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The Lowdown

February 2007 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)


While Registerfly.com customer anxiously wait to see what is going to happen to the troubled registrar (and the domains they have registered there), an elite private Washington D.C. tech newsletter - Warren's Washington Internet Daily - picked up the story yesterday. The newsletter, which is read by Washington politicians and policymakers, put registrant rights on the front burner and turned up the heat on ICANN who has been aware of major problems at Registerfly since 2005 but did not act until last week when they threatened to revoke Registerfly's accreditation (effectively putting them out of business) if their house is not put back in order within 15 days. The Washington based Legal Counsel for the Internet Commerce Association, Phil Corwin, told Warren's "The incident has illuminated issues that were below the radar and they need to be resolved before it happens again. ICANN must establish a clear process by which domain name registrants can bring their problems with registrars to its attention, and it must have tools to deal with the complaints". In addition to raising questions with ICANN, Corwin said the ICA plans to discuss the matter with NTIA Director John Kneuer and members of the U.S. Congress. Corwin also sent a letter to ICANN President Paul Twomey last week about the organization's responsibilities in the Registerfly fiasco.
Posted Feb. 28, 2007


Growth estimates for online advertising keeps being ratcheted upward. In a new report from research firm Piper Jaffray, the company predicts that online ad spending, expected to be around $20 billion this year, will surge to more than $81 billion by 2011. Just two months ago, Piper had pegged the 2011 figure at $78 billion. In an article about the Piper report at ClickZ news, writer Kate Kaye noted "the explosion of niche content online and the related segmentation of audiences will continue to drive online ad spending by small advertisers that otherwise cannot afford mass market vehicles." Piper Jaffray's senior Internet analyst, Safa Rashtchy, said "This will actually give more power to small advertisers. Over time, there won't be much difference between the Web and the rest of the media channels. It will reflect overall advertising dollars out there." The report also opined that video will be at the forefront of the coming growth spurt for brand advertisers as they move money from TV to the Web.
Posted Feb. 27, 2007 


Moniker.com has released the complete list of domains that will be up for sale during their live and silent auctions at next week's T.R.A.F.F.I.C. West Conference in Las Vegas. The list includes over 4,000 domains, most of which will go to the silent online auction that runs March 6-14. About 250 of the best domains from the lost will go into the one-day live auction at T.R.A.F.F.I.C. Wednesday, March 7. Those selections are to be announced later this week. More details on the auction are available here.
Posted Feb. 26, 2007


The .org registry will be the first to take action aimed at slowing the controversial practice of "domain tasting". That involves registrars snapping up virtually every domain that expires, testing them for potential traffic, then canceling all that have no traffic within 5 days and claiming a full refund from the registry. The 5-day grace period was originally meant to allow time to correct honest mistakes, like mistyping a name when placing a registration order. In a letter sent to registrars today, the Public Interest Registry (PIR), the operator of the .org extension, said it will start charging an "excess deletion fee" on May 26, 2007. Under PIR's formula, when the total number of deletes within the grace period for a given month are greater than 90% of the registrations added, there will be an excess deletion fee of five cents (U.S.) assessed per domain deleted within that month.
Posted Feb. 25, 2007


Registerflies.com is warning all Registerfly.com customers to cease doing any transactions with the registration company immediately. A post at Registerflies today said "the Registerfly site has been hacked into and taken over by Kevin Medina (recently ousted company president)." The post said that other company officials have been locked out by Medina and apparently fear he will abscond with any money sent to the site. Registerflies said "they are trying to get police in Florida to arrest Kevin immediately. They have lost control of the site and are locked out of the system. The data has been corrupted but they do have a back up and are scrambling to get this situation resolved." Registerflies is a site that has been tracking long running problems at Registerfly.com, a company that was threatened by ICANN yesterday with revocation of its registrar accreditation (see Feb. 22 item below). Since a battle between the company's owners resulted in loss of one camp's access to the site, the locked out Registerfly officials have reportedly turned to Registerflies.com to get news out to alarmed customers whose domains are now in jeopardy.
Posted Feb. 23, 2007


In response to a flood of customer complaints about registration company Registerfly.com, ICANN is threatening to use the "nuclear option" and revoke Registerfly's ICANN accreditation. In a lengthy letter sent to Registerfly.com yesterday, ICANN told the company they had 15 working days to get their house in order or face termination of their accreditation. The letter includes a laundry list of complaints filed against Registerfly over the past two years and details several failed attempts to get the company to meet its obligations. The ICANN letter stated "Registerfly's conduct has fallen far short of both its responsibilities to the public and its agreements. We therefore provide this formal notice of breach of Registerfly's Registrar Accreditation Agreement with ICANN."
Posted Feb. 22, 2007


ICANN is reportedly about to take action in the wake of a flood of complaints about Registerfly.com, a registration company that seems to have suffered a complete meltdown in the wake of infighting between the company's now deposed president and its vice president (each of whom owns 50% of the company's stock). According to a report today at Computer Business Review Online, ICANN's Vice President of Corporate Affairs, Paul Levins, said that ICANN has been talking with Registerfly representatives and is ready to take "some very decisive action to protect the interests of people who have 900,000 names registered there." Levins did not specify what that action might entail. Many customers say they have been unable to transfer or renew domains, or reach customer support at Registerfly.com and there are reports that thousands of domain names have been lost as a result of the chaos at the registrar.
Posted Feb. 21, 2007


Internet pioneer (and current Google VP) Vint Cerf says that cell phones, not computers, will be  responsible for most of the future growth of the Internet. Cerf made the comments in Bangalore, India this morning where he was visiting a Google research and development facility. Cerf told reporters that while the Internet population has exploded from 50 million to 1.1 billion since 1997, it still only reaches a sixth of the world's population. He said the only way to deliver the web to the remaining 5.5 billion people on the planet will be through cellphones because they are much more affordable and widely used than computers. ARSTechnica.com has more on Cerf's comments in an article written by Jacqui Cheng today.
Posted Feb. 20, 2007


The continuing problems surrounding registrar Registerfly.com have apparently come to a head with a report that one of the company's two 50-50 partners, John Naruszewicz, has filed suit against the other, Kevin Medina. Registerflies.com (a site that has been tracking Registerfly's woes) has posted what it says is a copy of the civil complaint. It can be read in its entirety through the third link on this page. In the document Nauruszewicz alleges that Medina drained the company's bank account to pay for personal expenses including an escort, liposuction and the $10,000 monthly rent on his Miami Beach penthouse. Nauruszewicz  also said that the missing funds resulted in Registfly losing 75,000 domains in January that it had registered on behalf of its customers because it could not pay the registries. Nauruszewicz Is asking that the court order Medina to sell his interest in the company to him. Registerfly has been an eNom.com reseller in the past, but eNom recently terminated their reseller agreement due to a flood of complaints about Registerfly.
Posted Feb. 19, 2007  


In another sign that the domain business has gone mainstream, the Associated Press released a detailed article on "domain tasting" today. Such esoteric topics used to be discussed only among a handful of industry insiders but now the man on the street is hearing about even the most arcane aspects of the domain business. Writer Anick Jesdanun's article, titled "Entrepreneurs Profit from Free Web Names" did a good job of explaining how the controversial practice of domain tasting works in terms than people outside the industry can understand. On the downside, the practice itself if not likely to win this business any fans among everyday internet users. Jesdanun noted that domain tasting makes it harder for the average person to get a domain name and that the practice makes it possible for spammers and scammers to get free use of domain names to ply their trade.
Posted Feb. 18, 2007


If you use Google's AdWords program to purchase ads designed to drive traffic to your website, your ad costs may be changing next week. In a post yesterday on the Inside AdWords blog, Google said it will change the way it calculates advertisers' quality scores, which the company uses to determine  minimum acceptable bids as well as ad placement. In response to complaints about a lack of transparency it how it operates, Google also said it would try to give marketers more insight into its quality ranking system by making data available on minimum bids for all keywords within ad groups. Google will also begin rating advertisers' proposed keywords as "Great," "OK" or "Poor." Google said the changes "will improve the overall quality of ads that we serve by lowering minimum bids for high quality ads and raising minimum bids for low quality ads. We expect that the higher minimum bids for low quality ads will reduce the number of low quality ads we show to our users."
Posted Feb. 17, 2007


The Internet Real Estate Group and Washington Venture Capital has named a new President/CEO to head Software.com LLC and the associated site they are jointly developing with plans to make it the web's premier destination for downloadable software. The job goes to Michael Bell, the co-founder of Encore Software, a company that Bell grew into one of North America's top software publishers with revenues of over $60 million a year. Bell sold a majority stake in the company to Navarre Corporation in 2002 but continued to lead Encore to this point in 2007. Software.com is one of many premium one word generic domains owned by the Internet Real Estate Group (who was featured in our article about this month's DOMAINfest Global conference in Los Angeles where IREG's Mike Zapolin and Andrew Miller were featured speakers). 
Posted Feb. 16, 2007

You may have noticed that Sedo.com consistently dominates our weekly Country Code domain sales chart. The company, which is based in Germany, has always been a believer in ccTLDs (perhaps because Germany's .de is the most popular country code in the world and the second most popular extension of any kind, trailing only .com). As a result, over the years they have set up dedicated sites or partnerships in countries and regions around the globe. We just got a release today from Ricardo Vaz Monteiro at Brazil's Nomer.com.br (the first ICANN accredited Registrar in Latin America) announcing a new partnership with Sedo. The agreement will allow Nomer's Brazilian customers to view all 6 million domains for sale at Sedo via the Nomer website. Antonio Marzo, the Director of the Spanish and Latin American division at Sedo, said "Last year we have seen at Sedo an enormous growth in the Brazilian market. With more than one million registered domains, it is in fact our premier market in Latin America. We believe our partnership with Nomer will help us to consolidate our presence in Brazil."
Posted Feb. 15, 2007


Thinking about using one of your domains as a base for your own podcast? If so, it looks like the timing is right for your venture. A new article at BusinessWeek.com today includes predictions that podcasting could be the next big ad medium. Research firm eMarketer forecasts that annual ad spending on podcasts will soar from $80 million in 2006 to $400 million annually by 2011. One reason for the expected surge is Google's expected entry in the field. eMarketer's  James Belcher believes that the Google will develop the ability to insert audio ads, based on keywords, into audio podcasts within the next five years. For podcast producers, as a way to monetize their programs, this would be the equivalent of Google's AdSense program for web publishers. Google has already extended its reach into audio marketing by acquiring radio advertising company dMarc last year.
Posted Feb. 14, 2007


Demand Media Co-Founder, Chairman and CEO Richard Rosenblatt was the subject on an interview posted at SocalTech.com Monday. Rosenblatt, the former Chairman of MySpace.com, commented on the strategy behind the company's acquisition binge, which included snapping up highly ranked registrars eNom.com and BulkRegister.com. Through eNom, Demand is also taking over management of the .tv registry for Verisign. Rosenblatt told interviewer Ben Kuo, "In early April, we'll be showing our dot TV platform, which will give people the ability to build their own video centric web sites and social networks" and added "you will see a number of our properties rolled out on the platform in the coming months."
Posted Feb. 13, 2007


Those of you who are actively involved in building websites on your domains are undoubtedly concerned with Search Engine Optimization and may even by paying an outside firm to handle SEO chores for you. In a provocative article (free registration required to read) titled The Search Engines Are Killing SEO at MediaPost.com today, author Mark Simon said the search engines are getting so good at finding relevant content that the need for outside SEO help may eventually disappear.  Simon wrote "Spiders have made leaps forward in reading content on dynamic pages, and even in understanding images. They've also learned to recognize spamming tactics like cloaking and excessive keyword stuffing...the endgame for all of this is a world in which SEO doesn't matter. The engines won't need you to tell them how relevant your page actually is, because they'll understand on their own. For the same reason, they won't listen if you lie to them about a page's true value. Search results may never be unmanipulatable, but they'll be nearly so, to the point that it doesn't make business sense to try." 
Posted Feb. 12, 2007


On Thursday (Feb. 8) we posted about the publisher of the New York Times saying he didn't know if the newspaper would still be producing a print edition in five years. In the wake of that startling statement, a lot of people overlooked another news item noting that the world's oldest print newspaper, Sweden’s Post-och Inrikes Tidningar, which started in 1645, stopped printing and went Internet only this year. Rich Lewis has an interesting article about this media migration to the Internet at The Sentinel. With readers rapidly abandoning traditional media for the web, the current flood of ad dollars to the Internet will only grow larger and that is good news for domain owners.

Posted Feb. 11, 2007


The .ORG Registry will being offering registration of Spanish Internationalized Domain Names (IDNs) on March 3, 2007 (at 19:00 UTC), on a first come first served basis. All Spanish IDNs registered between March 3 and April 2 (the first 30 days of operation) will be locked until May 2, 2007 to allow intellectual property interests to file UDRP actions if warranted.
Posted Feb. 10, 2007


While YouTube.com is the hottest thing in web video, one of the giants in traditional media, InterActive Corp. CEO Barry Diller, told BusinessWeek that won't be the case for long. Diller supported Viacom's demand that YouTube take down their copyrighted videos saying "What’s happened is that media companies have said, ‘We’re not gonna let you get so strong in distribution,’ It’s smart for Viacom, who said, "Let me be really clear—you’re not gonna take stuff that I made, then massage it and control it for other people," Diller said. Diller, whose company operates Ask.com, Match.com and the Home Shopping Network among others, acknowledged that YouTube rules the user-generated video space, but Diller said that will change soon. “Those tools are going to be everywhere. It’s not going to be one place to go,” Diller said.
Posted Feb. 9, 2007


In the most stunning sign yet that the Internet is rapidly replacing traditional forms of media delivery, Arthur Sulzberger, owner, chairman and publisher of the most respected newspaper in the world, the New York Times, said it was possible the times would be available only on the Internet in five years. According to a report at Haaretz.com, Sulzberger made the comment at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland last week. "I really don't know whether we'll be printing the Times in five years, and you know what? I don't care either," Sulzberger said. ""The Internet is a wonderful place to be, and we're leading there." The Times has reportedly doubled its online readership to 1.5 million a day to go along with its 1.1 million subscribers for the print edition. Sulzberger said the Times is on a transitional journey that will conclude the day the company decides to stop printing the paper.
Posted Feb. 8, 2007


eNom.com has severed its relationship with one its largest registration resellers, Registerfly.com, due to continual consumer complaints about Registerfly (see Registerflies.com). If you have registered domains at Registerfly in the past year or two, they may actually be on eNom's books which could require you to take immediate action to have them moved to an eNom account so that you can continue to manage them (Registerfly got their own registrar credentials last year and new registrations are now held by them rather than eNom). eNom has published a FAQ on the situation that will explain your options.
Posted Feb. 7, 2007


Michael Arrington of TechCrunch.com has posted a note on his highly respected tech blog saying that domain name registrar Network Solutions has been acquired by General Atlantic, a private equity firm. Arrington said the price has not been disclosed. Arrington noted "Network Solutions was the original domain name registrar and was part of Verisign until it was spun off in 2003. Since that time, they’ve lost a stupendous amount of market share to discount operations like GoDaddy, eNom and others. They now have about 6.6 million domain names under management." 

Posted Feb. 6, 2007


ICANN is currently considering a revised contract proposal that could revive the .xxx extension for adult websites that was apparently left for dead last year. In response to the proposed revised agreement, Philip Corwin, the legal counsel for the Internet Commerce Association, just sent a letter to ICANN registering opposition to the revised contract. The ICA position is based on precedents the contract language would set that could allow ICANN or even individual registries to claim regulatory rights over domain registrants and domain usage that they are not entitled to have. "ICANN is there to make sure the DNS is secure and stable and that is it, period. Plus, ICANN’s secret renegotiations on this, at the same time they were promising greater transparency and accountability to the Department of Commerce, shows egregious bad faith, in my opinion," Corwin said.
Posted Feb. 6, 2007


Over the weekend we had an opportunity to spend an afternoon with TrafficZ.com's COO Ammar Kubba in Los Angeles. While touring the company's spacious new offices on Olympic Boulevard, Kubba gave us a sneak preview of some truly exciting new landing page technology TrafficZ will be rolling out in the near future. For competitive reasons, details can't be released yet, but suffice it to say that a long held dream of domain owners that their parking pages could automatically be turned into full blown websites, complete with content, is about to become a reality. We're sure that other companies are also working on projects with similar goals in mind, but to see a finished product demonstrated on a raw undeveloped domain name was a real eye opener. The examples we saw had design and content elements that were as attractive as developed websites that would cost thousands of dollars to build. When people see the value that can be unlocked from a domain name through this kind of parking technology, we think it should drive interest in domains (and their resale prices) to new highs.
Posted Feb. 5, 2007


DOMAINfest Global concluded a very well received debut conference last night at the Renaissance Hotel in Hollywood, California. The show organizers, Oversee.net, said the event drew over 300 attendees. Plans have already been announced for next year's edition of DOMAINfest Global which will be held at the Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas March 19-21, 2008. Oversee's Ron Sheridan said the company may also stage a couple of regional conferences in 2007. We will be publishing a complete wrap up of the Los Angeles show next Friday (Feb. 9). 
Posted Feb. 3, 2007


The first full day at the DOMAINfest Global conference in Los Angeles ended in the wee hours this morning with DomainSponsor's spectacular James Bond themed casino night party at the Renaissance Hotel in Hollywood. The party capped off a day highlighted by keynote speeches from Mike "Zappy" Zapolin and Andrew Miller of the Internet Real Estate Group just after breakfast and from Michael Arrington of TechCrunch.com at lunch. Both presentations were highly informative and entertaining. The conference concludes with another full day of activity today but many are staying over in Los Angeles this weekend to enjoy some of the optional recreational activities or visit friends in the city. We will be back in our Florida office Monday to start production on the show wrap up article that will be published by the end of the week. We have taken several hundred photos so that we can give you an inside look at this major new event on the industry's show calendar. Next stop will be Las Vegas, barely a month from now, for the T.R.A.F.F.I.C. West 2007 conference March 5-8 at the Venetian Hotel.
Posted Feb. 2, 2007


There was no post Wednesday because we spent the day traveling to Los Angeles for this week's DOMAINfest Global conference at the Renaissance Hotel in Hollywood (a complete show wrap up will be published late next week). The event kicked off with a welcoming cocktail party last night. We bumped into Jay Westerdal of Name Intelligence who told us the dates have now been set for the next Domain Roundtable Conference. It will be held August 13-15 in Seattle. Jay also whipped out his laptop and showed us a great new WhoIs tool his company just released at PsychicWhoIs.com. There isn't room here to give you all of the details about how useful this free tool is. We'll write more about it after DOMAINfest. In the meantime, check it out yourself - it takes just a few minutes to understand how it works and the vast amount of info it makes available to you.
Posted Feb. 1, 2007

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