CATEGORY: Domains

iGoogle as Social Network?

Google recently announced the opening of the iGoogle Sandbox with associated support of the OpenSocial API.

iGoogle sandbox supports OpenSocial 0.7, including friends and activity streams as well as a home and canvas view of your gadgets. Later, iGoogle will support the requestSendMessage function to facilitate growth of your gadget.

Is Google readying iGoogle aka Google Start Page for use as a social network? It would certainly mean they have a leg up. Millions of people already have a Gmail or Gmail for your domain account so flipping the switch to the Start Page wouldn’t require a creating a new account anywhere.

Name.com has been offering fully integrated Google Apps for about a year now. Using the Start Page as my daily dashboard allows me to manage all of the various tools I need everyday and soon I’ll start poking some of our development staff to create some tools to make that even easier.

If you want to start using iGoogle/Start Page just register or transfer your domain to Name.com today – Google Apps are free and Name.com offers the easiest way to get you Start Page going.

SimulScribe Buys PhoneTag.com: Rebranding for Growth

TechCrunch is reporting that Voice to Text messaging provider SimulScribe has acquired the domain name PhoneTag.com for $30k and is planning on rebranding under the new name starting April 25. It appears that Strong Inc. was the seller.

The name SimulScribe totally sucks for our business. People have a real challenge remembering the name and they cannot spell it, which is a real problem considering that new customers need to type in our web address to sign up. When your company offers a consumer product that relies on viral marketing, a difficult name is a really bad thing. In fact, I’m constantly amazed at how well we have been able to do with such a shitty name.

I am not sure I could be in greater agreement that this company needed a new name. I had no idea what they did based on their name. While it’s still not obvious from PhoneTag.com I at least know it has something to do with phones and it’s catchy.

TechCrunch is also running a poll on whether readers think the name was overpriced or not. As of this writing 320 respondents say no, to 87 yes.

Easy Name.com Availability Checking Tools

In addition to our own cross browser domain availability checking tools, RegZap and WhoZap, we’re pleased to announce that Name.com has been included in the latest version of QualityNonsense’s Domain Lookup FireFox Extension.

Domain Lookup is a Firefox extension that helps you discover valuable generic domain names while surfing the web. Just select the text you wish to check and hit the shortcut key. Domain Lookup checks availability at your favourite registrar in a heartbeat.

If you’ve never used this extension before you’ll be automagically set up with Name.com as your default registrar by using the link above. If you want to switch to using name.com you’ll have to tweak your settings to select Name.com.

Finding ways to make registering an available domain name easier is one of our most consistent efforts and I would like to thank Richard Kershaw for including us in his spiffy tool.

Domain Roundtable Auction Results April 2008

The auction has been slow starting, but there are spurts of activity. So far the most action has been on lot #82 – Retire(d).net, which sold to the room for $23,500.

Through 90 lots there’s been 20 sales for $82,970 total. More to come.

Through 160 lots 38 names have sold for a total of $177, 520

Here are the final results. Note, several domains were revisited after the gavel originally dropped.

83 Names sold for a total of $416,012.

That’s a tenth of the total $ and about half of the total number of domains from the first DomainTools.com auction in Seattle. Attendance was down considerably from last year. I’m sure that contributed to the lack of blockbuster sales. Last year saw three high five figure deals, four six figure deals as well as a million dollar winning bid on Rebate(s).com totalling $2.5m. This year those deals were conspicuously absent. The big winner this year was Debug.com at $25k. The average sale was just over $5k.

Lot | DomainName | $

3 SecretCodes.com $4,500
4 Service.org $12,000
10 MentorOhio.com $200
12 Pintos.com $1,500
21 CleverLyrics.com $300
26 HospitalClothing.com $3,500
29 MortgageProposal.com $410
35 DataBeam.com $1,000
38 DomainNameTransfer.com $3,000
43 CamperShow.com $1,000
46 XmasToys.com $3,800
47 BusinessRefinance.com $3,100
48 EuropeanExcursions.com $500
49 FloorRemodeling.com $900
51 TradeStocks.cc $100
54 FreeNameServers.com $1,001
63 HuntingtonCalifornia.com $1,850
66 DrugAbuseTreatment.com $2,900
80 SendBulkEmail.com $900
81 NameParking.com $15,000
82 Retire.net $23,500
88 SecretIngredients.com $2,000
93 LakeMohave.com $3,000
94 KitchenAndBathroom.com $3,200
101 AutoRespond.com $2,900
102 BasicInstall.com $400
103 330.com $23,000
105 Dangers.com $7,600
108 WorldExchange.com $4,700
109 Chopstick.com $10,000
110 BigStore.com $6,000
111 TvMarkets.com $7,000
112 ToyMarket.com $4,500
115 FreeGuide.com $4,700
119 DigitalRights.com $4,000
122 Keyword.net $4,000
124 AutoDirectory.com $8,200
126 RefinanceDebt.org $1,000
129 Approvers.com $1,000
141 Crier.com $1,750
142 CollegePlacement.com $2,000
152 SiteInspector.com $2,500
156 RacingSuspensions.com $1,500
158 CuteDoggy.com $400
161 RetirementInvestments.com $2,900
164 NewClosets.com $2,000
165 MyQuote.com $10,000
170 BoundModels.com $250
171 Taliban.com $7,000
172 Fatherless.org $300
174 LakeMichiganWaterfront.com $1,200
179 GreatHaircut.com $300
180 InkRefiller.com $500
189 SwingerSpace.com $5,000
190 BuyMedication.com $1,250
193 AmsterdamVacations.com $5,000
198 Tempe.mobi $1,600
204 WirelessMouse.com $11,000
205 conf.com $6,600
209 AllergyProblems.com $5,000
221 FoodExports.com $1,000
233 TheTemple.com $1,300
243 Debug.com $25,000
247 ModelingJobs.com $16,000
254 Moral.com $11,000
256 FrenchCooking.com $4,900
257 Robbin.com $4,300
263 Shaft.com $17,000
264 Ammunition.cc $200
270 Cosmetics.net $18,000
275 CreditScoreTracker.com $2,500
280 Pallets.net $2,100
281 Skids.net $500
289 Hyperlinks.com $17,000
294 TransportShips.com $201
296 Insulators.com $11,000
303 FitnessNet.com $6,700
308 VideoArt.com $4,200
313 Famo.com $3,500
314 RomanticRestaurant.com $10,000
316 Stubborn.com $12,000
326 Complacence.com $1,000
348 Preannounce.com $400

Aside from the numbers the auction moved much quicker than last year. I’m not sure about the future of Roundtable/DomainTools auctions. They are up against the juggernaut of Moniker/SnapNames. I like the idea of the Roundtable auctions because the auction agreement is much less restrictive than Moniker’s, but at the end of the day if the bidders aren’t showing up it isn’t going to matter.

Password Security Gets Another Helper in PasswordBird

Do you worry about someone busting into your domain accounts? You should. As domain asset values continue to rise the threat to their security rises as well.
If you’re like most people you use the same password for lots of websites and services. Further, the password you use ise probably based on a special number or name in your life. Your anniversary, your dog’s name, your address, etc. All of these things are standard fare for someone trying to get into the very sensitive data you’re trying to protect. The problem with ultra secure passwords is that they are difficult to remember. PasswordBird aims to help make life easier by blending some of the important information in your life into a memorable password.

Provide PasswordBird the following data:

  • A special name
  • A special word
  • A special date

And PasswordBird provides you with an eight character password. Now those passwords aren’t ultra secure, but they sure beat using any dictionary word or short phrase which is what many people do. If you don’t like the password that was generated you can generate another based on the same information you provided or you start from scratch with a new search.

To improve the security of the PasswordBird passwords you can swap one of the letters for an uppercase and add a special character. You can test the security of these and other passwords you may want to use at PasswordMeter.

Shoppers.com: UDRP Decision That Makes Sense

UDRP threats can wreak havoc on aftermarket buyers sleep patterns. When it comes to high priced generic auctions and sales it’s commonly thought that there’s no way anyong would drop a UDRP. But it happens. It happened to Xedoc Holdings after they layed out $166k for Shoppers.com in a Pool auction.

In what I hope becomes a common determining factor, the panel determined that the wide ranging generic nature of the domain name offsets the TM held by SuperValu Inc.:

Involved here is a common, descriptive word. It is not, in fact, associated by most people in the English-speaking world with the trademark of a regional US grocery chain. This domain name is worth $166,000 at auction precisely because it is a popular generic term with commercial connotations.

Will that discussion point mean that we might see higher bids on some names that investors might have shied away from previously? Time will tell.

Domain Roundtable Auction List Shaping Up

Jay over at Name Intelligence/DomainTools.com just released a sneak peek at some of the low reserve domain names which will be on the auction block during the Domain Roundtable Auction on April 21, 2008. Jay has gotten a lot of flak recently about the quality of names in his online only auctions. Between these names and his previously announced list of some of the premium names I think this should shape up to be a nice auction.

I know I’ll be keeping an eye out for a few bargains. There’s already a couple I have my sights set on.

Name.com Heads to Domain Roundtable, Offers Special Regsitration Discount

Name.com is taking the show on the road again and we’ll be landing in San Francisco next week for the Domain Roundtable. Even better, we’ve hooked up with the folks at Domain Roundtable to offer our customers and readers a $200 discount on registration. So there’s just no excuse not to come see us at the show.

The discount is good for the full Domain Roundtable pass. You’ll have full access to all panels, keynotes and parties. Name.com’s own Michelle Miller will be speaking on Marketing & Advertising your domain portfolio. CEO and Founder Bill Mushkin will be featured during the Heads Look Ahead/CEO Rountable. Both of these sessions promise to be insanely informative.

To get your discount code just email namedotcom@domainroundtable.com

See you in San Francisco!

OpenSocial v. ICA: Why one flies and the other falters

Since the announcement of Google’s OpenSocial project I’ve been following the developments with great interest to see the adoption flow. I think Social Media and the Social Web are here to stay. The development of a standard platform for Social Media projects at this relatively early stage of the game indicates that major companies are hedging on long term growth.

The OpenSocial Foundation was announced today.

The basic notion behind OpenSocial was/is to create a common API to make it easy to create and host applications on the web. Evolving out of this important idea is a non-profit organization that Social Web’s heavyweights have gotten behind. MySpace, Yahoo! (owner of flickr, Upcoming.org and Del.icio.us) are part of the holy trinity.

Wouldn’t it be great if the same kind of standardization and cooperation were available within the domain industry?

There’s been a lot of talk about transparency from many corners of the domain industry but no one is taking the lead yet. Is there really room in an industry that is often thought of as being filled with mavericks? Does the continued onslaught of threats to domain monetization and ownership mean that companies will be more willing to work with each other going forward? I ask because we’re a very small industry. We’re growing all the time, of course, but we’re tiny in many ways. We’re also very incestuous. I can think of a half dozen associates who have moved from one domain related company to another in just the last few months. So knowledge moves very quickly from one company to another anyway. Why isn’t there more collaboration?

Rick Schwartz recently decided to quit blogging, in part because he feels like his pleas/warnings have been falling on deaf ears. Elliot Silver has had a lot to say for the ICA (Internet Commerce Association) lately. They are both frustrated because so few people/companies within the industry are supporting this organization that is allegedly working hard to support the interests of domain name registrants/investors. Why aren’t more people?

My gut tells me there’s just not enough perceived upside for the majority of people in the domain industry. There’s no “greater good” that’s being helped by the ICA. It’s like asking flyers to support an airline lobby group. Yeah, I benefit from favorable airline terms/contracts/legislation, but I’m not going to see dramatically improved service or significantly cheaper airfare. At best I’ll get to continue choosing between one crappy provider and the other. Wee. For 99% of people who play in the domain sandbox it’s the same thing. They haven’t invested hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars in domains, nor have they felt the sting of losing an investment. Why should they plunk down $300 at this point? Where is their perceived value?

The ICA needs to do a much better job of transparency and visibility for itself. I’ve attended several shows where the booth space for ICA has been empty. I know, it’s a small organization. But where else are the small to mid sized domainers going to find Michael Collins? They aren’t going to be rubbing elbows with the big shots, they are going to be roaming the trade show floor looking for information, answers, help in growing their business. This is another missing component of the ICA. As a trade organization what services, what resources is the ISA providing that the average domainer can latch onto as a benefit. Whether it’s the American Association of Cosmetology Schools or the National Association of Theater Owners or any of the thousands of other trade organizations around the world, you’ll notice that there are real resources available to members. There needs to be a two way relationship like that with the ICA as well.

OpenSocial has gotten more people interested in being involved in a single day than the ICA has gotten in the two years it’s been in existence. If what you are doing isn’t working, it’s time to change tactics guys. Here’s hoping I see you at a booth in San Francisco!

Disclaimer: I am not, in anyway, saying the ICA is not worth supporting. Quite the contrary. Go. Join. Prosper!

Search Engine Optimizers Hate Domainers

If you thought that Google & Yahoo! were working in a vacuum to make life more difficult for domainers you’re kidding yourself. I’ve seen the enemy and the enemy is SEO.

I’m in NYC for the Search Engine Strategies show. For those of you who do not know what I’m talking about, SES is the largest conferences dedicated to improving your visibility within search engines. Google and Yahoo! reign here. Whether your goal is natural/non-paid results or better placement in paid results.

In yesterday’s Domaining and Address Bar Navigation session Sedo’s Matt Bentley and Moniker’s Monte Cahn found themselves up against the anti-domaining duo of Point-It’s John Lisbin and Sendtec’s Janel Landis. The timing for the discussion couldn’t have been better due to Google’s recent announcement that advertisers will be able to opt-out of parked pages for their campaigns.

Bentley kicked off the conversation with a bit about perception skew. Based on later discussion I think that he was spot on. He’s point was that Internet professionals, and particularly SEO professionals, think that being found on the web is all about search navigation. He used the 1976 New Yorker cover cartoon about the geographic skew from a New Yorker’s point of view. Matt went on to talk about the various ways to use direct navigation as a viable, and often times, better option to paid search campaigns. Of particular interest was his assertion that a good generic domain name has an average ROI of 2 years, even with a price tag of $350k.

Matt was followed by PointIt, Inc’s John Lisbin. John started off attacking “cyber & typo squatters”. Which immediately put me on the defensive. It’s no secret that our industry has bad apples but to lump typo squatters into legitimate domainers borders on libelous. There was very much a vein of domainer as criminal. Further muddying the waters for the advertisers in the audience was the grouping of “made for Adsense sites and parked pages. Utilizing one of his customers bad experiences with a group of Adsense optimized sites such as UniqueChristmasGiftsA.com and about six others which were very similar. Clearly you cannot compare the traffic that would be driven to URLs of that nature (whether from link farms or arbitrage) to the natural type in of ChristmasGifts.com, can you?

Well, that very notion was the premise of Sendtec’s Janel Landis. Janel came out with both guns blazing. Janel claims that address bar navigation is almost exclusively an accident and visitors use any link on the page as a way out. Therefore she posits that any traffic from parked sites is not quality/qualified. The lone exception to her theory is typo domains. Yes, you heard that right. This search professional was espousing the value of typo domains to individual brands. She didn’t differentiate between whether the trademark holder or someone else was the domain registrant in her point, but both of the TurboTax typos that she used as examples were parked/monetized domains. In summary she maintained that traffic from parked pages was almost exclusively useless and she encouraged advertisers to opt out.

Monte Cahn, who was introduced as the Godfather of domaining (be sure to call him Godfather at TRAFFIC) batted clean up. Monte wrapped up things nicely by encouraging advertisers and mark holders to register the most frequent typos of their name and their brands. And, the savvy marketer that he is, he offered his company as the perfect company to help with that project.

I cannot stress enough the number of people here. These people are looking at improving their visibility via search. They are being told that parked domains are crap.

All of that talk by industry leaders about transparency and quality traffic? Ya, it’s a little important if you want Google and Yahoo! to keep domains in their programs at all. Arbitrage? It’s spoiling it for everyone. Link farms? Yep, those too. Concentrate on quality generic names. If you can’t land those you better start developing names into valuable resources. There are no shortcuts to making money with domain names these days. I’ll talk more later this week about ways to make money with domains. But for now I need to pay more attention to this session on Social Media Marketing. Ciao.