While this was the 6th
show in the DOMAINfest Global series it was considerably
different than the ones that came before. The
show's organizers, Oversee.net,
parent company of lead sponsor DomainSponsor.com,
decided to expand the scope of the show beyond
traditional domain investor issues with an
increasing emphasis on alternative ways to
generate traffic and revenue - topics that are
of increasing interest to domain owners seeking to
offset the heavy decline in PPC revenue in recent
years. As a result the agenda was seasoned with
sessions devoted to how domain developers and
website owners can win the daily online marketing
battle for traffic and conversions.
The change in subject
matter brought dozens of new faces to Santa
Monica, both in the audience and on the dais. I
think this differentiation was a smart move for
DOMAINfest Global and one that appeared to play well
with registrants as attendance at the various
sessions was unusually strong. It's no secret that
in recent years the conference calendar became over-saturated
and that familiar content filled most show agendas.
As a result, many registrants skipped sessions on
topics they already knew inside out and used that
time to network in the halls or schedule private
meetings. The new subject matter apparently drew many of them back into the meeting rooms.
of the opening day crowd at DOMAINfest Global
Tuesday, Jan. 31, 2012
What we are seeing, as we
always do, is the market correcting itself.
As of this writing just two large scale shows with a worldwide
focus are scheduled in 2012 - the just completed
DOMAINfest Global and T.R.A.F.F.I.C.
next October in Ft. Lauderdale Beach, Florida. With
DOMAINfest Global evolving in the way it has, the
two surviving 800-pound gorillas in the space now
have their own very clear and unique identity
and I believe that will serve both them and the
industry at large very well going forward.
officially got underway when the sponsor's exhibit
hall opened at 8am Tuesday morning, Jan. 31. The
hall served two purposes. In addition to allowing
attendees to meet face to face with representatives
of leading service providers to get questions
answered and demo new products, the hall was
an always open refreshment center with free coffee,
soda and snacks for guests.
Barrow (ANY-Web Ltd.) picks up some material and
information from TrafficMedia's
Dennis Lastochkin at the company's DomainParking.com
booth in the exhibit hall.
At 9:30am the
show's first panel discussion got underway on a most
timely topic - ICANN's plan to roll out an
unlimited number of new gTLDs. The application
period opened last month and the first new extensions
are scheduled to start appearing in 2013.
New gTLD Workshop that kicked off DOMAINfest
Global 2012 featured (left to right): moderator Todd
Greene (Oversee.net) at the podium, Mason Cole
(5x5 Communications), Ken Hansen (Neustar),
Juan Diego Calle (CEO, .CO Internet S.A.S.) and
Michele Jourdan (ICANN).
Diego Calle, the CEO of .CO
Internet S.A.S., the company that successfully
re-launched Colombia's .CO TLD
as a global extension last year, had some especially
well balanced comments on the new gTLDs, pointing out
both the possible rewards and the high risks involved
in playing in the expensive new gTLD registry
to high start up fees ($185,000 just to apply for
a new gTLD), the low public awareness of new gTLDs,
the big marketing budget needed to raise that
awareness, the large number coming online all at the
same time and a tough distribution environment (there
will be limited shelf space for new gTLDs at the
handful of registrars that dominate that space), Calle
said many will fail. Still, noting that lots of
left of the dot projects also fail, Calle supports
the free market approach being used for the
program and said those that have the money and do it
right could duplicate .CO's success (.CO now has over 1.2
Co-President & Co-CEO
|At 11am, Debra Domeyer,
Oversee.net's Co-President and Co-CEO (roles
she shares with Scott Morrow) took the
stage to deliver welcoming remarks on behalf
of DOMAINfest's Global's parent company. Ms.
Domeyer underscored the point I made at that
top of this article, saying that
DOMAINfest Global has expanded beyond being
just a show about domains and is now featuring
"Internet entrepreneurs of all stripes."
I first met Debra at T.R.A.F.F.I.C. last
fall, soon after she and Scott took over
leadership of Oversee.net from the departing Jeff
Kuipetzky. When we sat down for what
turned out to be an hour-long chat, I was
quickly impressed with her openness,
intelligence and penchant for listening.
in fact I was a bit embarrassed when we were
done, realizing that she had me talking more
about myself than talking about
her background and plans for Oversee.net.
I've always believed you learn a lot more
from listening than talking and I left that
conversation and several others we had at
DOMAINfest Global feeling that Debra's gifts, which
include a great sense of humor and sociable
demeanor, are going to
serve Oversee and its customers very well. She
is actively seeking out and carefully
considering everyone's input and I
fully expect she will use that feedback to
deliver improved products and services at
During her welcoming
comments at DOMAINfest Global Ms. Domeyer
offered her predictions for our industry
in 2012. For details on what she expects, read
her thoughts (and those of Scott Morrow's) in
our annual State
of the Industry Cover Story that
came out in January.
|After Ms. Domeyer welcomed
attendees, the morning closed with Eli
Goodman, Search Evangelist at comscore,
reprising a popular talk from last year -
his reading of Internet Vital Signs.
In keeping with the show's broadened theme,
rather than domains, Goodman's presentation,
titled "Its a Social World,"
covered the top 10 things you need to know
about social networking.
Some of the things Goodman said you need to
keep in mind are that social networking is the
most popular online activity worldwide,
the importance of Facebook cannot be
overstated, microblogging has emerged
as a disruptive new force in social
networking, it's not just young people using
social networking, it's everyone and mobile
devices are fueling the social addiction.
He drilled deeper into each of those and his
other points, offering advice on how to use
this knowledge to improve you online business.
talk everyone headed outdoors for a buffet luncheon
served under glorious blue skies and the majestic fig
tree that towers over the Fairmont Miramar courtyard.
Tuesday (Jan. 31) luncheon under the fig tree in the
Fairmont Miramar courtyard.
(left to right) Stefan Schinzinger (Optimo.com),
John Ferber (DomainHoldings.com)
and Bill McClure (Coffee.org) shooting
the luncheon breeze under sunny skies.
After the lunch
break the first afternoon session Tuesday (Jan. 31)
got underway at 2pm - a panel discussion on Mobile
and Local Opportunities for Publishers and
Advertisers. Debra Domeyer returned to moderate
this panel featuring (left to right in the photo
Sterling (Contributing Editor, Search Engine
Land), Eli Portnoy (CEO, ThinkNear) and
Bryson Meunier (Director of Content Solutions,
One thing I
have always liked about DOMAINfest Global are the half-hour
coffee and snack breaks they build into the
morning and afternoon sessions that, in addition to
providing refreshments, give you ample time to chat with
other attendees or visit company reps manning the
booths in the exhibit hall where the breaks are held.
I'm sure sponsors appreciate having this extra traffic
around their booths twice a day and it opens up a lot
of options for registrants as well. The 3pm break
Tuesday gave me a chance to catch up on what was new
at some of the companies on hand.
Lawrence and Ren Warmuz welcomed visitors
at the Trellian.com/Above.com booth.
After the break
it was back to the Starlight Ballroom for a 3:30pm
session on Affiliate
Lead Generation Best Practices. This session
moderated by Oversee.net's James Keating featured
(standing in the photo below)
and (seated left to right behind him) Brook Schaaf (CEO,
Schaaf-PartnerCentric), Jay Weintraub (CEO,
NextCustomer Inc.) and Eoin Matthews (VP of
Business Development at VigLink).
The first day
of business closed with a one-hour Sponsor Showcase
in which representatives from the top DOMAINfest
Global sponsors each had five minutes to take the
stage and talk about their services.
had an hour to get ready for the show's first official
evening social event, a Dinner Networking Reception,
sponsored by Sedo at Monsoon, a Balinese
restaurant just a couple of blocks east of the
Fairmont Miramar. At this function,
Sedo CEO Tim Schumacher made his last official appearance in that capacity as Tobias Flaitz,
who was also on hand, would take over that role the
next day. Tim filled the crowd in on some big news that
night - a new partnership
deal between the SedoMLS and GoDaddy.
have an extensive interview article with Tim coming up
later this month in which he reflects on the ten
years he has spent at the pioneering company he
co-founded (Tim will continue to serve Sedo as a
member of their Supervisory Board).
scene from Sedo's Opening Night Dinner Networking
Reception at Monsoon.
Conversations on 2 floors and all 4 sides of the
restaurant continued throughout the evening.
the Sedo event, PPX
International hosted an open late night
party at the Shangri-La Hotel, just south of
the Fairmont Miramar. This was not an official
DOMAINfest Global event but parties like that are a
fixture on the show circuit and as a great free entertainment
and networking opportunity, they benefit both the
conference and guests (as long as they are not
scheduled at the same time as a show function).
Chairman Gregg McNair is famous for hosting
these late night socials and the one at the Shangri-La
was packed. I talked at length with new Sedo CEO Tobias Flaitz
there and it didn't take long to see that Sedo had
found a worthy successor to the highly esteemed Tim
Schumacher. Another highlight of
the PPX Party was having three industry leaders
volunteer to have their heads shaved by McNair in
exchange for donations to a charity that is much
beloved in the domain communiity - The
Water School. By giving up their
tresses, Vern Jurovich (InternetTraffic.com),
Jeff Gabriel (President, DomainAdvisors.com) and Bill
Lozada helped pull in over $30,000 in
Even though Gregg McNair (center) had
just finished "scalping" them,
Jeff Gabriel (left)
& Vern Jurovich
(right) remained on good
terms with the PPX
(Photo courtesy of Dan Adamson)
McNair and his shears caught up with the 3rd
"victim," Bill Lozada, later
the same night.
two at DOMAINfest Global 2012, Wednesday,
Feb. 1, began a
little earlier for me that for most other guests. I joined
some other members of the domain industry press corps
for an 8am media breakfast with Oversee.net's new
Co-Presidents and Co-CEOs, Scott Morrow and Debra
Domeyer. During a Q&A session they confirmed
some big rumored news that was made official shortly
after the briefing - that Oversee
had sold Moniker.com and SnapNames.com to KeyDrive.
The pair said the company had decided to focus in a
different area, alternate forms of domain monetization
in particular, and added that Oversee was
building a publisher's network that will feature
multi-channel distribution, including mobile.
breakfast the Scott and Debra also commented on the
unusual power sharing arrangement they have.
Morrow said they had complementary talents (with each
having expertise in different areas) that made them an
effective tandem. The company's Board has also seen
them work together well as Co-Presidents for six
months and liking what they saw, the board added the Co-CEO roles to their
responsibilities shortly before the show began.
Domeyer and Scott Morrow, Co-Presidents and
Co-CEOs at Oversee.net.
Black Azimuth Consulting
the media breakfast it was on to the Ballroom
for the day's first session, a 9:30am workshop
on Analyzing Keywords to Find Revenue
Opportunities conducted by Black
Azimuth Consulting President Bill Hunt.
He provided advice on how to use updated
keyword research and modeling techniques to
compensate for the latest changes at Google,
Bing and Yahoo.
the morning coffee break at 10:30, another
session convened at 11am - a panel discussion
that covered Advanced PPC Best Practices
and Campaign Management Tools. The experts
on the dais offered tips that they said could
help double your conversions, lower your costs
and save time in the process.
Advanced PPC Panel participants
(left to right) were moderator Dwayne
Walker (Oversee.net), Joanna Lord (SEOmoz.org),
Jeff Ferguson (CEO, Fang Digital
Marketing) and David Rodnitzky (CEO,
another delightful outdoor luncheon under the
fig tree, business resumed at 2pm
Wednesday with a solo presentation from Tim
Ash (SiteTuners.com), the author of Landing
Page Optimization, speaking
about - you guessed it - landing page
optimization - specifically Landing Page
Optimization Best Practices and Conversion
Tools. Ash offered specific landing
page adjustments that he said will
dramatically improve anyone's conversions.
(on stage) offering sage advice on landing
page optimization Wednesday (Feb. 1)
Mr. Ash spoke, attendees enjoyed an extended
one-hour coffee break that gave show organizers
a chance to reset the stage for another
DOMAINfest Global staple - the PITCHfest
Contest. Many used the extra time to bone up on
the latest developments at the various companies
represented in the Exhibit Hall.
(at far right) paying a visit to the Go Daddy
In a related note,
the winner of the Passport Drawing
(attendees got their passports stamped by
visiting each exhibitor's booth, then dropped
the completed passport in a drawing bin) was Adam
Young who won a $500 Amazon gift
code. The $250 second prize went to Daniel
Eisenhut and Enrico Schaefer received
a $150 American Express gift card as
giveaway, for the second year in a row the
winner of DOMAINfest's Fantasy Domaining
Contest was Edwin Sherman who picked
up a great prize package that included free
DOMAINfest admission, four free nights at the
hotel and a $1,000 travel stipend.
4pm sharp Wednesday everyone was back in the
Ballroom for the Pitchfest Contest that
gave ten entrepreneurs a chance to pitch their online
business ideas to a panel for four
distinguished judges; (left
to right in the photo below): Jeff Cohn (eStrategy
Partners), Scott Jarus (Director,
Oversee.net), Benjamin Kuo (SocialTECH.com)
and John Morris (Vistage International).
contestants were also pitching the audience of
600 because both the panel of judges and the
audience were able to select their own winners
and they don't always agree. That was the case
this year, as the judges wound up choosing Elliot
Labreche of Akashic, a cloud file
storage startup, as their winner based on
creativity, viability, originality and revenue
Labreche of Akashic (left) collects
the Judge's Award from Oversee.net
Co-CEO and President Scott Morrow after
Wednesday's Pitchfest Contest.
audience went in another direction, persuaded by
a powerful presentation from John Karavas
described as a "Linked In" for high
school athletes. They voted him winner of the
Pitchfest Audience Choice Award.
Karavas of Babafoo making the Pitchfest
that won the Audience Choice Award for
best online business idea.
Wednesday business day closed with a discussion
of Public Policies Impacting Domain Investors.
Commerce Association Legal Counsel Phil
Corwin gave a comprehensive presentation
outlining legal and policy issues domain
investors need to stay abreast of in order to
protect their interests. After his talk, Phil
sat down with Sedo General Counsel Jeremiah
Johnston and Oversee.net Senior VP
and Legal Counsel Todd Greene to answer
questions from the audience.
to R): Phil Corwin (ICA) Jeremiah
Johnston (Sedo) and Todd Greene (Oversee.net)
at Wednesday's update on legal and public
policy issues impacting domain investors.
day two's business agenda now complete,
attendees had an hour or so to get ready to
catch the buses that would ferry them across
town for the evening's big social event, a trip
to the world renowned Petersen Automotive
Museum in Los Angeles for a Dinner
Networking Party sponsored by the .CO
Guests at the .CO Registry's Wednesday night
(Feb. 1) party
at the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los
Rare and exotic cars and motorcycles from
every era were on display at the
Petersen Museum including famous film
cars like the Batmobile (second shot
|In another highlight of
the night .CO Registry CEO Juan
Diego Calle screened a preview of
the Go Daddy/.CO Super Bowl TV ad
that aired the following Sunday when it
was seen by an estimated 120 million
To top it off, Calle then introduced,
in person, the star of the ad, Colombian
super model Natalia Velez,who
hung out with the delighted crowd and
had photos taken with every guest
that wanted one.
This was the second straight year
that Go Daddy and .CO teamed up or a
Super Bowl spot. The latest 30-second ad
cost over $3 million but based on
the results from last year's Super Bowl
exposure, .CO is confident that putting
the extension in front of so many
viewers around the world will pay big
dividends for a long time to come.
Velez (center), star of the Go
Bowl commercial with .CO Director of
Koritkoski (L) & .CO Vice
President Lori Anne Wardi (R).
next morning, after the hearty daily breakfast
in the Fairmont Miramar's Wilshire room, the
final day of DOMAINfest Global 2012 (Thursday,
Feb. 2), got underway with at 9:30 panel
discussion centered on Domain Valuation
Techniques for Buying and Selling.
Domain Valuation panel featured (left to
right) moderator Lisa Box (Oversee.net),
Paul Nicks (Go Daddy), Liesbeth Mac-de
Boer (Sedo) and Ken Taylor (Marksmen
that experienced group provided advice on
setting domain prices, as well as buying and
selling strategies, it was time for one of the
week's most anticipated events - a Keynote
Fireside Chat with Twitter Co-Founder
Biz Stone skillfully conducted by
Oversee.net co-President and co-CEO Scott
|Prompted by Morrow's
prescient questions about his youth,
Stone served up one hilarious anecdote
after another about growing up in New
England and his early business
ventures in an enlightening and
inspirational interview that was the one
of the most entertaining keynotes
I've ever had the pleasure seeing.
Stone said he was a "dork"
as a kid but shed his outsider status by
talking his school into starting a
lacrosse team. Since he was one the few
kids who knew anything at all about the
sport he wound up being the captain
of the team, as well as its creator.
Stone said he learned one of the most
important lessons of his life from that
experience - that "opportunity
can by manufactured," you don't
have to sit around waiting for one that
may never come your way.
Stone was always determined to go
his own way. He told teachers in
high school that he had a personal
philosophy - "I don't do homework
but I will pay attention in class!"
He still managed to get through high
school but when he went off to college
he found that philosophy didn't play so
well with his professors.
While trying to find an environment
that matched his outlook on learning and
life he transferred from Northeastern
University to the University of
Massachusetts where he got a job
"moving boxes" at a
graphic arts company.
Co-Founder Biz Stone speaking
at DOMAINfest Global 2012 (Feb. 2)
learned that company designers had been
told to submit cover designs for a
client's new book, he surreptitiously
did one himself and slipped it into the
envelope that went to the publisher. His
design wound up winning. When
notified of the publisher's choice, the
company's puzzled art director, not
recognizing the artwork, asked "who
did this?" Stone piped up,
"Me!" The astonished
art director said, "What? The
box guy!" Stone wound up
graduating from moving boxes to a full
internship thanks to that initiative.
Once again he had manufactured an
Stone said he
used to make up "pretend"
companies. He called one of them Genius
Labs. After finishing college
and landing a job at Google,
Stone wrote on his blog that "Google
Labs!" Stone said to this day,
people still think it was a real company
and the "acquisition" is often
cited in biographies about him. Stone
said that was an example of another one
of his core beliefs - that "creativity
is a renewable resource."
Stone went on to detail how the
creation of Twitter came about
(including he fact that he and his
partners got the Twitter.com
domain name for just $7,500). The
Twitter story has been told elsewhere
several times, so I won recount here,
but it was amazing to hear Stone say the
Twitter founders turned down a $500
million purchase offer from Facebook
founder Mark Zuckerberg at a time
when Twitter has just been valued at
only $20 million.
Asked how they could turn
|down so much
money Stone said his partner, Evan
Williams, said, "Look, if it's
worth $500 million to someone, it's
worth $1 billion, and if it's
worth $1 billion, it's worth $10
billion!" Stone protested,
"What kind of math is that!!"
but they decided they wanted to see it
through on their own and in hindsight it
was the right decision. The incident
also underlies another Stone adage -
"To succeed spectacularly,
you have to be willing to fail
spectacularly." They took a big
chance and won big.
being co-owner of a company that is now worth billions
had changed his life, Stone said "Well,
people will answer my phone calls now
which is awesome!" You simply have
to love this guy.
another pleasant courtyard luncheon (during
which people were still buzzing about Biz),
attendees returned to the Ballroom for the final
DOMAINfest panel discussion at 2pm Thursday -
one covering SEO Tips and Best Practices.
SEO Tips session featured (left to right)
Bruce Clay, moderator Scott Morrow,
Andy Atkins-Krueger (WebCertain Group)
and Danny Sullivan (Search Engine Land)
group of well-known experts talked about the
importance of quality content and website architecture
and provided advice on the latest SEO techniques
and tools. In case you are wondering if it is
really necessary to have a professional assigned
to SEO tasks, Bruce Clay noted that
Google says it makes 450-500 algorithm
changes every year with over
200 variables considered. Trying to keep
abreast of such rapid change is obviously not a
challenge part-timers are likely to do well at.
final business event of DOMAINfest Global, the Moniker
Live Domain Auction, followed at 4:30pm
Thursday (Feb. 2). The auction wound up
producing more than $392,000 in sales led
by Empire.com at $135,000. QE.com
added $89,000, CatFood.com went
for $61,000 and Marriages.com for $36,000.
extraordinaire Wayne Wheat (at the
conducting Moniker's Live Domain Aucton
Thursday (Feb. 2, 2012).
the auction it was time for a final night of
fun. The ladies got a head start on that with a
6:30pm Women in Domaining reception at
the Fairmont Miramar.
fabulous Women in Domaining at their
Thursday evening (Feb. 2) reception.
(Photo courtesy of Kamila Sekiewicz)
after the ladies' reception began, motor coaches
started carrying guests across town to
Hollywood's House of Blues for an evening
of networking, good food and fine performances
from Lucent Dossier, a performance artist
group that combines a dash of Cirque du Soleil
style acrobatics with creatively attired models
and modern dance.
artist group Lucent Dossier entertaining DOMAINfest
at Hollywood's House of Blues
Thursday night (Feb. 2, 2012).
|Lucent Dossier re-appeared
on stage ever 20 minutes or so in new
costumes and new routines. In between
each appearance, cast members mingled
with guests and had photos taken with
them. The breaks between
performances also gave guests plenty of
time to circulate through the crowd to
see old friends and make new ones. It
was an excellent format for a group that
likes nothing better than networking.
in the crowd at the House of Blues
included (at right) Diana Jackson
and veteran domain investor Roy
below, left to right) a
nine-man group that would make a fine
domain industry all-star team: Ammar
Kubba, Page Howe, Roy
Messer, Steven Kaziyev, Ari
Goldberger, Michael Lindsey, John
Yeomans, Andrew Rosener and Bill
visit to the House of Blues and Friday morning's
farewell breakfast that offered a final chance
to say our goodbyes, was a fine way to cap a
wonderful conference week graced with fabulous
weather in Southern California. While we saw a
lot of changes in the DOMAINfest Global agenda,
one thing remained the same. As always, the
fast-paced show ran like clockwork from
start to finish with much of the credit for that
going to Oversee's Aaron Kvitek and Corinne
Forti who put in a ton of work behind the
curtains to make the magic happen.
the once overloaded domain conference scheduled
has undergone a long expected contraction,
Oversee's Debra Domeyer told us DOMAINfest
Global will remain a fixture on the calendar and
will definitely return in 2013. So, if
you missed the big event this year, you've got
plenty of time to get your plans in place for
DOMAINfest Global's lucky #7 conference
that will help kick off the next New Year. The
past six shows have provided ample proof that it
will be an event you won't want to miss.