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Fabulous Affair: Australia's  T.R.A.F.F.I.C. Down Under Conference Enchants Attendees With Fun, Freshness and Flair
Page 2
By Ron Jackson 

Sean Stafford 
(CEO, Elvate LLC) 

The T.R.A.F.F.I.C. Down Under program for Wednesday (Nov. 19) followed the opening day format with two sessions each in the morning and afternoon, with a lunch hour keynote address sandwiched in between. The day began with a panel dedicated to Acquiring Domains that included Sean Stafford (CEO, Elvate LLC), Kellie Peterson (Director of Marketing & Operations at Name.com) and Divyank Turkhia, President of Directi. Stafford's topic was Wholesale Scavenging while Peterson covered Domain Metrics and Turakhia's talk was titled So You Want to Be Your Own Registrar? 

Stafford, who wrote an excellent domain primer that is available at DomainGraduate.com, covered all of the basics. He noted that little things can make a big difference. As a an example he talked about buying a domain that was earning

$60 a year on PPC but soared to $1,000 a year after being moved to a different PPC provider. Instead of having to wait 5 years to recoup his investment he had his money back in 4 months. Turakhia pointed out the merits of becoming your own registrar, something one of the Directi companies, LogicBoxes.com, makes a lot easier and more cost effective than going it alone. 

Also during this session, Dr. John Berryhill gave the presentation, a Case Law Review, that had to be postponed from the previous day due to a delay in getting to the Gold Coast. On a key current issue, the state of Kentucky's attempt to claim jurisdiction over domain names and confiscate ones they don't want their citizens seeing (gambling domains in the case that is currently underway), Berryhill said he believed the final decision will go the domain owners' way. Regarding the new TLDs ICANN intends to start rolling out next year Berryhill forecast it would be a trademark attorney's nightmare and added that you can expect implementation to be delayed by at least five months while the Department of Commerce (who oversees ICANN) waits for new political appointees to be put in place.

In a related note, in a November 19 post in our Lowdown section I showed a comical picture of a waylaid traveler making an unscheduled pit stop en route to T.R.A.F.F.I.C. Down Under. I asked people to guess who it was and said the answer would be revealed in this article. As many accurately surmised, it was none other than Dr. Berryhill.

Dr. John Berryhill

Web Development was next up on the agenda with the second Wednesday morning session featuring Craig Rowe (WhyPark.com) saying Content Is King Again, Ron James (NamePros.com founder) talking about Products & Services: Build, Buy or Outsource and Ryan Steel (SEO Specialist, aeiou.com) demystifying Search Engine Optimization

Web Development Panel (left to right): Ryan Steel, Craig Rowe and Ron James

Rowe ran through the pluses and minuses of each of the various content sources developers can use in building sites, including RSS Feeds, Affiliate Content & Product Databases, Creative Commons, Licensed Content, User Generated Content, creating Unique Content and utilizing Authority Content. James covered the various kinds of sites that can be built, off the shelf development software solutions and consideration involved in tackling custom development.

After a lunch break Wotif.com founder Graeme Wood delivered the show's second keynote address. Wood was a perfect follow-up to the previous conversation on development as he detailed how he overcame all of the odds to build Wotif.com into a travel industry powerhouse that drew over 40 million visitors last year and that now employs over 400 people worldwide. 

Wood originally wanted WhatIf.com but was unable to reach the owner of that domain, despite going so far as hiring a private detective to try (unsuccessfully) to find him. He wound up settling on the sound alike Wotif.com and made it work. Wood said that while a good domain name can certainly help a business, content and customers still matter most in the long run. "A viable business model has to come before the domain name," Wood said and as much as we all love domain names there are certainly plenty of case histories (Pets.com anyone?)  that back him up.

The afternoon seminar schedule opened with Monetization Alternatives, a session that featured Robert Tomkinson (Managing 

Graeme Wood
Founder, Wotif.com

Director, Shopping.com) on Is Commerce Content?, Matt Bateman (COO, Commission Monster) with Hot Leads, Cool Profits and Chris Bayley (Director, Domain Partners) with a presentation titled Monetize a Domain, build a Brand, or create a Business? 

Robert Tomkinson
Managing Director, Shopping.com

With so many shopping platforms offering to let developers integrate their product offerings into new websites, I found Tomkinson's list of recommendations especially interesting. He suggested that domain developers do the following:

  • Add commerce to your monetization strategy, especially for commerce-related domain names.
  • Partner with top tier companies that are able to offer meaningful payments.
  • Look for a robust, flexible API, widgets/graphics, reporting and tools.
  • Think Global
  • Combine content with AdSense for better user experience, search engine compliance and greater monetization potential.
  • Complement with unique content for greater SEO payments.

After a break for tea, the final Wednesday seminar, Asset Sales, brought John Mauriello (Domain Sales Specialist, Moniker.com), Jackson Hopkins (CTO, Domain Distribution Network) and Richard Moore (CEO, Dark Blue Sea) to the dais. Mauriello talked about domain Valuation, Hopkins dissected the Sales Channel and Moore explained Financial Modeling

Asset Sales Panel (left to right): John Mauriello, Jackson Hopkins and Richard Moore

Mauriello pointed out that despite the recession in the general economy, the domain aftermarket is holding its own. He noted that the average sale price at live domain auctions conducted by his company and its Oversee.net sister company SnapNames.com has been $20,000 in 2008, a significant increase over the $16,000 average they posted in their 2007 live auctions. He added that anecdotal evidence shows fewer domainer to domainer sales at wholesale prices while higher ticket retail sales to end users are increasing. 

Hopkins broke down the various aspects of domain value noting that his company looks at over 50 different data points to arrive at what they believe is fair market value for a domain. Moore, who is CEO of the parent company of Fabulous.com (and their Domain Distribution Network), said that as of six months ago domain sales had begun producing more revenue for the company 
than PPC. That dovetails with my own experience this year which has been my best sales year ever (with small business end users representing almost 100% of my buyers). My sales revenue is far outstripping (and easily offsetting) the PPC revenue decline that I, like most others, have seen. That underlines one of the most attractive aspects of owning domain names - they can produce income in multiple ways so that if one method is down another can pick up the slack and keep overall revenue on an even keel.

That session concluded Wednesday's business agenda and opened the door for a gala evening dinner that included "Domain Stories" from DigiMedia President Jay Chapman and Dark Blue Sea Partner Manager Jen Sale. Both talked about how their companies added value to great generic domain names to produce either an outstanding profit upon sale (as in Sale's case history of BedroomFurniture.com) or increasing the flow of revenue to developed properties they intend to keep (as DigiMedia has done with sites they built and continue to operate on FantasyFootball.com, Jerky.com and others).

Jay Chapman
President, DigiMedia

That was followed by a charity auction (run by RickLatona.com's auctioneers) that produced over $18,000 for the ICA, the non-profit domain industry trade association. The top sales were BodybuildingProducts.com at $5,200 (purchased by T.R.A..F.F.I.C. Co-Founder Howard Neu) and MovingCosts.com at $5,000 (purchased by Darren Cleveland of the Recall Media Group). Both of those domains were donated by show organizers Fabulous.com. Howard Hoffman of PPCIncome.com was also very active in the auction. In addition to donating a name that sold for $1,000 (FreeRangeFoods.com), Hoffman purchased two domains.

Charity auction raised funds for the Internet Commerce Association

The evening was capped off by a great comedy/magic show staged by Australian entertainer Matt Hollywood. Dan Warner (Fabulous.com), Ren Warmuz (Trellian.com) and Ammar Kubba (Thought Convergence) were among those Hollywood pulled out of the crowd and made part of the show - invariably with hilarious results.

Australian comedian/magician Matt Hollywood has some fun with Ammar Kubba

The final business day Thursday (Nov. 20) got started bright and early (8:30am local time) with a live domain auction conducted by Aftermarket.com. With Australian auctioneer Chris Norris calling the action (as he did in the RickLatona.com auctions as well) Aftermarket.com rang up sales totaling approximately $165,000. The top sales were Saws.com at $52,000 and Camera.co.uk at $35,000. Several local .com.au  ccTLD  domains were also sold, led by Jeweller.com.au at $9,200.

Scene from the Aftermarket.com Live Auction Thursday (Nov. 20).

While the stage was being reset for the RickLatona.com live auction that would follow, attendees headed for lunch where they were also treated to the final informational session of the conference, one devoted to the New gTLD Domains that ICANN plans to start rolling out next year. The speakers were Page Howe (President, Digital Brands) with a presentation titled Hype or Hyper?, Edmon Chung (CEO, DotAsia Organisation) on Intellectual Property Issues and Jothan Frakes (Senior Director of Strategy, Moniker/SnapNames) exploring whether or not the new gTLD process was A Loaded Deck?

Page Howe advises those interested in opening a new gTLD registry to tread carefully.

Howe's  animated and entertaining presentation was a real crowd pleaser.  Having personally gone through the ICANN application meat grinder at great expense with his .kids project in 2000, Howe met with only frustration and heartbreak along the way. It is a cautionary story you should hear in its entirety before you commit the non-refundable $185,000 application fee (plus $75,000 annual renewal fees) that a new gTLD registry operator will have to cough up. 

Jothan Frakes (Moniker/SnapNames)

For those who still insist on making the plunge, Chung offered some tips based on what his company learned in their successful rollout of .asia. Frakes, who is one of the most knowledgeable people in the business on ICANN affairs, laid out when and how the introduction of new gTLDs is scheduled to go as well as very useful information for those who intend to pursue a TLD of their own. Fabulous.com indicated video from many of the conference presentations will eventually be posted online. If that happens, all three of the presentations in this session should be required viewing for anyone planning to play the gTLD lottery next year. 

After lunch it was back to the auction hall for the RickLatona.com event. It racked up over $413,000 in sales. Latona told me that was consistent with their pre-show projections so he was happy with the outcome. His list was led by a pair of $150,000 sales; CR.com 

and SanJuan.com. Latona also emphasized local .com.au domains and sold several including History.com.au ($8,500), StockExchange.com.au ($7,500) and Snowboards.com.au ($6,000)

Auctioneer Chris Norris runs the RickLatona.com Live Auction while Latona (center) 
monitors bids coming in from the Internet.

The Latona auction marked the end of business for T.R.A.F.F.I.C. Down Under but there was still a ton of fun dead ahead. Right after the auction and a change of clothes, attendees walked across the street to the Mirage Marina to board a large party boat that took them on a 40-minute cruise to a beautiful tropical island that would be the site of an amazing afternoon and evening celebration.

Domainers boarding party boat.

En route to the island

Disembarking at McLaren's Landing

On the island and ready for adventure!

Once everyone was ashore they could enjoy helicopter and jet boat rides, parasailing, swimming or just hanging out around the tiki bars talking and having a good time. 

Above: Domainers climb on board for helicopter tours of the island.
Below: Others strap themselves in for a jet boat ride across the bay.

After night fell there was a terrific performance by a native Aboriginal dance troupe. They must have been doing a rain dance at one point because a ferocious rain storm blew up out of nowhere that sent people scrambling for cover. 

Above: Merlin Kaufmann, Dan Warner and Howard Neu accept 
the native dancers invitation to show off their moves!

Below: Spirits were not dampened by the rain and the storm 
passed while attendees were enjoying a sumptuous buffet dinner.

When the evening wound down and party goers headed back to the dock for the cruise home they were surprised and delighted by a major fireworks show that put a perfect exclamation point on a great day Down Under

Coming Up on Page 3:

  • Domainers Learn to Surf (this time it's in the sea, not on the web)!

  • On the Cutting Edge: See a group of domainers giving up their hair for a good cause.

  • Close encounters with Australian wildlife at one of the world's top animal sanctuaries.

Plus many more great photos you won't want to miss.

Advance to Page 3


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