common threads to all T.R.A.F.F.I.C. conferences were also
maintained, including timely seminars and special events designed
to spark new business by bringing people with mutual interests
together in a variety of memorable settings.
began even before the show started with a golf tournament Monday
morning (sponsored by Beach
Farm Nine’s Brian Null who was the subject of our
November 2005 Cover Story)
and a get acquainted cocktail party Tuesday night.
the time Mr. Neu, who also served as conference moderator,
welcomed everyone at the opening breakfast Wednesday morning,
attendees were already comfortable with their surroundings and the
people that shared their tables. In addition to a great breakfast,
they were treated to a series of talks on domain development that
featured attorney Steve Sturgeon, and experienced ecommerce
site developers Brian Benko and Jeff Reynolds.
and Benko (NoParking.com) were featured in our April
2006 Cover Story on domain development and Reynolds (AmericanFlags.com)
was the subject of our December
2004 Cover Story. While many were already familiar with their
stories from those articles it was a special treat to see them in
person and have the opportunity to ask questions and bounce ideas
off of them throughout the week.
breakfast it was off to the seminar hall where Schwartz welcomed
attendees then turned the podium over to an excellent leadoff man,
Ari Lee Bayme (Vice President of well-known New York investment
bankers Milbank Roy & Co.), who specializes in
technology related transactions. Bayme gave a highly detailed
presentation on how to “Prepare Your Portfolio For Sale”,
an extremely timely topic given the number of well financed groups
currently tempting holders of quality portfolios with purchase
so many in-depth presentations on the schedule,
space constraints prevent us from going into detail on all of the
ground covered (in fact most of the presentations are so
comprehensive they would be worthy of an article of their own),
but there are always a few comments that strike us as particularly
interesting. While several speakers from the financial community
suggested that the revenue multiples being paid now may not go a
lot higher, Mr. Bayme predicted that when more companies operating
in this space go public (as Marchex and ValueClick
have done), domain valuations will rise with the influx of
VP, Milbank Roy & Co.
the next seminar the two giants of search marketing, Google and
Yahoo! sent two of their top warriors into a friendly head
to head joust aimed at winning the hearts and minds of the traffic
titans in the audience. Google was represented by the head of
their Domain Channel, Eytan Elbaz, while Yahoo! countered
with Josh Meyers, the Director of Partner Solutions at
Yahoo! Search Marketing. Those two have become fixtures at
T.R.A.F.F.I.C. and always manage to bring both insight and
entertainment to their sessions.
Meyers, Yahoo! (left) and Eytan Elbaz, Google
queried about which of the two companies was best, Elbaz drew some
laughter when he suggested that the stock price was a pretty good
indicator. Meyers returned fire, playing off the mild but
growing paranoia that Google has their hands in everything
by commenting, “I hope you are all enjoying your Google water
and will enjoy your Google chicken at lunch!”
Upstarts can quickly become giants in this business and though
Yahoo! is hardly a boutique shop, it can pay to paint yourself as
a smaller, nimbler competitor.
more substantive matters, Elbaz said that he could see reasons why
direct navigation (type in traffic) could either grow or shrink in
the years ahead, however he believes that the balance is tilted in
favor of continued growth today. He added that owners of traffic
domains could mitigate their risks by building up content rich
sites and diversifying their revenue streams beyond pay per click
also commented on the future of type-ins, saying that if
destination pages continue to get better and better over time and
deliver value to web surfers, then type-in traffic should continue
lunch break followed that also gave attendees a chance to stroll
through the largest exhibit area at any T.R.A.F.F.I.C. show to
date. In another sign of industry growth, there were three rows of
professional company exhibits where you could talk with top
executives, pick up informational brochures and, of course, take
advantage of the biggest draw of all, free T-shirts, ink pens,
travel kits and other promotional items!
lunch everyone regrouped for one of the show’s main events, a
shootout among leaders from nine different PPC companies, each of
whom tried to convince registrants that their company could
monetize a portfolio better than the others.
Schiwek (L) snags a free polo
shirt at the Afternic booth while
chatting with Amber West and
Afternic President Roger Collins
A table to the left
of the podium featured (left to right in the photo below) Monte Cahn (Moniker.com), Ron
Sheridan (DomainSponsor.com), Matt Bentley (Sedo.com), Sig Solares (Parked.com)
second table to the right of the podium was manned by (left to
right in the photo below) Ammar
Kubba (TrafficZ.com), Ed Russell (NameDrive.com), Tom
Wilde (YesDirect.com, owners of GoldKey.com) and Ari
|Each executive had five minutes to make the case for their
company then the session was opened for questions from the floor.
Among the many topics covered was the continuing debate over how
much more attractive landing pages actually contribute to higher
click through rates. Several panelists think it is a very
important factor in higher earnings while others believe “plain
Jane” pages actually convert better.
Since individual domains
can perform quite differently at various services, the only way to
tell for sure may be to try your domains at a few different
services to see what kind of presentation works best for your
mikes let the audience ask questions
from the floor during the PPC session.
thing we are sure of is that the advances these companies have
made (much of it spurred by very intense competition in the
parking space) deserve a huge amount of credit for the current
boom in domain values. Improved PPC landing pages and statistical
information have boosted revenue streams for owners of quality
domains, attracting the legion of buyers that have bid prices to
their current levels.
has to wonder how many more participants can crowd into this space
though. While speaking at lunch Thursday, SmartName.com’s Lawrence
Fischer said that while playing blackjack in the casino he
mentioned to the dealer that he had a domain parking business.
Fischer said the dealer replied, “No kidding? I’m starting
one too!” Everyone laughed because the best jokes always
have a grain of truth in them. However, just as consolidation of
domain ownership is accelerating, you have to expect that the same
thing will eventually happen in the PPC category.
opening day of business ended with T.R.A.F.F.I.C.’s new take on
speed networking. During this session, everyone in the room was
moved forward so that every seat was filled. Then, starting from
the front of the room, people in every other row turned around to
face people in the row behind them.
When Howard Neu gave the
signal to go, everyone had just two minutes to talk with
the person in front of them and exchange business cards. Loud
music then blasted over the sound system, signaling those in the
rows that were designated to move, to slide over one seat (while
those in the other rows remained in place). The music kept
malingerers from continuing their conversations so they had to
move and wait for the music to stop so they could begin another
two-minute discussion with the new contact in front of them.
met up close and personal during the speed networking session.
Neu and Schwartz told me they had no idea whether the plan would
result in success or disaster, but it worked out quite well.
Everyone involved got to meet at least two dozen new people. The
only ones unhappy were those who arrived late for the session and
were locked out. There was no way to integrate late arrivals once
all of the seats had been filled and the session had been put in
motion. So, for future reference, if you want to be part of the
networking event (which organizers say will be a fixture in the future), make sure you are there before the opening whistle blows!
Demas, Senior VP & GM
Yahoo! Partner Solutions
always manages to combine business and pleasure in equal parts.
After the formal networking session closed the business day, a
more traditional form of networking resumed with a 5:30 cocktail
hour, followed by a dinner sponsored by TrafficZ.com. That
event featured a lively keynote address from Bill Demas,
the Senior VP and General Manager of Yahoo! Partner Solutions.
talked about the future of search and how his company was focused
on engaging the end user. He showed a variety of landing pages and
described how each element on the pages were set up to meet that
pivotal role of interactivity was also a key theme in Demas’s
speech and he said that the interactive nature of the web has made
it the preferred medium for millions of people today. One example
he used to demonstrate the power of interactivity was taken from
another medium. Demas noted how today’s TV phenomenon American
Idol was very similar to an old TV show some of you may
remember called Star Search.
interactive element of allowing the audience to vote and determine
who stays and who goes on the show, Idol has become one of the
most popular TV shows of all time even though the program itself
was not an original concept. The same principal of interactivity
leading to success has been proven with wildly popular websites
like MySpace.com and Facebook.com. As a fully
interactive medium, the web is poised for phenomenal growth.
after dinner, it was time for T.R.A.F.F.I.C.’s premier social
event, the DomainSponsor Party. That bash already enjoys a
near legendary history, so the company pulled out all the stops to
surpass what had gone before. A fleet of Hummer limousines
was commissioned to take party goers from the Venetian across town
to the Palms Hotel and a date at the famous GhostBar
(featured on MTV) that sits on the 55th floor of the Las
Freddy Schiwek (EuroDNS.com), Jothan Frakes (NameIntelligence.com)
and Mustafa Patel (eSoftWiz.com) in limo headed for the
Welcome sign and stunning buffet table ice sculpture at
Spectacular view of the Las Vegas skyline from the outdoor
were able to enjoy the night air on the outdoor patio just
a few steps away from a sumptuous buffet and open
bar. If you
needed an illustration of how far this business has come in an
incredibly short period of time, this event was it.
addition to throwing another unforgettable party, DomainSponsor served
as the overall T.R.A.F.F.I.C. sponsor, a role they have also
filled for most of the previous shows. In other words, they put up
the money that makes it all possible and I heard many attendees
express their appreciation for how much the company has plowed
back into the industry through their support of events and
enterprises that help to continually push this business forward.
Outdoor rooftop patio at GhostBar
With the party continuing into the wee hours of the
night, the next question was whether or not anyone would be able
to get out of bed for the second big day of the conference. For
the answer, continue on to page 2!
Continue to Page 2 - 2006
T.R.A.F.F.I.C. West Day 2