Brand Marketing

Creating Search Phrases

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Say you have a product that is in a quickly saturating market.   How do you get your product to the forefront of this market?   If you are Unilever, you rename the market and own the new market.

I have high(ish) cholesterol mostly due to genetics, although it has been going down as a result of my eating and exercise habits.   I frequently pay attention to cholesterol reduction products, and I found something called Promise Activ Super Shots, which has plant sterols, that supposedly help reduce cholesterol.   They taste pretty good, so I take one whenever I can remember to buy them at the store.

Today I finished the last of the four pack, and as I was throwing out the box, I saw “REMOVE CHOLESTEROL” in big blue typeface. When it comes to cholesterol, I usually see keyword phrases like, “reduce your cholesterol,” “cholesterol reduction,” and “lower your cholesterol,” and this is the first time I saw “remove cholesterol.” I did a Whois search, and sure enough, RemoveCholesterol.com is owned by Unilever, the parent company of Promise, and it was registered in 2007.

It appears that Unilever has created, branded and defined this keyword phrase for their products. With all the competition for the popular keyword phrases, it’s a smart move to create a new one. Now if they would only forward traffic from this domain name to one of their brand websites!!

Elliot’s Blog Re-Designed

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As you might be able to tell, I just had my blog re-designed. I had the other layout since inception, and the other design for close to a year, so I thought it was time for a change. One new feature I am offering is the “Top Drops” page, which is found in the menu.

Each week, I will list my favorite domain drops at Snapnames. I haven’t been doing a ton of new registrations, and finding dropping/unregistered names is something I enjoy, so I will scour Snap for names that you might like.

There are still a couple of bugs being worked out, so please let me know if you see something funky. I want to say thanks to Mike @ Six One Five Design for the design work.

Investing in Call to Action Domain Names

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Major corporations seem to like call to action domain names nearly as much as they like their branded domain names. Call to action domains can be more memorable to a consumer than just the brand, and it typically encourages the consumer to take action quickly. They are less expensive than generic domain names, and they’re more readily available.   They can also be more trackable than a standard brand URL.

Call to action domain names are frequently used for a short period of time, usually during a company’s interactive or integrated marketing campaign. They are liked by companies because they can help spread a message, usually in a fun way. They aren’t typically expensive to acquire, and many of the creative ones that incorporate a company’s brand are unregistered.

For a domain investor, the problem with owning these domain names is that there are several obstacles in selling them:

1) The company could easily change a word to differentiate and buy an unregistered version (CallUsASAP.com could easily be changed to CallUsRightNow.com)

2) Because they are short campaigns (usually), the budgets for creating the advertisement are typically more limited – with the exception of the Super Bowl and a few other big advertising times.

3) It’s hard to find one of these names before it’s in demand, and to acquire a great number and hold on to them, it can be cost prohibitive.

4) Usually the advertising agency creates the advertisement, and they don’t want to spend their allotted budget on a domain name, when the money can be billed for internal labor costs rather than external unrecoverable costs like a domain name.

5) On a creative pitch, there are usually 5-10 ideas and 3 final ideas presented to the client.   Between the internal agency pitch and the pitch to the client, there isn’t much time to negotiate a domain acquistion.   Agencies won’t pitch an idea to their client unless they know exactly how much a domain name costs.   Getting in touch with some domain owners is difficult, and if they can’t secure the name before the final client pitch, the idea may be ditched. The last thing they want to do is get the client on board with a great idea, only to tell them it’s not feasible because of cost or because they can’t even get in touch with the domain owner.

I get a lot of emails from people asking my opinion on call to action domain names. While I think many of them are neat from a consumer’s perspective, I think it’s very difficult to sell them to a company. I highly doubt a company will tailor an expensive advertising campaign around a domain name, and they probably wouldn’t acquire it for a future campaign (all of this assumes the domain owner is even able to get in front of the marketing decision maker).

My advice is to own a couple of these names if you must (buying them at registration fee), but don’t spend too much money on them.   Buying call to action domain names is more like playing the lottery.

***Edit***
Just for further proof about this, next time you see a call to action domain name, do a Whois History search on it. See if the company was the original registrant and when the domain name was registered. If you see that it was previously owned by someone, drop them a note and ask them about it. I’ve learned some interesting things about domain acquisition strategy (much of it I can’t post because they asked me not to make it public). I think you’ll find that most of the call to action domains that are being used were originally registered by the company using it, rather than being older domains acquired in the after market.

President-Elect Barack Obama Gets It

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Subscribe to Elliot's BlogLooks like President Elect Barack Obama knows the importance of keyword domain names: http://www.change.gov.

Print is Dead!

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Subscribe to Elliot's BlogWith an invitation that read, “Print is Dead,” Radar Magazine celebrated Halloween and their final issue this weekend. Elsewhere on the print-front, Men’s Vogue magazine is being folded into Women’s Vogue magazine, according to a report in Bloomberg.   Additionally Portfolio magazine will be producing 10 issues instead of 12, which was also reported in Bloomberg. Portfolio, which operates online at Portfolio.com is an upscale lifestyle publication. It certainly was a smart move to acquire that fantastic domain name.
It’s a tough time to be a print publication these days. Printing costs are up, delivery costs are up over the last year, rent and real estate taxes at production facilities are up, and readership and advertising is mostly down. Many advertisers are being required to show a “real” ROI for their advertising dollars, and advertising online allows them to do this.
While a good domain name isn’t essential to being online, not having your keyword domain name can mean the loss of thousands of readers. Just from personal experience, ElliottsBlog.com, which I also own and redirect to my blog, receives a fair amount of traffic, too. This traffic would be lost if I didn’t own this alternative domain name. In the case of Portfolio, it would presumable lose traffic if the site was located on PortfolioMagazine.com, as people assume they would find it at Portfolio.com.
At this moment, there are many companies who don’t own their ideal domain name, and I bet some of them don’t even realize the amount of leaked traffic. While it might just be a few thousand unique visitors, it’s still a considerable amount since advertisers are paying based on readership. Circulation numbers (circs) have been critical to newspapers and magazines forever, so you’d think they would do a cost/benefit analysis of acquiring the generic domain name that consumers might expect to find their favorite mags.

Crispin Porter & Bogusky "Gets It" for Volkswagen

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Subscribe to Elliot's BlogUsually when I see a newly-created, branded domain name in a commercial using a non-.com extension, I find that the .com was purchased after the commercial went live, frequently by domain speculators hoping to cash in on user errors. Although the lost traffic is arguably light, it’s still enough to warrent purchasing the .com of the domain name for around $7 and forwarding any traffic to the intended website.
I saw a commercial tonight for Volkswagen, and it encouraged viewers to visit the website, RoutanBoom.org. I was curious to see if they purchased the .com as well, since this was obviously a uniquely created domain name specifically for this campaign.   The good news for Volkswagen is that their advertising agency, Crispin Porter & Bogusky, seem to “get it” when it comes to domain names, and they purchased the .com and .net on behalf of VW.
Thumbs up to CP+B on this smart domain purchase, and also for the new VW campaign, which is receiving positive reviews.

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