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The State of the Industry January 2014: 17 Domain Experts Dish on What Happened in 2013 & How the Dawn of New gTLDs Will Impact 2014 

T.R.A.F.F.I.C. Las Vegas 2013: A Pictorial Review of the Big Show at the Bellagio - See more at: http://www.dnjournal.com/cover/2013/may.htm#sthash.BXu4j45T.dpuf
T.R.A.F.F.I.C. Las Vegas 2013: A Pictorial Review of the Big Show at the Bellagio - See more at: http://www.dnjournal.com/cover/2013/may.htm#sthash.BXu4j45T.dpuf
T.R.A.F.F.I.C. Las Vegas 2013: A Pictorial Review of the Big Show at the Bellagio - See more at: http://www.dnjournal.com/cover/2013/may.htm#sthash.BXu4j45T.dpuf
T.R.A.F.F.I.C. Las Vegas 2013: A Pictorial Review of the Big Show at the Bellagio - See more at: http://www.dnjournal.com/cover/2013/may.htm#sthash.BXu4j45T.dpuf

Having heard from leading domain Investors & Developers on page 1, we now turn the floor over eight of the industry's top Corporate Leaders (presented in alphabetical order by surname). 

Corporate Leaders

Top Row (L to R): Tim VChen (DomainTools.com), Debra Domeyer (Oversee.net), Tobias Flaitz (Sedo) & Jothan Frakes (NamesCon)

Bottom Row (L to R): Tessa Holcomb (Igloo.com), Daniel Law (Rook Media), Jason Miner (NameMedia) and Nico Zeifang (ParkingCrew.com)

Corporate Leaders

Paul Stahura, Co-Founder, Donuts Inc. 
Paul Stahura, Co-Founder, Donuts Inc. 
Paul Stahura, Co-Founder, Donuts Inc. 
Paul Stahura, Co-Founder, Donuts Inc. 
Paul Stahura, Co-Founder, Donuts Inc. 

Timothy Chen, CEO, DomainTools.com

Tim Chen
CEO, DomainTools.com

Tim Chen: From DomainTools' perspective, the activity within ICANN to create an Expert Working Group to study and suggest new WhoIS data protocols, is significant. The free availability to WhoIs data has value not only to professionals of all types within the domain name community, but also more broadly in the areas of brand protection, fraud prevention and network security. We are doing our best to make sure the constituencies within ICANN understand the value inherent in such data-enabled tools and services.

From a broader industry perspective, obviously the advent of new gTLDs is a huge opportunity for domain professionals. It is also a significant concern for brand and trademark owners.  DomainTools has been focused in 2012 and 2013 on expanding our core tools to include significantly more ccTLD data, and in 2014 we will also include new gTLD data.  You already see this value in tools like Whois, Reverse Whois, Reverse IP and Screenshots. In 2014 look for similar improvements in Domain Search, Domain Monitor and other heavily-used DomainTools services. 


Debra Domeyer, CEO, Oversee.net (parent company of DomainSponsor.com and the Domainfest Conference


Debra Domeyer
CEO, Oversee.net

Debra Domeyer: For all of us in the industry, it was encouraging to see that the US economy picked up steam.  DomainSponsor®, Oversee.net’s domain monetization business, had a breakthrough year with high year-over-year growth. Our investments in technology, mobile, and optimization paid off with higher returns for our publishers. We introduced the DS mobile app that gives domain owners instant access to key financial information on their domain portfolios. The new app offers complete transparency with enhanced financial reporting and tracking 24/7 from anywhere in the world.

Oversee.net started an incubator program to expand both our monetization and online web businesses. We hired new technology talent in engineering, programming and mobile.  WanderWe.com is the first online business to emerge from our incubator program.  The only one of its kind, WanderWe is a weekend getaway site which allows users to book hotels, tours, etc. based on their individual lifestyles and budgets. Made specifically for tablet and mobile, it captures a market that was previously ignored.   

Our web businesses continued to give us unique insights into the kind of traffic advertisers want, how they want to measure it, and how to get it—data which is invaluable as we continually upgrade monetization options for our publishers.  Online web businesses, such as ShopWiki.com, Compare.com, CreditCards.org and AirportParking.com, are substantial contributors to the company’s bottom line.  This investment in build-outs yields additional benefits in traffic acquisition, conversion data and email marketing among others.

New TLDs hit the market and the buzz continues. While dotcom is still king, innovation will drive the adoption of new gTLDs.  With Amazon and Google leading the charge, I fully expect that these new extensions will become premium names and give buyers additional choices.  Brands will dominate and there is no limit to their inventiveness or imagination.  I believe that much like the early 1990’s; the new gTLDs will give markets, brands and online businesses a rare opportunity to engage with their customers. From a parking company’s perspective, it’s our goal to monetize these new domains as they come to market. 

Big Data was a key focus in 2013 and will be in 2014 as well. We are data experts and have the tech teams in place to mine data which helps our customers and our businesses. Just an example: Targeting, through Data, allows our publisher to better reach targeted audiences across platforms, countries and devices. It gives us the ability to categorize across billions of keywords and millions of lander combinations.

The good news for everyone is that the economy will continue to strengthen.  Increases in consumer spending and personal incomes coupled with decreases in unemployment will positively affect all our businesses.  2014 will be a very exciting year for DomainSponsor and Oversee.net. The momentum that we saw in 2013 is already continuing into 2014.  Several announcements soon will be coming.   

At Oversee.net, mobile continues to be a major focus for all our businesses. In 2013, we built out a comprehensive mobile strategy.  Mobile traffic is growing incrementally and we see more than 25% of our traffic being mobile.  In 2013 we worked with domain owners and mobile business partners to identify their mobile traffic by device type and expand mobile monetization for direct navigation traffic. This initiative continues as we get smarter about analyzing traffic patterns. Our end game is to bring added value to our publishers and help them increase their payouts.

Following on a strong year, 2014 will see the value of domains increase. With our large owned and operated portfolio, we have the added advantage of being able to test our alternate monetization technologies in a real-world technology environment. We can immediately see if a new optimization technology works.

In 2014, utilizing the right domain names in our portfolio as brands to build out new online businesses is a great opportunity for us. We expect growth in all three of our verticals: retail, travel and consumer finances.  Here, too, our push is on mobile with new apps or more responsive sites. Our focus is on compelling consumer products, "push commerce", social collaboration, mobile innovation, and local opportunities. 

There are many exciting initiatives in motion which means that 2014 will be a significant year of growth for Oversee.  Stay tuned!


Tobias Flaitz, CEO, Sedo.com


Tobias Flaitz
CEO, Sedo.com

Tobias Flaitz: 2013 was a good year in terms of domain trading because the volume of sales and sale values have risen. Traffic Monetization followed the ongoing downward trend of the last six years, but Sedo was able to significantly increase its performance to keep clients’ earnings at a high level. Contrary to initial expectations, business around new TLDs hasn’t fully ramped up in the secondary market but there was a very intense preparation phase with our partners and clients. 

It was both an eventful and exciting year for the domain industry. As anticipated, 2013 was the year of the new top-level domains (TLDs). It played out differently than initially expected in terms of preparation marking a critical point for Sedo and a historical point for the entire industry. As a company, Sedo established key partnerships with registries to support the launch of their new TLDs. It was great to see that registries understood and liked our approach, aimed at giving them a seamless experience for the launch and promotion of their new extensions. 

With our extensive global partner network, including the United Internet Group, Sedo gained momentum and was able to provide our partners and clients with all the tools and expertise they needed to make the most of their

domains in the near future. Our joined efforts were well received, and led to some unprecedented periods in 2013 for registries and applicants.

The marketing of the new TLDs is important and extensions need to be positioned well within the market – a main responsibility of the registries. Starting to educate the market and create awareness and interest in the new TLDs is key to their success. With dedicated targeted marketing and PR campaigns, Sedo made big strides in establishing consumer awareness of the new TLDs coming to market, and worked to demonstrate how potentially disruptive those extensions may be when it comes to changing how consumers and companies interact. Creating awareness among end users was an ongoing goal, and still is a critical aspect when it comes to the successful launch of new TLDs.   

While gTLDs were a main focus in 2013, sellers of ccTLDs also gained serious momentum: they remained successful in the marketplace and have increased their median and average sale prices. Not only internationally known brands, but companies everywhere learned that they need to speak the native language of buyers and sellers across the globe in order to succeed. This shift has led to our own approach of offering localized versions of Sedo’s marketplace and services in important markets like Brazil and China, successfully launching full service Portuguese and Chinese language Sedo websites.  It was great to see leading ccTLD sales emerge on our marketplaces in 2013, such as jobs.ca for $450,000 USD or nu.com.br for $45,000 USD, proving that buyers continue to place faith in ccTLDs. We believe the global reach of domains, especially premium domains, is becoming even more important than the existing TLDs.  

An ongoing goal for Sedo was to bring more buyers and sellers together worldwide, increasing sales and spreading the word about the value of premium names. With our premium and unique inventory of 18 million+ domains, we were able to expand our SedoMLS network – including more international partners from countries such as China, as well as industry leaders like Tucows and Web.com. This put more of our customers’ domains in front of more buyers across the globe. 

Looking at other areas of the industry, our strong partnerships with Google and an even stronger network of advertisers has helped to give our clients the highest earnings in the industry. We continued to work on additional improvements in the traffic monetization sector, such as optimizing parking layouts to deliver innovative and outstanding traffic monetization options in 2013. Though PPC revenues saw challenging times back in 2012, we are confident that those difficulties were conquered in 2013. This was confirmed by our advertisers in that our CTR has grown significantly over competition.

In 2014, the complex domain marketplace of the last few years will begin to develop more order. Continued collaboration with a large network of registries and registrars is at the forefront of Sedo’s goals, and we will strive to make our services as approachable to customers as possible. This is even more crucial with the introduction of the new TLDs as new consumers and businesses begin to navigate the various phases of auctions (sunrise, landrush and general availability).

Our vision should become reality this year: Buying and selling domain names will be as simple as any other kind of online transaction. This applies to existing TLDs (both cc and generic) and to the new TLDs.

Sedo CEO Tobias Flaitz chatting with attendees earlier this month at the 2014 NamesCon conference in Las Vegas.

In 2014, we will move on working proactively to offer innovative solutions and channels to make buying, selling and parking more efficient and more successful for Sedo’s customers. The line between the primary market (registries and registrars) and the secondary market (marketplaces) is blurring more and more, and teamwork and collaboration between those players in the industry is more important than ever. 

This change is offering everyone in the industry more flexibility in trading and more/new revenue stream opportunities. In the end, the way people are buying and selling domains will change. Buyers from all over the globe will have access to a much wider variety of domains and TLDs. A side effect of this excessive supply could be a stronger need for proper pricing and guidance for consumers. I expect to see users showing preference for and buying generic, short and memorable domains that either have potential for investors or support business’ bottom lines, while using the new TLDs to add keyword relevance. It could be challenging to sell longer domain names with more than two keywords now that many TLDs are keywords themselves.  

While the quality of a keyword in a domain name is critical, the established gTLDs such as .com and ccTLDs such as .de or com.br will likely see an increase in both registration numbers, as well as median and average sales prices. Pricing will be a hot topic for sellers in 2014 – a trend supported by our marketplace data, which says that almost 50% of all sales are already Buy Now sales. Nevertheless, Make Offer sales are generating higher average sales prices.  

An ongoing goal for Sedo in 2014 is to grow the SedoMLS network so we can provide end users with access to premium domains both under existing TLDs and new TLDs. With its extensive global network of registrar and reseller partners, SedoMLS will give sellers an easy way to list their domains for sale through their preferred registrar, while guaranteeing their names will reach the widest possible audience of potential buyers. At the same time, Sedo’s global team will provide local support, with knowledgeable Country Managers that understand the language and other factors unique to their local markets. Together, these factors will allow for faster sales cycles and optimal pricing for all parties involved in a transaction.  

In regards to new TLDs, Sedo is looking forward to helping registries run sunrise, landrush and premium auctions for the new extensions, as well as helping distribute premium names from the new extensions through the SedoMLS network. We will see the first domains sold under new TLDs, providing a benchmark for the market value and consumer acceptance of the new extensions, and are excited to share the data and key findings with the industry as we did in the past decade with our dedicated market reports. 

Finally, Sedo is focusing on its strengths that have led to clients choosing us as their partner: providing superior, innovative domain solutions for our partners, buyers, parkers and sellers, all in one location, with a truly global reach. Sedo stands for reliable, professional and feasible services delivered in a format that supports our partners and clients to enable their own success.  

Jothan Frakes, Co-Director, NamesCon Conference


Jothan Frakes

Jothan Frakes: I’ve noticed a few things of note in 2013.  Looking at the consolidation that has been in play, we’re seeing more public companies and private equity take notice of the overall domain industry and the robust opportunities present.  We’ll see more consolidation – and lots of amazing start-ups – in part I suspect due to the new TLDs, but I have a better theory than that as to why we’re seeing more and more private equity and venture capital at domain events and ICANN meetings.  Domain Names are just good business

ICANN showed more and more teeth in their compliance with registrars in an effort to increase the hygiene of the registrar space, canceling a record number of registrars and putting many on notice.  This is good news for the majority of the good actors in the space, as it hopefully has a longer term impact of making the industry perceptions better by elimination of those who draw negative attention.

Another trend I have seen is that the launch of new TLDs have had a very polarizing effect – not just within the domain development and 

providers (registries, registrars, or other service providers) but also in the overall community of internet users, application developers, and service providers that use the domains. 

As the new domains trickle into the root, there is more vigorous enthusiasm with those who recognize opportunities that may be there with the changes.  This is balanced out by more and more visceral resistance by those who are not as interested in the changes that are coming. Whatever your prediction is, the hazy future date that folks have waited for (many for over a decade – or two) has arrived where these are lighting up in the root zone and becoming active in the internet. 

Many of the new registries are already looking at innovative ways to market their domain names, good and bad, with pre-registration incentives or other pricing models. New domains and the story around them, large or small, has eyes (and dollars) focusing on our space.

My outlook for the overall industry in 2014 is quite positive. We will see more money come in to the domain industry as the overall number of global domain names registered continues its climb.  I continue to see more and more private equity players and big name firms at the shows.

NamesCon conference co-Director Jothan Frakes welcoming attendees to the inaugural event earlier this month at the Tropicana Hotel in Las Vegas.

Speaking of which, we will see more trade shows in 2014.  I am glad to announce that NamesCon as a low-cost content-rich premier domain industry event was a successful launch for January.  We will see other conferences throughout the year all with different focuses.  Nothing will ever match the experience and networking within the domainer community like Howard Neu and Rick Schwartz pull off with T.R.A.F.F.I.C., but folks won’t stop shaking it up with content or cost options and other strengths.  All good for the overall industry.

Another big thing in 2014 - New domain names will be lighting up throughout the year.  Registrars are facing some incredible integration challenges in the supply chain – figuring out how to make this new merchandise available to the public – and picking from the thundering herd of registries to determine what to offer.

We will see the majority of the new domains allocated during 2014.  The polarity between the TLD haters and TLD lovers will increase, as will the press about the changes and the domain name industry.  The press is the good news, as long as it is positive.

The TLD haters like to spread negative news, unfortunately.  Their efforts will increase pressure with more and more alarming messages about how the changes will break the internet, and we’ll have the opportunity to actually see if that is fiction or fact.  To be fair, we may also get some early indications of consumer choice, innovation, and job creation that the new TLDs promised – but I suspect it is too early to tell in most cases.  I think this will hit more in the second half of 2014 and more into 2015-16.

2014 hopefully brings shorter, less absurd movie URLs.  As an aside, I am writing this during the Christmas break when folks are heading to the movies, and after one myself I think new TLDs can not hurt movie studio URLs AT ALL.  From looking at what the studios are using for domain names this season, the new TLD program can certainly not hurt them.  None of the names had less than 14 characters (left of dot), most had -movie or -themovie in the name.  Not much you could type on a phone, much less recall to type at home after a 100+ minutes of movie and 13 other previews.  A couple of the movies show a Facebook sub-path in lieu of a domain name of their own.

This draws into mind a very fair thought about the transitional aspect new TLDs might hold.  Think about how many companies, now, today, are advertising their Facebook sub-path in lieu of their actual company domain name.  Where was Facebook six or eight years ago?  Would you have moved your advertising there then?  That’s what companies are faced with at the moment.  It takes time for that shift to happen and companies are not going to quickly hop – many will “me too” at an inflection point that seems logical for them as opposed to being the first mover.

I don’t see the new TLD changes causing massive traffic shifts or user behavior tilts quickly – it just is not that disruptive that it would happen in the course of a single year.  We will see some brilliant things done that will attract users to using new TLDs – and ultimately we will see some grab large adoption, but over the course of 4-7 years is my prediction before there is any cooling on the .com secondary market, if any.

2014 will probably not see noticeable reductions in .com renewal rates or registration pace – in contrast to when they do the price hikes.  In fact I suspect we will see some record sales in the secondary market for .com domain names and continued growth unless they continue to raise the renewal and registration fees again. 

ccTLD domains will continue a trend of being a growing market.  We will see ccTLD registries getting creative or abandoning old ways… some will open up their second level 1-2 character names from restriction like .UK

.Com image from Bigstock

have done (In fact, take a look at www.divido.org – they’re doing it at .IO, .AC, .SH right now).  .NZ and .UK will open up second level registrations, and we might see some more previously closed ccTLDs start to liberalize their registration restrictions.

The secondary market will continue to be robust throughout the incumbent TLDs, and we will continue to see activity at all the various price tiers.  Parking will continue to be strong for the killer names and continue to trend worse and worse as the long tail flattens out for mediocre names. 

If I may take this opportunity, I’d like to mention that in the coming year, I hope to see more robust industry support for the ICA and the new global association – aptly named ‘theDNA’ (The Domain Name Association).  The importance of resources for spreading accurate information about the domain name industry and educating the reporters and new entrants cannot be overstated.  Each time you invest 5-10 minutes in leaving someone with a favorable opinion of our industry you have saved our industry a rant from someone (potentially one with a large audience) smearing domain names and may actually excite them to speak positively about the industry. 

Publicly accessible best practices help demonstrate the positive majority within our industry.  These associations help provide bright line information, coordinated messaging, and educational templates that can help accelerate the process of someone getting their feet firmly aboard the clue train and understanding domain names and our industry – often preventing that flame of visceral misunderstanding in the media. Only you can prevent forest fires.  Support the associations in the ways you can if you’re making a living in this space.


Tessa Holcomb, Founder & CEO, Igloo.com


Tessa Holcomb
Founder & CEO, Igloo.com

Tessa Holcomb: 2013 was an amazing year for domain brokerage with sales numbers blowing away those of the two previous years and average sales prices sky-rocketing. Although the majority of the largest sales of the year remain confidential, it’s safe to say that several of the world’s most valuable domains changed hands in the past year. It’s been called a “perfect storm” of patient and capable buyers coupled with premium domain owners who had not previously been willing to sell, finally ready to listen to offers and negotiate at a reasonable level. 

As for why the change of heart for these owners, we saw a range of factors reflective of industry trends including declining parking revenue stemming from Google’s search engine changes, development challenges, and, of course, the influx of the new TLDs creating just enough uncertainty to make it that much harder to turn away significant offers.

Another trend experienced by Igloo.com was a shift from outbound sales to branding and acquisitions. While we certainly still specialize in reaching out to potential buyers and educating end-users, Igloo saw more and more business coming from Start-Ups, VCs and established 

companies looking for help with naming exercises and / or challenging third party acquisitions. We also saw an increase in acquisitions involving domains owned (and often very much in use!) by other companies. Lastly, we saw more companies buying names as a defensive measure even if they weren’t necessarily ready to use the domain yet. 

While I see the .COM market holding strong, I see premium domain brokers like Igloo.com being presented with an overwhelming amount of opportunities as new gTLDs launch and owners being faced with some very tough (and important) decisions. Do they go with a one-stop-shop who can handle everything from marketplace sales to auctions or do they work with several companies based on the individual strengths of their respective brokerage teams? Just as a domain investor needs to decide if or how much to diversify and introduce new gTLDs in their portfolio mix, it will be important for domain brokers to decide which gTLDs they really believe in and can maximize sales prices for when it comes to actively selling premium gTLDs.  

Igloo is taking the same approach we have always taken when evaluating any business opportunity. First of all, are we truly the right broker for the job? Secondly, are we in sync with the owner regarding pricing and overall expectations? If we’re not certain the answer is yes for both questions, we pass and often work with the seller to find them a better fit with one of our collaborating partners and, if necessary, make the introduction and sometimes, if it makes sense, even partner with another broker on the opportunity.  

Lastly, I feel that pricing of premium gTLDs will be a huge challenge in 2014. While the introduction of the new gTLDs has definitely opened the public’s eyes to domains (and more and more people I speak to not only know what a domain is now but even know what an extension is!) However, when it comes to attaching a value to these names, there will be definitely be some kinks to work out. Either way, I’m excited to see the first six-figure gTLD sale hit the books in 2014 and curious as to what it will be!

Daniel Law, COO, RookMedia


Daniel Law
COO, Rook Media

Daniel Law: As many of your readers are probably aware, 2013 saw some of the most significant changes to the Google Monetization Platform we have seen in the past years, with the DRID (Domain Registrant ID) implementation and CAF (Custom Ad Frames) switch. Fortunately, these technical revisions and additions are on the forefront Google’s drive toward increasing transparency and traffic reliability for advertisers, leading to increased participation rates on their part. 

What many of your users’ might not be aware of is that while these changes are overall positive developments for the continued viability of domain name monetization, their implementations certainty did not come without growing pains. One of our greatest challenges of the year was to ensure that the by the launch date none of these changes had a major impact on any of our customers earnings, structural set up, or ease of usability. I feel that the fact that we pulled this off without any disruptions to those key areas for our customers is the primary unsung success story of 2013. 

I certainly need to give major kudos to both our development team, and that of Google’s, as we both managed to leverage our strong partnership into a great cooperative effort to 

roll out successfully, despite the many obstacles we encountered behind the scenes. This is an important first step on a road that should lead the way to a much brighter future for domain parking, and I am happy to be able to say we are progressing comfortably down it.

In many ways they are one in the same. One of the greatest challenges of domain name monetization, is that it still in many ways is hidden in the shadows as it were, and is seen as niche as best, or at worst as an easy way to funnel fraudulent traffic to unsuspecting advertisers. Obviously Google is our greatest ally here in helping to bring our sector out into the light, and dispel many of the misnomers that often clouds the true value of this traffic to advertisers, misnomers which cause many of them to opt out of the domain channel entirely. This is at the crux of the Google changes: resting on the greater transparency and quality that they now have brought about, Google can with ever increasing confidence, show advertisers that traffic in the domain channel actually converts to sales for the advertisers at a rate several times greater than most normal search traffic, and is something advertisers do not want to be missing out on. This is where the opportunity lies: as more and more advertisers come into the space, many for the first time, the competition for the traffic, and what advertisers are willing to pay, will increase, leading to better returns for the portfolio owners.  

We also need to get better as an industry at defining who we are and our role in E-Commerce. The core of what are doing is helping people who are lost in the Internet find their way to goods and service that they are searching for. Broken links and 404 error pages help no one, and our service is a key one that provides a win-win, for consumers looking for a product or service and advertisers looks to sell one. The current fragmented nature of our market makes this external difficult at best, as well as complicating many other aspects of the strategic side of our collective business. It seems to me that the field is ripe for consolidation and I think one of the further challenges of 2014 will be how to take advantage of and engender this needed maturation, as well as tempering it to be a positive change clearly evident to the outside world.

You can read more about RookMedia in our April 2013 Cover Story profile of the company.

Jason Miner, Chief Operating Officer, NameMedia.com


Jason Miner
COO, NameMedia.com

Jason Miner: 2013 was a notable year for NameMedia in that we completed our run as the owner of Afternic. As many of your readers know, Afternic was the very first domain aftermarket platform, founded in 1999 as “The Domain Name Exchange, serving brokers, corporations, individuals and NICs”. Shortly after its founding, it was acquired by Register.com, who in turn sold it during the Internet meltdown in 2002 to entrepreneurs Michael and Roger Collins. When NameMedia acquired the site from the Collins brothers in 2006, our vision was to build a unified aftermarket—creating a platform that would connect all the demand for domains—from the search queries entered at registrars all over the world—with the largest supply of verified, premium domains offered for sale. Fast forward to 2013, and Afternic now finds itself again owned by a registrar—GoDaddy—that embraces that vision of having a single standard that connects the entire aftermarket. Removing the friction and frustration that has long stymied the growth of the aftermarket by allowing cross-registrar promotion and transfers of aftermarket domains is now assured with the largest registrar in the world adopting the Afternic standard—and committing to operate it as an industry utility.

This year will mark the 15th anniversary of BuyDomains, and it’s fitting that this will also be the year that our domain portfolio will surpass one million domains. We are energized by the  continued opportunities presented by the domain industry, and intend to use the terabytes of data we have accumulated over these 15 years to continue making smart domain investments — including broadening to new namespaces. This year will also mark the unveiling of a new publishing platform for our developed websites that has been in the works for nearly two years. In short, 2014 will be about investment and innovation.


Nico Zeifang, CEO, ParkingCrew.com & DNTX.com


Nico Zeifang
CEO, ParkingCrew.com

Nico Zeifang: Our main activities relate to the monetization of direct navigation traffic with ParkingCrew serving the publisher-side (domain portfolio owners) and DNTX serving the advertiser-side of the business. At ParkingCrew, this past year was characterized by one major event as well as a global trend:

In December 2012 our upstream feed provider announced the introduction of a completely new ad delivery technology that was to be rolled out in October 2013. Our tech team went to work right away and spent the better part of the year tweaking our system to make the most of this new technology. Nine months and more than 1000 A/B tests later, we rolled out the new technology and have been extremely satisfied with the results. 

While little of these changes are visible to the outside, we have found the most significant outcome to be a more granular quality scoring that rewards high quality traffic with better ad inventory and higher ad rates. This adjustment constitutes a much needed correction of how direct navigation traffic is priced and in the long run should benefit the entire domain channel by weeding out the 

poor quality traffic leaving the entire advertiser spend to a smaller set of high quality traffic that will attract much higher ad rates.

From a more global perspective the most significant trend has been the shift to mobile. You can see it every day: in your doctor's waiting room, in the subway or at a bus stop. People no longer read newspapers or magazines. Smartphones have changed the way we consume media in less than 5 years. The percentage of visitors that reach our parked pages via mobile devices is growing every day. In some countries it is happening faster, in others not so fast. Nevertheless, it is a global trend that cannot be neglected and that we pay a great deal of attention to at both, ParkingCrew and DNTX. Mobile is the future and we are doing everything we can to be prepared for it. While there are certain verticals where desktop is still the preferred point of sale (especially when a lot of text input is involved in the order process), I can assure you that this will change and with it, more marketing dollars will be finding their way to the mobile channel. 

For the industry as a whole, 2014 will see a lot of new gTLDs entering the market. While some of them will be a success, I expect to see many of them get barely noticed by the broader public. As a provider of services in the traffic monetization space, I don't see them as a big revenue driver for us as initially, few of these domains will be receiving natural traffic. Nevertheless, at ParkingCrew we make sure to support each of these new gTLDs as soon as it becomes available. This new inventory of domains will mostly drive registrations and sales for registrars and aftermarket venues which is good as it will attract press coverage and thus provide more spotlight for our often overlooked industry.

We as a company will start 2014 the way we ended 2013: listen to customer feedback to find out what the market wants, adjust our products accordingly and strive to built the best customer experience out there. We will also continue to focus on technology and machine learning so that we can continue to keep our overheads low and pay out the maximum revenue shares to our customers. 

What has also set us apart in the past and continues to be a company philosophy over here is: Every single visitor is valuable and can be monetized to the maximum. While most companies know how to monetize a desktop visitor from the US searching for car insurance, it gets a bit harder when the visitor is from say the Ukraine, surfing on an outdated cell phone and looking for free ringtones. Or even worse, when a single domain name is fail listed by tier 1 upstream ad networks thus not attracting any bids from their advertisers. That was part of the reason we launched DNTX: We thought that tier 2 traffic wasn't earning what it was worth. One key to achieve higher bids for such traffic is targeting: The more granular the advertiser can target, the higher the advertiser can bid. DNTX continuously expands its array of targeting options. Another key is tracking: the better an advertiser can distinguish converting from non-converting traffic sources, the more an advertiser can pay for a conversion. This brings us back to what I mentioned earlier: quality traffic gets rewarded, non-quality traffic gets punished.

You can read more about ParkingCrew.com in our February 2013 Newsletter.


You have now heard from the eight corporate leaders on this year's State of the Industry panel and, on Page 1, from eight leading domain investors and developers. As we also noted on page one, we have one additional industry leader to hear from that has a foot in multiple camps and we will give him the last word. Howard Neu is a leading industry attorney, as well as a co-founder of the T.R.A.F.F.I.C. conference, a blogger and a private domain investor/developer!


Howard Neu, T.R.A.F.F.I.C. & NeusNews.com 


Howard Neu

Howard Neu: There were two major events in the world of Domain Defense Litigation. UDRP Panels are generally becoming fairer in balancing the equities between Trademark Complainants and Domain Name Investor Respondents.  This has shown up in a substantial increase in findings of Reverse Domain Name Hijacking by a number of panels both at WIPO and NAF. Also, the first Decision in favor of a Respondent on the equitable basis of Laches was made and then followed by additional panels. This is a big breakthrough in UDRP litigation.  The names of the Panelists who have decided on behalf of Respondents and have found RDNH against Claimants will be published at NeusNews.com, as I have been doing every six months. 

2014 promises to be a very good year for Domain Investors.  Once again, there will be two T.R.A.F.F.I.C. Conferences and Expos, one at the world-famous Bellagio Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas from May 28 - May 31, and the other at the world-famous Fontainebleau Hotel and Spa October 28 - November 2.  Both of these venues are ideal for doing Business and having fun in the process.  

This is T.R.A.F.F.I.C.s 10th Anniversary Year, and there are a lot of great surprises in store that have never been seen by the Domain Community.  From Keynote Speakers to big Parties, to exciting networking among true professionals, to 10th Anniversary Gifts and Prizes, this will be a truly exciting year for all domain Investors and Sponsors.


We hope the information provided by our experts will help you and your business reach new heights this year. We again want to thank the 17 industry leaders who took time out of their very busy schedules to share they views and expertise with us. This annual State of the Industry report would obviously not be possible without their support. 

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