Joe Higgins (who is also my favorite drummer)
with dapper party host Ammar Kubba (right), COO at TrafficZ.com.
the Voodoo Lounge
Jackson and Frank Schilling
stories up on the outdoor deck at the Voodoo Lounge
In deference to those who stayed out late
partying, the Wednesday seminar schedule didn't start until 10am and
that was still too early for most. Few were in the room when a panel
that included Kevin Ham, Monte Cahn, Rick Schwartz,
Howard Neu and myself took the stage to talk about
T.R.A.F.F.I.C. keynote speakers, what has been learned from them and
how important they are to the show's agenda.
Kevin Ham delivering an unforgettable
talk Feb. 20 at T.R.A.F.F.I.C. West 2008
It's too bad this early
seminar was sparsely attended because Ham, who is both a
medical doctor and a wildly successful domain investor,
turned it into what was easily one of the highlights of this
or any other show.
When it was his turn to take the podium
Ham proved how moving and inspirational a good speaker can
be. Talking entirely off the cuff for nearly 50 minutes
about what is really important in life; love, passion,
parents, children, continual growth, leaving a legacy and
the definition of success, Ham moved many in the room to
tears (or close to them). No one else wanted to speak after
him, not for fear of being upstaged (though we surely would
have been) but simply because there was nothing left that
needed to be said.
It is easy to get caught up in business
an let making money become the top priority in your life.
Whether you are wealthy or flat broke, Ham put things in
their proper perspective as well as anyone I have ever heard
speak on the subject.
Next up was a seven-man panel that
explored how the industry is viewed by the outside world, how we can
influence perceptions and combat abuse directed at domain investors.
Those on stage included Bill Sweetman (Tucows.com), Phil
Corwin, Mike O'Connor, Dan Warner, Dan Pulcrano
(Boulevards News Media founder and the subject of our February
Cover Story) and brothers Michael and David Castello
Cities Internet Network (and also subjects of a previous
Cover Story in December
2006). Pulcrano, who was and still is a successful print
publisher as well as owner of the world's top geodomain portfolio,
joked that he used to be in a respectable business (print) but came
over to the "dark side".
to right: Dan Pulcrano at podium, Howard Neu, David
Castello and Michael Castello
Pulcrano said at first he did not want to be
called a domainer but now he is proud of the term and feels that
people in this business do not get the respect they deserve for
thinking out of the box. "We are pioneers," he observed
noting that the upheaval in the media business from print to online
would result in the "one of the greatest transfers of wealth in
generations." Pulcrano said at the same time, owners of great
Internet "land" need to do something positive with it.
"It's almost a public trust" he said.
Everyone on this panel had something
interesting to say. It is regrettable that given the scope of a
complete conference overview like this we can only note a couple of
comments from each individual session. I heard enough from this one
to make me think this topic would make a very interesting article of
its own. Exploring the industry's image, successes, shortcomings and
responsibilities would make a good touchstone to further
understanding of the business for those looking at it from the
|During the lunch break, .mobi's
Pinky Brand gave one of his regular updates on the .mobi
extension and I talked briefly about sales trends in the
domain market. There is a lot of
discussion about how a
recession in the general economy would affect domains (and
some conjecture that it already is). It's hard to imagine
that severe dislocation would leave domains unscathed but so
far our sales data shows the domain market holding up very
well. When I ran the numbers for my market update at
T.R.A.F.F.I.C. I found that the total dollar value of sales
reported to us in 2007 was $121 million, a 70%
jump over the $71 million reported in 2006 (keep in
mind that reported sales are just a fraction of total sales
- most go unreported). Not a bad increase considering the
general economy started stagnating halfway through
We were only 6 weeks into the New Year
at the time of my talk, but in the early going 2008 sales
running 20% ahead of the same time frame in 2007.
With the concerns over the economy that everyone has
now, I'll be keeping a close eye on those trends and
will let you know if they change.
Jackson speaking about domain
sales trends at Feb. 20 luncheon
(Photo courtesy of Marcia Lynn Walker)
In the final seminar of T.R.A.F.F.I.C. West
2008 the question posed was Are PPC Companies Earning Too Much
for the Service They Provide or Are They Entitled to a Bigger Slice
of the Pie? That topic was tackled by panelists Gregg
McNair, Rick Schwartz, Chris Hartnett and Divyank
|McNair (seen in the top photo at left) has
been extremely successful even though he was a latecomer to
this industry. Though many are dismayed to see PPC revenue
falling McNair still said "There is nothing I have
found that is an easier way to make money that domains"
and he advised that you can do better be getting familiar
with domain optimization tools and into marketplace systems.
"You can sit, wait and complain for more money or you
can do something about it yourself," McNair said,
adding "I've found people to work with who are smarter
Dr. Hartnett (pictured in
the center photo at left) who was extremely successful in
the telecommunications business. said, "The domain
business is so exciting because there is so much opportunity
out there - but it is going to change and you have to be
ready for that. Our strength is if we all come
together. It's a good time to build relationships.
Creating a co-op might be a good idea to have a back door if
needed." Hartnett also noted that PPC companies are
limited in how they can respond to the call for transparency
because Google and Yahoo are not giving them clearance to
give their clients more information - "and we don't
have a lot of leverage to change that" he said, adding
"we can only push back if we are unified."
Turakhia (seen in the bottom photo in
the left column), who runs well-known parking company Skenzo.com, said he thought domain owners were "being
paid right". "Just like with any other customer,
if you are not devoting the resources to help the customer
then you are going to lose the customer," he said.
lot of PPC companies see customer churn as domain owners
move from one company to another in search of the elusive
higher payout. The trend I have been seeing a lot of in the
past year is a search for a different means of monetizing
domains, whether it be affiliate relationships, selling off
more names or going into full scale development - either
solo or in partnership arrangements. As Dr. Hartnett noted
during his talk, the only thing we can be sure of is that
things are going to change.
After a short break it was time for
another headline event, the SnapNames
Live domain auction conducted by Moniker.com
with veteran auctioneer Joel Langbaum calling the
action. The auction results, over $4.3 million in
sales, have been widely reported now. You can see the
complete list of final bids here
and our morning after report and commentary was posted here.
Another $480,000 was tacked on during a silent online
auction that ran for several days beyond the event.
Since the auction total was less than some
previous T.R.A.F.F.I.C. shows some thought the numbers might be a
sign of a weakening economy - and they might be - but with $3.1
million worth of domains selling just three weeks earlier in the
SnapNames Live auction at DOMAINfest
Global, a lot of money was spent in a short time frame.
The dollars are just being spread across more venues than ever
As 2008 goes on, results from all venues live
and otherwise, will be closely watched for signs of deterioration.
We get more verified sales data than anyone else and so far in terms
of reported dollars spent, the market is still growing year over
year at a double digit rate. Things could always reverse course, but this far, domains
continue to be weathering the malaise in the overall economy quite
SnapNames Live domain at T.R.A.F.F.I.C. West Feb. 20
With another big live sale in the books it was
time to close the show with a Farewell Dinner Gala featuring prize
drawings, good food and great friends. No matter how many domain
conferences are staged, the latter attraction will never go out of
style. So for T.R.A.F.F.I.C. fans its on to Disney World in May. I
think that will be a great time and I understand the Disney folks,
who actively courted T.R.A.F.F.I.C., are working up some special
treats. One of their cast members, Iona Domain, even made the
trip to Las Vegas to start getting people psyched up for the trip to
Orlando May 20-24.
Iona Domain gets my attention after flying in from Orlando
promote T.R.A.F.F.I.C.'s upcoming show at Disney World May
(Photo courtesy of Barbara Neu)
|I hope you can bring the kids and join in the
fun at Disney World this spring. Rick and Alina Schwartz
and Howard, Barbara and Ray Neu will all make you
feel right at home.
Rick and Alina Schwartz
Right: Ray Neu & mom Barbara
Cool Pictures in the T.R.A.F.F.I.C. West 2008 Photo Gallery
Return to Page 1 of
to Domain Name Journal Home Page