CATEGORY: Business

.ORG Chinese IDN launch!

Starting on January 23 at around 19:00 UTC/GMT, you can register a .ORG Internationalized Domain Name (IDN) with Name.com!

Why go with a .ORG Chinese IDN?

For just $9.99 you can register a domain in the most widely spoken language in the world using one of the most established and recognized top level domains. This gives you the potential to reach literally billions of people and turn them into readers and customers.

You can read about the .ORG extension here and we have more details about .ORG Chinese IDNs here.

Please feel free to post any questions in the comments, or you can always contact us on Facebook and Twitter.

Name.com Launches New Level of Account Security

Domain Name Hijacking has been an issue for almost as long as domain names have been around. In 1995 sex.com was stolen from it’s registrant in a very high profile case. It was still happening in 2001. In 2003. 2008 was a rough year from Godaddy – they were hit hard twice, in February and again in November and December.

The December incident, arguably one of the most troubling domain thefts in history made us realize how lacking domain registrars have been in dealing with account security.

But a domain name doesn’t have to be stolen to be problematic. USA Today addressed cyber criminal attacks being on the rise today and highlights the recent CheckFree.com fiasco:

In another recent attack, someone acquired the user name and password for a system administrator at CheckFree.com, the nation’s largest e-bill payment system. Using those log-in credentials, an intruder gained access to CheckFree’s domain name service account ’97 an account that permits the administrator to redirect traffic trying to access CheckFree’s home page to other legitimate company pages.

For several hours, the intruder redirected anyone typing www.mycheckfree.com to a Web server in the Ukraine that tried to install a password-stealing Trojan. Although as many as 160,000 customers may have been affected, none had any of his or her data stolen, says Lori Stafford-Thomas, a spokeswoman for Fiserv, the parent company of CheckFree. “CheckFree sites are all up and running properly and securely,” she says.

But the attempt was a sign of things to come, says Amit Klein, CTO of security firm Trusteer.

“The moral of this attack is that it’s so easy to take over your (website),” Klein says. “I just need to get ahold of your user name and password once. And we all know how easy it is to get your credentials.”

Name.com has long offered some of the industries best tools to keep entire accounts safe with login tracking/emails, history and IP restrictions. We’ve demonstrated once again why registrants trust us with their valuable digital assets by partnering with Verisign to offer their VIP (Verisign Identity Protection) service branded under NameSafe.

The NameSafe service offers a two factor authentication – combining something you know (your username and password) with something only you have access to (your one time randomly generate password) to create a more secure registrar experience. Currently both keyfob and credit card form factors are available for a nominal fee, and soon mobile phone options will be available for even greater convenience.

.TEL Landrush Pre-orders Now Being Accepted

We’ve begun accepting Landrush pre-orders for .tel domains. TEL is a very special type of domain name that allows both individuals and organizations the ability to have their contact information on the web without the need to build a website. By utilizing the telHosting Platform you can easily enter and format information in a clear and concise manner. You can find more information on how to use .tel on our .tel information page.

During Landrush the registration price is set at a premium and we’re charging $295 for the three year minimum term.

Landrush pre-orders will be processed on February 3, 2009 on a first come-first serve basis. Any domain names that are not successfully acquired for our customers will be eligible for a refund less a $10 processing fee.

The ’93Now What?’94 Series Intro

One of the questions I get asked over and over again by people outside of the domain name industry is “why do I need a domain?” the second most often asked question is “What do I do with my domain name?” Over the next couple of days I’ll be sharing some short articles with you. Articles targeted to those very people: end-users. Individuals and companies looking to register a domain name for a new business, a new product or any number of other reasons want to know what the can and what they should do with their newly minted Internet real estate. I owe a debt of gratitude to a talented young content writer who is here helping us out this summer. If Kevin Crane comes knocking on your door looking for a job, he’s got my endorsement and I thank him for his leg work and efforts on this series. The entirety of which will later be posted on the Name.com website.

The first and most important thing to do is make sure your domain name is secure. You spent some time and effort finding just the right domain name. You might have even paid a premium for the name in the aftermarket. Taking a few minutes to make sure that all of your contact details are accurate and that your domain name is locked from malicious changes and/or hijacking is a smart investment of a few minutes time.

Next, making sure that you know the username and password for your domain name registrar is another important item to check off. If you went through a designer or web host for your domain name you’ll want to make sure that you retain full rights to your name upon the termination of any relationship with that third party. Name.com recommends always registering your own domain names. Domain management isn’t difficult and we’re here to help you every step of the way.

Finally, you may want to take advantage of multi-year discounts if your domain name registrar offers them. There are multiple reasons for doing so, including the peace of mind of having an extended registration (up to ten years) and not having to worry about annual renewals as well as the fact that Google looks favorably upon domain names which have expiration dates well into the future.

Bido.com Unwrapped

Recall Media’s one-name-per-day auction site, Bido.com bowed today with the inaugural auction of DiscountImages.com. Was is a success? Only the team over at Bido.com can say for sure. There were four bidders with a total of 20 bids on the name. That’s better than almost all of the low reserve/no reserve names at the last TRAFFIC auction in Orlando. The end result was a winning bid of $911US.

The appraisals for DiscountImages.com varied from lows of $500 to highs of $15k targeted at end-users. My own appraisal of $750-1500 was based on a variety of factors including past sales, recent offers on my own domains, industry trends and end-usage. I might have a couple of factors I’ll keep under my hat, but overall this isn’t rocket science. End-users are not the target for Bido.com and value expectations that take the end-user into account aren’t going to hit the mark here.

Does having industry expert appraisers weigh in on a name help or hinder the auction process? It might mean that some names get less, but I think it’s best for the industry as a whole. Overpaying for names means the industry is in a bubble (and look where that gets the real estate market). Having realistic appraisals and data on the likely end-use and/or development for a name presents us all with the opportunity to create a stable marketplace that will continue to grow over time.

Would I use Bido to move some of my names? You bet. There are many names in my portfolio that I either hand-regged or picked up in a drop or otherwise paid very little for. Why would I *not* take a few hundred to a couple thousand dollars for them? Are there names in this group that I’m not willing to trust the model to? Of course. But the crown jewels are few and far between. Domain investors who can be honest with themselves over their portfolio and the likelihood of a big payday for those mid-tier domains might find great success at Bido.com.

Cheers to the Bido.com/DNZoom team.

Keyword Search Headed For A Breakdown?

As the Internet swells with more information every second of the day we will find keyword search results less and less relevant. TechCrunch recently reported on the limits of keyword search and the inevitable breaking point. Direct Navigation offers any business a short cut to being found.

While the point behind that post is that the semantic web will save us all when that breaking point arrives, it’s hard to miss the alternative: Direct Navigation. Arguably, generic domain names will be seen as the authority space on the web for the associated terms. When these domain names find their way in the hands of end-users or investors who are willing to put in the time, money and effort to develop them we’ll see more people trusting their address bar to get them to relevant information.

Until that time we’ll see PPC revenues continue to fall. Why? Well, a number of reasons really, but one of the major reasons is more domains names that ever are parked with monetization companies. As a savvy Internet browser I get frustrated when I type in a URL hoping to find content and getting hit with ads. I’m hardly unique. The more ads there are the less attention is paid to them.

As a domain name investor you’ve probably got at least a couple of great direct navigation domain names. You’ve got a leg up on 99% of the websites on the Internet. You’ve got the Park Place spot versus their Baltic Avenue. Use it!

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.