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Tough Name to Live Up To: Is An Australian Registrar's Claim to Be Fabulous Fact or Fiction? 

By Ron Jackson
Editor/Publisher     
Archived 2-2-04

 

The first time I saw the name – Fabulous.com – I thought “It takes a lot of guts to name your company that!”  The name was especially surprising to me given the industry the Brisbane, Australia based company is involved in – domain name registration.

 

That has become a commodity product if there ever was one. Everyone seems to be competing to see who can sell a registration the furthest below cost. On a no-win battlefield like that, it is difficult enough to distinguish yourself as above average, let alone fabulous!

 

What’s more, as soon as you screw something up or deliver anything less than a superior performance, people are going to throw a name like that right back in your face.  Even so, it has now been almost a year since I first saw Fabulous.com on a banner ad at DNForum.com and I’m still waiting for them to do a belly flop. Fabulous is starting to get on my nerves though. Guys like this are dangerous – with the way they are performing they could put media critics out of business!

 

It was actually several months before I had any first hand experience with the company. Though the name achieved its objective by sticking in my head, I initially dismissed the ads as hype. After all, if you’ve seen one registration company, you’ve seen them all, right? Wrong! Howard Hoffman of PPCIncome.com finally showed me what I had been missing.  

 

For my sales site, BrandsPlus.com, I had been using URL redirection to send visitors for each domain to a to a self-made page with a form people could use to send offers. The problem with that is I was giving up the Pay Per Click revenue that can provide a steady stream of income or at least help offset the cost of annual registration fees. There wasn’t much choice because at the time most PPC sites did not have a way to place a For Sale notice and response form on their pages. Since direct sales were my primary source of revenue, I couldn’t give up that For Sale sign.

 

Hoffman had started writing about the different PPC programs out there and his experience with them. I noticed that on his own domain pages, he had just what I was looking for. There were PPC links at the top and a bar at the bottom with the “Domain For Sale” notice and a built-in email response link. Better yet, he was able to pick any PPC company he wanted for the links that went above the For Sale bar!  

 

Hoffman told me it was done through Fabulous.com and that there were other features there that had put Fab into a domain management class of their own. (You can see an example of a Fabulous-generated PPC/For Sale page at Lifework.org). He added that you didn’t even have to have your domains registered at Fabulous to set up these pages and use their management tools on any domain you owned (simply by pointing the nameservers to Fab)!.

 

To seal the deal they also had a program for those with large domain portfolios that offered new registrations as inexpensively as the popular reseller programs offered by Enom, GoDaddy and others. So, naturally I rushed right over to the Fabulous.com site and opened an account. However, after poking around I couldn’t find even a hint of all those fabulous prices and features Hoffman told me about.

 

So, I dropped him a note to find out where the secret door was hidden. Hoffman replied, “Oh, you want to get a bulk account like mine there?” I said, “Howard, does the word DUH mean anything to you?”  Despite my sarcasm he was still gracious enough to put me in touch with Fabulous.com chief Dan Warner, who promptly set up the special account I needed.

 

Armed with a new password I entered the private section of Fabulous.com where, for the first time in more decades than I want to own up to, I remembered what it felt like to be a kid in a candy store! I’ve been there for several months now and I still haven’t even begun to utilize all of the tools available.

 

You can mix and match just about every feature imaginable when setting up your domains. For PPC, you can select Fab’s sister company, Roar.com (a directory with links from co-owned PPC search engine PageSeeker.com), or point the domain to Domain Sponsor, Sedo, TrafficZ, Domain Spa, or anyone else you fancy. You can even have Fab generate a custom made website with PPC links for your domain and choose your own colors and layout, use the For Sale bar and specify a price, leave it open to offers, or leave it off entirely if you only want to cash in on traffic. You can also designate pages to pop up or pop under your main page. There is excellent stats reporting for Roar PPC and there is also an affiliate revenue program from another co-owned company, DarkBlue.com.

 

For new domain registrations, your cost gets lower as the number of domains you have under management at Fabulous rises. Despite access to a dizzying array of features, my cost there is lower than at any of the dozens of other registrars where my domains are currently scattered. The only negatives I have seen are pages that load slowly and being able to register only .com, .net and .org domains at Fabulous.com. However you can manage any extension from your Fab account. So, I simply keep my .info, .biz and .us domains where they were originally registered and point the nameservers to Fab to get them set them up the way I want. Warner said that the addition of registration services for other extensions is currently under consideration. 

 

After the initial excitement over what I could do at Fabulous, I started wondering why they let me do it. As a newcomer there, nearly all of my domains are still registered elsewhere (though I will move many in when they come up for renewal). They do pick up a few dollars from the domains I have pointed at Roar but they still are getting only peanuts from me (actually more like sunflower seeds). 

Warner told Domain Name Journal  “The Fabulous.com philosophy is based on providing extensive value added services without cost to build strong relationships with our clients. Our clients then commonly choose to monetize some of their traffic through our systems as we earn their trust and traffic.”

OK, now he’s making me feel guilty! But his plan is working as I will give Roar a chance to see what they can do with some of the traffic currently pointed elsewhere. But I still didn’t get why Fab would build the elaborate website generation apparatus and management tools on their site for…I don’t want to call people like myself freeloaders so let’s say….clients who are immaterial contributors to the bottom line. 

As it happens, Fabulous.com was not built with me…or you...in mind. They built it for themselves, then decided to invite a few people in as houseguests (though I’m not sure they realized they would never be able to get us to go home)! 

 

Fabulous.com is a wholly owned subsidiary of Dark Blue Sea Limited - a publicly listed company in Australia (Warner is the company’s Chief Operations Officer).  Dark Blue Sea, a pure internet company, wanted to register over 100,000 domains in their first year of operation, so they decided they might as well just buy their own registrar. They acquired Domain Intellect Pty. Ltd,  an ICANN certified registrar that had never reached the live operations stage. Now Domain Intellect Pty. Ltd was not exactly a name that rolled easily off the tongue, so Warner started looking around for something a bit more memorable.  

Dan Warner
Fabulous.com

 

“I happened to see the domain Fabulous.com was for sale at a reasonable price so we brought it and created a new brand in the marketplace,” Warner said.  “As is becoming more popular to do these days, we first looked for domains that were available to purchase as a brand before we committed to a registrar name. We thought to ourselves - doesn't everyone want a Fabulous .COM?”  Now there is a true domainer for you. Pick the name first and then build the company around it!

 

Just as the registrar was originally purchased to meet Dark Blue’s own needs first, the infrastructure that makes up Fab today was built to meet the company’s special requirements. “We researched and purchased over 120,000 domains in our first year for our own domain portfolio,” Warner said.  “Almost all of these domains had never been registered before, so as you would expect, most of our portfolio consisted of domains that were only marginally commercial.” 

 

“That required us to create highly sophisticated applications to research, check registration availability, purchase, and create web sites for every domain we bought.” Warner added, “Then we needed to create robust systems to commercialize what works out to be around 1 out of every 200 .com domains in the world”.  

 

“Though we primarily needed the system for ourselves, it created profitable systems others wanted to use.  Now we are driven by the need to provide an end to end vertical solution,” Warner said.  “Internet commerce begins with the domain name but we also provide services that are largely value added free services to build web sites for our customers, host them for free, and extensively market them”.

 

As a result Fabulous has been growing like a weed as word of mouth has gotten around. Sister companies Roar, PageSeeker and DarkBlue are all booming too. “Roar and PageSeeker combined represent the 5th largest internet PPC marketing program in the world,” Warner said.  “Roar has over a thousand directory topics to effectively channel traffic to the most relevant advertisers”.

 

Warner says that DarkBlue is the worlds largest free affiliate program, and about 5th in the world based on its overall size.  “What makes DarkBlue truly unique is that the program doesn't charge affiliates or advertisers to manage the transactions,” Warner said.  “Most affiliate programs charge around 25% of the affiliates commission to manage the transaction. Instead DarkBlue encourages the advertiser to pass the savings from that cut directly to the affiliates so that they can make an additional 1/3 in revenue and in turn send more traffic to the advertiser.”

 

I have been pleased with my own experience with Roar but haven’t had a chance to take DarkBlue for a spin yet. Utilizing Fab’s website customization tools for my domains is also high on my To Do list. From what I have seen those functions will be very appealing to customers who want control over how their pages look.

 

Warner told us, “Our website building system is based on the principals of  re-use and optimized conversion of traffic.  We have spent 1,000's of hours of labor building systems in a modular form. These systems allow for the building blocks of web sites to be constructed using variations and variables in recombination.  Depending on the focus and needs of the domain owner, they can choose from a series of features and the functionality they desire in a website to produce a site from scratch in a matter of seconds.”

 

Warner added, “In fact the tools allow thousands of web sites to be built in minutes by choosing the default random generation of designs based on what Roar category the domains belong to. Then after the default designs are built the domain owner can take their time to customize the website as they see fit. This functionality allows owners to purchase or use an existing domain, build a website and use our free web hosting arrangement to start making money immediately instead of taking weeks, months or possibly never getting a web site live.”

 

OK, so much for all domain registrars being alike!  “Fabulous.com's most basic functions are domain registration but our domain management and traffic conversion systems are some of the most intuitive in the world,” Warner said. “That’s because they were built specifically to solve the problems of one of the worlds largest domain owners, ourselves.”

 

“I believe we have built a "complete" solution that manages the whole lifecycle of domain ownership.  I'm proud of the systems that we have created and still marvel at how much we have accomplished and what we have been able to offer to our clients in the last few years,” Warner said. He has reason to be proud. I have found customer service to be exemplary too, with questions often taken care of directly by Customer Care Manager Peter Stevenson.

 

With all that they offer at next to no cost I wondered why Fabulous keeps all of these goodies hidden behind the straightforward façade the general public sees at Fabulous.com.  Warner told us, “we prefer to approach the market as a fairly exclusive private program.  In order to use our most powerful systems our users need to build a mutually beneficial relationship with us first.  This allows us to pick and choose the best partners to work with and eliminate the tire kickers who don't want to be serious domain owners.” 

 

It turns out that the path I followed into the program was typical. “We usually find new clients by our existing clients referring their friends or we approach people to work with us by first profiling their domain ownership and then contacting them directly,” Warner said. He gave us a ballpark set of minimum requirements for potential partners:

 

1. They should own at least 50 domains and  intend to grow their portfolio to over 500 domains.
  

2.  Have a reasonable understanding of Internet commerce.
 

3.  Live and work by a win-win attitude, and want to work with a serious partner/provider.

 

If that describes you but you don’t have someone to give you a personal referral, odds are Fabulous will find you sooner or later anyhow. “Our market intelligence on domain portfolio owners is fairly comprehensive and we keep looking for people that we will enjoy working with - people that understand that self interest is not mutually exclusive and want to be in the thick of things as the internet continues to grow more commercial. Warner concluded “I for one cannot think of a better industry to work in or one that provides so much opportunity!”

 

Warner would know because he has worked and excelled in a wide variety of businesses (his complete resume is probably longer than this article)!. He has been involved in raising start-up capital (coming up with $3 million for one company he was involved with), rapid IT development, risk analysis, sales, marketing and business efficiency to name just a few. A software company he managed had first year product sales that ranked among the top 3% in their class worldwide.

 

Even more impressive to me are the wildly diverse degrees and certifications he holds, ranging from Information Technology & Business to Zoology (human anatomy & physiology), Para-Medicine, Psychology and Chemistry!  I can only think what a niche domain player could do with knowledge in all of those areas!

 

It is clear that Warner lives up to the fabulous ideal in his own life as well as in his approach to company management. This is not a guy who is going to be scared off by the challenge of living up to a name like Fabulous.com.  “We have taken the whole idea of being Fabulous very seriously,” he said. “With every new product feature we ensure that our product is unlike any others in the market and strive to make Fabulous.com the market leader that offers every "killer" application.”

 

Fabulous.com is certainly setting a high standard and in this intensely competitive industry all consumers stand to benefit from that. The rest of the field will be forced to keep pace with equally compelling advances or risk falling by the wayside. Some of them are probably checking the WhoIs records right now to see if Fantastic.com or a similar superlative can be had for a reasonable price!

Late addendum: We have received a number of requests from people wishing to contact Fabulous.com about their partnership program. Many of our readers are the kind of domain professionals Fabulous is interested in working with so they have set up a dedicated email address to make sure your inquiry receives special attention. It is DNJournal_Inquiry@Fabulous.com

* * * * *

Editor’s Note: For those who would like to comment on the Fabulous.com story, we invite you to make use of our Letters to the Editor feature (write to editor@dnjournal.com).


If you missed our previous Cover Story click on the headline below: 

New.net’s Impossible Dream: Can The Alternate TLD Company Reach the Unreachable Star?
 

All other previous Cover Stories are available in our Archive

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Domain Name Journal
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