Feb. 2, 2007) The sun shone on a new era for the “dot-UK”
domain industry with its first country specific domainers'
conference. UK DomainChannel launched with an electrifying
day of seminars, networking, negotiations and deals.
Domain owners, executives, service providers and equity analysts
from the US, Germany, Spain, France, Finland,
Poland and the UK met for the first time in the Victoria
Park Plaza in central London, for what will be the first
of many to come.
Russell, NameDrive President and premium sponsor said:
"We are delighted to have achieved something that nobody in the
UK domain industry has done before. This is the biggest domain
conference anywhere outside the United States."
Park Plaza Hotel - London
Site of UK DomainChannel Conference
of the most influential members of the UK domain community
are gathered here and it is clear that the UK domain
industry is booming," Russell added. "At a time
when many US companies are looking to invest in Europe, I
can only see these events growing in popularity in the
future." This was a feeling upheld by many."
Aiming to centralise networking in the UK domain market and
exposing the UK to a more global audience, the day was
opened by event coordinator, charismatic David Brayshaw. He
welcomed attendees into a new era for the industry and
introduced them to a vision for where the industry is
one of the hottest topics of the conference was the eagerly
awaited revision of .UK Registry Nominet’s Dispute
Resolution Service (DRS). Attendees listened keenly as CEO
Lesley Cowley spoke of Nominet’s plans and held her ground
as questions were thrown at her about what is being done for
the protection of their industry.
CEO of of
More exciting for some was the announcement of plans to discuss the
long awaited release of two letter .co.uk domains, via a possible
charitable auction; as well as the possible launch of new UK domain
extensions such as .scot, .cym, .scot.uk and .cym.uk. Nominet also
plans for the coming year to discuss lengthening the domain
registration period to as much as 10 years.
Hanton of www.giraffe.co.uk gave a captivating seminar on effective
sales techniques in the UK and domain value. With the use of various
props, Angus guided us through the complicated world of domain
valuation and sales. Girraffe.co.uk hold 18,000 domains, mainly .co.uk,
and in the past have made some impressive sales: three.co.uk to the
mobile phone giant Hutchinson, egg.co.uk to the financial group and
3121.com to Prince.
commented on domain value, “The trite answer is always ‘a name
is only worth what someone will pay for it’ but this is hardly a
satisfactory response because it is so subjective and as owners we
are often in a position of needing to quote a price or as buyers to
make a firm offer.” Throughout the attendees it was interesting to
find that over half the audience had both bought and sold domains
with the same number again having been asked to price the domain and
faced legal action over them.
his presentation, he was joined by Michael Toth, owner of a
first-class .uk portfolio, including UnitedKingdom.co.uk, and
Daniel Law, CEO of Sombrero domains and broker of several industry-known
sales, among them Blackjack.de, the second largest published .de
sale of all time.
Michael discussed the potential trademark
issues surrounding apparently ‘generic’ domain names while
Daniel highlighted the differences between the UK market and others
such as Germany and the US where traffic plays a greater role in
valuation, and how continue maturation of the UK domain market would
continue to mirror the recent developments in the US.
Left to right: Angus Hanton,
Michael Toth and Daniel Law
Legal panel (left to right): Jim Davies,
Stevan Lieberman & Paul Keating
After a refreshments break to recharge the batteries, the next
seminar was a legal panel of some renown. Paul Keating of Renova
Ltd., Stevan Lieberman of Greenberg & Lieberman
and Jim Davies
of Bell Denning provided the attendees with one of the strongest
panels on domain law anywhere in the world.
Paul began with a simple
question: “Can I ask how many lawyers there are in the
audience?” Only one hand was raised. “You’re a much
better-dressed crowd than the guys in the US. The only people in
suits there are the lawyers!”
continued to give an overview of
risk management cov ering domain transactions, hijacking and dispute
resolution – His buzzwords – Always reply to C&D letters and
Never default as this harms the domain industry itself. Stevan
focused on trends in domain law in the US while Jim provided
the counterbalance by lending his extensive expertise on UK domain
law, the under-fire Nominet DRS procedure and several case law
studies, including BernardMatthews.co.uk, a man who is in the news
for other reasons currently.
afternoon session kicked off with a monetisation panel featuring
Peter Smith from Miva UK, Tyson Pearcey of BUY.AT,
Tommy Butler from
Glasgow.com and Ed Russell of NameDrive. They argued over the best
ways to make the most of the monetisation options available.
general theory was monetising domains can take up to 2 years to find
the right solution for you and your domain. Each domain should be
treated as an individual, analysing each one to figure out where the
revenue would come from. By starting with domain parking you can see
what traffic exists and where best to deve lop but that only work
for domains with traffic. By talking to your affiliates and PPC
networks you get better value from them. They are the experts and
are there to help.
Butler was keen to push development, by branding and getting repeat
traffic. The better the site looks and the more content and
information, he opined, the more repeat traffic won and advertisers
will feel they want to work and be associated with you. If your
sites link to each other and have good content the more likely you
will be to keep the customer within your site. The key question is,
“would I go to that page and use it?”
Pearcey & Ed Russell
Smith & Tommy Butler
the second session of the afternoon, Ross Sandler of RBC Capital
Markets gave an in-depth look into the equity market’s perspective
on the domain industry. In a tale of two cities, Sandler compared
the fortunes of Mountain View’s Google and Sunnyvale’s Yahoo.
With 81.3% revenue growth in 2006 Google has outperformed Yahoo by
almost 58% whilst maintaining a dominate market share of search
query volume worldwide.
terms of implications for the domain industry, Sandler said that
Google views the domain community as strategically positive. Looking
to the future, Google wants to reshape all media, making them
faster, fresher and more relevant with moves into Google audio,
Google Print and the hot new buy of You Tube for Google video.
big new current development for Yahoo is Project Panama. This will
lead to a shift from a max bid approach for advertising to a
relevancy approach. Project Panama is expected to be fully rolled
out by the end of 2007. The implications of this in the short term
are not very transparent but long term should lead to advertisers
increasing their spending. For domainers, however, the implications
look likely to be problematic for some while others will benefit.
RBC Capital Markets
terms of the financial markets, what is clear for the year ahead
from Sandler’s talk, is that they are watching with keen interest
the progress on the NASDAQ of Marchex and the upcoming IPO’s of
Name Media and Demand Media.
the closing seminar Mark Van Dyke of Army.com spoke about developing
a site’s brand by sourcing everything from content management
systems to content and moderators for free. Van Dyke explained how
the five principle steps toward success in your domain depend upon
determining strategy, developing and launching the site, selecting
technologies, joining ad and affiliate networks and most importantly
monitoring statistics and performance and adjusting accordingly.
sharing his money-winning optimisation principles with the domainers
of the UK, Van Dyke inspired the attendees that they, too, could
develop their sites into the cash cow that is Army.com. The only
question left on the minds of all was, “How can I do that with my
two word, hyphenated, .co.uk?”
So much for the structured content of the one-day conference. What
happened behind the scenes? With only one day to network, there was
quite a bit of table-hopping and more than a few “quiet words”
were exchanged at the after party.
In true British fashion,
the after-after party went on until 8:00 am, well lubricated with
pints of proper English bitter and smooth single malts. In terms of
highest valued domains batted about, entrepreneur Steve Russell
chose Domain Channel to formally announce he’s offering his
portfolio of villas.com and another 130 “villas” domains and
trademarks for £2.5 million. It was also leaked that a group of UK
domainers are banding together to start their own commercial
development of monetisation and cooperative development, The Domain
next show is scheduled for September; we’ll see you there!
Note: Thanks to Daniel Law for providing
photographs from this event.
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