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September 15, 2013

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The Lowdown
September 2009 Archive
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Here's the The Lowdown from DN Journal,
updated daily
to fill you in on the latest buzz going around the domain name industry. 

The Lowdown is compiled by DN Journal Editor & Publisher Ron Jackson.

End of September Newsmakers: .Biz, Sedo and ICANN (Who Reaches a New Understanding With the U.S. Government)

Here we are on the last day of September  and the final day of another business quarter, 3Q-2009. This month is ending with a bang with big news on several fronts. For starters, Sedo's 

exclusive auction of 1-character .biz domains ended today with 31 names selling for more than $360,000. The headliner was e.biz, a domain that went for a stunning $66,001, setting a new high water mark for the extension.

Others breaking the five-figure mark were 1.biz ($32,003), D.biz ($26,110), M.biz ($15,611), W.biz ($13,500), A.biz ($10,099), U.biz ($10,099), X.biz ($10,099) and B.biz ($10,005). The remaining names closed in a range from $5,801 to $9,400. I think those are impressive results for an extension that has had very few high dollar sales in the past.

Over the past couple of years I've been seeing 

more .biz domains being used by small businesses in our area. While the auction sales are a great attention getter, continued adoption and development among end users is the real key to establishing .biz (or any other extension for that matter) in the public consiousness. Right now, the extension's future looks better to me than it has at any time since it was introduced in 2001.

In addition to running the .biz special auction, Sedo made news on another front today. Sedo's parent company, the Adlink Group announced it has purchased the remaining 24.06% of stock still held by Sedo's original founders for 4.25 million newly issued shares and €5.5 million in cash. In addition, Sedo's Managing Director (and one of the company founders) Tim Schumacher was appointed CEO of the Adlink Group.

In another major development today, the U.S. government loosened its grip on ICANN when a Joint Project Agreement (JPA) between the two bodies expired and was replaced by a new

Affirmation of Commitments (AOC) agreement. According to the Wall Street Journal the new pact puts the U.S. government's stamp of approval on a private-sector model for directing the Internet, even though the government stopped short of cutting its ties with the organization. The U.S. Commerce Department will still play an active role in ICANN as a member of the organization's Governmental Advisory Committee, however other governments around the world will have more influence now.

Just how much the landscape will change under the AOC as opposed to the previous JPA remains to be seen. Internet Commerce Association Legal Counsel Phil Corwin is currently looking over the new agreement and he is expected to comment on the possible ramifications for domain investors soon.  

Despite the new agreement, the U.S. still has ultimate control over the domain name system through its power to award an Internet Assigned Number Authority (IANA) contract. It is this completely separate contract with the U.S. that gives ICANN authority over domain names until the IANA  contract expires in September 2011

(Posted Sept 30, 2009) To refer others to the post above only you can use this URL:

T.R.A.F.F.I.C. Co-Founders Rick Schwartz and Howard Neu Will Turn Responsibility for Five of Six 2010 Conferences Over to Rick Latona 

T.R.A.F.F.I.C. Co-Founders Rick Schwartz and Howard Neu send out frequent conference updates to those on the show's mailing list. In a low key announcement near the end of an 

update letter about the upcoming T.R.A.F.F.I.C. New York conference that was sent out yesterday, Schwartz wrote, "This will be the last time that Howard and I do a show outside of the annual Florida show (which we will be announcing in New York). In January we will be handing off 5 of the 6 shows to Rick Latona and his team. They have new ideas, with the same common vision that Howard and I have had. It will bring T.R.A.F.F.I.C. to every continent and all corners of the world in the coming years.

Back in June, Schwartz, Neu and Latona announced a new conference partnership that included plans to expand the annual show line up from three events to six. Three of those were  

Rick Schwartz and Howard Neu
T.R.A.F.F.I.C. Co-Founders

slated for North America with the other three to be held overseas. At the time, it looked like Latona, who is an experienced world traveler, would run the international shows while Schwartz and Neu guided the U.S. events. However, the co-founders have apparently decided to 

personally oversee just a single annual show in their home state of Florida. T.R.A.F.F.I.C. will still be a three-way partnership but Latona and his team will be in charge of staging almost all of the events starting next year.

In another letter sent out today about the October 26-29 show in New York City, Schwartz and Neu announced that Skenzo's Official Show Party will be held at Touch, a club that Zagat rated as the #1 night club in New York. The letter said, "Trust Skenzo to take it to the next level, with private super-stretch limousines waiting to escort you to the party venue. Once your vibes are set, experience the thrills of high stakes casino games - poker, craps, blackjack, roulette, slots and more! But that's not all, this time the stakes get higher and there are lots more of the latest gizmos and gadgets waiting to be won."

Skenzo hosted a similar casino night party at T.R.A.F.F.I.C. Silicon Valley in April. Those who accumulated the most chips were able to turn them in for a variety of attractive prizes. 

(Posted Sept 29, 2009) To refer others to the post above only you can use this URL:

GeoDomainers Continue to Raid Traditional Media for Talent: Castello Brothers Secure the Services of a Legendary Local TV Personality for Nashville .com

Popular Nashville TV and media personality Tim Ross ( aka Mr. Tim) has found a new home in the country music capital of the world, but the former WSMV (NBC Channel 4) and WZTV (Fox Channel 17) weatherman did not go to another local TV station. Instead he signed on with Nashville.com (one of the key properties in the Castello Cities Internet Network, run by leading geodomain investor/developers Michael and David Castello

Ross got his start as a weatherman in Austin, Texas where he was voted "Best Weatherman In Texas" four years in a row by the AP and UPI. He relocated to Nashville in 1999 and quickly rose to prominence as one of Nashville's most popular and beloved media personalities.

Commenting on his decision to jump from his old media platform to a new one on the web, Ross said "The Internet is the future of media and Nashville.com is the intuitive national and international Internet brand for Nashville and the surrounding region. The Castello Brothers and CCIN have given me the freedom to really stretch my creative wings with Nashville.com and Mr. Tim's Daily Blog is only the beginning of our relationship."

Mr. Tim joins

David J Castello of CCIN said, "My brother Michael and I are absolutely delighted to have someone with the magnitude of talent of Tim Ross become part of the Nashville.com family. Nashville.com will broadcast Tim to a worldwide audience not attainable by any other Nashville brand or media." 

Expect to see many other local and national celebrities gravitate from print, radio and TV as the Internet continues to replace traditional outlets as primary media distribution channel.

(Posted Sept 28, 2009) To refer others to the post above only you can use this URL:

People Who Use the Internet Have a More Positive View of PPC Than SEO? A Search Engine Called "What Does The Internet Think?" Says They Do.

Looking for an entertaining parlor game to play this weekend?  Then you might want to check out WhatDoesTheInternetThink.net, a search engine that supposedly scours the internet looking for opinions on any subject you specify - then returns how many Positive, Negative and Don't Care results were found. 

I discovered WDTIT when I ran across an article posted at  SearchCowboys.com today headlined "The Internet More Positive about PPC than SEO".  Since I haven't run across a lot of web surfers who says they love pay per click ads, I had to see what the SearchCowboys comment was based on. That turned out to be WhatDoesTheInternetThink.net's search results finding that 63.1% had a positive view of PPC vs. 59.3% who were mainly positive about SEO.

And how do Internet users view the major search engines according to WDTIT? On this subject you might be surprised to learn that Yahoo! trounces Google and even Bing beats the #1 search engine. Yahoo earns a positive rating of 61.3% while Google rates only 43.1%. Microsoft's new entry, Bing, nips Google with a 49.9% positive score, however Bing also has a higher negative rating than either Google or Yahoo at 50.1%.

So how seriously can you take results from WhatDoesTheInternetThink.net? Well, this may give you an idea. I did a search on DNJournal.com and got back a 100% positive rating. Holy Cow - all this time I thought Saddam Hussein was the only guy who ever had a 100% approval rating! My elation was quickly tempered though when I checked the number of results the search engine found. The grand total was 1. That was most likely my mom. 

Before you totally dismiss WDTIT I should point out that there were thousands and even millions of results for some of the other subjects like Google and SEO. So, for best results stick to well-known topics and avoid obscure trade journals!

(Posted Sept 25, 2009) To refer others to the post above only you can use this URL:

DOMAINfest Global Names Keynote Speaker, Neustar Goes .Green and Sedo Fuels Growth With Another Acquisition

We have several items to catch up on today after falling a bit behind during an exceptionally busy day yesterday - one that didn't end until after 11pm when we completed our latest weekly domain sales report (and a good week it was for the aftermarket with five 6-figure sales).  

For starters, DomainSponsor, the domain monetization division of Oversee.net, announced that Zappos CEO and co-founder Tony Hsieh will be the keynote speaker at the fourth annual DOMAINfest Global conference that will run January 26-28, 2010 in Santa Monica, California. 35-year-old Harvard graduate Hsieh and his team recently sold Zappos to Amazon.com for more than $850 million.

Oversee CEO and President Jeff Kupietzky said, “Tony's fresh thinking, insights related to online consumer behaviors and needs, and intelligent risk-taking have set new standards for how to succeed in e-commerce. DOMAINfest has always been a breeding ground for new ideas on how to get the most out of a domain name investment, so Tony’s fireside chat will provide our guests with plenty of innovative ideas and inspiration.”  Hsieh recently purchased Clothes.com for $4.9 million, demonstrating his understanding of the connection between Internet real estate, marketing and brand power.

Tony Hsieh
Zappo's Co-Founder
will be the keynote speaker
at DOMAINfest Global 2010

Registry operator Neustar, Inc. continues to pick up new business from companies that plan to go after new gTLDs once ICANN starts rolling them out next year. The DotGreen Registry 

Corporation is the latest organization to select Neustar to provide the registry and DNS (Domain Name System) services required to support a .green global Top-Level Domain - if they are successful in their quest to gain rights to the proposed extension.

Tim Switzer, vice president of Neustar Registry Services, said "Neustar is very pleased to be associated with an organization that is so committed to environmental and humanitarian causes. We are confident businesses, organizations and individuals around the world will want to use a .green web address to demonstrate their commitment to environmentalism."

Of course, a different group planning to go after the .eco extension will be targeting much the same audience which sets up an interesting horse race if both end up getting the green light from ICANN.

And last but not least, Sedo announced another acquisition today, revealing their purchase of domain monetization services provider ParkingPanel.com

Sedo said they will be incorporating the ParkingPanel.com brand into their own and transitioning ParkingPanel.com’s members to Sedo’s platform by the end of the month. Financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

Sedo CEO Tim Schumacher said “We look forward to a smooth integration of the ParkingPanel.com brand into Sedo’s community of domain buyers and sellers. This acquisition is another example of Sedo’s commitment to sustaining growth and increasing our membership throughout the year.”

(Posted Sept 24, 2009) To refer others to the post above only you can use this URL:

Click Here

New ICANN CEO Takes a Slap at Domain Investors in Letter to Congressmen Defending Planned Flood of New gTLDs

Those who have been wondering where new ICANN CEO Rod Beckstrom would come down on the organization's highly controversial plan to flood the Internet with new gTLDs now have an answer to their question. Yesterday Beckstrom sent a detailed letter responding to concerns about the plan  raised by two of the U.S. House Judiciary Committee's top Republicans, Lamar Smith and Howard Coble

As you might expect, since ICANN could potentially reap an enormous financial windfall by charging operators of new gTLD registries fees running well into six-figures, Beckstrom defended the plan and suggested "competition" would be harmed if rollout of new gTLDS is delayed, suggesting that the 21 gTLDs already available do not offer enough alternatives (even though the vast majority of those extensions are still severely under-utilized years after their introduction, indicating little interest among the general public in new extensions).  

Beckstrom also took a slap at .com domain investors writing, "In the end, calling for a delay in the entry of new gTLDs only serves to perpetuate existing market conditions: concentration within some existing registries, with most short generic strings unavailable, and those that trade on the value of the current marketplace, holding portfolios based upon the value of current .com names."

There are a number of other troubling comments in the letter, so we would advise you to read it in its entirety yourself. One thing that is now obvious is that ICANN is not going to give up what it apparenty believes will be a golden goose on its own. Of course, there is a long line of government, business and even internal factions within ICANN that want the decision taken out of ICANN's hands if necessary. Just yesterday CADNA (the Coalition Against Domain Name Abuse - an organization that represents business that own many world-famous trademarks) issued a letter calling for a full scale government audit of ICANN. 

CADNA blasted ICANN on ten separate points including lack of transparency and being more interested in making a profit than working for the benefit of Internet users. CADNA also objected to what they called the "poorly conceived" plan to roll 

out an unlimited number of new gTLDs noting "This rollout expands the size of the Internet exponentially without first performing a sound cost/benefit and security and risk analysis to determine both desirability among and risk to Internet users."

There is undoubtedly going to be a lot more fur flying in this ongoing debate - the outcome of which could have a major impact on your business, thus making it a topic you need to keep a very close eye on.

Another part of Beckstrom's letter to the Congressmen addresses the Joint Project Agreement (JPA) between ICANN and the U.S. Government that ends September 30. ICANN wants to be set free and become an independent entity but government officials have balked at that proposal. We have been hearing widespread rumors that ICANN and the government will agree to extend the JPA, this time without a firm expiration date set on the new agreement.

ICANN CEO Rod Beckstrom

(Posted Sept 23, 2009) To refer others to the post above only you can use this URL:

Click Here

The Domain Auction Houses Will Be Hopping the Remainder of This Week 

The remainder of this week  will be exceptionally busy ones for most the of key domain auction houses. Tomorrow (Wednesday, Sept. 23) at 12 Noon (U.S. Eastern time), Sedo's exclusive auction of 31 one-character .biz domains gets underway at Sedo.biz. The bidding will continue for seven days. Meanwhile bidding will end Thursday (September 24) at 12 Noon (U.S. Eastern time) in Sedo's latest GreatDomains monthly online auction. Names on the block include 5B.com, iFeed.com and Relative.com to name just a few. 

Thursday is also the day that those interested in .me domains have to start getting in their backorders if they want to be included in NameJet's exclusive premium .me domain auction. Backorders for the first three names on their list, Chat.me, Photo.me and Monitor.me have to be in by 11pm (US Pacific time)/8pm (Eastern) Thursday night. The deadline for four more groups of three names each will fall daily Friday through Monday. The three-day auctions each begin begin the day after the backorder deadline. 

There will also be a live domain auction Friday (Sept. 25) on the opening day of the second annual MeetDomainers conference at the Marriott Hotel in Warsaw, Poland. That sale will feature primarily Polish .pl and European Union .eu ccTLD domains. Bidding for most domains 

will start at $1 with no reserve price. You can see the complete catalog here. The event starts at 3:30pm (CET) Friday, which is Greenwich Mean Time + 1 hour. It is also 

possible to bid online but you need to hurry because Wednesday (Sept. 23) is the last day to register at http://live.aftermarket.pl. Organizers are expecting approximately 100 attendees at the conference which will continue through Sunday. 

There is another auction deadline to be aware of this week. Friday (Sept. 25) is the deadline to submit premium domains for Moniker's live auction October 28 at the T.R.A.F.F.I.C. New York conference. 

RickLatona.com will also be conducting a live auction at T.R.A.F.F.I.C. New York (this will be the last T.R.A.F.F.I.C. shows to have multiple auction providers as Rick Latona Auctions has exclusive rights to run all T.R.A.F.F.I.C. auctions in 2010). Their live event at T.R.A.F.F.I.C. New York will be held on October 27 and you can still submit domains for that sale here. They have no yet posted a submission deadline but it would be wise to submit any names you wish to have considered now to avoid missing the cutoff.

(Posted Sept 22, 2009) To refer others to the post above only you can use this URL:

Latest Verisign Quarterly Report Says the Total Number of Registered Domains Is 9% Higher Than a Year Ago 

Verisign has released their latest  quarterly Domain Name Industry Brief covering the second quarter of 2009. The new report contains both good news and bad news. The good 

news is that the total number of registered domains worldwide jumped 9% from the same quarter last year, rising to 184 million. However, growth has slowed this year, with just a 1% increase over the registered total at the end of 1Q-2009. Country code registrations enjoyed a faster growth rate than the overall market, shooting up 14% year over year (to 74.4 million registered) however the ccTLD increase since the first quarter of this year just matched the 1%  rise logged by the market as a whole.

The less cheerful news involved new registrations. While approximately 9 million new domains were registered in 2Q-2009, that is 15% less than the number of new registrations posted in the same quarter last year and 14% less than the number of new regs in the previous quarter.  Verisign attributed this to seasonal fluctuations (2Q was also lower than 1Q in 2008) and a weak economy. The decline in domain tasting due to new registrar policies also had to have an impact.

The ten biggest .extensions remained the same as they were at the end of the previous quarter. Those in order of total registrations in force are:

1. .COM 
2. .CN (ccTLD for China)
3. .DE (ccTLD for Germany)
4. .NET
5. .ORG

6. .UK (ccTLD for Great Britain)
7. .INFO
8. .NL (ccTLD for the Netherlands)
.9 .EU (ccTLD for the European Union)
10 .BIZ

Verisign said the fastest growing ccTLD since the previous quarter was Argentina's .AR which rose 8%, a jump they said was likely aided by the introduction of .AR IDNs at the end of March. Russia's .RU and Brazil's .BR also experience solid quarter over quarter growth, with each expanding by 7%. On the flip side of the coin, the meteoric growth of China's .CN not only slowed, it went into reverse, with the total number of registrations shrinking 8% since the end of 1Q-2009. 

You can download the complete report, always a treasure trove of interesting domain information, here

(Posted Sept 21, 2009) To refer others to the post above only you can use this URL:

New Study Provides Good News for Domain Owners Who Are Developing Their Own Content-Rich Websites

If you are one of the many domain owners  who have gotten on the "development" train and started building content-rich websites with the hope of freeing yourself from dependence on steadily dwindling PPC revenue, I have some good news for you. A new study from the 

Online Publishers Association (OPA), based on six years of analysis, indicates that you are moving in the right direction at the right time. The keyword here is "content" as I'll show you in breaking down the numbers from the OPA study.

The OPA has been tracking where people spend their time on the Internet and have divided the various options web users have into five categories: commerce, communications, community, content and

search. Commerce would include sites like Amazon and Ebay, Communications would be represented by sites/activities like Yahoo Mail, AOL Instant Messenger and MSN Groups and Community covers the popular social networking category as embodied by sites like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Content would include sites offering any kind of information, for example the Wall Street Journal, CNN or any of the millions of special interest sites on the web and Search, of course, is the sector represented by Google, Yahoo, Bing and smaller search engines.

When you start making decisions on the kind of development you want to pour your time and money into, it would obviously be helpful to know where web surfers like to spend most of their time, so the OPA set out to do just that. If your focus has been or is on building a content site, you have identified the "sweet spot" with respect to where web surfers spend most of their time. 

OPA found that this year, on average, web users spent 42% of their time online on content sites - far more than any other category. What's more, content's share of the pie has been steadily growing - up 8% from the 34% the category had in 2003 when the OPA created its Internet Activity Index.

Even more impressive, the average amount of time individual surfers spend on content sites today is almost twice what it was in 

2003, soaring from a monthly average of three hours and 42 minutes to six hours and 58 minutes (newspapers and magazines, I think we have found your missing subscibers).

The communications category was a distant second to content with people spending 27% of their time there - but that is a huge fall-off from the 46% that category held six years ago. You can thank (or blame) the rise of social networking for that as people now handle more of their communications through tweets and Facebook posts. Still, in something of a surprise to me given how much press social networking gets, people spend only 13% of their online time on "community" activity - the same amount of time they spend on commerce sites (commerce was down from 16% in 2003). However the OPA just established the community category last year so we will have to see where it goes from here. 

The search category brought up the rear, with people spending 5% of their time on search. However that is a jump from the 3% figure OPA found in 2003. 

Take a look at the OPA's complete report (illustrated with graphs and featuring more detailed data) for more on this very interesting study. It may influence you decisions as you map out your development plans. 

If you still wonder if it is worth the bother to take on development in an effort to diversify your revenue stream, you might want to read a post Rick Schwartz published on his blog just today. Without warning or explanation, Google just pulled the plug on his AdSense account, completely shutting down his revenue stream from that source after he spent thousands of dollars on mini-site development.

Parking and AdSense have been immensely positive things for domain owners in recent years and I think for large portfolio owners, 

Rick Schwartz
Google just shut down his Adsense account

they will continue to be a part of the mix for years to come - but having all of your eggs in one basket is never a good idea. 

Though it is not easy, I believe that diversifying into development in at least one niche area that you are truly passionate about - and doing it well enough to attract an audience - is the key to freedom. It may take multiple tries before you come up with a winner, but if you are able to find the right combination, you will be able to cut out the middlemen, get direct advertisers and put your destiny back in your own hands where it belongs. 

(Posted Sept 18, 2009) To refer others to the post above only you can use this URL:

Click Here

Expect ICANN's Planned Rollout of New gTLDs to Be Delayed Again

ICANN plans to begin its rollout  of an unlimited number of new gTLDs in the first quarter of 2010 but I am hearing that behind the scenes developments make it very likely that you won't see any new extensions before the 2nd quarter of next year, at the earliest. That forecast 

doesn't even take into account another potential roadblock for ICANN that arose when two of the U.S. House Judiciary Committee's top Republicans, Lamar Smith and Howard Coble, wrote a letter to new ICANN CEO Rod Beckstrom Tuesday expressing concerns about the proposed introduction of a deluge new top-level domains.  

According to a report at NextGov.com, Smith and Coble said they are worried that a vast expansion of domains will carry "serious negative consequences" for U.S. businesses and consumers. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, National Association of Manufacturers and others have complained that adding hundreds of new domains could exacerbate cyber-squatting, fraud, and overall confusion in the Internet marketplace. The two Congressman also objected to the absence of price caps in the new gTLDs.

Citing what they called ICANN's "less than stellar track record," Smith and Coble also said they have "serious misgivings" about the scheduled expiration of a joint project agreement (JPA) between the U.S. government and ICANN later this month. ICANN believes it is ready to become an independent entity but a number of lawmakers on both sides of the aisle remain unconvinced. House Energy and Commerce Chairman Henry Waxman and Communications Subcommittee Chairman Rick Boucher have both called for the creation of a permanent relationship.

Smith and Coble asked Beckstrom to provide detailed answers by Tuesday (Sept. 22) to several questions about ICANN's planned new gTLD expansion and the termination of the joint project agreement. 

(Posted Sept 17, 2009) To refer others to the post above only you can use this URL:

Free Webinar Next Week Aims to Show You "How to Sell Domain Names Fast and for Maximum Value"

Aftermarket powerhouses BuyDomains.com and the Afternic DLS  (sister companies under the NameMedia umbrella) have an especially attractive free webinar coming up one week from today. The title of the event is certainly bound to catch your attention - How to Sell Domain Names Fast and for Maximum Value! The webinar will run from 2:00-2:30pm (U.S. Eastern time) on Wednesday, September 23. You can sign up for the webinar here. This is one I intent to sit in on myself.

Pete Lamson, the Senior Vice President and General Manager of the NameMedia Domain Marketplace told me, "This will be the most important Webinar ever hosted by AfternicDLS & BuyDomains. AfternicDLS & BuyDomains sell high volumes of domains every week by targeting global small to mid-sized business and in this Webinar we will share all BuyDomains proven sales strategies and tactics  - all designed to drive maximum domain sales velocity and price. There is no magic to this – just proven domain sales methodologies developed over the last 10 years of learning what works – and what does not," Lamson said.

A webinar summary I received from Pete said that in this thirty-minute webinar, you’ll learn:

How we get you the best price, fast - We’ll show you how the industry’s leading sales force helps sellers make the most lucrative sales, with market-tested tools and unsurpassed expertise.

Which strategies and services help you turn the best profit -  We’ll give you concrete strategies, like how you can drive more solid inbound inquiries, or how to triple your chances of a successful sale.

How to Close the Deal Fast - We’ll tell how our services can move your transaction along driving the sales process to a rapid close.

Peter Lamson
Name Media Senior VP and 
General Manager Domain Marketplace

Organizers promise that you will also have a chance to ask questions in a Q&A session that will be part of the event. Given the AfternicDLS/BuyDomains track record and the unbeatable price for this webinar - free! - sitting in on this half hour looks like a no-brainer to me.

(Posted Sept 16, 2009) To refer others to the post above only you can use this URL:

New Conference Coming to New York City in February Will Focus on Selling Online Ad Space to Local Businesses 

If you attended the 2009 GeoDomain Expo  in San Diego this past April I'm sure you were impressed by Borrell Associates CEO Gordon Borrell who addressed the crowd at a Saturday 

Borrell Associates CEO Gordon Borrell
speaking at the 2009 GeoDomain Expo

luncheon. Borell's company is a research leader in the local advertising space - their business is based on knowing exactly what is happening with ad sales in local markets around the country, what advertisers are looking for and how publishers (online and off) can increase their revenues by meeting the needs of those advertisers.  

Given that background, those who are developing geodomains or geo-targeted domains will be happy to hear that Borrell is going to stage a new conference devoted to helping you boost your online ad sales February 8-9, 2010 at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in New York City (this Manhattan hotel also hosted the 2007 T.R.A.F.F.I.C. New York conference). The Borrell show has been dubbed the 2010 Local Interactive Advertising: The 'Business of Making Money' Conference.

The show site says "At this conference you will explore interactive advertising business models and strategies, and gain tactical intelligence to "hit the ground running" when you return home." 

You will also get to hear from a roster of speakers that will include Jeff Jarvis, Court Cunningham and Richard Titus. Jarvis, associate professor of journalism at City University of NY and author of What Would Google Do, is an

often-quoted media pundit. Cunningham is the CEO of Yodle, a company that Borrell says registered the highest growth of all companies selling local online advertising last year. Titus is the CEO of Associated Northcliffe Digital, a company that is taking a radically different view of local media's digital opportunities in the U.K.

Early bird registration for the show (good through October 31) is $995, a $400 discount from the regular $1,395 registration rate. Borrell Associates expects a crowd of 350-500 people to turn out for the event.

Speaking of conferences in New York, the 2009 T.R.A.F.F.I.C. New York conference is coming up October 26-29 at the Brooklyn Bridge Marriott. Moniker is reminding those who wish to submit domains for their premium live auction at the show October 28th to get their names in before the September 25 deadline (just ten days from now). Moniker will consider a maximum of 50 of what they say should be your "very best domains - the "rock stars" of your portfolio" for their auction. The live sale will run from 4pm-6:30pm on October 28. It will be followed by an extended online auction running October 29 to November 4. 

In another show note, conference co-founder Rick Schwartz said the T.R.A.F.F.I.C. version of "Shark 

Tank" is still taking applications. "We have received 12 applications so far but only 3 have qualified for the second round of consideration, so there is still plenty of time before the September 30 deadline to apply for a chance to meet the sharks." In this takeoff on the ABC-TV show Schwartz said those who have domain projects in development or business plans for expansion of their web sites can apply for an opportunity to present their plans to a panel of experts. If the panelists are impressed with the business plan they could provide funding for the projects in exchange for an equity stake in the venture. 

(Posted Sept 15, 2009) To refer others to the post above only you can use this URL:

Ad Revenues for Popular Blogs Soar in the First Half of 2009 While Their Old Media Counterpart - Magazines - See Ad Sales Plummet 21%

Interesting piece in The New York Times Sunday  about the continuing rapid migration from traditional media to the web. The article titled "Ad Shift Throws Blogs a Business Lifeline" by Claire Cain Miller focuses on the successes individual entrepreneurs like Brian and Lisa Sugar

of Sugar, Inc. have enjoyed after building their own blog network. They got started four years ago when Lisa began blogging about celebrity gossip in her spare time. A media empire has since sprouted from that small seed with the Sugars operating a dozen blogs (including PopSugar about celebrities and BellaSugar about beauty) and attracting 11 million readers a month! That flood of traffic soon had advertisers like Chanel and Sony  knocking on their door and, with backing from Sequoia Capital, the company has grown to 105 employees. 

The Sugar's revenue has shot up 20% in the first six months of this year while their closest counterpart in the traditional media world - magazines - saw their ad revenues plunge 21% over the same time frame.  One of the earliest and biggest blog networks, Gawker Media, enjoyed an even bigger jump than the Sugars with ad revenue soaring 45% in the first six months of 2009.

Ms. Miller noted "Both companies are private, and neither would disclose more specific figures, but by some estimates the larger networks have annual revenue in the low tens of millions of dollars." Those numbers illustrate the massive opportunity the web offers new media entrepreneurs. However, this is far from easy money. “It’s actually really hard creating compelling content that brings an audience,” Mr. Sugar told the Times. The key to success is obsessive coverage of narrow topics, along with business models that reach beyond advertising (including CPA affiliate links). 

For would-be web media giants, one of the most important quotes in the article came from Sequoia Capital's Michael Moritz who told the Times, "Perpetual movement is the essence of survival and prosperity online. If online media and entertainment companies don’t improve every day, they will just wind up as the newfangled version of Reader's Digestbankrupt.”

Elsewhere today, .biz got a boost when Overstock.com announced today that they will be launching a major new ecommerce site a O.biz on October 31. The new site will give individuals and businesses a new place to buy bulk merchandise at discount prices. The company said it will initially focus on restaurant, office and hotel products.

Overstock.com won the rights to use the rare one-letter .biz domain by winning Neustar's (the .biz registry) request for proposal (RFP) competition. Neustar has also engaged Sedo to auction off 31 one-letter .biz domains that did not go through the RFP process later this month. Those will be sold in a week-long online auction that will run Sept. 23-30

The use of a .biz domain by a high profile company like Overstock.com will help increase recognition and, the registry hopes, adoption of the gTLD that was introduced in 2001 to give global businesses their own swath of Internet real estate. The extension has always been overshadowed by the firmly entrenched .com so it needs to see this kind of corporate adoption to increase its visibility. The Sedo auction should also garner attention, especially now that Overstock has shown a willingness to invest their resources in a large-scale .biz flagged commercial site.

(Posted Sept 14, 2009) To refer others to the post above only you can use this URL:

TrafficZ and General Manager Jonathan Boswell Part Ways, Boswell Turns Attention to His Own Domain Monetization Company

Earlier this week I got a note from  Jonathan Boswell (one of the original team members at TrafficZ when the Los Angeles based parking company began its rapid ascent in the PPC category) letting me know that he and the company parted ways at the end of last week. 

Boswell was also a co-founder of LeaseThis.com and sold his interest in that company to TrafficZ's parent corporation, Thought Convergence Inc., (TCI) last year. Boswell said a disagreement with TCI founders Kevin Vo and Ammar Kubba over the direction of that service and how to best grow revenue led to a change being made. However, he added that he, Vo and Kubba have always had a good relationship that will continue.

Boswell said he has now turned his full attention to an early stage venture capital company, Boswell Investments, Inc., that he had started a couple of years ago. I gave Boswell a call this afternoon to find out more about what he is doing with Boswell Investments. He said the company focuses on building vertical portals on strong keyword domains that utilize multiple monetization methods that can include PPC, affiliate ads and direct advertiser relationships. He cited a TCI project, Trainer.com, as an example of the kind of approach he plans to take. 


Jonathan Boswell
Boswell Investments, Inc.

To drive visitors to the portal, Boswell sends traffic from other domains within the same vertical to the domain that serves as the central brand. Most of his efforts have centered on domains 

that he already owns but the company has started doing partnerships with other domain owners. Rather than ask for an equity position in the domains he develops

Boswell said he works for a share of the revenue he creates on those joint projects. Those who want to learn more can visit the company's website or contact email him at jonathan at boswellinvestments.com.

(Posted Sept 10, 2009) To refer others to the post above only you can use this URL:

Conference Promoters Sweeten the Pot With Incentives to Attract Early Bird Registrants

Organizers of next month's T.R.A.F.F.I.C. Conference in New York City and the Domainer Mardi Gras conference coming to New Orleans in February both announced special deals for early registrants today. For the T.R.A.F.F.I.C. conference that will run October 26-29 at the 

Brooklyn Bridge Marriott, the promoters are offering a $200 room credit at the Marriott to anyone who registers no later than 5pm on Friday (Sept. 11). Show co-founder Rick Schwartz provided another reason to sign up early -  the current registration fee ($1,495) will go up to $1,795 on Wednesday (Sept. 16) then to $1,995 next month. 

In addition, for the first time the show is introducing "Conditional Reservations" aimed at those who want to wait until the final show agenda is published before making a decision on whether or not to attend. Schwartz said, "If you email me (mr800king at aol.com) no later than 5pm Tuesday (Sept. 15) I will reserve a $1,495 slot that will be good until 24 hours after the final schedule is posted and announced in just a few weeks. It's a no-brainer for anyone who thinks that they just might want to attend and save $500 just for sending an email."

The Domainer Mardi Gras Conference that will run Feb. 11-13, 2010  at the New Orleans Marriott just issued an early registration offer of their own. If you sign up now through October 15 at the $795 early bird rate and book a room at the show hotel ($179 a night), they 

will knock $300 off your registration fee, lowering it to $495. If you want an even better deal they are offering attendees who register within the next 72 hours (by Saturday afternoon, Sept. 12), they will throw in a free Flip video camera. That should come in handy during the show's three-day run that falls right in the middle of the world famous Mardi Gras carnival in New Orleans.  

When I wrote at length about the crowded conference schedule August 25th I noted that the fierce competition among so many shows would produce one big winner - show registrants - and we are seeing that now with lower prices and special incentives that have never been seen before.

One other note today, time is running out in the Moniker/SnapNames Showcase Auction for Job & Career domains. If you are interested in this sale check it our now because ot will be ending Thursday (Sept. 10) at 3:15pm U.S. Eastern Time

(Posted Sept 9, 2009) To refer others to the post above only you can use this URL:

Moniker Brokers 6-Figure Sale of Casino.mobi

Oversee.net has announced that its Moniker.com division  has successfully brokered the $135,000 sale of Casino.mobi to Infomeda Ltd.  Oversee said Moniker co-founder Monte Cahn handled the blockbuster transaction - one that will be warmly welcomed among .mobi fans who haven't had a lot to cheer about lately.  

Moniker Co-Founder Monte Cahn handled
the $135,000 sale of Casino.mobi 

Oversee said Infomeda plans to use the name as an online portal, with location-based information for bricks-and-mortar casino locations, reviews of mobile casinos as well as "fun money" casino-style games and gaming tools.  The site has launched a beta version, and an official release is expected later this month.  

Cahn said, "This is a very strong sale for both parties in this transaction. Gaming enthusiasts are very interested in online applications, and continually growing interest in the mobile Web indicates that the Casino.mobi site will perform well when it launches."  

dotMobi CEO Trey Harvin concurred with Cahn and added, "It's great to see the value of .mobi names recognized in dollars.

It's even more meaningful to see the name used to identify content that takes advantage of mobile phones and gives game-players a one-of-a-kind experience that can't be duplicated on a desktop PC."

(Posted Sept 8, 2009) To refer others to the post above only you can use this URL:

Today is a national holiday in the United States. In addition to honoring the country's workers with a day of rest, Labor Day is considered to be the unofficial end of summer for most Americans. Many of us celebrate it with parades, holding outdoor cookouts or making a trip to the beach. We wish all of our U.S. readers a happy holiday and hope to see you back here when the nation returns to work tomorrow.
(Posted September 7, 2009)

Should We Declare War on Domaining.com? Billionaire Mark Cuban Believes News Aggregators are Parasites Who Should Be Exterminated 

As most of you know, Domaining.com is a popular website that aggregates domain industry news headlines generated by leading blogs and publications in our business (including DNJournal.com). There are several other sites that also do this, but Domaining.com has gained 

the lion's share of the aggregation market with an attractive layout and a number of value added features. Yes, Domaining.com (created by Francois Carrillo) benefits from having the vast majority of its content produced at no charge by other people. However, I think just about all 

of us whose work is headlined on Carrillo's site feel like we get equal value in return as Domaining.com sends readers back to our sites where they can read the full article (and often stick around to check out other pages). It is a two way street that benefits both sides.

While I look at Carrillo as a good guy who provides a useful service, traditional media outlets see people like him as the enemy. There is even an Internet billionaire who agrees with them. Mark Cuban is advising old media outlets to declare war on the aggregator web sites that get a free ride on content. Newsweek Magazine Technology Editor Daniel Lyons agrees with Cuban and makes his case in a new article headlined "Exterminate the Parasites." 

Mark Cuban

Lyons writes, "The aggregators and the old-media guys are competing for the same advertising dollars. But the aggregators compete using content that the old-media guys create and give to them at no cost. This is insane, right? It's like fighting a war and supplying the enemy with guns and bullets." He thinks Cuban had it right in a blog post that Lyons summarized in this paragraph, "The media companies should kill off these parasites by using a little piece of software that blocks incoming links from aggregators. If the aggregators can't link to other people's stories, they die. With a few lines of code, the old-media guys could snuff them out."

I don't think anything better illustrates the differences between old media and new than 

that. Everyone who publishes on the web goes  out of their way to get inbound links - traditional outlets want to kill them - even though those links lead people to their online properties which may be the only lifeboat they have left. Go figure.

Another big thing I see missing from the strategy that Cuban and Lyons advocate is exactly how killing off this major source of inbound traffic would keep traditional media outlets alive? How would having less traffic help them make more money so they could keep their doors open? Lyons wrote, "I'm not sure it would work, but I'd love to see someone try, just to see what happens." My guess is that what would happen would be their publications seeing even fewer readers than they have now, accelerating their extinction rather than staving it off. I understand why old media wants to retaliate against the forces that have put such a hurting on them - its human nature, but this sounds like a classic case of cutting off your nose to spite your face.

Still old media is in such dire straits that they have to try to find some kind of life raft even if it means grasping at straws like this. As it happens, I still subscribe to Lyons' print publication, Newsweek, so I know that they have already made a drastic move this year in a last ditch effort to keep their audience. They stopped reporting the news. Can you imagine - a magazine called Newsweek - one with a long and storied history of covering and analyzing all of the world's major news events - no longer covers the news.

It's true. They apparently decided that since everyone can get news stories online at no cost, they won't keep paying Newsweek to get basically the same information days later. So, while their arch rival Time is (at least for now) staying the course, Newsweek has become an essay magazine. They hope that original pieces with a news theme produced by their stable of writers will give them something unique and attractive enough that people will pay for it. 

          My latest copy of Newsweek
It's good that they block out the word "News" on the masthead because the magazine gave up on news and went to an all-essay format earlier this year.

For me the new format is a big swing and a miss. I liked what they were doing before which is why I subscribed in the first place. Yes, the basic news had already been released before their magazine came out, but I felt they added value by putting the world's events into context with fresh analysis and insight each week. What they are doing now is not what I paid for and not something I am interested in getting. Kind of like I bought a Cadillac only to find a Yugo in the garage a few months later. When my subscription expires next July I won't be renewing. 

I certainly can't blame them for making changes though. While I liked Newsweek the way it was, not enough others did so they had to try door #2. I don't know what the answer is for traditional media - or even if there is an answer for them at this stage of the game. I am however pretty confident that killing off news aggregators is not going to be a big enough bullet to halt the historic shift of media from print to the web that we are currently witnessing.

(Posted September 4, 2009) To refer others to the post above only you can use this URL:

Has ICANN Opened Pandora's Box? New gTLDs Are Still Months Away But the Lawsuits and Recriminations Have Already Begun

I fully expect that ICANN's plan  to roll out unlimited new gTLDs starting early next year will create chaos, with consternation among confused consumers, anger among trademark holders who will have to spend more to protect their marks in new extensions, and turf battles between warring parties competing to operate the higher profile new gTLD registries. 

Antony Van Couvering
Minds + Machines CEO 

What I haven't been expecting is to see chaos start breaking out now - many months before the world will actually see a new gTLD in operation. The lawsuits have already started flying. Word today came that one of the premier companies planning to compete in the new gTLD space, Minds + Machines, has filed suit against their partner in the quest to obtain .food - famous chef Wolfgang Puck and his wife Gelila.

In a statement posted on the Minds + Machines website, CEO Antony Van Couvering gave an account of what led his company to go on the offensive, writing "On Thursday last week, Minds + Machines received a letter from Daniel Petrocelli of O’Melveny and Myers, the trial lawyer who represented Jeffrey Skilling of Enron. On behalf of Gelila and Wolfgang Puck, Mr. Petrocelli claimed that the Pucks have the right to co-invest in most 

of our business endeavors, and that their introductions to some celebrity acquaintances entitle them to 50% of some of Minds + Machines’ business endeavors. Yesterday, in Federal Court, we filed suit against Gelila and Wolfgang Puck, asking the court to declare that their claims are frivolous, and that they do not have a right to participate in our non-.FOOD projects.

Apparently Gelila Puck is convinced the new gTLDs are going to produce a vast fortune and she wants a bigger share of the pie. An article at Gawker.com about the lawsuit noted that the suit says she has been telling people she will be "the next Bill Gates." All I can say is that if this is true, the poor woman is in for a horribly rude awakening. She might want to look into how many new billionaires were created by the first round of new gTLDs (.biz and .info). Hint: You can count them on less than one finger.

Lady Puck isn't the only one suffering from illusions of new gTLD grandeur. As Andrew Allemann noted at Domain Name Wire just yesterday, the .Sport Policy Advisory Council (who wants to see a .sport TLD) sent ICANN a threatening letter warning against giving anyone else an extension related to any sport! This even though no one, including them, has been awarded any extension yet. 

Even so, these people had the audacity to tell ICANN the following (my comments are in red) "we emphatically oppose any diminution of .SPORT (how can something that doesn't even exist be diluted?!) and will take all steps necessary to ensure that the top-level domain for our sector is properly protected. (sounds like a lawsuit threat even though these people don't own an extension to begin with!) We are concerned that ICANN may be prematurely entertaining a process that will allow proliferation of names in sub-categories or individual sports which will lead to confusion in the marketplace of users (in other words, no one else can own 

New gTLDs are still months away but
the bullies are already roaming the halls.

.football, .baseball. etc. because these clowns think they have some pre-ordained right to own everything). We cannot accept ICANN approving any applications for top-level domains that could diminish the solidarity implied with .SPORT" (Huh!? Wait a minute...you can't accept ICANN approving any applications....! Fellas - your application hasn't been accepted either! You might want to wait until that little hurdle is crossed before you issue further orders telling ICANN what they can and cannot do)

This is amazingly misguided stuff. I have felt from the beginning that ICANN was opening a can of worms with this whole unlimited new gTLD process, but I don't think they have any idea of what is in store for them. This is Pandora's Box on steroids. One very prominent domain developer told me he thinks the new gTLD program will create such a mess that it will lead to the end of ICANN. I scoffed when he first told me that, but with the lawsuits and recriminations already flying at this extremely early stage of the game, I am no longer so so skeptical on that point. It looks like a fiasco is brewing that could create some hurricane force blowback. If that happens, I wouldn't want to be the entity that loosed this Frankenstein's monster on the Internet.

(Posted September 2, 2009) To refer others to the post above only you can use this URL:

Neustar Creates .BIZ Buzz With 1-Character Domain Auction at Sedo and Upcoming 2-Character Rollout. Company Also Picked to Operate Colombia's .CO Registry

The operator of the .BIZ registry, Neustar, has created some buzz around the extension with announcements yesterday and today detailing plans to make one and two character .BIZ domains available to the public. Neustar said this is the first time any major global top level domain (gTLD) registry has released all one and two-character names.

Neustar joined with Sedo to make the first big splash yesterday - announcement of an exclusive Sedo auction featuring the entire available catalog of one-character .BIZ domain names. The one-week online auction will begin at 12 Noon (Eastern Daylight Time) on September 23 and end at 11:59 a.m. on September 30. The complete list of one-character domains that will go on the block is available at www.sedo.biz.

While some one-character domains were previously assigned during Neustar's request for proposals (RFP) process, interested parties will now have an opportunity to acquire one or more of the 31 remaining single character .BIZ domains through Sedo's auction.  Neustar said proceeds from the auction will be used to further promote the .BIZ brand. Further details concerning the auction will be posted at here in the coming weeks.

Today the other shoe dropped when Neustar announced that they are accepting proposals for two-character .biz domain names through September 30. Tim Switzer, vice president of domain registry services at Neustar, said “We will select the candidates who not only present the best plans, but will commit to making the .BIZ domain name a significant component of their marketing efforts.” The 1,332 one-and two-character domain names in .BIZ were originally reserved by the registry when the new TLD was launched in 2001. Since then over 2 million .BIZ domains have been registered.












Colombia - home of .CO
2nd level .CO domains expected in 1Q-2010

In addition to running the .BIZ ship, Neustar is about to take over the technical operation of Colombia's .CO country code registry. Colombia's Minister of Communications, Maria del Rosario Guerra, announced that a 10-year contract to promote, manage, and operate the technical infrastructure of the .CO ccTLD had been awarded to .CO Internet S.A.S., a strategic venture between Arcelandia S.A. and Neustar. Arcelandia is a Colombian entity with interests in a variety of Internet-related businesses.

The transition from the current administrator to .CO Internet S.A.S. is expected to take place during the last quarter of 2009. The global launch of second-level registrations (for example, domains.co) is expected to happen during the first quarter of 2010 with a sunrise process designed to protect trademark interests. Details are to be published at www.news.com.co as they become available.

In a directly related note, Lori Anne Wardi has accepted a role as Director of Business Development for .CO Internet S.A.S. Lori Anne is well-known in the domain community (she was with Michael Mann's WashingtonVC when I first met her and she went on from there to found her own company).  

All told, Ms. Wardi brings close to 20 years of diverse business experience to her new position. Prior to joining .CO Internet, Ms. Wardi founded and managed several businesses, including Dream Big Media, Inc., a digital asset strategy consulting firm in New York City

She has consulted with executives in many of the world's most prominent investment banks, professional service firms and non-profit organizations, including JP Morgan Chase, UBS and AIG and also served as the Global Manager of Training and Professional Development for the Technology Division of Goldman Sachs

Lori Anne Wardi
Director of Business Development
  .CO Internet S.A.S.

Ms. Wardi has a B.A. in International Relations from Muhlenberg College; a Master's Degree in Human Resources from Cornell University; and a Law Degree from Brooklyn Law School.

(Posted September 1, 2009) To refer others to the post above only you can use this URL:

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