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The State of the Industry 2018: 24 Leading Domain Experts Analyze What Happened in 2017 and Tell You What to Expect Next   Page 3

By Ron Jackson

Domain Investors

Domain Monetization & Financial Services

Nico Zeifang
CEO, TeamInternet & ParkingCrew.com 

Competition in the domain monetization space (domain parking) has become fierce in recent years with a number of once household domains within the industry either disappearing or being swallowed up by others. It is a space where only the truly strong have survived. Munich, Germany based ParkingCrew.com (a division of TeamInternet), led by CEO Nico Zeifang, is one of the battle tested companies that have emerged as winners on their field of play.

Nico Zeifang
CEO, TeamInternet & ParkingCrew.com

We saw several trends across the domain parking industry in 2017:  

As can be seen in everyday life, we are experiencing a significant change of user behavior -  most obvious in the continued shift to mobile usage. Traffic from mobile and tablet devices accounted for more than 50% of our revenues compared to less than 25% in 2013 (when we predicted this trend in an earlier state of the industry comment). Our focus on mobile optimization since day one has paid off and we are seeing better yield from mobile users than from desktop users nowadays.  

Another trend that can be seen across the entire ad tech industry, including the domain parking and registrar industry, is continued consolidation. We operate in a market where scale yields significant competitive advantage, so this comes as no surprise.  

Furthermore, 2017 has certainly raised awareness amongst users concerning data privacy and user specific data. We will come back to this aspect in our predictions for 2018 when this will be one of the main regulatory challenges for our industry to face.  

In terms of challenges faced in the past year, the ad tech industry as a whole has seen an increased use of adblocking software amongst users. We will continue our close discussions with all stakeholders to uphold our acceptable ads certification as well as comply with future standards, including the better ads initiative that will go into effect in the upcoming months.

Looking ahead to 2018...

We expect the trend of consolidation to continue across the entire ad tech industry. As a result, we don’t believe more than one or two companies per niche can obtain or maintain critical scale in order to be competitive.  

On the ad optimization side, we expect a continued shift from automated to machine learning algorithms. This should lead to stabilization in click prices as well as better fraud detection which should boost returns for quality traffic in the long run.  

On the regulatory side, GDRP (General Data Protection Regulation) is the elephant in the room and everyone in the industry should by now be working on the necessary implementations in order to minimize the impact on user flows.

Michael Gilmour

Founder, ParkLogic.com

ParkLogic.com, led by Founder Michael Gilmour, has certainly stood the test of time (the company will celebrate its 11th anniversary this year). In addition to knowing the business inside out, Michael continues to thrive by out-working the competition. It is a rare domain conference that doesn't have Gilmour in attendance and, more often than not, on stage, explaining the ins and outs of successful monetization to domain investors around the globe. 

Michael Gilmour
Founder, ParkLogic.com

The launch of ParkLogic Next was the single most significant event for our company during 2017. Next is the culmination of two and half years of development effort and taps into over 11 years of experience in the domain monetization space. What many domain investors don’t realize is that monetizing domain traffic is not dead but that it has changed. We see Next as the platform that will take us through the following decade by providing the flexibility and scalability that is necessary to extract the greatest amount of value from domain traffic.  

As Einstein said, “Insanity is doing the same thing and expecting a different result.” If you’ve been experiencing a downturn in your traffic revenues and don’t do anything about it then don’t be surprised if the downward trend continues.  

At a more macro-industry level it’s very clear there is a bit of a shake-out in the new gTLDs. Like any industry there are those that are successful and those that are at the best walking dead. What is also interesting is viewing the fruit unfold from many of the more fanciful marketing strategies of some of the extensions. For an extension to be successful it has to ultimately be used by real businesses.

Looking ahead to 2018...

I believe we have only just started to see a sorting out of the new gTLDs. That being said, there is a massive opportunity for investors in this space….as long as they get the timing just right. As extensions continue to gain traction with businesses this year the business models underpinning domain investors will become less risky.  

I think that at long last traditional domain parking will really begin to change this year as new payment mechanisms for different business models will become enticing for traffic investors. This will have the potential to completely transform some of the current business models for domain monetization and especially what domains should be kept or dropped.  

Aftermarket domain sales will continue to increase in volume and the average sale price will go up. What will change a lot is where the sales are coming from. I believe this year will see a step up in sales from ccTLDs as the various country based registries begin adopting standardized technologies that will make the sale of ccTLDs more streamlined. The ccTLDs have always been a latent opportunity for domain investors and this year will finally see the opportunity flourish.

Brandon Abbey

Director, Strategic Accounts, Payoneer

Domain escrow in a completely different aspect of making money from domain names - one that ensures that when you sell a domain you won't have to worry about "the check bouncing" on any other bogus form of payment causing you to lose both the domain and the money you were supposed to receive for it. Brandon Abbey is a key figure in that service sector having spent 11 years as President of Escrow.com before joining global giant Payoneer where he is the Director of Strategic Accounts. 

Brandon Abbey
Director, Strategic Accounts

For the first time, domainers have multiple licensed escrow services to choose between to secure their transactions.  Competition has been good for the industry. It has driven more innovation in 2017 than the past 10 years – features such as buyer financing options, improved API functionality, multiple currency capability, buy-it-now buttons, multi-lingual customer support, and improved website usability. These innovations are benefiting experienced domainers, as well as those who are new to the industry.  In a relatively staid industry like escrow, there continues to be opportunity for further exciting advances and we expect this trend to continue into 2018 and beyond.

Looking ahead to 2018...

As in other industries, we continue to see the domain world flatten, with individuals and companies doing business with others from all corners of the globe.  We expect to see that trend accelerate, despite efforts from certain political leaders to close our borders.  With services like Payoneer enabling easy, low cost, secure payment options, it is becoming easier and easier to do business without the limitations of national borders.  Competitive pressures in our sector will continue to benefit the domain community.

Community & Legal Matters

Edward Zeiden
Managing Director, NamePros Forum

Even before there were domain conferences, there were domain forums that provided a community where newcomers could meet online with domain veterans to learn the ins and out of the business. The later emergence of conferences and blogs expanded those opportunities but the NamePros forum is even busier than it was back in the days when forums were the only game in town. Edward Zeiden is the Managing Director in charge of making sure that important community continues to thrive.

Edward Zeiden
Managing Director

We’re not a publisher of information, but rather a platform service for its distribution because the masses want to voice their opinion and be heard, too. In no particular order, here are ten of the most commented and/or most viewed domain name discussions that users started in 2017:

·      Escrow.com Is Now Asking For Photos of Personal Docs

·         Best Crypto Domains

·      10x Your Money In Domains Or Cryptocurrency?

·         Problems, Bugs and Fixes at Afternic

·      Name some domains you think actually look BETTER as a gTLD than a dot com

·      XR domains- Umbrella term for AR VR MR (all reality technologies)

·      Bidding on your own names at NameJet...?

·      Mike Mann Puts All 300k Domains Up For Sale With BIN Prices

·         nGTLDs plateauing at 27-29 million. Growth RATE has reduced by 90%

·         FREE Domain Transfer to Network Solutions with Free 1 Year Extension! No Limitation!

Looking ahead to 2018...

Hot trends come and go, but the free market is here to stay. We continually see from community activity that there will always be winners and losers depending on which side of the market curve an investor is on. Judging from the popular 2017 community threads alone, public opinion seems to be “bullish” right now on crypto-related domains, but plateauing or even “bearish” on certain gTLDs. As the interest in cryptocurrency continues and U.S stocks rise with tax reform, other investments will be enticing. Domain investors could look to diversify and sell their portfolios for less than their full potential. This creates a significant opportunity for acquiring great domains this year to be sold down the line for potentially enormous profits. As the old saying goes, “buy the rumor, and sell the news.” In other words, pick your niche carefully, spot trends, and keep a general pulse on the market by monitoring niche domain discussions within the community. Then, methodically follow industry respected blogs and resources like DN Journal, DomainNameWire, and the NamePros Blog for news as it develops.

Year after year, users of the community provide constructive feedback, and sometimes unabashed comments, on NamePros in the hopes of evolving platforms to suit their needs and drive profits to their bottom line. The topics vary, but judging from the popular discussions of 2017, I wouldn’t be surprised if the increased difficulty placed on marketplaces to police and catch, or hopefully prevent, fraud continues. As this industry continues to grow, the community and market will self-correct where necessary. By and large, if there’s a single prediction I’d endorse, it’s that freedom of speech and the free market will continue in 2018.

Enrico Schaefer

Managing Partner, Traverse Legal PLC

Good domain names are very valuable assets and as such it is not uncommon for disputes between registrants and trademark holders to erupt over who has rights to a particular name. If you have the misfortune of being caught in such a situation a knowledgeable attorney may be the only thing that will prevent someone from taking a valuable asset from you that they are not entitled to. Traverse Legal's Enrico Traverse is one of the elite attorneys specializing in the domain and intellectual property issues.

Enrico Schaefer
Managing Partner
Traverse Legal PLC

Things have been relatively stable in the domain and gTLD space in 2017. We represent domain registrants and trademark owners looking to protect their marks in the online space. For trademark and cybersquatting matters, we have seen an uptick in litigation by trademark owners.   The number of trademark owners willing to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to pursue infringing domains will always be limited, compared to the number of clearly infringing domains registered and used as parking pages, competing online stores or for counterfeiting.  I attribute the increase in litigation we have been retained to pursue to a higher level of sophistication by trademark owners about the importance of their web properties, and an awareness of their rights under the UDRP and ACPA. 

As trademark owners come to understand thriller rights, and the importance to their own web marketing revenue, I expect more trademark owners will have a lower tolerance for infringement and a higher level of willingness to chase cybersquatters in court. The ROI on intangible asset value will support this strategy. 

Looking ahead to 2018...

I think we are going to see a move towards the use of blockchain technology in the domain space.  We have been lying blockchain for things such as domain registration, IP ownership and other online activities.  The security and certainly of ownership surrounding blockchain lends itself well to intangible, or less-tangible assets such as domain registration.  We expect to continue to work with online players about the incorporation of blockchain into new business models, including the domain and TLD space.  Imagine domain WHOIS secured by blockchain, as one example.  We know that the new GTLD application round will include a number of blockchain related gtlDs, but more importantly business models.  This trend wills tart to emerge in 2018 and continue forward over the next five or so years. 

Zak Muscovitch

Principal, The Muscovitch Law Firm, DNAttorney.com
Interim General Counsel, Internet Commerce Association

Like a good baseball team we needed a clean up hitter to conclude our annual State of the Industry report - someone who can clear the bases and bring home the most important message of all. That is protecting our rights as domain registrants. What good is it to own great domains when governing policies can be changed that could strip away your rights to own them in the first place? Zak Muscovitch is the right guy for that critical role in our line up. In addition to being an elite domain/IP attorney he currently serves as the Interim General Counsel for the Internet Commerce Association, the non-profit organization that fights to protect domain owner's rights. 

Zak Muscovitch
Principal, The Muscovitch Law Firm
Interim General Counsel,
Internet Commerce Association

In 2017, the Internet Commerce Association together with domain name lawyers, managed to successfully fight off a pernicious legal theory that IP interests were using for years to unjustly seize domain names via the UDRP. This theory was called “Retroactive Bad Faith”, and it was originally conceived in 2009 by a handful of UDRP panelists. Since then, certain panelists had repeatedly tried to use this theory to take away domain names which were unquestionably registered in good faith. For example, when the domain name was registered long before a corresponding brand was a twinkle in the eye of a company. To these panelists, a good faith registration could me miraculously converted into a bad faith registration based upon subsequent use. The “RBF” theory festered and was even incorporated into the WIPO’s 2011 Consensus View which provides guidance to panelists on how to rule on cases.

Thankfully, in 2017, we finally brought an end to RBF. WIPO removed it from its Consensus View, and panelists are now treated it as an errant and thoroughly discredited approach not to be followed. By finally putting a stake into the heart of RBF in 2017, the Domain Name investors are a lot safer, and the ICA will continue to advocate vigorously for domain name investor rights. 

Looking ahead to 2018...

In 2018, the domain name investment community is facing the start of one of the largest and longest battles which it will fight. ICANN has struck a Working Group to examine and review the URS and the UDRP. Strong trademark owner interests are strongly agitating for unfair changes to the UDRP which threaten the very existence of the domain name investment community. If they have their way, investment in domain names could be a thing of the past. For example, some IP interests believe that common three-letter acronym domain names belong only to trademark owners. Others believe that bringing a UDRP case 20+ years after a domain was registered and a business built, is fair game. Others believe that parking domain names is illegitimate and that selling domain names for more than you paid, is “cybersquatting”. The Internet Commerce Association is standing firm against such unjust attempts to deprive domain name investors of their rights and advocating forcefully against unfair changes. So I expect that 2018 will see this ICANN battle become a pivotal moment in domain name investment history.


Editor's Note: At the same time we were finishing preparation of this State of the Industry report, Zak Muscovitch sent an important letter (dated January 23, 2018) to ICA members that we want to share with the entire community as it is highly relevant to all domain owners: 

Today marks the start of a new approach to UDRP Reform. We are no longer just complaining about the UDRP (although we will certainly continue to do that too). 

Starting now, we are proactively advocating for UDRP Reform through concrete and specific policy proposals. Today we are publishing the ICA’s 2018 UDRP Reform Policy Platform. A copy of it is available on our website at: 


The ICA’s 2018 UDRP Reform Policy Platform is the product of extensive experience, examination, consultations, and drafting. It proposes reasonable and important changes to the way the UDRP operates. By publishing the 2018 UDRP Reform Policy Platform, the ICA intends to start a vigorous and constructive discussion on concrete changes that will make the UDRP fairer for domain name investors. The ICA intends to seek broad support for these constructive reforms and to advocate for them both inside and outside the ICANN Rights Protection Mechanisms Working Group (the “Working Group”).  

That means that we do not stop with publishing the Policy Platform. We will be contacting UDRP panelists directly to provide them with a copy of our Policy Platform and to inform them of our concerns. Likewise, we will be contacting Working Group Members and other ICANN stakeholders to inform them of our proposals and to provide them with copies of our published policy articles on important UDRP issues, such as our recently published article on the defense of delay (Laches).  

This is part of a new push to get our message right into the hands of decision makers. To that end, we have already been in touch with officials at both WIPO and NAF and have scheduled meetings with them both at Namescon (January 28-31, 2018) and at the next ICANN meeting, to explain our proposals and seek their input and support. By taking this proactive and well-prepared approach, we intend to influence the Working Group’s agenda. We intend for our analysis and policy proposals to be front and center when the UDRP is discussed.  

This is Version 1.0 of the Policy Platform. The ICA will continue to study the issues covered in this version and will follow up with Version 2.0, which will cover additional important issues. 

If you are attending Namescon, we look forward to hearing your thoughts and input on the Policy Platform and any next steps which you would like the ICA to take.

With that we conclude our 14th annual State of the Industry report. Now it's time to take the field and see how the game plays out in 2018. We want to close with a sincere thank you to each of the industry leaders who generously took time out of their very busy schedules to contribute their thoughts and advice to our readers. We are confident the information you provided will help the entire community make the most of the opportunities that await those prepared to take advantage of them in the new year ahead! 


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