Internet Domain Names: Introduction
Internet Domain Names: The value of owning a generic domain name, or multiple generic domains, is beyond important for your business. In fact, it may be the most overlooked and undervalued detail in relation to "business" around the world. How can that be true? Well, it's fairly simple. The vast majority of businesses, including major corporations, have no formal education of Internet strategies, premium domain names, search engine optimization, custom design, tailored marketing, etc.,. so the prime opportunities to capitalize in their specific niche, market or industry often go completely unnoticed, because they simply don't know what to look for. As an analogy, if I entered the fine art or jewelry business - without any knowledge or experience, I would have no clue what to look for. This is the case with the domain name business. There are countless opportunities to capitalize in the digital arena for investment or development, IF you know what you're looking for. Contrary to popular belief, investing in domain names is completely legal as long as you follow a set of guidelines put into place by ICANN, which you will learn more about at the bottom of this page. The act of investing serious money into generic domain names is often referred to as "domaining" and the individual would be called a "domainer".
Believe it or not, there are individuals who earn there living completely from their generic domain names and the revenues they produce from advertising and sales. Obviously, as with any industry, there is no "set" range or target incomes for domainers. Some domain name newbies are earning a few hundred dollars per year while others consistently report seven-figure earnings. In fact, there a few individuals that are seeing eight-figure incomes directly from their generic domain name portfolios. Every single week, for TEN consecutive years, domain names sell in private and public auctions for cash and stock amounts of three, four, five, and even six-figures. Million dollar domain name sales occur a few times per year and the industry recently saw its first 8-figure sale with the sale of Sex.com for $13,000,000 in cash, being the highest-paid, ALL-CASH transaction in the history of domain names and the Internet.
Domain names are often referred to as "digital assets" or "Internet real estate". Others commonly label rare premium domain names as "commodities" that simply can not be replaced. The reality is, "domain names" can be worth millions, or they can be COMPLETELY worthless. Please, continue reading...
Internet Domain Names: New Registrations
As a friendly disclaimer, we are promoting "generic domain names" for investment and development because they are proven vehicles of digital success, pending you have the right vehicle of course. Due to the fact registering new domain names can an addictive activity or hobby for some individuals, we highly discourage anyone from randomly registering any domain names without professional council. The metrics of value and strategy can be very confusing and without educated direction it can become an expensive mistake.
New Domain Name Registrations: Anyone with Internet access, an e-mail address and the registration fee dollar amount can register a new "domain name" at a domain name "registrar". There are countless domain name registrars available for you to choose from, however some the most popular, ICANN-accredited registrars are listed above in our graphic image. Current industry pricing for new domain name registrations range from $6.99 to $34.99 for ".com" domain names. Other TLD's (top-level-domains) are also available for your investment and development needs. There is no question, the ".com" TLD - as a brand and extension - is the most recognized, most popular, and carries the most independent registrations. However, to say there are no other opportunities in other TLD's would be foolish and simply naive. There have been countless individuals who have made a small fortune within the .net, .info, .org, .us, .biz domain extensions.
As we all know, nothing lasts forever, markets and industries evolve, and the door opens for new opportunities. We believe one major emerging opportunity in the digital arena is within the DOT TV (.TV) top-level-domain as the personal computer and traditional television continue their path of destiny and convergence. The media re-invention is upon us and the DOT TV brand lends itself like a glove to any video, multi-media, or live-broadcasting development. The two letters "TV" have been branded in the minds of humans long before the Internet even existed and we believe the ".TV" Top-Level-Domain will in time become "the" authoritative extension of choice on a global scale. One supporting piece of evidence stems from our global travel experience and research. After visiting ten countries around the world, we noticed one key component to Internet business development that can NOT be denied or ignored. The default "TLD" used in other countries was NOT ".com" but rather their respected "CCTLD" (country-code-top-level-domain). And yet, each of those same countries we visited have numerous examples of "global" development with multi-media websites using the ".TV" Top-Level-Domain.
Internet Domain Names: The Aftermarket
Global Domain Name Research: Ok, so now you understand that domain names can be valuable assets but you have no clue how or where to begin researching. Are you looking for that "perfect" domain name for your business, or are you wondering what domains you should invest in? Often times the biggest mistake businesses make is ignoring what domains are owned by their competition. More importantly, it is vital to research what domain names are available in the domain name aftermarket for sale, or what domains might be expiring or in live or drop-auctions.
At the end of the day, the majority of businesses have NOT figured out the concept of offensive and defensive domain name registration, and it is crucial to building a competitive advantage. Just because you have "registered" a few domain names, does NOT mean they are valuable assets or are helping your business. Time and time again, someone contacts us suggesting they are "in the know" about domain names, and that have have a great portfolio for sale. Typically, it's garbage. In addition, we frequently network and consult with borderline digitally-illiterate local business owners, marketing managers, and corporate executives. The unfortunate yet common phrase we hear is, "We already have a domain name, we don't need another one or any domain name consulting or management". This is the type of company that "accidently" let their company domain name expire and the two other domains they own are completely worthless. And, on the other side of town, their competitor has 200% more business than them, and they wonder why.
We're not sure exactly why so many companies discount the "premium domain name conversation", but in all honesty, it typically boils down to ignorance combined with arrogance. It is direct supporting evidence that the mainstream business population isn't as "innovative" as they so frequently and proudly claim. You only know what you know.
We're not suggesting by any means, a premium domain name is the end-all-be-all golden ticket to instant success and millions, but we are absolutely saying a premium domain name can without question add tremendous value to your business through direct-navigation traffic, advantages in all major search-engines, as well as instant-branding, mindshare and respect.
Research equals knowledge, knowledge equals power.
Internet Domain Names: Aftermarket Sales
Domain Name Valuation and Appraisals: What concerns many newbies and investors about the domain name industry is the fact there is no such thing as a "domain name appraisal". While essentially everyone relates "premium domain names" to "traditional real estate", in traditional real estate, there is a universal system with a core guideline and procedure to certify the "value" which is then supported by official documentation. On the Internet, your "Internet real estate" regardless of the TLD, is bought and sold with a different set of rules. And basically, there are no rules. If you want to sell, name your price. If they don't like the asking price, to bad. Good names command good offers. Great names command great offers. Poor names will never receive offers.
Not having a standard measurement or "value system" is not necessarily a "flaw" as you might assume from your first instinct. The market dictates the price for "premium domains" and the others are bought, sold and traded on a simple scale of supply and demand. If you haven't received an offer in two years on one of your domains and someone offers you $5,000 you might be motivated to sell, even if you originally wanted $15,000 for the domain. On the other hand, if someone offers $5,000 you may be interested in putting that domain into a live auction, or even contacting a specialized domain name broker to try to contact some potential domain investors or end-users. I have seen an individual sell a domain name for $1,300 in private email transaction and that exact same domain name sell for $25,000 in a live-auction the following week. And more sickening, I frequently see individuals "drop" their domain names after not paying TEN DOLLARS to renew their domain and that exact same domain ends up selling in a "drop auction" for $50,000 or even $100,000. Can you imagine...? It happens, much more often than you would think.
The only real leverage or guideline that a domain owner has is detailed historical sales data and industry metrics to determine the potential of an individual domain name. VALUE has so many variables. It's truly a moving target. In no particular order, the following are a few of the of bullet-points that some buyers and sellers consider when placing a sticker-price on their domain name assets; Current traffic statistics, hot products or trends, keyword frequency, industry popularity, domain extension (TLD), domain length, age of domain, back-links, as well as the commercial and brand value. However you get to a "sell button price" the idea, like with any industry, is to buy low and sell high. However, (and this is important to note), in some cases, the owners of some super premium domain names are not motivated to sell, regardless of the price. I have personally met and networked with several individuals who have declined offers of $50,000 or even $500,000 for one of their premium domain names. In some situations, the owner is wealthy and simply unmotivated to sell, proving "cash" isn't always the key and "ownership" is their leverage and legal choice. The reality is, if you can find ONE potential buyer to offer five, six, or seven figures for your domain name, you have a 99.99999% chance of finding a second, third, and fourth party that will interested in the same name.
In many cases, an individual who is fortunate enough to own a great domain asset knows the value and potential of his asset and property and will never sell at a discounted rate. However, there are two sides to every tale. It is an absolute reality, that not everyone understands the value of what they own. This is evident as generic and premium domain names are "dropped" everyday by their owner failing to pay the annual renewal fee. In some cases, these domain names "expire" and are deleted from the owners account because they; (a) don't have the money to renew the domain, (b) the email notifications are sent to an old or deleted email address, (c) the person dies, or, (d) they simply don't care to renew their domain name. Regardless of the situation, the expiring domain name business is a very, very competitive (and expensive) arena that attracts investors and end-users every single day.
Internet Domain Names: Geo-Domains
Lets say you live in Russia and you want to "own Russia on the Internet". Well, someone, somewhere liked that idea and dropped a cool $1.5 million on Russia.com as an digital investment. I'm not particularly sure in this example if they acquired the domain name for a short-term flip to make a few hundred grand, or, if they are the end-user looking to develop the brand into a great international website for "everything Russia." In this particular example, the domain name is actually not developed (as of 11/1/2010) but rather sitting at a standard Godaddy parking-page. The bottom line, the ownership of this domain name asset - is power, leverage and incredible future potential for resale or development.
Russia isn't going anywhere, the word "Russia" requires zero explanation to it's nature or definition, and Russia.com, is an appreciating digital asset. That, in a nutshell is the value and power of owning generic GEO-DOMAINS. The names themselves are the brand, and the sales prices, well, they speak for themselves. Geo-Domains are power-plays are have ALWAYS and will ALWAYS be in demand. They are great investments for domainers, but more importantly for local community penetration and development. Media companies LOVE, lOvE, LoVe, LoVE, Geo-Domains which attracts plenty of investors to the space. Two images below you will see the "Media Industry" image with more details, along with a hyperlink PDF document of industry research regarding Geo-Domains.
Internet Domain Names: Long-Tail Geo's
Long-tail Geo-Domains have been climbing (slowly-but-surely) up the popularity-totem-pole for years. As a random example. If you're building a website and company around "Miami Singles" on the Internet and spending tens-of-thousands of dollars bidding (PPC) each year on "Miami Singles" on the major search engines to attract those targeted eyeballs, wouldn't it make a lot of sense to be "MiamiSingles.com"...?
Same concept for ANY real estate company or industry. Do you really think "SusanRobinsonRealtySavannah.net" is a good Internet brand? If you're working the "Savannah Real Estate" business, wouldn't "SavannahRealEstate.com" be a much more intuitive and memorable option...? What 99% of all real estate agents and brokers fail to understand is they are fighting an uphill battle, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year if they do not have a good digital brand and website development.
The very simple fact is that people are not - and I repeat - are NOT searching for "Susan Robinson Realty Savannah" or any other combination. Search Engines supply data (if you know where and how to research) that provides crucial global search volume and data related to any industry in the world. People are NOT searching for "Thomas Sell 4 you", or, "The Ace Real Estate Pros", or, "Smith and Sons Home Team" or any another play-on-words. These "names" are not fun or funny and they don't work. End of story. These type of domain names are worth ZERO dollars and ZERO cents and will NEVER help your ORGANIC search traffic or help you gain market share. EVER. It's a fact. If you have a non-generic or "made up" domain name brand you will be at a disadvantage in local marketplace. I certainly realize some "real estate experts" tell new agents and brokers to "brand themselves", however, you might as well put your resume on Career Builder and take out another line of credit to keep yourself above water.
I realize some of our research and information is presented "rough and uncut", but it is reality and we are trying to educate and inspire people to make more educated business decisions. We've helped agents turn $40,000 incomes per year into $100k plus, we know what we're doing...
At the end of the day, long-tail Geo-Domains have tremendous value in local marketplaces. In fact, it may be fair to suggest that some generic long-tail Geo-domain names may be extremely undervalued in todays marketplace given that the Internet is becoming more and more local with each passing quarter. The future potential? The sky is limit.
Business owners wouldn't think twice about dishing out $50,000 for a new shiny Lexus (a DEPRECIATING asset) but they choke and laugh at the thought of INVESTING in a premium, APPRECIATING generic - keyword domain name that can take their business to all-new-heights. Please, go ahead and add this phenomenon to the "wonders of the world" list for me, thanks.
Internet Domain Names: Media Industry
Corporate Media: Domain Names
Go ahead and read the following four brands.
What are each of these websites about...? What do they mean...? Where are they located...? Who owns them...?
You don't know, do you? In fact, you're absolutely clueless. EXACTLY. They have ZERO competitive advantages in their respected markets for these specific entities.
These are terrible and embarrassing Internet brands by Lin Media, Raycom Media, NexStar Television, and McClatchy.
- Terra Huette, Indiana - Tv station
- Honolulu, Hawaii - Tv station
- Shreveport, Louisiana - Tv station
- Dallas, Texas - Newspaper
Most media companies around the world understand the value of generic domain names, especially Geo-Domains for their industry as it relates to local competitive advantages. For your records, we have decided to showcase our private research of corporate media domain name ownership. View the PDF.
Internet Domain Names: Corporate Activity
Domain Name Random Acts of Kindness: Surely you're scratching your head at this title, but we're serious. From time to time we have engaged in a bit of charity work by contacting Trademark holders and brand owners of opportunities that may exist that they have overlooked. In other cases, we have alerted them of specific cases where individuals are infringing on our their intellectual property. This process has helped create new relationships in the industry and makes us feel good about helping someone in need. The reality is many of the larger corporations in the world are too arrogant to think they need help, so we usually get a thrill out of their "thank you" letters or voicemail. We have supported the digital efforts of companies like NBC, Harrah's, Mercedes-Benz, and several household names, including some European-based businesses.
Internet Domain Names: Dot TV (.TV)
Internet Domain Names: (.TV) Examples
Internet Domain Names: ICANN
Internet Domain Names: Industry News
- New York Times - 12/1/99: What's in a Cybername? $7.5M For The Right Address
- Forbes - 12/30/99: The Name Says It All
- New York Times - 3/29/00: Free For All On The Name Exchange
- CNN - 11/30/05: Masters of their Domains I
- CNN - 12/1/05: Masters of their Domains II
- New York Times - 3/30/06: Domain Name Gifts
- USA Today - 4/13/06: Sellers of Internet Addresses Surf for - and get - Big Payoffs
- USA Today - 5/9/06: Domain Names Become Premium Web Real Estate
- Boston Globe - 6/12/06: Internet Stealth Company Steps Out
- Dn Journal - 9/1/06: The Marchex Story: Why They Spent $164 Million on Domains
- Forbes - 10/31/06: Master The Domain Name Game
- CNN - 5/22/07: The Man Who Owns The Internet
- Forbes - 6/29/07: The Most Expensive Web Addresses
- Forbes - 7/5/07: Meet Noah Of The Internet
- USA Today - 7/22/07: Domain Names: 21st Century Real Estate
- Fox Business - 7/24/07: The Domain Name Business is Real
- New York Times - 8/1/07: Internet Domain Names Return Hefty Profits
- New York Times - 2/1/08: Coins In The New Realm
- New York Times - 3/1/08: What's In A Domain Name? Serious Money.
- Forbes - 8/11/08: Flipping For Domains
- Tech Crunch - 2/27/09: ToysRUs Buys Toys.com At Auction For $5.1 Million
- Tech Crunch - 6/5/09: Candy.com Sells For a Sweet $3 Million
- Forbes - 7/9/09: Get Your Internet Domains, NOW
- Business Week - 7/17/09: The Domain Name Business
- Wall Street Journal - 12/1/09: 10 Years Ago Today, $7.5M Paid For Business.com
- Direct Navigation - 1/8/10: CookingGames.com Sells For $350,000 to End-User
- Advertising and Marketing News:
- Media Post - 10/2/08: Brands, Agencies Still Stumped by Local Online Advertising
- Clickz - 10/2/08: National Brands Wrestle with Local Online Advertising Pitfalls