Featured in the Wall Street Journal · Forbes · Newsweek · USA Today · New York Times · MSNBC · Boston Herald  

April 03, 2015

Domain Sales

Latest News


Dear Domey



YTD Sales Charts The Lowdown Legal Matters Letters to Editor Classified Ads About Us


Lift Off:  How New Sales Platforms are Sending the Domain Aftermarket Into Orbit - Moniker.com Ushers in the Era of  Live Auctions

Moniker.com had had a unique role in revolutionizing the aftermarket through their pioneering work in staging live auctions. From a modest start less than  three years ago they have grown into a colossus than has sold millions of dollars worth of domains, including $11 million in a single afternoon at the T.R.A.F.F.I.C. conference in New York in June. We asked Moniker CEO Monte Cahn to tell us how the live auction idea came about, its rapid progression to an 8-figure one day event and his thoughts on how far this format can go.
"At the very first T.R.A.F.F.I.C. event in 2004, there was a manual domain auction process where potential sellers would put domain names on a board and allow folks to write in bids. I saw this as an opportunity to bring what Moniker started as a company back in 1999, organized domain name auctions,” Cahn said.


Monte Cahn
Moniker.com CEO

"Moniker sought to create a market for domain names with buyer and sellers actively engaged during a specific period of time.  We already knew the format could work. In 1999, we sold the first high valued domains, WallStreet.com and Autos.com, in a private auction format so I was convinced that we could do the same for T.R.A.F.F.I.C.”

"When I approached Rick Schwartz and Howard Neu (T.R.A.F.F.I.C. co-founders) with the idea, I had to convince them it would open up the market. But looking at the trends I was seeing with our own domain sales, both private and public, and with the escrow transactions going on through our domain escrow system, I knew that we had an opportunity to develop an auction that would gain credibility industry-wide and become an event like other premiere auctions held at Christies or Sotheby's. Since the T.R.A.F.F.I.C. East 2005 Conference, we have brought auctions to each additional T.R.A.F.F.I.C event since then, in addition to other venues.”

"With each event, we learn and refine our process. Now, having done several live and silent events, we have improved upon the various processes from choosing which domains go on the auction block to processing transaction and closing escrow. We are, and continue to be, a leading registrar and domain services company and strive to bring an enhanced auction to each an every event," Cahn said.


Moniker staff (at top of photo above) handling 
phone-in bids during the live auction at 
T.R.A.F.F.I.C. New York June 2007

"We recently introduced telephone proxy bidding and absentee bidding, which was successful from the beginning. We have also automated our escrow process and are working with other experts in the industry on properly pricing domains and setting expectations on reserves. And of course, without the very best and hardest working team of dedicated employees, none of this would work.”  

DomainCapital.com has also played a role in the live auction boom started by Moniker. They are on hand at every major live auction to make domain financing available to qualified buyers. That adds liquidity that has opened the door for the remarkable sales results the events have produced. DomainCapital’s Gregg Freeman told us, “Working with Moniker on the live auctions at T.R.A.F.F.I.C. has given us the chance to help many domainers grab the

perfect name. We work with Moniker’s sales staff and make sure that all potential buyers are prequalified and this way our clients can buy whatever names they want, knowing that we will be there to help them out.  Utilizing our services obviously increases the amount of sales made in the aftermarket because many of the names sold would not have been unless our services were used.”  

”The beautiful part about these auctions is that it benefits each and every domain holder whether they participate or not in the event," Cahn said. "Our auctions have truly set the standard on domain values and have established that domains are true and distinct assets, which has always been our belief since I started in this business in 1995.”
As word of Moniker’s success in selling domains has spread, everyone wants a spot in a Moniker live auction. This creates a major job for Cahn’s team – sifting through thousands of entries to find the right mix for the live event. We asked him about that process and how people can best enhance their chances of getting their domains into a Moniker event. 

"Although the process has been refined and improved from our first auction, it is still time consuming and requires many experts in domain asset management, which fortunately we specialize in. We not only have an appraisal process to help value domains, we use some of the industry's most experienced minds to help us weed through the domains to find the ones that have the best chances to sell. By following our recommendations on reserve prices and positioning, individuals will have the best chance to see their domain on the auction block,” Cahn said.

"Using our TrafficClub.com system, we can ensure accurate statistics for site traffic and revenue which feeds directly into the live and silent auction reporting systems. Domains registered under management at Moniker change ownership much faster than if at other registrars. We also use a lot of "gut" sense in domain selection in addition to many outsourced domain statistical programs. However, the best names are those of the highest quality at the fairest prices. Contrary to some of the rumors out there, we really try to be fair and do not look at who the customer is or where the names are when selecting the domains for auction so everyone has a chance to have their domains considered,” Cahn noted.

"Moniker now has more than 10 auctions scheduled in the next 12 months, with some in niche markets such as adult, affiliate, gambling, and geo-related. Some domains apply to some of our niche events, while other events have a more general appeal. Having so many auctions gives sellers an opportunity to submit a domain, and let Moniker pair it with the best possible event.” 
Moniker’s association with the Traffic conferences has led to an unbroken string of successes with each auction topping the one before. However, they have not been content to ride that one winning horse as they have taken the live auction format to other conferences, some a bit outside the domain mainstream (for example the recent Affiliate Summit). In the early going, some of these events are not going to have the huge success that the Traffic auctions have (as it is a different audience) yet Cahn seems to be convinced that it is worth planting those seeds in other gardens. We asked  about this strategy and where he thinks it will lead. 
"The strategy is simple - we choose venues and niche markets where domains play a key role in the success of that industry,” Cahn said. “For example, the affiliate trade is a multi-billion dollar business and Moniker recently brought an auction to the Affiliate Summit in Florida. It's a true referral/CPA channel for domains. It's the next step to where domain traffic will be going and is starting to go from its popular PPC place holder today. Let's face it, PPC is really CPA anyway. No advertiser would pay-per-click if they were not acquiring customers and converting to dollars. So Affiliate Summit is the premier venue for affiliates and affiliate companies. They make average domains perform and increase in value and are very committed to their business. Imagine how successful they will be with premier domains and more targeted traffic,” Cahn said.

Auctioneer Joel Langbaum (left) and Moniker CEO Moniker Cahn enjoy 
the auction action at T.R.A.F.F.I.C. New York 2007

"The Casino Affiliate Convention (CAC) is another example and another great venue for auctions. Online gambling and gaming information is increasing in value despite U.S. government regulations. This industry values their domains and they all own tons of them as they believe they are critical to their market and long term success.”

"The adult industry is also an obvious niche. The industry has seen increasing success on the Internet and their trial and error processes on merchant processing, customer acquisition and fraud prevention have become the standard in the mainstream world. They also are always looking out years ahead so that they can survive and capitalize on opportunities and have come to understand that domains are part of that equation,” Cahn said.

”I can name several other examples where we will host auctions in 2007/2008 such as WebmasterWorld/Pubcon and Associated Cities/Geo Domain conference among others. The key is picking the right venues and the right communities who value their domains as assets and not doing too many auctions in that one niche so that we do not dilute the market.”

”It is also a risk for our competitors to try to do other domain auctions knowing that this can happen if they are not careful. Bad events and results are not good for the industry,” Cahn added.

Like some of the other company executives in this article, Cahn said selling off some domains is part of a prudent diversification strategy. “As a domain asset management company, we practice and preach domain investment diversification. Do not put your all your domains in one basket. Some domains will always monetize better on PPC than through affiliate, CPA or full fledged development. What is key is to divide up your portfolio and test what monetization mechanisms work the best for those particular domains. It will always change so you need to keep looking for alternatives and newest trends. The process is trial and error but once you find the right combination of tactics, you can begin to realize revenue.”

"Be cautious not to switch domains around too much as you can damage Google Page Rank and SEO strengths. You do not want a parasitic drag on your domains by testing too much. Take a couple obvious domains that you feel could do well on CPA and then some that make no sense and use those. For example, the domains we sold for $3,000,000 at the last auction – creditcheck.com and freecreditcheck.com - generated $37,000 per month of revenue, on 

This is a no-no!
Don't keep all of your eggs in one basket.

average, using a CPA program with Experian but when tested on a PPC system, it performed at only 60 - 70% of that. Those are obvious domains that traffic can generate more money on CPA to a much targeted program vs. multiple links and choices,” Cahn said.

"These strategies ultimately can lead to very profitable Web sites. Domain buyers need to start taking the success of the site into account when determining if it is a smart domain purchase. Sellers also need to realize that the value of their domains are associated with the total revenue their site produces.”  

"Selling domains is also part of the diversification strategy so that you are always using your assets and their ROI through sales and cash flow to reinvest. This is the main reason we attend 32 conferences in many different niche industries and markets, to learn what each industry does best with their domains and then share that info with our customers and, in the process, acquire customers in those markets as well,
” Cahn  noted.
With the market booming, we put the same question to Cahn that we did to the other company leaders – will the boom continue or could we be in another bubble?  

“Ironically, the bubble and the bust (in 2000) actually kept us in business,” Cahn said. “When the big Dot Coms were going out of business, we were the main venue for appraising and selling the most valuable assets for those companies - their domains. So the one thing we do know is that domains, just like real-estate, always will have value in both up and down markets. This is a very important point for individuals in our business to understand.”


"My gut says that we are in the very early innings of a long ball game and that values will continue to go up at a more aggressive pace than most other investments. This is because more and more users are coming onto the web every day. They all need identities for personal and business use."

Cahn added, "Peripherals and computing devices are decreasing in cost and we are using mobile devices increasingly to access the web and connect to others. Our web users are also getting on at earlier age, even before they are ten years old. Senior citizens can't fight the movement and are also going online more than ever before. This provides great marketing and sales opportunities to all generations. The domain is the key to all online presence and success. I believe that in my lifetime, there will always be the need for a domain name in the way we are seeing them today.” 

I have often referred to Cahn as the hardest working man in the domain business. He seems to show up everywhere –  I'm pretty sure

I have even seen him appear in multiple places at the same time! His schedule could kill lesser men but there is a method to his madness. “ Moniker will continue to dedicate its time to researching new markets for the domain industry," Cahn said. This year we will be attending 32 trade shows in addition to attending several other networking events in various niche markets.” 

“We are asked to participate and speak on the subject of domains at the majority of these events so we are committed to educate current as well as brand new markets about the value of domains and their benefits.  This will help expand the industry and find new business opportunities for our customers.  Our radio show, Domain Masters which airs every Wednesday at 7PM EST on Webmasterradio.fm, is downloaded and listened to by thousands of people.  All of this above verifies that we are in an exciting and expanding industry with many opportunities for the future.” 


Go to NameMedia and AfternicDLS

Go to Domain Distribution Network

Go to Sedo and GreatDomains

Go to First Page of This Article - Introduction

Return to DN Journal Home Page

 Home  Domain Sales  YTD Sales Charts   Latest News  The Lowdown  Articles  
Legal Matters
  Dear Domey  Letters to Editor  Resources  Classified Ads  Archive  About Us

Hit Counter

Copyright 2007 DNJournal.com - an Internet Edge, Inc. company. 
No material may be copied from this site without expressed written consent.