With a finite number of people in the relatively
small domain business, the show was unlikely to grow beyond the 600-700 people
that has been showing up from the annual event in recent years. By expanding
its focus, Webfest Global could clearly differentiate itself from
T.R.A.F.F.I.C. and have a much bigger pool of potential attendees to draw from
(the wider range of subject matter also more closely tracks what Oversee does
in its every day business).
CEO Debra Domeyer
at Webfest Global 2013
Ms. Domeyer describes herself as a "risk
taker" and this was certainly a risk. For starters, the transition meant
being willing to first take a step back if necessary to make big steps
forward possible in the years ahead. The introduction of so much new subject
matter to the agenda meant that domains would be the focus of the first day
only. That likely cost the show some of the domain industry attendees who
weren't interested in running an online business and didn't want to take on the
cost of traveling to the conference (which can run into several thousand
dollars) for one day of material aimed at them.
At the same time, in its first
year with a full world wide web focus, Oversee did not have much marketing time
to pull in potential attendees from other disciplines.
Not surprisingly, the end result was slightly lower
attendance this year - a still respectable crowd of around 500. On the plus
side, Oversee delivered the goods with a lively, informative and entertaining
agenda that will help spread good word of mouth through all of the fields they
now want to attract. With a full year ahead they now have time to make a major
marketing push in those areas if they decide they want to make that
It is a decision they are undoubtedly already
pondering and Ms. Domeyer has made it clear
| she won't settle for half
measures. They will either push all of their chips into the center of the table
and spend big to promote and run Webfest Global in 2014 and the years
that follow, or they will cut bait and redirect their resources before
this year is out.
The case for continuing (and the hope to take the
show to a new level) will be made in part by the 500 satisfied attendees
(some of whom are seen in the audience shot above) who benefited
from and thoroughly enjoyed the 2013 show and will tell others about it.
During the show, I filed daily reports from Santa
Monica in our Lowdown section that can be viewed at these links:
Day Photos and Highlights from the Webfest Global Conference - One That Ended
in a Night When Richard Lau Lost His Locks
2 Photos and Highlights from the Webfest Global Conference With Kim Kardashian
and Dinner Under the Space Shuttle Endeavour
Day Photos and Highlights From the 2013 Webfest Global Conference in Santa
However, as is always the case with a daily conference
schedule that starts early in the morning and continues into the wee hours of
the following morning, those posts had to be done "on the run."
Having now had a a couple of weeks to reflect on the full show week I can give
you a more comprehensive overview of the Webfest Global experience and why such
events are so valuable to those of us who regularly attend them year in
and year out.
It all starts with networking - something
Webfest Global clearly understands as the 2013 show's very first session
was a 9am Speed Networking event. The fact that this year's
registrants came from several different areas of expertise - and that many
had never met the people there from other sectors - made it an especially
productive way to kick off the conference.
and below: Scenes from the opening day Speed Networking event at Webfest
After a 30-minute coffee break, Oversee.net CEO Debra
Domeyer and Vice President and General Manager of Internet Monetization Dwayne
Walker took turns on stage in welcoming attendees to Webfest Global.
Both said they were seeing improving business conditions both at Oversee
and in the industry at large. Later in the week Ms. Domeyer hosted a press
breakfast where she gave more details on that topic and others. I covered that
briefing in a separate post here.
VP Dwayne Walker (left) and CEO Debra Domeyer (right) welcome
attendees to Webfest Global 2013 and fill them in on what is
in store for them in the week ahead.
The first of three opening day panel discussions
followed and given that the biggest issue in the industry this year is the
impending arrival of new gTLDs it was appropriate that this session
tackled that topic. (Left to
right in the photo below) moderator
Mason Cole brought expert
panelists Dan Schindler (Donuts.co), attorney Andew Snow, Tim
Switzer (.green) and ICA
Legal Counsel Phil Corwin to the dais to field questions about New
gTLDs and IDN TLDs - How to Predict Winners and Losers.
An outdoor luncheon followed under the
fabulous 123-year-old fig tree in the courtyard at the Fairmont Miramar,
a very pleasant experience that was repeated each day beneath the expansive
80-foot tall tree - the second largest of its kind in the state of California.
For those who wished, these could also be working luncheons. You could
choose to "dine with expert" on a topic of your choice by
pre-registering for tables reserved for that purpose.
under the fig tree at Webfest Global 2013
the next panel session explored Domain Monetization Options Beyond
Parking and featured Braden Pollock (LegalBrandMarketing.com),
Mike "Zappy Zapolin", Jay Chapman (Digimedia), Lavin
Punjabi (Affinity) and Michael Gilmour (ParkLogic.com) in a
discussion moderated by DomainSponsor Europe's Joerg Schnermann.
(center) makes a point during the Domain Monetization
Options panel as Braden Pollock (left) and Jay Chapman
(right) listen in.
coffee break followed but these frequent intermissions deserve more than
just a passing mention. They are one of my favorite things about Webfest
Global. In addition to giving attendees a chance to pour a cup of coffee or
grab a cold drink, they provided ample time to get in some casual networking,
pre-arranged meetings or visits to sponsors in the exhibition hall without
missing any of the informative panel discussions and seminars.
through one panel discussion after another can be tiring no matter how good the
panels are (and when one of Southern California's most beautiful beaches is
just steps away, no one wants to be confined in a conference room for hours on
end). Even if you just use the break time to chat with friends in the hall, the
floor to ceiling windows keep
you in touch with the beautiful surroundings that are one of Webfest's biggest
Chen (left) from DomainTools.com
takes advantage of one of the
coffee breaks to grab a cup of java and catch up with Russ Goodwin.
In the final
opening day business session, three more experts joined moderator Brad
Wilkinson on stage to talk about How to Negotiate a Fair Price for a
Domain. Brad peppered Andrew Rosener (MediaOptions.com), Paul
Nicks (GoDaddy) and Morgan Linton (Linton Investments) with
questions that elicited good advice on successfully completing more domain
Rosener (MediaOptions.com) answers a question from moderator Brad
during the panel discussion on How to Negotiate a Fair Price for a
A highlight of every major conference is the line up
of evening social events which double as some of the most productive
times to network during show week. Webfest Global 2013 had an excellent line up
that started Monday with the opening night dinner and networking
reception at Santa Monica's La Sandia and Zengo restaurants.
together at one table for Webfest Global's opening night dinner at
La Sandia in Santa Monica were (L to R): Ron Jackson, Diana
Shane Cultra, Jason Thompson, Howard Hoffman and Kina
After dinner, most show attendees stayed in the
complex for Water Night, a fundraising event for the Water
School that was held next door at the Sonoma Wine Garden.
The soiree wound up raising over $40,000 for this very worthy cause,
much of that coming from donation pledges industry veteran Richard Lau
won by agreeing to have his head shave in exchange for Water School support.
Lau said goodbye to his lock but raised thousands of dollars for the
After domains dominated the opening day agenda, the
focus changed to related topics on Day 2 (Wednesday morning, Feb.
6), which began with a 9:30am panel discussion about SEO Keywords,
Content and Links. Those
on the dais included moderator James Keating (Oversee.net), search guru Danny
Sullivan (SearchEngineLand.com), Joanna Lord (SEOMoz.org), Christian
Neeser (MyLife.com) and Aaron Shear (Boost Search Marketing).
James Keating poses a question to SeachEngineLand's Danny Sullivan
during the SEO Keywords, Content and Links session Wednesday
morning (Feb. 6, 2013).
Next up at 11am was Webfest Global's most talked
about (and controversial) hour - a Fireside Chat with celebrity
entrepreneur Kim Kardashian conducted by Oversee.net CEO Debra
Domeyer. Before the show, many, especially those not familiar with Ms.
Kardashian's massive success in online business and social media, questioned
how much value she could bring to a conference about domain names, website
development and Internet marketing.
As it turned out, under Ms. Domeyer's skilled
questioning, Ms. Kardashian had quite a bit of useful advice to share and her
appearance certainly didn't hurt attendance as there was standing room only
in the ballroom during her hour on stage.
image from Bigstock
(photography was not permitted during
her appearance at Webfest Global)
Kim said the biggest key to her success was starting a
blog. She used it as a visual diary that kept her in constant touch
with fans who came back every day to see the new content Kardashian
posted. When Twitter came along, she took full advantage of the new
platform and, with 17 million followers, is now one of the world's
10 most followed people on Twitter. She had has even greater success on Instagram
where she is #1.
Kim said her first money making venture
was buying designer shoes and reselling them for a handsome profit online
while she was still a teenager. Her dad lent her the start up money but
made her sign a contract that specified the repayment terms
including interest. Kardashian quickly sold her first allotment of shoes
and paid her dad back ahead of schedule. "He really believed
in me and trusted me and that really built up my confidence,"
Her next step was selling used designer clothes (most obtained from
friends) on commission - a venture that also proved to be very profitable.
When Kardashian later blossomed into a global celebrity, the products she
sold (and continues to sell) include an array of fashion and beauty
items branded with her own name. Kardashian
| said she pays close attention
to technical metrics like click through
and conversion rates and proudly added that she was told her ranking
on those standards is #1 on Twitter.
Kardashian, who also has 12 million followers
on Facebook, said she would not be where she is now if it were not for social
media. She uses it as a two-way street, collecting requests from
followers then marking products available that meets that demand.
With respect to building a business Kardashian
advised "with any business you need a great team. It takes a
long time and a lot of trial and error to build a successful
business. You can't do everything yourself. So you have to trust your team. I
try to surround myself with people who are smarter than I am because I can
learn so much from them - but I still don't take 100% of their advice- you
still have to rely some on your own instincts."
Despite her success (and to some degree, because of
it) Kardashian is the subject of many slings and arrows. On that subject she
said, "There is too much online bullying and sometimes that gets to me,
but I ignore a lot of it and try not to pay attention to negative stuff. I just
focus on the positive benefits of the internet." All told,
attendees I spoke with said Ms. Kardashian's talk exceeded the expectations
they went in with.
After a lunch break attendees reconvened in the
ballroom for a panel discussion about PPC, Retargeting, Affiliate and
Social matters that featured (left
to right in the photo below)
moderator Raj Beri (Oversee.net), Jay Weintraub (NextCustomer,
Inc.), Peter Hamilton (HasOffers.com), Merry Morud (aimClear) and
Adam Epstein (adMarketplace).
order of business on Day 2 was Moniker's Live Premium Domain Auction
conducted by veteran auctioneer Wayne Wheat (at
the podium in the photo below).
The auction generated over $560,000 in sales led by a pair of two-letter
.coms - JF.com at $250,000 and XU.com at $210,000.
Rounding out the top five auction sales were IceHockey.com ($25,000), Free.me
($19,000) and BEZ.com ($17,650). All told, 22 of the 61 domains
offered found buyers.
evening social event was the social highlight of the week for many attendees - Dinner
& Drinks Under the Space Shuttle Endeavour at the California
Science Center in Los Angeles.
Global guests enjoying a buffet dinner
served underneath the Endeavour space shuttle.
Oversee even arranged to have
astronaut and veteran Endeavour crew member Garrett Reisman (in
the photo below) on hand to answer questions from show attendees.
Reisman was surrounded with fascinated guests throughout the night as he
held court on what it was like to spend months in outer space aboard the
historic Endeavour, a shuttle that flew 25 missions covering 123
The final day of Webfest Global 2013
(Thursday, Feb. 7) opened with a 9:30am Workshop featuring Rapid-fire
Landing Page Critiques from Tim
Ash (in the photo below),
who many consider to be the world's foremost expert on the topic. Tim, an
exceptionally entertaining and energetic speaker, literally wrote the
book on this subject - Landing
Page Optimization: The Definitive Guide to Testing and Tuning for Conversions.
was another major focus of Webfest Global 2013 and after the mid-morning coffee
break the subject turned to Engaging and Converting Mobile Users.
The panel of experts featured (left
to right in the photo below):
Moderator Min Chan (Oversee.net), Greg Sterling, Will Hsu
and Bardia Dejban.
mobile-oriented sessions followed lunch. In the first Henry Tam, Jr.,
Vice President at mMedia Advertsing, covered Mobile
Advertising Trends. The second was a panel discussion devoted to Acquiring
Mobile Users on a Restricted Budget that featured Moderator Gene
Chuang (Oversee.net), Cindy Crum (MobileMoxie, LLC), Gary Rudolph
(Lolay) and Bryson Meunier (Resolution Media).
Meunier (right) make a point during the Mobile Advertising Trends
panel while Cindy Crum and Gary Rudolph consider what he has to
The final order of business at 2013 Webfest Global
was the popular annual Pitchfest Contest in which a series of
entrepreneurs took the stage to deliver 3-minute presentations aimed at
securing venture capital funding for their enterprises. Two awards for
the Best Pitch are then awarded - one from the audience (who voted
through text messaging) and one from the distinguished panel of judges that
included John Morris, Scott Jarus, Allen Morgan, Will
Hsu and Ben Kuo - all of whom are veteran venture capitalists.
Seven entrepreneurs competed and were
judged based on creativity, viability, originality and revenue potential. The
winners, receiving their awards from Oversee.net VP Aaron Kvitek (seen
at right in each photo), were: People's Choice Award Winner - Jeremie
Godreche (in the left photo
below) of Freedom Registry
(operator of the .tk top level domain) and Judge's Choice Award
Winner - Darren Marble of Filmbreak.com (in
the right photo below).
there was a special Women in Domaining reception, that was followed by
the show's closing social event - a visit to Hollywood's famed Magic Castle,
a private club that features many of the world's best magicians.
is not permitted inside the Castle so we can only tell you we saw performances
from Jeff McBride on the main stage and Jon Armstrong in the
Museum that were especially astounding. Many other performers showed their
incredible stuff in other rooms of the labyrinthine Castle and guests were free
to wander from one show to the next as they wished.
morning, those whose flights didn't leave too early were treated to a Farewell
Breakfast before heading home. Webfest Global, just as it had done for six
years in its previous incarnation as DOMAINfest Global, delivered another great
show - one that both strengthened our domain industry relationships and
broadened our horizons with new content from the mobile, website development
and online business marketing fields.
So, for us,
one of the most interesting things to watch for in 2013 will be what Oversee
decides to do with Webfest Global going forward. It will boil down to
what will fit best with the company's overall business strategy, but we are
hopeful their analysis of the pros and cons will result in a decision to go
"all in" and bring this world class event back for an 8th lap
around the track in 2014.