opening day crowd listening to Rick Latona's welcoming
After Latona's brief
comments, the first business seminar, a panel discussion about
the booming ccTLD market got underway. I sat on the
panel along with Lori
(.CO Registry), Daniel Eisenhut (InternetX Registry)
and Dan Warner (DomainAdvertising.com). I noted during
this session that the total dollar volume of ccTLD sales
reported to us in 2009 soared 28% above the
total for 2008. This happened even though total sales reported
for the entire domain aftermarket slid 12.5% over
the same 12 months (a more detailed breakdown of these stats
is available in our January
newsletter - a free publication that is emailed
monthly to opt-in
welcomes Dan Warner
back to the domain business with a kiss.
lot of people were particularly happy to see Dan Warner
back on stage. The former COO at Dark Blue Sea,
the parent company of Fabulous.com,
has been a respected industry thought leader for years.
He has been on a sabbatical since
leaving Dark Blue Sea last summer after eight years on
the upper management team at the Brisbane, Australia
based company. His hiatus came to an end in November
named Warner CEO of their new DomainAdvertising.com
the ccTLD panel discussion, Warner told the audience
that while Google and Yahoo dominate the
domain monetization business in the U.S. there
are better ways to monetize in many non U.S.
markets where the two search engine giants have
considerably less clout. Warner said
DomainAdvertising.com is incorporating other
monetization methods in addition to PPC, including CPA,
CPM and other methods aimed at uncovering "every
drop of hidden revenue."
Prior to this conference, Rick
Latona conducted a survey asking those planning to
attend to name the key reason they attend shows. By an
overwhelming margin the answer was "networking".
Latona decided if that is what people want, he would
give it to them in spades and he did with not one, but two
back-to-back 90-minute networking sessions that
filled the balance of the opening day schedule.
The show's new moderator, Rick
Silver of N49
Interactive, conducted the twin sessions with
a different format used for each one. In the first
session, the podium and microphone were opened to anyone
in the audience who wanted to take the stage for 60
seconds to introduce themselves and tell others about
their business. Silver had no shortage of takers as a
steady stream of attendees seized the opportunity.
Rick Silver (left) looks on as Neustar's Ken
Hansen introduces himself to the
audience during an "open mike" networking
session Thursday afternoon (Jan. 21).
For the second
networking session, attendees moved to an adjacent room where
they sat face to face with other show goers in a circular
formation with those sitting in the outer ring rotating
over one seat every two minutes, a system that allowing
participants to meet dozens of people in the course of
Scene from the 2nd networking session on opening day at
T.R.A.F.F.I.C. Las Vegas.
Louise Munck (Parklings.com) makes a new contact
during this session.
With the first day's
business done, it was time for the first major social event of
the show, a special Opening Night Party sponsored
was held in the Hard Rock Hotel's Wasted Space Night Club.
Part of the wall-to-wall crowd at the Opening Night Party
at the Hard Rock Hotel
Jodi Chamberlain (Latonas.com) introduces
domainer/drummer David Castello
(CCIN.com) who provided the highlight of the night - a tour de
force drum solo.
Knowing that people
visiting Las Vegas like to stay out late and sleep in even
later, T.R.A.F.F.I.C. organizers wisely waited until 12
Noon to start the day two business schedule on Friday,
Jan. 22. (those who got out of bed a little earlier were
rewarded with a terrific brunch sponsored by Rowbothan
The opening session
Friday was a discussion of ICANN's plans to start
rolling out an unlimited number of new gTLDs later this
year. ICANN had a representative on the three-person panel -
their Senior Director for IDNs, Tina Dam. Those in the
domain community who don't think the plan is a good idea were
represented by PPX International's Gregg McNair
while CentralNIC's Joe Alagna took the pro side,
pointing out new opportunities that he believes new gTLDs will
open up for domain investors and registry operators.
New gTLD panelists (left to right): Gregg McNair,
Tina Dam and Joe Alagna.
Ms. Dam tells attendees that the decision to release new gTLDs
was made in response to requests from the Internet communty.
Alagna said that the
decision to roll out new gTLDs has already been made so domain
investors should make the best of it by looking into how they
can benefit from the introduction of new extensions. Though he
is firmly opposed to the plan, McNair said he also believes
they are coming but he said they will be a mistake.
"In business we usually learn for our mistakes, but ICANN
hasn't learned anything from their past TLD mistakes,"
McNair said, a reference to the fact that previous new gTLDs,
some close to a decade old now, are still struggling to gain
Next up was a
discussion of some of the worst UDRP cases sent to
arbitration panels in recent months featuring attorney Zak
Muscovitch, Andrew Allemann (DomainNameWire.com), Michael
Berkens (TheDomains.com), attorney Howard Neu and
attorney Eli Pearlman. Each reviewed a case they
thought was the most baseless brought against a domain owner
and the audience then picked the worst of the worst -
one involving LomaLinda.net
and LomaLinda.org that was nominated by Muscovitch.
You can learn more about some of these unconscionable cases
fellow panelists Howard Neu and Eli Pearlman
looking on, Zak Muscovitch (standing)
tells the audience why a LomaLinda.net/.org UDRP case
was the worst one filed in 2009.
The uDRP panel was
followed by a keynote speech from highly regarded peak
performance coach Joseph
McClendon III whose resume includes serving as the
Senior Head Trainer and Instructor at Robbins Research's
University that has been attended by business
entrepreneurs and CEOs from 46 nations. McClendon said
the crux of everything is fear management. He
preached that "it is the interruption of fear and the
rehearsal of courage that makes forward motion automatic."
speaker Joseph McClendon III had people jumping up and
His was certainly a
considerable departure from past T.R.A.F.F.I.C. keynotes.
McClendon had the audience doing a fear management exercise
that involved repeatedly jumping up and down from their chairs
and screaming at the top of their lungs! Sorry I don't have a
photo of that - I was too busy jumping up and down myself.
After the keynote it
was time for the Latonas.com
Live Domain Auction. Regrettably this highly anticipated event
suffered the one major mishap of show week in Las Vegas.
Despite rigorous pre-conference testing, Latonas' new internet
auction platform began experiencing serious issues that forced
the company to postpone the sale soon after it started. It was
rescheduled for 10am Saturday morning. No one felt worse about
this than Rick Latona and his team and many understanding
attendees tried to lift their spirits with words of encouragement.
It is one of those things that could happen to anyone and all
that can be done is to make the best of a bad situation, which
is exactly what they did.
The auction delay
certainly did not dampen spirits at Friday night's official T.R.A.F.F.I.C.
Party held at the Gold Lounge at the Aria Hotel in
Las Vegas's fabulous new $11 billion City Center development
that had just opened in December.
of the crowd at the T.R.A.F.F.I.C. Party Friday night
(Jan. 22) at the Gold Lounge
Sedo.com well - Kamila Sekiewicz and Kathy
to right): Jazmin Carrillo (Parked.com), Kelly
Ammar Kubba (Thought Convergence, Inc.) and Michael
The final day at
T.R.A.F.F.I.C. Las Vegas 2010 had not been scheduled to start
until 12 Noon Saturday, Jan. 23 - but that live domain
auction that had been interrupted Friday was re-slotted for
10am Saturday so things go off to an earlier
live auction that was suspended Friday was completed Saturday
morning (Jan. 23).
it was finally completed, the auction produced a total of just
over $456,000 in sales with a South African
ccTLD, Fly.co.za, emerging as the top individual sale
at $65,000. Other notable sales included GoFish.com
($50,000), DietFood.com ($49,000), CatFood.com
($41,000), MotorcycleHelmets.com ($35,000) and MenSuits.com
accompanying extended online auction continued for one week
and wound up generating another $379,200 in sales,
bringing the T.R.A.F.F.I.C. Las Vegas 2010 auction total to
over $835,000. The biggest sale of the event came in
the extended auction where LongIsland.com went for $370,000.
auction was done, but there were still three more events on
the closing day schedule, beginning with a noon panel
discussion on how to best optimize your domain portfolio in a
Optimization panelists: Seated (left to right) Donny
Dan Warner (DomainAdvertising.com), Richard Lau
and standing at the podium, Jon Waterman (Domain
The panelists discussed
the importance of selecting the right keywords for your PPC
landing pages and the relative pros and cons of 2-click,
1-click and even zero-click landing pages. The latter involves
sending people who land on your domain directly to a relevant
advertiser rather than presenting them with a page on links
utilizes this model which has also worked for companies like Sendori.com).
Next up was a session
devoted to Playing the Drop Market. The featured
panelists (left to
right in the photo below) were Rob Monster (Epik.com),
Steve Brown (NameJet.com) and Kellie Peterson (Name.com).
Monster said that the
emergence of automated and semi-automated development
platforms (such as his Epik.com) has made picking up expiring
domains more interesting that ever. He said that even
non-traffic domains that have good keywords can produce
revenue when content is added though such platforms. Monster
said he views each drop catch as the raw land for a future
Vegas 2010 closed with one its new main events - Test Track
(an event modeled after the hit ABC-TV series Shark
Tank) that gave operators of seven online
businesses who are seeking investment capital a chance to
pitch their proposals to a panel of investors.
Test Track Investors Panel (left to right): Jon
Gregg McNair, Tony Morgan and Rick Latona.
impressed the panel of investors
during T.R.A.F.F.I.C. Test Track.
|While none of the business owners wound
up securing an investment on the spot, the panel
agreed that BuyersGuide.com
owner John Deneen made the best presentation.
Deneen was also seeking the most money - $2 million
in exchange for 40% of his company. Waterman
was impressed enough to ask for a post-conference
meeting with Deneen to learn more about his company
and see if there is a way for him to make an
investment that will work for both sides.
The panel also heard pitches from Matt Field
(TenYards.com), Louise Timmons (AlgebraAid.com
- site is currently undeveloped), Jiaqiang Chen
(China Geo Network), Lee Raney and Tom McCracken
(Level Ten Interactive), Michael Markovitch (Domain
Price Index) and R.J. Berg (StreetGames.com).
During the session Latona announced that he had
aleady invested $500,000 in Berg's company
which stages fantasy stock market tournaments. The
panelists liked the StreetGames.com site but some were
concerned that the concept could run into legal issues
in some states that could create unforeseen problems.
Test Track, an idea that
Howard Neu came up with and introduced at the T.R.A.F.F.I.C.
New York conference last fall, has been a
welcome addition to the T.R.A.F.F.I.C. schedule. With
the increased interest in domain development it is
very instructive to see what others are doing with
their sites and how good investors think those ideas
are or in what ways they think they can be
In addition to the scheduled
sessions like Test Track, T.R.A.F.F.I.C. attendees
also have a chance to learn about important new
industry developments in private one on one meetings.
I had one with an executive team from NameMedia who
showed me a presentation detailing some exciting
changes they have made in the company's SmartName.com
monetization program. The system can now automatically
generate slick looking websites that utilize a vareity
of monetization methods - not just PPC. I was
impressive enough that I am going to try some of my
own names on the platform and I intend to write more
about it in the near future.
team members (L to R) Bob Mountain, Ted
Olson, David Hauser and Jason
Miner impressed a lot of people with a
demonstration of a new system at SmartName.com.
Another thing I liked
about T.R.A.F.F.I.C. Las Vegas was seeing so many new faces in
the crowd. It is great to see young people joining the
business and coming up with innovative ideas of their own. One
of them was Morgan Linton of Los Angeles who
spent most of the week recording video interviews for a new
internet TV site he plans to roll out soon at Domainvestors.tv.
Linton (left) interviewing Rick Silver - one of
dozens of interviews
Linton has produced for his upcoming domain TV