The 2010 Domainer Mardi Gras (DMG)
conference was held in New Orleans Feb. 11-13, right
in the middle of the world famous Mardi Gras
celebration that brought hundreds of thousands of revelers
to the Big Easy. With the show's headquarters located at the
New Orleans Marriott, DMG attendees were just steps
away from the French Quarter and Mardi Gras ground
zero on Bourbon Street.
of the wall-to-wall crowd on Bourbon Street during the 2010 Domainer
conference in New Orleans (photo taken from the Parked.com
balcony above the street).
debut edition of Domainer Mardi Gras was a big hit with attendees but show sponsor Parked.com
managed to dial everything about the 2010 event up another
notch. Credit the conference's Executive Director Michael
Ward and his team for strengthening the show's content
while simultaneously providing attendees with a VIP
Mardi Gras experience.
We provided daily show photos and highlights
from DMG while the event was going on through these posts in our Lowdown
However the almost around
the clock show schedule didn't leave us time to include many
details about the individual sessions in those posts nor to share a
lot of the other great photos we collected during show week. We will
do that in this show review article, giving you the start to
finish DMG experience in one tidy package.
The show began
Thursday night (Feb. 11) with a welcoming cocktail party
at the New Orleans Marriott.
from the opening night cocktail party at the New Orleans
At the cocktail party
it was immediately apparent that more people were on hand than last
year when the conference was held a few blocks further south on Canal
Street at the Westin. After an hour or so to meet and
greet fellow attendees, guests boarded buses that took them to a
traditional Crawfish Boil at a tri-story rowhouse on Camp
DMG guests at the Crawfish Boil on Camp Street settle
one of the dining rooms to dig into their platters of crawfish.
Crawfish aren't for the
squeamish but "mudbug" fans love them.
the photo below: Catching up with friends at the Crawfish Boil
(clockwise from the left) Tim Cole (ICANN), Kelly Urquhart
Gregg McNair (PPX International) and Dan Kimball (Comwired.com)
The Crawfish Boil ran
from 7-10pm. From there attendees either headed back to the hotel
for a good night's sleep before the first full day of business on
Friday, or headed off to the French Quarter where the nightly Mardi
Gras celebration was going strong.
Showing mercy on those
who stayed out late, show organizers didn't schedule Friday's
welcoming comments until 10:30am Friday (Feb. 12). Those were
delivered by Executive Director Michael Ward and two fellow Parked.com
executives, CEO Sig Solares and President Donny Simonton,
all three of whom served as session moderators as well.
DMG Executive Director Michael Ward
right: CEO Sig Solares
right: President Donny Simonton
Next it was time to
get down to business with DMG's first business session called Show
Me the Money! This panel discussion featured young industry
pros Patrick Carleton (Executive Director,
AssociatedCities.com), Bruce Marler (Missouri.me Network) and
Sean Stafford (Comwired.com) who talked about new revenue
opportunities in the domain business. Sig Solares moderated the
Me the Money! panelists (L to R): Patrick Carleton
Bruce Marler (Missouri.me Network) and Sean Stafford (Comwired.com).
Carleton said he
thinks one of the best new revenue opportunities is investing in IDNs,
a category that is starting to gain traction with Internet users
around the world who want to own domain names that utilize
characters from their native alphabets and scripts.
Marler said he
increased localization on the internet is also making geo targetted
domains more valuable (for example a city name combined with a
product or service such as DenverCarInsurance.com).
Stafford suggested finding
niches that others have overlooked. "We make money in a lot
places were others couldn't or wouldn't look." He also
advocated beating the bushes and being proactive by contacting
potential end users for yourl domain names.
After a lunch break
Michael Ward interviewed Andrew Allemann of DomainNameWire.com
and myself in a Reporter Roundtable session that
turned the tables and had Andrew and I answering questions rather
than asking them.
Roundtable session with (L to R) Andrew Allemann (DomainNameWire.com),
Ron Jackson (DNJournal.com) and moderator Michael Ward.
everything from how we found our way into this business, to our own
domain investment strategies to what we saw as the major challenges
facing the industry. When asked what was the most important thing
newcomers to the industry should do my advice was to take some time
to learn what makes certain domain names valuable and others
worthless before you start spending money.
At first blush the
business looks like such a great opportunity that people want to
dive in head first before they know what they are doing (I did it
myself when I started and wasted a lot of money as a result). The
Internet is still in its infancy and the opportunity is not going to
go away overnight. Look before you leap and you will come out ahead
in the long run.
The next session was
titled So You Think You Can Build a Site? Lessons Learned and
Pitfalls to Avoid in Developing a Site. It featured an
all-star panel comprised of the Castello Brothers, Michael
and David from Castello Cities Internet Network, Craig Rowe (WhyPark.com)
and Elliot Silver (Elliot's Blog.com). A New York City
snowstorm prevented Silver from traveling to the show but he took
part via a Skype video connection. Parked.com President Donny
Simonton served as moderator.
So You Think You Can Build a Site?
panelists (L to R): Craig Rowe (WhyPark.com),
Michael Castello and David Castello (Castello Cities
Elliot Silver also participated via a Skype video
Since content is king,
Michael Castello advised adding a little bit of new content every
day. As that body of work expands it will make a huge difference in
the search engines and the stickiness of your website as you give
people a reason to stick around as well as to return. Rowe also
advised starting simply but keeping the lines of communications open
with your visitors then adding the kind of content and features they
request. Silver agreed, noting that when he launched his
DogWalker.com site people started asking him how to start a dog
walking business. He followed up by writing article for the site on
that topic that proved to a solid audience draw.
David Castello said
a successful website boils down to doing three things; 1) give
people a reason to go there, 2) a reason to stay and 3) a reason to
The final session
Friday was a lively discussion of New TLDs: The Good, the Bad and
the Ugly! featuring attorney John
Berryhill, Mike Rodenbaugh
(IP attorney and consultant), Ken Hansen (Nesutar), Michael
Berkens (TheDomains.com) and Jeffrey Eckhaus (Demand
Media/eNom). The session was moderated by Andrew Allemann.
TLD panelists (L to R): Mike Rodenbaugh (IP
attorney and consultant), Ken Hansen
(Nesutar), Michael Berkens (TheDomains.com) and Jeffrey
Eckhaus (Demand Media/eNom).
Also participating - in full Mardi Gras regalia - via a live
Skype connection to his home
near Philadelphia was attorney John Berryhill (seen
below left on the video screen).
panel had divergent views on the wisdom of ICANN's plan to
roll out an unlimited number of new gTLDs. Eckhaus favors them and
said that Enom is looking for more products to sell and distribute.
As a result he thinks the company will apply to run a couple of new
TLDS of their own. Hansen's company will offer backend services for
new registry operators so he also sees a new business opportunity
that Neustar hopes to take advantage of. Berkens believes the whole
process is simply an attempted money grab by ICANN - a theme he
expanded on in a detailed
post on his blog the day after the show ended.
is also concerned about the new TLDs being allowed to operate under
a different set of rules than those that apply to existing TLDs.
Rules (such as
| pricing) that would be detrimental to
the interests of current domain registrants if extended to the unrestricted
original extensions who would also demand them in their next
contracts. Dr.Berryhill voice similar concerns. Rodenbaugh, who will
advise new TLD applicants is concerned that cybersquatting will be
rampant in the new extensions. He wants ICANN to require very low
registration fees for trademark holders so their names do not have
to be ransomed at the kind of high prices that have prevailed in
previous sunrise periods for new TLDs.
widely varying view on the topic illustrated why ICANN is having
such a difficult time trying to resolve all of these sticky issues
and get new TLDs out of the gate.
the day's business out of the way, attendees were invited to the
Daisy Dukes restaurant next door to the Marriott to unwind. The cozy
French Quarter spot is owned by Parked.com's Sig Solares.
Berkens and Thought Convergence COO Ammar Kubba at
there it was on to the private Parked.com balcony on Bourbon Street
where attendees had a bird's eye few of the massive crowd
celebrating on the street below.
from Parked.com's Bourbon Street balcony Friday night.
was a very cold night, but the balcony adjoined a private room where
guests could warm up at the open bar or buffet. The balcony was open
until 3am but I adjourned several hours earlier to get in a few
hours of sleep before closing day Saturday.
Day at Domainer Mardi Gras Saturday (Feb. 13) was devoted
primarily to enjoying Mardi Gras festivities in New Orleans. There
was only one business session, a panel discussion on Domain
Name Investments in 2010 and Beyond that kicked off the day
at 10:45am. This session featured Leonard Holmes (ParkQuick.com),
Hui Tam (AdKnowledge), Gregg McNair (PPX
International) and Donny Simonton (Parked.com). Michael Ward
served as the moderator.
three of the Domain Name Investment panelists (L to
R): Leonard Holmes
Hui Tam (AdKnowledge), Gregg McNair (PPX
the New TLD session Friday, there was widespread disagreement over
where the industry is headed from here. McNair said, "We're in
trouble. Yahoo is a basket case, Google is a ruthless
monopoly, PPC is struggling and will consolidate which (with
less competition) could lead to further revenue drops. Then you have
issues with ICANN, CADNA and lazy domainers who won't
defend themselves be supporting the ICA." He said his
company has been taking some money off the tabe as a result.
Tam said that domain owners have become a bit spoiled by easy money
in the past. She said there is still plenty of opportunity but
"if you want money now you have to work for it - it's not 1999
said new technologies, such as Google's new Chrome browser
that allows people to access information without entering domain
names could eventually have a negative impact on domain values. He
advised selling some domains as a way to offset the decline in PPC
revenue and cover portfolio carrying costs.
had the sunniest view saying that the industry is already
experiencing an upturn after a long recession. Simonton noted
that his company's revenues over the past five months are running
about 20% ahead of the same period a year ago. Only time will
tell whose forecast turns out to be the right one.
session brought the curtain down on the business portion of the
show, but the fun was just beginning. After lunch on the 41st floor
of the Marriott, the afternoon was left open so attendees could
enjoy the Mardi Gras parades, other New Orleans attractions or just
catch up on their sleep with a mid-day nap.
Mardi Gras parade float makes the turn from St. Charles
onto Canal Street Saturday afternoon (February. 13).
who opted for the afternoon nap (I wasn't one of them) might have been the smartest ones. A
little rest would come in handy since the Saturday night party on
Parked.com's Bourbon Street balcony would run into the wee hours of
any faces you know? Some DMG attendees weren't content to watch
from the balcony above, so they went down and joined the fun on Bourbon
conference had something for everyone - excellent content and
networking opportunities coupled with the unique backdrop provided
by one of the world's biggest parties - Mardi Gras. The conference
understandably earned rave reviews from those who were there.(seen on
posts attendees left on Facebook, Twitter
and various blogs).
While Domainer Mardi
Gras organizers set a new standard with their sophomore outing -
they have also set a high bar for themselves to top next year. A lot
of people are looking forward to a return trip to New Orleans in
2011 to see how they do it!