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August 16, 2019

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The Lowdown Subscribe to our RSS Feed
Here's the The Lowdown from DN Journal,
updated daily
to fill you in on the latest buzz going around the domain name industry. 

The Lowdown is compiled by DN Journal Editor & Publisher Ron Jackson.

Domain Packages Begin Filling the Gap Between Sales of Individual Domains and Entire Portfolios 

When top tier domains are put up for sale  are put up for sale  owners almost always try to sell them individually on their own merits. Occasionally, however, some will offer an entire portfolio of domains for sale like GeoCentric Media did in April when they put a package of 20 big city .com geodomains up for sale in a single lot (a month later they added LosAngeles.com and SanFrancisco.com to the lot) priced in the $20 million range. That kind of approach is normally a one-time occurrence, but there are indications we may see similar strategies more often going forward. 

Image from Bigstock

At least one brokerage we know of, Warren Mae Premium Domains, is streamlining the idea, filling a space between portfolios and individual domain sales with tighter packages of closely related domains plus some additional added value assets (like related toll-free phone numbers) with the idea that ownership of the package gives the buyer a powerful broad-based market position with a single purchase.

For example, Warren Mae is marketing Thin.com, Thinner.com and Thinnest.com together in a single package that also includes seven toll-free phone numbers  that incorporate THIN on the keypad - 833-367-THIN | 833-468-THIN | 877-THIN-373 | 877-THIN-356 | 877-THIN-347 | 877-THIN-368 | 877-THIN-866. Warren Mae Co-Founder Katie Bond contends, "Real branding power includes capturing market dominance. Field leadership requires the usage of domain packages. A premium domain generates organic search and a domain package strengthens the brand by using multiple URLs, all with word variations of your company name. Packages that are completed with a block of identifying toll free numbers further increase positioning." 

Katie Bond
Warren Mae Premium Domains

The company expects the package to sell in the seven-figure range which seems reasonable given the boom in one-word .com demand we've seen recently, most notably in the $30 million sale of Voice.com in June, an all-time record cash sale of a single undeveloped domain name.

The Thin.com package is owned by entrepreneur Gerard Armond Powell, the founder of the highly regarded Rythmia Life Advancement Center resort in Costa Rica. Having built that five-star property's online presence on a one-word .com (Rhythmia.com), Powell understands the power of domain names from personal experience. “You can maximize returns and decrease advertising costs all while maintaining the same sales and conversion rates," Powell said. 

Image from Bigstock

Memorability gives owners of one-word .com domains a huge edge in marketing. Bond noted, "Marketing strategists can no longer bet on the fact that a clever business name might be remembered. In the early days of the Internet, it was trendy to create custom domains with unusual spelling or quirky names. But that phase died out with the “yodeling Yahoo guy” ad campaign. Valuable domains must emit clarity, not only across the board but also across the Internet. Domains with easily recognizable words also emote trustworthiness even before the point of sale."

Katie added, "The ‘premium domain packaging’ advertising model addresses a badly needed solution in a crowded online market. Rather than just buying a building, you take over the whole neighborhood. Companies looking for alternative routes to increase website traffic can leverage these so-called ‘sister-sites’ to 

capitalize on language association. SEO strategy is no longer enough to get a site to the top of search results. Consider that your competitors are probably using the very same keywords in their metadata and copy. Although savvy web consultants try to offer guaranteed search rankings, search engines (namely Google) regularly update their algorithms and organic search wins every time."

"The additional domains in the premium package can serve in multiple capacities as well. From design concepts to user experience, they can be used as a space to beta test anything (and everything), as needed. Consider that site updates or new product rollouts can often include bugs or interface issues. Having multiple sites can be used as an additional platform for research before implementation. Extra sites can assist in refining marketing scope, which saves in unnecessary advertising expenses for both short and long term campaigns."

If the GeoCentric Media or Warren Mae approach bears fruit, we may see a lot more of this marketing approach going forward.

(Posted August 8, 2019) To refer others to the post above only (and not the full Lowdown column) you can use this URL:
https://www.dnjournal.com/archive/lowdown/2019/dailyposts/20190808.htm

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PIR to Host a .ORG Community Forum & the Impact Awards Ceremony in Washington D.C. October 10

The Public Interest Registry (PIR), the administrator of the popular .ORG TLD, will be hosting a pair of special events on Thursday, October 10, 2019 in Washington D.C.  The first one will be the inaugural .ORG Community Forum, a free event that will run from 9am-4pm at Hilton's Madison Hotel (it even comes with a free lunch for those who register for one of the limited number of seats)!

 

The Community Forum will allow attendees to share ideas, knowledge, and causes on the internet. It will also provide an opportunity to collaboratively explore common areas of interest and find ways to navigate through any challenges facing their .ORG websites today. The program will include four sessions in the Dolly Madison Ballroom (running 30-60 minutes each) that will cover: Website vs. Social Media, Leveraging Video on Social Media, Brand Reputation for Online Brands and Defending Against Disinformation Campaigns. Featured speakers will include Event Host Chris Baldwin (10x Digital), Julia Campbell (J Campbell Social Marketing), Roberto Blake (Create Awesome Media, LLC), Statton Hammock (MarkMonitor) and Brian Wanko (InterAction.org).

PIR will maximize audience engagement with plenty of interactive Q&A sessions and networking opportunities. If you attend you can expect to take away inspiring ideas and insights to improve the strategy, operation, and execution of your .ORG community work. The event is open to anyone who wants to make a positive impact within their their local community, on a global scale or anything in between.

The second special event on October 10 is the invitation-only .ORG Impact Awards Ceremony that will be held that evening at the Watergate Hotel in Washington, D.C., just a few blocks away from The Madison Hotel that is hosting the free daytime Community Forum. 

We first told you about the new .ORG Impact Awards program when nominations were opened in June. It is designed to recognize .ORG domain name owners who are using the Internet to empower change around the world. Winning individuals and organizations will receive up to $5,000 in a monetary contribution to the nonprofit of their choice. Nominations closed on July 12, so now the community is just eagerly awaiting the Awards Ceremony to find out who won.

A hat tip to our friend, veteran event producer Jodi Chamberlain from 32 Events.com, for the information. Jodi is helping PIR with the staging of these two special events in the Nation's Capital that will be a highlight of the year for the .ORG community.

(Posted August 6, 2019) To refer others to the post above only (and not the full Lowdown column) you can use this URL:
https://www.dnjournal.com/archive/lowdown/2019/dailyposts/20190806.htm

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The Weekend Was Nirvana for Domain Investors With Meetups On Both Sides of the Globe and an Industry Pioneer Online

A pair of notable domain industry meetings on opposite sides of the world were completed over the weekend. In one, T.R.A.F.F.I.C. Co-Founder Rick Schwartz returned to the meetup game five years after T.R.A.F.F.I.C. wrapped up its historic decade-long run in 2014. Rick's new event, the 1st annual Asheville Profesional Domain Investor's Meetup, held at the Omni Grove Park Inn in scenic Asheville, North Carolina, was a much different kind of gathering than 

T.R.A.F.F.I.C. It was more intimate by design so the 80 guests who flew in from around the world could spend more face-to-face quality time with other industry pros. 

Instead of the usual highly structured conference agenda it followed a more free form pattern that let people do business and socialize at the same time in a variety of laid back settings around Asheville, a city that has become one of America's hottest vacation destinations. I regrettably was unable to attend this first event myself but enjoyed seeing Morgan Linton's series of videos that provided some great insight into how things went. Alvin Brown from TheDomains.com was also there and he posted a nice review of the meeting today. TheDomains Founder Michael Berkens (who, like Schwartz, has a summer home in Asheville) played a major role in helping fellow industry legend Schwartz pull the meeting together.  All of the photos and comments I saw posted by others on Facebook, Instagram, blogs, etc. also gave the meetup very good reviews so it looks like Rick has another winner on his hands (no surprise there, of course)!

While the Asheville meeting was going on, domain investors from across India and beyond were in New Delhi for the 6th annual DomainX conference at the Eros Hotel. As it has in the past, DomainX again garnered good reviews posted by its attendees on social media outlets. Speaker Harmandeep Singh from the Delhi School of Digital Marketing (at right in the photo below) posted several nice shots from the show on Facebook

Even if you missed those meetings over the weekend you can still get some invaluable advice from one of the top domain investors of all time online. In another excellent edition of Australia's Domainer Show, Castello Cities Internet Network Co-Founder Michael Castello was interviewed in an hour-long podcast you really won't want to miss

Michael, who was there at the very start of the domain investing business in the mid 1990s, covered a tremendous amount of ground in his discussion with Co-hosts Rob Kaay and Ed Keay-Smith. In addition to the inside stories about his sales of Whisky.com ($3.1 million) and Room.com ($1.5 million), Michael explained why he picked the domains he did at a time when virtually everything was available. He also detailed why he believes domain are more important to an enterprise's success now than they've ever been before. He provides his unique insight into many more topics that make this one of the best programs you will hear all year, so be sure to check it out

(Posted August 5, 2019) To refer others to the post above only (and not the full Lowdown column) you can use this URL:
https://www.dnjournal.com/archive/lowdown/2019/dailyposts/20190805.htm

Radix TLDs Produced $1.36 Million in Premium Domain Sales in the First Half of 2019

Radix has released a new report (.pdf file) detailing premium domain sales results in the first half of 2019 for the nine gTLDs the company administers (.store, .tech, .space, .site, .store, .website, .fun, .press and .host). Radix reported $1.36 million in total premium sales over the six-month period, a figure that is on par with how those TLDs performed in the previous period (H2-2018).

The report cited .online, .tech and .site as their highest grossing TLDs with new premium registrations accounting for approximately 40% of total premium sales revenue.  More than 80 of those sales were made at $2,500 or more  Most of those premium level registrations were sold through Radix's registrar partners with industry giant GoDaddy accounting for 46% of the premium Radix sales. Radix also reported a renewal rate of 78% for premium domains registered in or before 2018.

The company's highest one time sale in this period was Gaming.tech at $20,000 via Sedo. Their full report (linked at the top of this post) has an in depth breakdown of their H1-2019 results that will give you a more granular look at how their individual TLDs performed.

(Posted August 2, 2019) To refer others to the post above only (and not the full Lowdown column) you can use this URL:
https://www.dnjournal.com/archive/lowdown/2019/dailyposts/20190802.htm

Sedo Selects Michael Robrock to Fill Newly Created Position as Chief Operating Officer

Domain industry giant  Sedo announced an important addition to their management team today when they named appointed Michael Robrock to their management board and a newly created role at the company's Chief Operating Officer (COO). Robrock will oversee all of Sedo's  customer-facing departments including Sales and Operations. 

Robrock has held several high level executive positions over the past two decades including CEO roles at MixCon ag and Trendgroup GmBH. Sedo's announcement noted, "Michael brings with him immense experience and knowledge from the domain and online marketing industry. One of his main priorities will be Sedo’s customer experience and how to maintain an exceptionally high level of support."

Sedo CEO Matthias Conrad added, "With Michael Robrock joining us in the newly created COO role, we are pleased to welcome a fellow industry insider and domain veteran with 20+ years of experience."

 

Michael Robrock
Chief Operating Officer, Sedo

 

(Posted August 1, 2019) To refer others to the post above only (and not the full Lowdown column) you can use this URL:
https://www.dnjournal.com/archive/lowdown/2019/dailyposts/20190801.htm

Record Breaking Domain Broker Jeff Gabriel Wraps Up 7-Year Run With Uniregistry

Domain sales giant Jeff Gabriel, who was profiled in a 2016 DNJournal Cover Story, is closing yet another successful chapter in his remarkable career. Gabriel broke into the business with Sedo.com where he closed a record breaking deal for Sex.com at $13 million in 2010 - a deal that reigned as the biggest publicly reported domain sale of all time until it was finally surpassed by the eye popping $30 million sale of Voice.com last month. 

Gabriel's success at Sedo led to Domain Advisors (who later re-branded as Igloo.com) luring him away to be their President in 2011. Then, two years later, industry legend Frank Schilling called on Gabriel to run the new domain sales operation Schilling launched under the Uniregistry banner.

After 7 years with Uni, Gabriel, who played a key role in helping building the company into an industry powerhouse, decided his mission there

Jeff Gabriel

is now complete. In a post on the Uniregistry blog late Tuesday, Gabriel officially announced he is leaving his position as Vice President of Sales so he can move his family back to his Massachusetts home after seven years spent living in Cayman Islands where Uni is headquartered.

Gabriel will return home with a lot to be proud of. He noted, "We grew from four to forty salespeople, with sales support staff selling thousands of domains, eclipsing the $50 million USD mark in yearly sales volume. We will more than likely have broken $250 million mark in sales during my tenure while you read this. We also built new technology, products, and processes."

Jeff's time in the Caymans were accompanied by the biggest events in his personal life as well. "My wife had our two children here," he said. "After discussing this with friends and family, it is time for me to step down and return home to make up for lost time with my family and pursue other projects. I want to thank all of the customers, Frank, and our team that have made these past seven years the best seven I ever had!" Gabriel declared.

With Gabriel's departure Dan Adamson will take over as Vice President of Sales and Wade Smith will become the Director of Sales. Adamson and Smith were both already part of the Uniregistry family and both are well-known and highly-regarded industry veterans. While the sales operation at Uni will remain in good hands, Gabriel's many friends and fans are looking forward to seeing what his next move will be.

(Posted July 31, 2019) To refer others to the post above only (and not the full Lowdown column) you can use this URL:
https://www.dnjournal.com/archive/lowdown/2019/dailyposts/20190731.htm

NamesCon Global 2020 Announces Change in Dates for January Show in Austin, Texas

After six years  In Las Vegas the NamesCon Global conference is moving to Austin, Texas for their 2020 event in January. Show organizers released dates for the upcoming conference last month but today they announced a slight change that will have the show starting three days later than originally planned. The event is now set to open Wednesday, January 29, 2020 and continue through Saturday, February 1.

The previous dates had NamesCon Global opening on a Sunday and closing on a Wednesday, however after a closing day Beach Party at last month's NamesCon Europe conference in Lisbon, Portugal proved to be a huge hit with attendees, NamesCon leaders decided the Global event in Austin also had to close with a bang centered around a day of fun and informal networking. They have found the special activity they were looking for in Texas (not yet publicly announced) but it was something that can only be done on a weekend, hence the decision to slide the show back three days. 

Registration for NamesCon Global 2020 is now open and a special Early Bird rate has been extended to August 4. Rooms at the conference hotel, the Omni Austin Downtown, can also be booked now at a special conference rate

(Posted July 30, 2019) To refer others to the post above only (and not the full Lowdown column) you can use this URL:
https://www.dnjournal.com/archive/lowdown/2019/dailyposts/20190730.htm

India's Annual DomainX Conference Returns This Weekend With a New Premium Domain Auction Added to the Mix

The 6th annual  DomainX conference will be held Saturday and Sunday (August 3 & 4, 2019) at the Eros Hotel in New Delhi, India, the same venue used to host last year's show in the Indian capital.

 

The DomainX agenda will again offer a full slate of business sessions and social events but this year, for the first time, the conference will also present a live premium domain auction that will be held Sunday afternoon. The catalog includes 24 hand picked domains including Tablets.com, DPF.com, ENP.com, Salary.in and Pun.in to name just a few. You can see the full list of domains and get more information about the auction in this post on the DomainX blog.

A scene from the 2018 edition of DomainX last year in New Delhi
(photo credit: Kumar Amit)

Manmeet Pal-Singh and Gaurav Kohli from the Domain Name Owners Association of India launched DomainX in 2014 and we got a first hand look at the conference when we covered the 2015 event in Bangalore. Since 2016 the annual show has been held in New Delhi where an impressive line up of speakers will take this stage again this weekend.  You can still register for the show here.

(Posted July 29, 2019) To refer others to the post above only (and not the full Lowdown column) you can use this URL:
https://www.dnjournal.com/archive/lowdown/2019/dailyposts/20190729.htm

16 Years of DNJournal & Domain Industry History Discussed in New Edition of the Domainer Show

Domain industry veterans  Rob Kaay (DBR.com.au) and Ed Keay-Smith (OnlineImpact.com.au) have teamed up to bring the industry an interesting new source of information. It is a video podcast called The Domainer Show that is located at Domainer.com.au. As Australians, Rob and Ed give domain investors Down Under vital information on the .au market of course, but they also provide a unique perspective on the global domain industry

 

Clockwise from top left: Domainer Show Co-Hosts Rob Kaay and Ed Keay-Smith with DNJournal Editor & Publisher Ron Jackson.

in which Australian investors and service providers have always played a central role. 

The latest edition of The Domainer Show - episode #17 - was just released today and I had the pleasure of being Rob and Ed's guest for a lively hour-long discussion on a wide variety of domain-related topics. We wound the clock back to New Year's Day 2003 when DNJournal.com was launched and talked about how and why I started the publication and some of the most interesting ups and downs I've seen in this business over the past 16 years (as well as a forecast of what I expect to see in the decade ahead). It's all there - the booms, the busts, the dominance of .com and the prospects for new gTLDs, to name just a few.

I've chatted with both Rob and Ed in person at industry functions over the years so we already had an easy rapport that made the conversation about this delightfully unique business fly by in what seemed like 5 minutes rather than 60 - at least to us - but granted, we may be delusional, so you will have to check it out for yourselves to find out!

(Posted July 26, 2019) To refer others to the post above only (and not the full Lowdown column) you can use this URL:
https://www.dnjournal.com/archive/lowdown/2019/dailyposts/20190726.htm

.ORG Registry Operator PIR Releases Annual Report Detailing 2018 Results and 2019 Initiatives

Public Interest Registry (PIR) released its 2018 Annual Report today. The report highlighted several organizational improvements in 2018 including reorganizing the management structure to align with strategic priorities, sharpening efforts to further improve the quality of the .ORG base, maintaining robust .ORG renewal rates, and producing strong financial results in support of the Internet Society and their work to keep the Internet free and open for all. 

The report also details PIR’s plans for 2019, which include initiatives aligned with PIR’s mission "to help educate those who are making

 

a difference in their communities through the power of .ORG."

Jon Nevett
PIR President And CEO

PIR President and CEO Jon Nevett said, “PIR achieved the ambitious goals we set for ourselves in 2018, thanks in no small part to the inspiring work of the .ORG community. It’s the people and organizations using .ORG to make a positive impact on the world who motivate us to remain diligent in our stewardship of the .ORG domain. This year, we are in the midst of a number of exciting initiatives aimed at providing even more support for the broad .ORG community and our domain industry partners. These include maintaining .ORG as the most trusted domain extension, amplifying our education and outreach efforts, and continuing to expand our already robust anti-abuse program.”

The report noted, "2018 was  a solid year for .ORG, from exceeding financial goals to continuing to grow a strong user base with high renewal rates. These results are a direct reflection of PIR’s commitment to promoting 

quality domains in the .ORG base. In 2019, PIR is building upon these efforts through the launch of the Quality Performance Index (QPI) initiative, which helps reward those registrars who are growing and maintaining trust in the .ORG domain while identifying areas of improvement for registrars when it comes to online trust."

The Report also noted, "For 2019, PIR is putting an even greater focus on combating abuse online and making significant investments in education and outreach initiatives. PIR also is establishing a .ORG Impact Awards program to recognize the incredible work of organizations across the globe, and creating a PIR Grants Program to connect PIR with highly motivated individuals and groups with mutual aspirations to help them further their missions." 

(Posted July 18, 2019) To refer others to the post above only (and not the full Lowdown column) you can use this URL:
https://www.dnjournal.com/archive/lowdown/2019/dailyposts/20190718.htm

Buyer of  Money.com.au Details How He Made His Chart Topping Acquisition in a  New Domainer Show Interview 

In our weekly domain sales report a couple of weeks ago we told you about a huge Australian ccTLD sale that was being reported for the first (even though the sale was completed in 2018). The domain, Money.com.au, changed hands in a private transaction for AUD $400,000 (US $279,435 at the conversion rate in effect when our report came out). That made Money.com.au the biggest country code sale reported last year and, having received proof of the price

Clockwise from top left: Domainer Show Co-Hosts Rob Kaay and Ed Keay-Smith with new Money.com.au owner Shaun McGowan.

paid, we installed it in the top spot on the 2018 Top 100 Sales Chart in our Domain Sales Archive (Top 100 Charts from previous years are also in that section). 

The buyer of Money.com.au, Shaun McGowan, was already operating Lend.com.au, so he is an experienced end user in the financial space. At the time the sale came to light, Shaun reserved further public comment on the transaction, but, fortunately, Rob Kaay (DBR.com.au) and Ed Keay-Smith (OnlineImpact.com.au), who co-host the Domainer Show podcast at Domainer.com.au, persuaded McGowan to join them on the air and share the full story of his landmark acquisition. The 47-minute show was just posted today. Most sales at this level are subject to NDA's that prevent investors from learning more about how deals like this come together (one notable exception is the Michael Castello's $1.5 million sale of Room.com that is the subject of our current Cover Story). So, when an opportunity to get the inside story of a big deal like this (one of the biggest in com.au history) it is something you will want to check out!

(Posted July 15, 2019) To refer others to the post above only (and not the full Lowdown column) you can use this URL:
https://www.dnjournal.com/archive/lowdown/2019/dailyposts/20190715.htm

ICA/WIPO Public Webinar Wednesday to Address WhoIs Chaos Created By GDPR 

Everyone involved in the domain business knows how difficult it has become to get accurate domain ownership information with the advent of the European Union's General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). In many cases, the new privacy initiative has resulted in a domain owner's contact information being completely hidden, creating problems for registry operators, registrants, investors, attorneys, journalists and researchers among others.

 

With everyone looking for answers the Internet Commerce Association will be hosting a public webcast Wednesday, July 10 starting at 1pm U.S. Eastern Time that will feature Michael Palage and Frank Cona, who have developed  the “WIPO Model” for post-GDPR access to non-public Whois data. Michael and Frank will make a presentation and also answer questions any questions you may have. Registration is now open here.

Michael and Frank presented their model at ICANN65 in Marrakesh, and the open webinar will provide an opportunity to learn more about it. The presentation of the model is expected to be about 30 minutes long, followed by a Q&A and comments session. 

You will be able to find out if the WIPO Universal Access Model potentially provides WhoIs access:

  • To secondary marketplaces and escrow services for verification and compliance?

  • To brokers, agents, journalists, and researchers for due diligence, investigation, and acquisition purposes?

  • To IP, domain name, and business lawyers for domain name disputes and transactions; and 

  • Are there benefits for registrant identification purposes, domain name portfolio management, and accessing registrar services?

(Posted July 8, 2019) To refer others to the post above only (and not the full Lowdown column) you can use this URL:
https://www.dnjournal.com/archive/lowdown/2019/dailyposts/20190708.htm


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