that huge crowd assembled at the opening session in the
Venetian’s ornate new Palazzo Ballroom was a jaw-dropping
experience. It is simply amazing how far this industry has come
since Schwartz and Neu staged the first major domain conference at
a small Marriott in Delray Beach, Florida less than
two and half years ago with just over 100 show pioneers on hand.
of the record-breaking crowd at T.R.A.F.F.I.C. West 2007 in
getting down to business, the crowd gathered Monday night, March
5th for the traditional Welcome to T.R.A.F.F.I.C. cocktail
party. This stage-setting social event has proven to be the
perfect way to kick off every T.R.A.F.F.I.C. conference. The show
has always been about networking and building business
relationships and those goals are achieved by giving people this
kind of golden opportunity to get to know each other face to face.
The room was buzzing with excitement and anticipation and that
electricity continued to crackle through the days ahead.
night cocktail party at the Venetian Hotel
to right): Michael Bahlitzanakis, Ofer Ronan (Sendori.com),
(John Berryhill’s Awesome Assistant) and John Berryhill
enjoy the cocktail party
in the evening attendees headed off to sample the
entertainment options Las Vegas is famous for. Some tried
their luck in the casinos while others headed off to
private parties or to see a show.
joined a group that DomainSponsor took to see the
indescribable Blue Man Group. It was a psychedelic
feast for the eyes, ears and other senses that ended with
the entire audience literally buried under an ocean of
tissue paper. I wouldn’t want to be the guys who have to
clean up the theater! On the other hand, they manage to
get it done every night, so maybe we could try calling
them in to help ICANN clean up the Registerfly
I expected the late night revelry around town (that
produces symptoms that have come to be known as the “Las
Vegas flu”) might lead to some empty seats Tuesday morning, there was a sizeable crowd when the day began
with the Sturgeon Law Group sponsored
of the Blue Men
the time Schwartz and Neu took the stage to officially open the
show at 9:45am, the place was completely packed. Moniker.com
CEO Monte Cahn followed with instructions for participating
in the multi-million dollar live and silent domain auctions that
would follow Wednesday.
10:20am, the new Internet
Commerce Association had its coming out party as
attending board members, with Benjamin Franklin in tow,
stepped onto the dais to sign a Domain
Owners' Bill of Rights. Franklin appeared at the
conference to personally hand this historic document (printed on rolled
parchment paper) to show attendees.
Franklin was on hand
to help introduce the ICA's
Domain Owners' Bill of Rights
the first time, with the ICA, domain registrants have a powerful
organization that is ready to fight for their rights.
The non-profit ICA was founded in October 2006 when
several leading domain companies, owners and investors
donated $50,000 each to get the organization off
the ground. A well-respected and highly experienced Washington
D.C. attorney and lobbyist, Phil Corwin, was
hired as the ICA’s Legal Counsel and former Sedo
Director of Business Development, Jude Augusta,
signed on as the group’s Executive Director.
spending the past five months quietly building the ICA
foundation and filling these key positions, the board opened
the doors to new members at T.R.A.F.F.I.C. West. In an
effort to build the broadest possible base of support for
domain owners, memberships begin at just $99 for
the Ambassador level and $495 for the Professional
level. Corporate sponsors have also begun signing on at $7,500
will take a large war chest to defend our rights and
assets against the well-financed forces that are lining up
to take them away, but I believe that if we unite in this
effort, the days of domain registrants being ignored and
abused are over.
ICA’s Board of Directors is made up of
representatives from Name Administration, Inc.
(Frank Schilling), iREIT (Bob
Martin), Oversee.net (Josh Armstrong),
Sedo.com (Jeremiah Johnston), Straat
Investments (Juan Calle), the World
Association of Domain Name Developers (Rick
Schwartz and Howard Neu) and DNJournal.com
is expected that other leading companies in the
industry will also join the board as the ICA
continues to grow in the months and years ahead.
However, if the organization is to have real
strength and staying power, it needs everyone’s
support, regardless of how many domains you
Executive Director Jude Augusta (left)
manning the organization's exhibit hall booth
truly is strength in numbers and every single new
member will play a key role in giving the ICA the kind of
muscle it will need to fend off the ever increasing threats
to the assets you have built through your vision, your
hard work and your capital investment. Others would
like to step in now and harvest the fruit produced from the
seeds you have sown but we believe that the ICA, with your
help, can keep that from happening.
Franklin hands out the ICA's Domain Owners' Bill of Rights
the final morning event, the Recall
Media Group hosted a session detailing success stories
that resulted from connections made at previous T.R.A.F.F.I.C.
conferences. Recall founder Sahar Sarid and company
CEO/President Darren Cleveland headed a panel that included
domain investor Gregg McNair, Faisal Chughtai (VP of
RBC Capital’s Technology Group) and Ari Bayme, a
VP at investment banker Milbank Roy who specializes in
technology related transactions.
Founder, Recall Media Group
VP, RBC Capital
has moved far beyond the bounds of domaining and is
focused on building full-blown businesses rather
than simply monetizing domains. Recall’s FuneralHomes.com
is a perfect example of this. The site has risen to a
dominant position in the search engines and has aggregated
more advertisers than any other entity in the funeral
business. Sarid met Cleveland at a previous T.R.A.F.F.I.C.
conference and that pairing has turned the company into an
important force in domain and business development.
whose company helped Marchex raise the $164
million they needed to purchase Yun Ye’s Name
Development portfolio, said that there is a great deal
of capital on the sidelines looking for an opportunity to
get into the domain business. Those investors would rather
buy successful developed sites than raw domain names and
that fact is fueling the current search for development
partners being undertaken by owners of high quality domain
names. Chughtai said he believed RBC has benefited more
from contacts made at T.R.A.F.F.I.C. than anyone else.
added that it is quite possible for every show attendee to
boost their bottom line by 10-15% through contacts
and partnerships made at T.R.A.F.F.I.C. conferences.
Perhaps, the primary thing that has set T.R.A.F.F.I.C.
apart from its competitors is that it has succeeded in
attracting the heaviest hitters from both the investment
and domain ownership camps.
hosted a 90-minute lunch break punctuated by a short
presentation from the company’s CEO, Jonathan Boswell.
You can learn more about that ground-breaking new firm in
we recently published about the company.
afternoon session then got underway with Madison Avenue Round
Two, a sequel to the lively session at T.R.A.F.F.I.C.
East in Florida last October that Rick Schwartz
has described as the best seminar in show history. As it did a
little over four months ago, this session brought in a panel of
top advertising executives to explain how Madison Avenue views the
domain market and why major advertisers have failed to scoop up
key generic names that define their product categories.
panelists included Will Margiloff, CEO of Innovation
Interactive Corp., Bill Lickson, Director of
Interactive Strategy at Zimmerman Advertising, Lance
Podell, CEO of Seevast and Matt Bentley, Chief
Strategy Officer at Sedo. Though major advertisers have
bypassed opportunities to acquire category killer domains,
Margiloff said Madison Avenue is not ignoring domains, they simply
don’t yet have an understanding of the channel. He said
T.R.A.F.F.I.C.’s first New
York show, coming up June 19-22 at the Grand
Hyatt in Manhattan, could go a long way toward bridging
this education gap.
to right) Lance Podell, Will Margiloff and Bill Lickson
noted that advertisers remain focused on their brands rather than
the generics that define their business. “Starbucks.com
is not Coffee.com because their brand allows them to charge
$5 for a cup of coffee!,” Lickson said, adding that he
did think that Coffee.com would make a truly great media property
that could provide news and information about the popular beverage
and profit from advertising on such a site. In fact, Lickson said
there is a huge potential upside for generic domain owners who
think of their names as media properties and develop them
for that purpose.
also likes that approach and advises you to look into your
portfolio for a niche domain that defines a category that
you can “own” through development. Margiloff agreed,
saying “you need to think about other ways to make money
on your domain rather than just relying on Google and
Yahoo for PPC earnings. If either of them change their
algorithms, they can severely hurt your revenue.”
you hope to make a killing by selling to a major
advertiser, Podell said that is probably a pipe dream. He
noted that advertising campaigns have a set budget and if
a domain name is to be part of the campaign it has to fit
within the budget. He said advertisers will think of a
name that would help them but it if costs $1 million
they say “forget it!” He added that the sweet spot
for ad campaigns is names in the $5,000-$10,000
Chief Strategy Officer at Sedo
agreed, saying that on an ROI basis, it may be more effective for
advertisers to buy clicks for specific campaigns than to purchase a
domain name. Unless major advertisers can be convinced otherwise,
these exchanges seem to underline the wisdom of making something
out of your best domains rather than counting on a huge sale to
unlock their real value.