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The Lowdown

November 2006 Archive

Here's the The Lowdown from DNJournal.com! Updated daily to fill you in on the latest buzz going around the domain name industry!

Compiled by Ron Jackson (Editor/Publisher)


Verisign announced today that their new contract agreement with ICANN to run the .com registry has been approved by the U.S. Department of Commerce. This contract, like the current proposed .org, .info and .biz contracts, was heavily opposed by domain registrants who will end up paying higher registration fees. More details on the agreement, which included some amendments before receiving DOC approval can be found here. Phil Corwin, legal counsel for the Internet Commerce Association said  "The domain name owners represented by the ICA are deeply disappointed that the Department of Commerce chose to approve a fundamentally flawed agreement that permits VeriSign to charge above market rate prices for .Com registrations and renewals over the next six years. However, we are gratified that the Department gave some deference to the broad opposition of the Internet community and obtained some concessions regarding pricing and renewal. We shall be carefully monitoring VeriSign's actions and the effectiveness of the Department's oversight under the new contract."
Posted Nov. 30, 2006

It appears that ICANN has delayed a decision on controversial new contracts for the .org, .info and .biz registries until their next meeting Dec. 8 in Sao Paolo, Brazil. The contract proposals were on the agenda for a Nov. 22 meeting, but the ICANN website now has them relisted on the agenda for the Dec. 8 meeting. In addition, a rundown of adopted resolutions from the Nov. 22 meeting makes no mention of the contract proposals which had been almost unanimously opposed in hundreds of public comments posted to the ICANN message board. If approved, the contracts would pave the way for dramatic price increases for domain registrants at a time when the cost of providing registry services is actually falling. The delay gives domain owners who have not already done so an opportunity to post their objections to the contracts here: http://www.icann.org/announcements/...ent-24oct06.htm
Posted Nov. 30, 2006  

The December 2006 issue of Business 2.0 magazine has a pair of articles that will be of special interest to domain investors. One, written by John Heilemann, profiles Demand Media chief Richard Rosenblatt (whose company bought major registrars Enom and BulkRegistrar this year). The other is a feature on GoDaddy founder Bob Parsons and his company written by Paul Sloan. The link in the opening sentence of this post will take you to an electronic version of the magazine. The Rosenblatt story starts on page 42 and the Parsons piece begins on page 126.
Posted Nov. 29, 2006  

It's official now - Afternic.com has been sold to NameMedia (the company that owns and operates BuyDomains.com). We reported the sale was imminent last night (see item below) and the official confirmation came just before noon today. Pete Lamson, the Senior Vice President for NameMedia’s marketplace business, said “The Afternic acquisition advances our leadership position in creating an efficient marketplace for small and medium businesses to acquire domain names and insure a compelling digital identity.” Roger Collins and Michael Collins, who head Afternic’s executive team, will remain as leaders of the Afternic business. Lamson said that NameMedia intends to maintain both the Afternic and BuyDomains brands and trading platforms. The terms of the deal were not disclosed, and Afternic will remain in its Florida headquarters.
Posted Nov. 28, 2006  

Hot on the heels of the news that AdLink has increased their ownership share in Sedo.com (see item below), we hear that the sale of another major domain aftermarket sales site, Afternic.com, may come this week, perhaps as early as tomorrow. Several major domain companies are believed to be planning IPOs in 2007 and a public offering that includes aftermarket services would have added appeal. Of the potential suitors, we think NameMedia (owners of BuyDomains.com), is the most likely buyer.
Posted Nov. 27, 2006

AdLink has purchased another 24% of popular domain aftermarket sales site Sedo.com for €35 million. AdLink, the online advertising and digital marketing subsidiary of Germany's United Internet, already owned 52% of Sedo (purchased in 2005), so AdLink now holds a 76% share of the company. The deal would indicate a total valuation for Sedo of about €140 million (about $183 million at current exchange rates). Sedo had sales of approximately €30 million in the first nine months of this year. Sedo's original founders still retain a share of the company and will continue to work in their present executive roles according to a report from TheAlarmClock.com
Posted Nov. 27, 2006

There still has been no word on what decision the ICANN board reached on those controversial .org, .info and .biz contract proposals (see Nov. 16 and 17 items below) that they were to consider during a Nov. 22 meeting. As soon as we get word on what happened in that closed session we will let you know. Eventually the minutes will have to be posted on the ICANN website.
Posted Nov. 24, 2006

In the past six months, the number of people downloading podcasts from the Internet has almost doubled according to a new report from the Pew Internet & American Life Project. In a survey conducted by Pew between February and April of this year 7% of the respondents said they had downloaded a podcast. Pew conducted a new survey in August that showed the number of podcast downloaders jumping to 12%. Pew said that more than 26,000 podcasts offering more than 1 million downloadable files are now available online. No wonder it is so hard to find a good podcast domain name these days!
Posted Nov. 24, 2006

Paul Twomey, the President and CEO of ICANN, said today that rushing to add non-English characters to domain names could literally break the Internet. Twomey said ICANN (who is in charge of the global domain name system) is under a lot of political pressure to quickly make domain names available using local alphabets around the world but that more testing is needed to make sure that can be accomplished while allowing the Internet to continue to work without problems. Domains that use foreign characters (known as International Domain Names) currently use an underlying puny code that consists of standard English characters. If ICANN works the technical issues out (which they are expected to do before the end of 2007), puny codes will not be necessary and a true multi-cultural Internet DNS will emerge. Twomey, a native Australian, made his comments while speaking today in Sydney.
Posted Nov. 21, 2006

Most people in the domain business know someone personally who works at Yahoo. After an internal memo written by Yahoo senior Vice President Brad Garlinghouse leaked out over the weekend, many are wondering if the jobs of their Yahoo friends and acquaintances are in jeopardy. Garlinghouse, whose memo was published in the Wall Street Journal Saturday, said Yahoo needs a dramatic organizational shake-up and cuts in its workforce of up to 20%. Garlinghouse added that the #2 search engine (behind Google) must consolidate its overlapping business units and establish a clear chain of command to improve its performance. The company reported a 38% drop in third-quarter profit last month as sales growth fell to the lowest in four years.
Posted Nov. 20, 2006

With ICANN set to consider new contracts for the .org, .info and .biz registries again Wednesday, Nov. 22 (see yesterday's item below), Internet Commerce Association President Bob Martin sent a letter to U.S. Senator Ted Stevens today, requesting that he intervene to stop ICANN from approving the controversial contracts that could prove to be extremely costly for all domain name registrants. Senator Stevens, who is Chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, had weighed in on ICANN affairs  in September when he (and fellow Senators Daniel Inouye, Gordon Smith, and Byron Dorgan) sent a letter to the U.S. Department of Commerce's Assistant Secretary for Communications and Information John Kneuer in September expressing the need for ICANN to demonstrate improvement on issues of accountability and transparency if it is to be "a lasting and sustainable institution." The Dept. of Commerce is responsible for ICANN oversight. For more details on what is at stake, read this letter that ICA legal counsel Phil Corwin sent to the ICANN Board of Directors November 14th.
Posted Nov. 17, 2006

Proposed approval of controversial new contracts for the .org, .info and .biz registries are on the agenda for an ICANN board meeting Wednesday, Nov. 22. After widespread opposition to the original proposals, some minor revisions were made to the contracts and a very short window of opportunity was opened for new comments on the revised proposals. Many in the Internet community are not aware of this and there is a danger that ICANN will try to equate lack of a public outcry in this new commentary period with lack of  opposition to the contracts and push them through before another firestorm of protest is raised. If you wish to register your continued opposition to these contracts you need to post your comments immediately by clicking the comment link at the bottom of this page on the ICANN website. That page also has links to both the original contracts and the slightly revised ones that we believe continue to be very harmful to domain registrants.
Posted Nov. 16, 2006

Ad spending on the internet continues to boom. A new report released today by the Internet Advertising Bureau and PricewaterhouseCoopers says web ad spending soared 33% in the third quarter of 2006 over the same quarter in 2005. Companies spent an estimated $4.2 billion for online ads in Q3-2006, a new record for a single quarter. The IAB estimates ad spending for all of 2006 will end up around $16 billion, easily eclipsing the $12.5. billion spent last year. 
Posted Nov. 15, 2006

Recent minor revisions to ICANN's controversial proposed contract renewals for the .org, .info and .biz registries have not changed widespread opposition to those contracts. Yesterday Philip Corwin, the Washington, D.C. based counsel for the Internet Commerce Association (ICA) sent the ICANN Board of Directors a highly detailed response to the revised contract proposals that pointed out the multiple flaws and dangers to domain registrants that remain in the proposed pacts. The ICA is a new, not-for-profit trade association that has been established to provide a unified voice for companies and individuals with common interests in the Internet traffic marketplace. As Corwin noted in the opening paragraph of his letter, "the website ownership community represented by ICA has risked large amounts of capital in order to develop domain names as the first new form of property of the virtual age. These professional registrants are the source of the fees that support registrars, registries, and ICANN itself." The ICA's founding members include iREIT, Sedo, Oversee.net (operators of DomainSponsor.com), Name Administration, Inc. and the World Association of Domain Name Developers (the company that produce the T.R.A.F.F.I.C. domain conferences)."
Posted Nov. 15, 2006

After hosting regional domain conferences in Barcelona, Spain and Los Angeles (Marina del Rey) earlier this year, DomainSponsor.com announced today that they will stage a Global DomainFest Jan. 31 - Feb. 3, 2007 at the Renaissance Hotel in Hollywood, California. The Renaissance is part of the Hollywood & Highland complex that includes the Kodak Theater where the Oscar ceremonies are presented each year. More information is available at the DomainFest website.
Posted Nov. 14, 2006

We all know that advertisers in old media formats like print, radio and TV have been moving increasing shares of their ad budgets to the Internet. However financial analyst Jordan Rohan, managing director at RBC Capital Markets, says that online marketers will be sending some of that money back in the opposite direction. Last week Google announced that it intended to start selling ads in 50 major newspapers by the end of the year and would also be selling radio ads. Speaking at MediaPost's Search Insider Summit in Palm Springs, California yesterday, Rohan said that search agencies interested in adding old media advertising to their campaigns will be able to take advantage of new efficiencies made possible by Google. "There's a massive opportunity to sell newspaper advertising differently than it's done today," Rohan said. "There are a lot of advertisers who would pay to insert ads in 500-1,000 newspapers if the process were easier," adding that an electronic interface similar to that used to purchase search ads was among the main requirements. "The coordination of traditional and online is going to be one of the main themes in the coming year. For marketers and service providers, this is the opportunity of a lifetime," Rohan predicted. Erik Sass has more on Rohan'scomments in his Online Media Daily column at MediaPost.com today (free subscription required to read).  
Posted Nov. 14, 2006

Effective today, Google is willing to help you set up your own portal site as part of an update to its Google Apps for Your Domain product. Your customized size is built around a new Start Page that lets you offer private-labeled email, IM and calendar accounts to all of your users. These services are all unified by the Start Page, where your users can preview their inboxes and calendars, browse content and links that you choose, search the web, and further customize the page to their liking. You can also design and publish web pages for your domain. It's all free and everything is hosted by Google with no hardware or software required.
Posted Nov. 13, 2006

A report from eMarketer.com this week noted that a December 2005 poll taken by the American Association of Advertising Agencies, predicting that online video would show the greatest growth among new media in 2006, has proven to be right on the money. Some 50% of the group's ad agency reps said online video would show the most growth while 30% thought it would be podcasting and the remaining 20% chose blogs. Stats from research aggregator eMarketer indicate that spending on online video will reach $410 million this year, an 82% jump over last year's $225 million. In two years, eMarketer says spending should top $1 billion and by 2010, as bandwidth becomes cheaper and content delivery speeds are even faster, Internet video advertising will be a nearly $3 billion business.
Posted Nov. 12, 2006  

One of the largest domain aftermarket sales venues, Afternic.com, announced a major policy change today. In a letter to Afternic customers, company President Roger Collins said "After extensive consideration, we have decided to no longer accept domain names that promote hate, sex, obscenity or self-destructive behavior, such as substance abuse, violence and gambling. The sole rationale behind our decision is to make Afternic a more comfortable site for mainstream domain name shoppers, especially small business owners. We recognize that taking a leadership role on this issue may have a negative financial impact on our business in the near term. Nonetheless, we believe strongly that it's the right thing long-term decision for our industry and Afternic. In the next few days, we will de-list these kinds of domain names currently posted on our site. Members who own such names will receive a letter from us informing them which names will no longer be listed. We hope that they, and others, will understand that we have no interest in censorship and that we fully support First Amendment rights to freedom of speech and expression." Collins added "We take this action in the interest of socially responsible corporate behavior and hope that it leads to further healthy industry dialog and discussion on the topic."
Posted Nov. 10, 2006

If you chase dropping domain names you have probably noticed a lot of changes at SnapNames.com. The company, which auctions thousands of domain names per day, has installed a new suite of tools that it says will help buyers more quickly identify and purchase investment-quality domain names that are available exclusively through SnapNames. The tools are especially helpful in filtering and searching for domains based on criteria such as a price range, auction start or end time, pre-order availability for names that are coming up for auction and names that are currently in live auctions that can be joined immediately. There is also a new email alert service and shopping cart that is visible while searching, making it easier to track domains before ordering. More information on this is available in a press release issued today.
Posted Nov. 9, 2006

Would you like to own and develop a premium .mobi domain like news.mobi, sports.mobi, weather.mobi or ringtones.mobi? It could happen. The .mobi registry has just opened its RFP (Request for Proposals) Process for those domains. They will accept applications from potential developers until December 18, 2006. The proposals they think have the potential to make the best use of the domain names will be awarded the names on January 19, 2007. The RFP Process for certain premium domains reserved by the registry was approved by ICANN when the .mobi registry was created. More information is available on the .mobi site.
Posted Nov. 8, 2006

Marchex, Inc. today announced the launch of the Marchex Network, an advertising network featuring the company's more than 200,000 owned and operated Web sites which attract tens of millions of unique users per month. Advertisers can directly bid for placement on a Cost-Per-Click basis across Marchex’s network of Web sites, based on designated keywords and categories. Marchex President and COO John Keister said, “Advertisers continue to seek out premium traffic and targeted search inventory beyond the incumbent top online search engines. Direct navigation traffic is recognized to be among the highest converting online traffic sources available, and as we continue to build out the content on our Web sites, the Marchex Network will be an even greater source of qualified traffic for advertisers.” According to a 2006 WebSideStory study, direct navigation traffic (when users type a domain or keyword directly into their browser bar or use a bookmark) converts at 4.23% on average, a higher rate than other sources, including search engines at 2.3%.
Posted Nov. 7, 2006

The number of .in registrations has cracked the 200,000 mark. .in, India's country code extension, has nearly 30 times more registrations than it did when the ccTLD was re-launched in January 2005 by the operators of the registry, National Internet Exchange of India (NIXI) and Afilias India Private Limited. The re-launch involved significant price reductions, allowing people in other countries to register .in domains, broader distribution through the global registrar network and a state of the art technology platform. More on the .in milestone is available at Afilias.info.
Posted Nov. 6, 2006

Popular domain aftermarket sales site Afternic.com has rolled out the first foreign language version of the well-known website. A German edition has gone live at Afternic.de and Afternic President and CEO Roger Collins expects the new site to build upon robust demand for secondary-market domain names both in Germany and the European continent as a whole. With more than 10 million registrations, .de is the world's 2nd most popular extension, trailing only .com. Collins said, "the German market has expanded to nearly 50 million Internet users in 2006, ranking it first in the European Community. The addition of a German language version of the Afternic site is a logical next-step extension for our business. Simply put, we're positioning the company to capitalize on a dynamic and growing market for domain names. As the most viable .de URLs are registered, e-commerce businesses will turn increasingly to the aftermarket. We expect to fill this niche."
Posted Nov. 4, 2006

A new article in London's Financial Times says Google "is poised to overtake Britain's main TV channels in the race for advertising revenue, underlining the internet's challenge to traditional media. The internet search company's advertising revenue in the UK is expected this year to surpass Channel 4's anticipated 2006 take of £800 million. Within 18 months, it is forecast to overtake ITV1, Britain's leading commercial TV channel and the country's biggest single recipient of advertising revenue, according to Mindshare and Initiative, two top media buying groups. The complete article is available here.
Posted Nov. 2, 2006

Philip Corwin, the Washington, D.C. based counsel for the new Internet Commerce Association, sent an important letter to the ICANN Board of Directors yesterday that we think would be well worth your time to read. Corwin gets down to brass tacks right away with this statement in his opening paragraph, "The website ownership community represented by ICA has risked large amounts of capital in order to develop domain names as the first new form of property of the virtual age. These professional registrants are the source of the fees that support registrars, registries, and ICANN itself." Corwin goes on to detail the problems the Internet community has had with lack of transparency and accountability at ICANN and suggests ways the organization can address those issues. The ICA (previously known as the Internet Traffic Association) was introduced at last week's T.R.A.F.F.I.C. East conference in Florida. The founding members include iREIT, Oversee.net (the operators of DomainSponsor.com), Sedo, Name Administration and the World Association of Domain Name Developers (producers of the T.R.A.F.F.I.C. conferences).
Posted Nov. 1, 2006

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