

Even though 2008 was a bad year for the economy it was a boom year for the world's biggest domain registrar - GoDaddy.com. The company's sales shot up a stunning 42% this 

year and GoDaddy founder Bob Parsons made sure his employees knew they were appreciated by treating them to a $2 million holiday party last Saturday night in Phoenix. The gala event was staged at Chase Field (home of the Arizona Diamondbacks major league baseball team) and featured live performances from Joan Jett, .38 Special and comedian Sinbad

In addition to a fabulous feast, there were prize drawings that doled out free motorcycles and cash awards as high as $5,000. Parsons told the crowd the largesse was possible, even in a severe recession, because the company was part of a new economic order being driven by the Internet. "We're helping put millions of people on the Internet so they can be part of the new order. The new economy is going to allow America to rise from the ashes of this recession," Parsons said.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bob Parsons
GoDaddy Founder & CEO

 

 

 

 

 

There was more news from GoDaddy this week. Reacting to a story written by Andrew Allemann at DomainNameWire.com, the company made a major policy change in pricing domains listed on their TDNAM.com aftermarket auction site. Domains with traffic and existing revenue were being assigned a significantly higher opening bid than other domains on the site, prompting Allemann to observe that the practice essentially amounted to the auction house bidding against its own customers. Upon reflection, and to his credit, Parsons agreed and ended the pricing disparity. 

Parsons didn't stop there. He also invited Allemann to be a guest on his GoDaddy Radio Show this afternoon at 4pm (US Eastern time). Andrew has been critical of GoDaddy on several other issues this year so the discussion should be a very open and interesting one. 

Andrew Allemann
DomainNameWire.com

(Posted Dec. 17, 2008) To refer others to the post above only you can use this URL:
http://www.dnjournal.com/archive/lowdown/2008/dailyposts/12-17-08.htm

Major trademark holders and national advertisers are calling on ICANN to stop, or at least slow down, its plan to roll out an unlimited number of new global TLDs in 2009. Last night 

Broadcast & Cable magazine reported that the Association of National Advertisers (ANA), in a letter to ICANN CEO Dr. Paul Twomey, called the proposal premature and counterproductive. ANA represents 9,000 brands that spend $100 billion annually on advertsing and marketing. 

ANA Executive VP Daniel Jaffe said, "Presently, ANA’s members expend substantial sums of money monitoring domain name abuse, defensively registering domains (sometimes in the hundreds or even thousands) and prosecuting squatters and other violators. 

These new costs are likely to escalate substantially" if ICANN moves forward with its plans. Jaffe added that ANA does not think ICANN has shown a demand that justifies the "massive burdens" the plan would impose and should reevaluate the plan. 

Also Monday, the Internet Commerce Association (ICA), a trade association representing domain owners, sent a detailed letter to ICANN registering its own reservations about the introduction of new gTLDs. Like ANA,  the ICA thinks the process is being moved along much too quickly given the high stakes involved. ICA Legal Counsel Phil Corwin wrote " ICANN has not provided sufficient time for review of and comment upon the draft gTLD Applicant Guidebook and should provide a comment period of no less than sixty days following publication of the next revision, and should also consider a third comment period if considerable controversy or questions persist."

My opinion, as I have stated in the past, is that there is no need or demand for new gTLDS, especially since the new TLDs already introduced by ICANN (including .info and .biz

Phil Corwin
ICA Legal Counsel

remain under utilized years after their rollouts. The primary motive for the rollout seems to be opening up a new revenue stream for ICANN who will collect six-figure fees for each new extension they approve.

Monday was a busy day for the ICA. In addition to filing their new gTLD letter with ICANN, the domain industry trade association released ts 2008 Annual Report. The document details what the organization accomplished in 2008 and 

what is in store for 2009 including new initiatives and elections aimed at broadening the ICA's base. As you know, I support the ICA. It is my firm belief that unless domain owners find the will to band together and fight escalating attempts to usurp their rights, they will continue to be easy targets for those seeking to separate them from their assets.
(Posted Dec. 16, 2008) To refer others to the post above only you can use this URL:
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For the domain parking companies there may be a silver lining in the dark cloud Google cast over their businesses last week when the search giant announced they were going into 

Is there a silver lining in the dark cloud 
Google cast over PPC conpanies last week?

direct competition with their own downstream PPC service providers. As I said here Friday the bottom line will be whether or not domain owners can make more money going direct with Google than they can with their current parking companies. It is still way too early to say for sure, but some of the early feedback indicates those looking for the pot at the end of the rainbow aren't going to find it in Google's expanded Adsense for domains program. 

On Saturday a DNForum.com member posted about his early results after moving some domains to Google, writing "Revenue so far is down by almost 35% for me. I'll assume its due to the fact that the change in name servers and records have yet to propagate through out the internet. However, if this continues, it's back to Parked.com for me. CTR (click through 

rate) also has a marginal decrease. The 200 channel limit is stupid if you have thousands of names. I already miss simple features like origin of traffic and searches, etc. not to mention vibrant templates. Sure, one click landers may even things out but I've yet to see any true benefits. I'll give it a few more days to see how it fares though."

Due to lack of transparency in the parking business (largely due to Google refusing to let their parking partners disclose more information) some believe their parking companies give them the short end of the stick. They may now learn that the PPC companies have been giving them a better deal than Google themselves is willing to give individual domain owners. If it becomes clear that is the case the parking companies are going to be big winners in their customer's eyes.

This is just the top of the first inning in what is shaping up to be a long ball game though. We have to wait and see how Google's plan unfolds. Will they roll out a better interface (drastically needed), attractive templates, comprehensive reporting systems, etc (things domain owners have become accustomed to with their current PPC providers)? Will they match or better the payments people can get through their current PPC providers in an effort to siphon off their business?

The other question to be answered is what was Google's ultimate motivation for going down this path? Several knowledgeable observers think the reason is not simply a money grab aimed at putting their partners out of business, but part of a previously announced desire to see the domain channel "cleaned up" (as well as to get their hands on valauable account level data that is currently held by the parking companies). Rick Schwartz writes about this in an interesting new post on his blog today. 

UK based blogger Julia MacKenzie, who has shown some great insight on Google related matters, does so again on her Is It Me or Is Everyone Else Stupid? blog where she wrote about the channel clean up theory Friday. For still another interesting angle, check out Andrew Allemann's post about early reaction from some of Google's parking company partners today at Domain Name Wire. It looks like Google watching is shaping up to be the most popular pastime in the domain industry in 2009.

On another front, Aftermarket.com has been chosen as the live auction provider for the Domainer Mardi Gras conference coming up in New Orleans Feb. 19-21, 2009. Those dates fall on the weekend of the world famous Mardi Gras celebration which will certainly give this event a spectacular backdrop. The show is being staged by Modern Domainer Magazine and Parked.com.The live auction will be held on Saturday, February 21 and bidders can participate in person or online. 

Modern Domainer Managing Editor Ezra James said, "Aftermarket.com’s auction platform is a leader in the industry and we are thrilled to have them be a part of Domainer Mardi Gras." Ammar Kubba, the Chief Strategy Officer at Aftermarket.com's parent company, Thought Convergence, Inc., added "We are extremely honored to be part of and to provide premier auction services for Domainer Mardi Gras. It is our 

goal to offer risk management related domain names in the Domainer Mardi Gras auction. Given the revelry environment of Mardi Gras, we also welcome festive related domain names for submission to the auction.” 
(Posted Dec. 15, 2008) To refer others to the post above only you can use this URL:
http://www.dnjournal.com/archive/lowdown/2008/dailyposts/12-15-08.htm

The big buzz in the domain industry  over the past 24 hours has centered on Google's announcement yesterday that  they have opened up their AdSense for domains program to all North American publishers (domain owners), with other regions soon to follow. That means that 

anyone can now park their domain names directly with Google. In addition to potentially siphoning customers away from parking companies, this, for the first time, opens the PPC door to those who did not have a large enough portfolio, or domains of high enough quality, to get an account with one of the parking companies that have traditionally served as the middlemen between Google and individual domain owners. 

 

Many are declaring the move is a death sentence for Google's parking company partners, like DomainSponsor, Sedo and Fabulous, but it is far too early to determine what impact this will have on PPC providers who offer the Google feed. It will all boil down to one question - can those who go direct to Google make more money than they can make using one of the parking companies? We won't know the answer to that until those who make the switch start reporting on whether their revenues are going up, down or staying the same.

On the surface it looks like a no brainer - if you cut out the middle man and go direct you are bound to collect more money, right? Not necessarily and in this case probably not even likely. I have used AdSense in the past and (like many others I have spoken with) have found the payouts to be underwhelming to say the least. In addition, there are a lot of problems with Google's offering, starting with an archaic system for implementing their parking program.

You can't just change nameservers like you do with the PPC companies - for each domain you have to setup CNAME and A records (and more than a few people will have no idea what that even means). Their landers look like "throwback jerseys" - pages from a time long ago - just a list of links with no graphics and no way to do critical keyword optimization. In another major drawback, those who want to let visitors know the domain is for sale have no way to do that either and that could mean forfeiting the ultimate payoff - sale of the domain itself. 

Below is an example of a Google AdSense for domains landing page.

The ability to optimize pages, add relevant graphics and custom content, utilize cutting age management and reporting features are all value added services the parking companies have provided. Google is going to have to pay individuals a nice premium to get them to forgo all of those things or they are going to have to match those services point by point with something just as good or better. 

Over time maybe they will do that. In the short term maybe they will pony up and pay more to get people to switch now - or maybe they won't. For now they may be content just to pick up some of the stragglers who can't get parking company accounts. Google has never been one to nibble around the edges though - they only think big - so I'm sure they have something more in mind as time goes on. There is no doubt the PPC companies need to accelerate planning (that most already have underway) for a day when Google (and probably Yahoo too) decide to cut them out of the picture all together. 

This episode has featured quite an ironic twist. At the T.R.A.F.F.I.C. conference in Orlando last spring there was a lot of hubbub about rumors Google was going to pull the plug on the entire domain channel (in other words not monetize domain traffic at all). Instead they have just embraced the channel and possibly taken the first step toward pulling the plug on their parking company partners instead. 

T.R.A.F.F.I.C. Co-Founder Rick Schwartz has been a parking company critic in the past. He is currently out of the country on a vacation cruise, but I tracked him down this morning to see what he thought about Google's move. 

"I think the numbers will tell the real story," Schwartz said. "The interface each PPC company uses and how well they filter the traffic (to eliminate junk traffic) will be what determines the future of PPC companies. This may be more complicated than it might appear. 

I think the question really is "What is the motive for Google in this decision?" Was the motivation to cut out the middleman or is their decision based on economics and the economic turbulence we are about to enter or is it a 

Rick Schwartz
T.R.A.F.F.I.C. Co-Founder

future house cleaning to have more control and identify those with trademark and other questionable traffic? It may end up being a mixed bag but for now it seems like a positive development and maybe trying to insure their hold on the space from a serious challenge by Microsoft or others in 2009," Schwartz said.

"Hopefully this will open up new opportunities to maximize the value of our traffic. We'll know in the upcoming months. May be good for some, disaster for others and may have several phases as it plays out. Parking companies may or may not survive as they have been bleeding all year and now this is like a giant blood vessel that just exploded. The weak are going to fold. The strong are going to fight for their very survival, growth is gone," Schwartz concluded.

In times like these, you had 
better have an ace in the hole.

However this plays out my personal opinion is that for real control of their own destiny, domain owners must find an alternative to relying on Google and Yahoo for their primary revenue streams. That is way too much power to give anyone over your life. 

The current best solution I see is to get serious about development. It is true that development cannot be done on the massive scale that parking accommodates, but if you can develop just one site on a subject you are truly passionate about, one appealing enough to attract direct advertiser relationships, that one site could produce more revenue than thousands of parked domains put together. It will also give you a revenue stream that Google and Yahoo have no influence over, so if your parking revenue completely evaporates, you will still have an ace in the hole

The ability to create multiple revenue streams is what makes the domain business such a beautiful thing. You can make money parking, make it selling or leasing domains, or make it by building a business or media property on the domain. Those who are smart do it all. You never want to be dependent on any one of those streams. The path to freedom is there. Don't let a new wrinkle in the parking game distract you from it. Get on that path so that you are the one who has control of your future. 
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I've been tracking the historic switch from traditional media to the web in this column for some time now. The size and scope of the train wreck in the newspaper industry has been especially riveting because the major papers have always wielded enormous influence in economic, social and political matters. Watching their slide into oblivion is almost like watching an alien spaceship land in Times Square - it is something few people from my generation could have ever imagined. 

Speaking of Times Square you probably heard the New York Times announcement this week that they hoped to raise $225 million to cover debt payments by possibly selling their headquarters building and leasing it back from the new owners. 

The Tribune Company (parent company of the Chicago Tribune, Los Angeles Times and many other papers) dropped an even bigger bombshell Monday by filing for bankruptcy this week. Dave Morgan mulled over what that move meant in his Media Post Online Spin column today, serving up five bulleted items detailing his predictions on where things will go from here. 

I found this passage especially relevant to domain owners whose revenues come primarily from online ad spending: "Many advertisers buy newspapers only 

grudgingly. They were always must-buys for local promotion and budgets were frequently kept in place by reasons of history and loyalty. But as we saw with classifieds, once offered a better and much lower cost alternative with Internet services like Craigslist and Google, advertisers will abandon ship," Morgan wrote. He added "Unfortunately for newspapers, I think that the Tribune event and the pressure of this recession will finally break the inertia that has kept many local advertisers loyal. The notion that the local newspaper will always be there - no matter what - is no more."
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There is more than enough doom and gloom to go around these days so I think it is important to underline the reality of the online advertising market that drives revenue streams for so many domain owners, regardless of whether their domains are parked or fully developed. In the current severe recession you often hear that online ad revenue is declining. It is not. 

What is slowing down is the rate of growth. The fact is that increasingly more money is being spent on online advertising, quarter after quarter, than ever before and that trend is expected to continue in 2009 despite what is likely to be an even rockier year for the general economy than 2008 has been (and that is saying something). 

These facts were underscored Monday in New York where the advertising industry's top analysts gathered for the annual UBS Media Week conference to  make predictions for the year ahead. Online Media Daily's Joe Mandese reported on the meeting in a column titled Madison Avenue Sees Online As Safe Haven Amid '09 Economic Storm. Mandese began his article

 

by noting "It was clear from outlooks delivered by Madison Avenue's leading forecasters - including its most bearish - that online advertising growth is slowing down, but it still is poised to grow at rates that would be considered healthy by any other established medium, even in good times."

Mandese also observed that "online clearly leads the pack among the major media, and will actually use the downturn to increase its relative market share. In its new forecast, ZenithOptimedia predicts online will pick up nearly two share points, rising to 12.1% of the global advertising budgets, and will account for nearly 16% of worldwide ad spending by 2011."

Magna's Senior VP Bob Coen is considered to the most bearish forecaster in the industry with respect to online advertising but even he predicted that online "will rise more than twice the rate of the next fastest growing media during the recession of 2009." So when you hear about advertising revenue evaporating keep in mind that is definitely not the case online

This may be little consolation when Google and Yahoo have cut your PPC revenues in half over the past year but it shows the money is out there. The challenge now is to figure out how to go around Google and Yahoo to get the share of the pie your traffic deserves. No wonder development (as difficult an undertaking as it may be) has become the buzzword of 2008.
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The Playboy Mansion in Los Angeles  will open its doors to attendees of the DOMAINfest Global conference that is coming up January 27-30 in Hollywood, California. On the final night of the conference, Thursday, January 29, DomainSponsor will be the title sponsor of a fundraising event at Hugh Hefner's famous home to benefit “Autism Speaks," an organization 

dedicated to funding research into the causes, prevention and treatment of autism. This event will also serve as the official farewell party for DOMAINfest Global, a show that is being staged by DomainSponsor's parent company, Oversee.net.

During the fundraising event, “Bang The Gavel” will conduct a silent auction offering guests a chance to buy sports memorabilia signed by star athletes, with all proceeds going to Autism Speaks™.   Additional funds will be raised through the sale of donated domain names included in the Moniker® Live Domain Auctions to be held at the DOMAINfest conference.  Guests at at the Mansion will include celebrities and professional athletes in addition to the DOMAINfest Global attendees. Former NFL quarterback Mike Sherrard, who is the Special Ambassador for Autism Speaks, will be among those on hand.

Oversee.net President Jeff Kupietzky said, "We are proud to help Autism Speaks™ raise awareness for its mission by sponsoring this event. This event gives us an unprecedented opportunity to unite the global domain community to help support a very worthy cause." 
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Brothers Michael and David Castello  will be the featured guests in a free one-hour webinar at DomainSuccess.com tonight at 9pm (U.S. Eastern time).  CEO Michael and COO David run Castello Cities Internet Network Inc., a company that is developing some of the world's best 

geo and generic .com domain properties. PalmSprings.com, Nashville.com, Acapulco.com, Whisky.com, Daycare.com and Kennel.com are just a few of the sites they have developed with many more under construction. The latest addition to their award winning stable of developed sites is Bullion.com.

Michael and David have become personal friends since I first met them in 2006 and I have spent many hours talking with them in both professional and private settings. What they have to say is always worth listening to so I can assure you that sitting in on their session tonight will be time well 


David & Michael Castello picking  up an award at 
the 2008 GeoDomain Expo last summer in Chicago.

 spent. Few people bring the wealth of experience and record of success to the table that they do.

Those who will be going to the DOMAINfest Global conference in Hollywood, California Jan. 27-30 will have an opportunity to hear Michael and David speak in person at a January 28 seminar that will follow Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak's keynote address. 
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The importance of keeping a close eye on your domains  has been underscored by several incidents this week. Even the largest corporations are vulnerable to thieves, hackers and con men of various stripes. Giant online bill paying site CheckFree.com was taken offline briefly

this week by hijackers apparently based in the Ukraine. They gained access to Checkfree's registration account at Network Solutions and redirected the domain to a server loaded with malicious attack software.

At the same time the domain forums DomainState.com and NamePros.com are buzzing with posts about another hijacker based in Iran who has stolen hundreds of domain names and put them up for sale (lists of the names that are believed to have been stolen are posted in both of those threads). 

There are a number of software programs available that will continually manage the status of your domain names and alert you if any changes have been at your registrar. Do a search of Google for "domain management software" to return links to a number of the options that are out there.

 


On the flip side of the good guy/bad guy coin, John Motson, who writes the DNExpert.com blog, is giving away a free copy of his 86-page ebook "Domaining Manifesto - Guide to Successful Domaining," to help draw attention to a new site he is about to launch at DomainingRevolution.com. You can get the book by going to the latter site and registering your email address. 

Motson said, "I wrote the Manifesto to focus on a need by people to make a success of their online entrepreneurship efforts at a time when offline jobs are harder to find. Every day, domaining gurus are feeding us the "all the good domains are gone" phrase. Why? The answer is very simple. They are afraid of the competition! The truth is very different. Domain names can provide a risk free, steady, long term source of revenue unparalleled by anything else offered online today."

Sedo's latest monthly premium domain auction at GreatDomains got underway yesterday with gems like TX.com, Charts.com and Basket.com among the names on the block. The auction will end Thursday (Dec. 11) at approximately 12 Noon (U.S. Eastern time).

Hope you all have a great weekend. See you back here on Monday!
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Fresh insight into the current state of the domain registration business  has been released in both the U.S. (by Verisign who operates the .com and .net registries) and Great Britain (by Nominet who operates the .uk registry).  Verisign released its third quarter Domain Industry 

Brief today. The report said there were 174 million domain names registered worldwide (the total across all extensions) at the end of the third quarter (Sept. 30). That is an increase of 3% over the previous quarter and 19% over the total registered at the end of the same quarter last year.

Country code domains continued to grow faster than the rate the overall registration market is expanding. At the end of 3Q 2008 just under

 

69 million ccTLD registration were in force, a jump of 5% over the previous quarter and 26% over the same quarter last year. For the first time, Germany's .de was displaced as the most popular country code extension, being passed by China's .cn. Meanwhile Australia's .au joined the top ten ccTLD list for the first time, displacing Swizterland's .ch

Though the total number of registrations continues to expand, growth rates in both global and ccTLDs are slowing down from previous quarters. Verisign said that the declining payments for traffic that domain owners are seeing from Google is part of the reason for the slowing rate of new registrations and a rising rate of non-renewals.

Last week Nominet weighed in with their report from the UK perspective. They said that for the past five years new global domain registrations had been growing at an annual rate of 30% but in 2008 the growth rate has been halved to 15%. Nominet said that country code domains 

continued to outperform and now hold about 40% of the total market while .com's share has fallen to 45% from the 50% share it held in 2005. Among the country codes, Nominet said China (.cn), Spain (.es), Poland (.pl) and Russia (.ru) experienced the highest growth rates. 

Elsewhere, the DOMAINfest Global conference has released more details on the agenda for their conference in Hollywood, California January 27-30. January 27 will be an optional "boot camp" designed to give new domainers a grounding in the basics of this business. The main event begins Wednesday, January 28, a day that will feature a keynote address from Apple co-founder Steve 

Wozniak and the first of several sessions aimed at providing the latest information on how to build out domain names. That night attendees will be treated to a dinner party at Universal Studios and will have free reign at the popular park throughout the evening.

Jeff Kupietzky
Oversee.net President

Thursday's schedule will include more informational sessions, structured networking activity, Moniker's live auction and a farewell dinner and party at a world-renowned entertainment venue to be announced soon. There will also be a send-off breakfast Friday morning to conclude the event that is staged by Oversee.net (parent company of DomainSponsor, SnapNames and Moniker).

Oversee.net President Jeff Kupietzky said "The DOMAINfest agenda is specifically designed to provide attendees with the tools they need to navigate the changes impacting our domain industry. What makes this show unique show is that it blends valuable content with unbeatable entertainment and a ton of networking opportunities. This is the industry's largest gathering of domainers and those who serve the domain industry.  As a result, it's a must attend event."

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Skip Hoagland has added another key player  to his development team at Domains New Media (DMN). After award winning work at Richmond.com, Jon Lumpkin is coming onboard at 

DMN to work on the development of Alexandria.com which is shaping up to be a very ambitious project. There are two great history-rich cities named Alexandria - one in Egypt and one in Virginia and the new site at Alexandria.com will serve both of them with corresponding sites that will be developed simultaneously.

Lumpkin will be working alongside Josh Stauffer and Jeremia Froyland (who developed Portland.com for DMN) to develop the Virginia site. At the same time Gastón Piarrette (who is based in DMN's Buenos Aires, Argentina office) will head up development and content creation for the Egyptian site. 

Hoagland, who is DMN's CEO, said “We are very pleased that we have the opportunity to bring Jon’s skills and talent to our team. 

Jon Lumpkin

Additionally, we are extremely excited to tackle the challenge of developing both sides of Alexandria.com. Jon brings a world of technical knowledge in our industry and we look forward to working with him on this project.”

Hoagland added, "The new site will launch soon and we are excited about helping add value to our industry through the development of these GeoDomains. We are proud to be a member of AssociatedGeos.com and look forward to moving our industry down an exciting and pioneering road."
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SEO is hot again. That pronunciation from SEO expert Rand Fishkin (SEOmoz.org) comes just three weeks after we posted a Nov. 10  item in which LearnToDuck.com's Micah Baldwin 

Rand Fishkin - SEOmoz.org

declared "SEO is Dead!" In a post on his SEOmoz blog yesterday, Fishkin commented on "Why Companies Are Investing in SEO During the Economic Downturn." His points made a lot of sense to me because I think they are very similar to the reasons we see small to medium sized businesses still spending money on domain names as they try to secure a foothold on the web - the most efficient business platform and thus the one best suited to help business owners survive the economic downturn the world is now in.

In the first of eight reasons Fishkin listed for the pickup in the SEO business he wrote: "The Web Outperforms Other Sales Channels. When organizations look at the paths leading to sales and income (a critical analysis whenever budgets are under scrutiny), the web almost always comes out with one of two assessments. Either it's a leading sales channel (especially from an ROI perspective) or it's deemed to be an area with the greatest opportunity for growth. In both scenarios, web marketing and, in correlation, SEO, takes center stage."

Fishkin said the realization among businesses that SEO is an essential key to cost effective marketing has mainfested itself in many ways. "In the last 6 weeks, SEOmoz has received a higher than normal volume of requests for consulting. Alongside that, we've been getting calls from venture capital firms out of the blue - seven to date - asking either about investments they're considering in the SEO sphere (and requesting insight) or literally asking whether SEOmoz would like to take more capital to grow," Fishkin wrote. 

That's a sure sign that people see an opportunity to make money in the SEO business. We get similar calls related to potential domain industry investments. Even in the the worst of times there are pockets of opportunity and we are all fortunate to be situated in one of those pockets where opportunity still blooms despite the hurricane force financial winds that are demolishing so many sectors offline.

By the way, if you would like some free SEO tips, BuyDomains recently hosted a popular series of SEO webinars and those are still available for replay at no charge here: http://www.buydomains.com/business-tools/business-tools.jsp
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Our comprehensive review of  the first T.R.A.F.F.I.C. conference ever held outside the United States was published today. T.R.A.F.F.I.C. Down Under, ably staged by Fabulous.com under a licensing agreement with T.R.A.F.F.I.C. co-founders Rick Schwartz and Howard Neu, attracted domain owners from around the world to Australia's scenic Gold Coast

Our wire to wire wrap up article features dozens of previously unseen photos and inside show info that you won't find anywhere else. We also pass along a lot of excellent tips for domainers and website developers that were part of the expert presentations at TDU. Once you read the full story I think you'll understand why a lot of attendees said this unique edition of the pioneering conference was the best T.R.A.F.F.I.C. show yet. You can read all about it here.

There was a lot of talk about domain development at T.R.A.F.F.I.C. Down Under and the next big conference on the industry calendar, DOMAINfest Global (January 27-30 in Hollywood, 

Stephen Webb
WeAreRadio.com

California) plans to make development their primary theme. Stephen Webb, a guy who was in the news several times last year after registering thousands of domains with "I Am" or "We Are" prefixes is finding some development success with his WeAreRadio.com site that is devoted to the local music scene in his hometown of Charleston, South Carolina. Webb's project was just featured in an article published by the Charleston City Paper

In addition to owning the site, Webb is WeAreRadio's main announcer. Webb told writer T. Ballard Lesemann  "The genesis was a domain name that I had. I knew it was a fantastic way to tell the world about what we were doing, which was developing some of our many domain names into web sites."

While Webb is focusing on audio, a lot of people building video rich websites appear to be driving growth on the .tv extension. While I was away covering T.R.A.F.F.I.C. Down Under in Australia eNom announced the renewal of their Domain Name Services Agreement with VeriSign, under 

which eNom serves as the registrar for premium .tv domain names. eNom said that both companies have reinforced their commitment to building the .tv brand as the premier destination for video and rich media content on the Internet. According to VeriSign, the .tv domain has experienced annual growth of over 60% for the .tv base and a doubling of new .tv domain name registrations. 

Chris Sheridan, vice president of sales for eNom, said “We are very excited about extending our relationship with VeriSign on .tv. With VeriSign’s continued branding efforts, our eNom Resellers should be well positioned to participate in the continued positive growth of this popular extension.”
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