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Should Poker Companies Shift .NET to .CO?

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If you watched the World Series of Poker (or any professional poker tournament on television for that matter), you’ve probably seen all the big poker companies imploring wannabe poker players to visit their .NET websites instead of the flagship .COM sites.

I believe it’s due to US law regarding poker and gaming websites, where American citizens aren’t allowed to play poker online with real money. As a result, they aren’t allowed to market/advertise this “illegal” activity (this is all my thought and not necessarily fact). As a result, the poker companies promote the a .NET version of its brand which offers practice poker for fake money as well as tips and educational material.

The hope is that the players will realize the real action is found at the corresponding .COM and they’ll visit that website in the future. I would imagine they probably also don’t mind that some people only really pay attention to what comes before the extension, like Poker Stars or Full Tilt Poker, and they will directly navigate to the .COM instead.

Now that the .CO Registry has successfully launched and sold over 600,000 domain names, I am wondering if it would be a good idea for these poker parlors to ditch the .NET and switch to .CO. The advantage is that people are familiar with “CO” as an abbreviation for company, and because of it’s close proximity to .COM, it would align better with the .COM.

Of course, it could cause some type-in confusion, but that’s probably not a bad thing for the poker companies.

Sunday Updates – New York City Marathon Edition

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It’s a big Sunday for me, but I feel lazy right now. My wife is running in the ING New York City Marathon this morning, and she’s been up since 4:30am. I will be running around finding a couple of good spots to watch the run, so I am sure I will be tired when it’s all done.

Here are a few updates for Sunday:

– Yesterday, Adam posted a comment in a post that appears to have turned into a  referendum  on .TV, “They might change their mind and use it when Google launches Google TV.” I hadn’t thought about Google using .TV, but that could change the awareness of .TV and bring more value. The big issue is that Google seems to be using Google.com/TV instead. In fact, Google.TV forwards to Google.com – not even their Google TV website. Whether Google brands .TV or .COM could have big implications for .TV investors (I am not one of them yet).

– The more I think about it, the more I know how valuable a generic domain name is to a business. You can see it with the sale of Quidsi (owner of Diapers.com and Soap.com) to Amazon. Even more important though is the founders’ entrepreneurial spirit, business  acumen, and ability to raise VC funding if necessary for growth.

– Speaking of Quidsi, it was reported on the Next Level Media, LLC website that Quidsi previously acquired YoYo.com for $500,000. I believe this domain name was owned by a well known domain investor’s company.

– Good article on TheDomains.com yesterday about separating different business units into individual companies for legal purposes. It’s a reason I have two completely separate companies with different focuses. It’s a good read if you are serious about domain names.

– I finally want to congratulate my brother Scott for passing the Bar in the State of New York and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. I acquired a pretty easy to remember domain name for him to use when he’s ready… SHS.com.

Cooking Channels Owns .TV Domain But Doesn’t Use It for Branding

CookingChannelTV.comI recently noticed that my cable tv provider added a new channel to the already huge lineup. The Cooking Channel features a number of cooking shows featuring famous as well as up and coming chefs. I guess it’s probably because the Food Network focuses on more than just cooking.

While watching Kelsey’s Essentials, I heard her mention the url of the Cooking Channel’s website, and I was a bit surprised by what they chose: CookingChannelTV.com.  The Cooking Channel does own CookingChannel.TV (a name the company acquired sometime between May and July 2010), but they understand that most people know .com, so they are branding CookingChannelTV.com instead.

They do smartly forward the .TV domain name to their website, but it was somewhat surprising that they didn’t use .TV and do the reverse since that almost seems more intuitive.

Unfortunately for Scripps (the owner of the Cooking Channel), CookingChannel.com is owned by Reflex Publishing, a company that is known to not sell its great generic domain names.

Risks in Buying ccTLD Domains: Example of .LY Domain Name Taken by Registry

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ccTLD investing is probably most interesting to me because of my travels, not because I am a ccTLD investor, or because I use ccTLD domain names regularly. Businesses in many countries outside of the USA favor local ccTLD domain names over .com, although there are still a number of countries whose citizens prefer non-ccTLD domain names.

One of my biggest fears with ccTLD domain names is that the country in charge of the registry can set rules and regulations that wouldn’t be expected in the US. It’s one thing if you live there and are accustomed to those local laws, but it’s another thing if you’re a US citizen and you use a ccTLD in the US, but your domain name is governed by a foreign entity.

Internet consultant, Ben Metcalfe, reported about a situation his company is facing with regards to VB.LY, an important .LY domain name his company owns – well owned.   According to a post on Ben’s blog,

The domain was seized by the Libyan domain registry for reasons which seemed to be kept obscure until we escalated the issue. We eventually discovered that the domain has been seized because the content of our website, in their opinion, fell outside of Libyan Islamic/Sharia Law.

It seems odd that a domain registrar is taking over a domain name based on its content, since the content is hosted on servers that reside outside of Libya. When I reported an instance of copy theft to Godaddy, they told me it was out of their scope since the domain name is only registered at their company, and the actual website is hosted elsewhere.

This is something every ccTLD investor and web developer MUST consider when buying ccTLD domain names. I wrote an article about how domain hacks can lead to confusion in the market place, but I think this is a far more important consideration. A company like Bitly, whose primary domain name operates on Bit.LY, needs to be mindful, especially when Bitly has very little (or no) control over the content to which they are linking.

Think Twice Before You Use a Domain Hack

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Domain hacks can be cutesy, and the more publicity some of the popular hacks receive, the more others want to emulate. The problem with domain hacks is that they can be confusing to consumers, especially when they don’t mention the “dot” in their branding.

Just the other day, I wrote an article about a new start up called Bump, which smartly operates on Bump.com. One of the people who read the article made a comment about another company called Bump, although that company operates on Bu.mp. Unfortunately for the Bu.mp guys, they are most likely going to lose traffic to the Bump.com start up, and not only is it their own fault, but there’s really nothing they can do about it since Bump.com is a venture backed company and the domain name wouldn’t be for sale.

Delicious and Bitly were two of the first startups that went mainstream to use domain hacks, and luckily for both, they were able to get the .com domain name to match (Delicious had to purchase Delicious from the registrant). Delicious probably paid a lot more for its .com domain name simply because it built up considerable traffic and brand recognition unintentionally. People, especially in the .com centric US, just assume it’s on a .com.

Just this past week, Google announced its new url shortener, which uses the domain hack Goo.gl for its own url. Smartly for them, they also own Googl.com in the event of typos, although it seems like they are differentiating it from the main search site by emphasizing the “dot.” On a side note, it will be interesting to track the traffic to GL.com, since there will probably be people who inadvertently type in Goo.gl.com in error.

My recommendation to start ups and to anyone who wants to use a domain hack is that they should only do it if they can secure the .com. If they can’t secure the .com but must use this hack for some reason, it’s critical to emphasize the “dot.”

Huffington Post Spotlight on .CO Registry and Juan Calle

.CO Registry Founders ProgramThere was a nice article on the Huffington Post about Juan Calle and the .CO Registry. Aside from the mildly insulting comment that seems to equate domain parking with cybersquatting, it’s a pretty good article about the Registry and its marketing efforts, which have been led by Calle, Lori Anne Wardi, their internal marketing team, and the external advertising team at the Pappas Group.

The article discusses how Calle and his company went up against a registry powerhouse to get the rights to administer the .CO Registry and came out on top. Additionally, the Registry’s efforts to combat cybersquatting are also mentioned in the article. You can read a bit about those efforts in a previously written article.

One thing the article only briefly mentions is Calle’s previous Internet success. One of Calle’s companies, Straat Investments, owns and operates websites like ParisHotels.com, MiamiHotels.com, LondonHotels.com, and many other great cityHotels.com domain names through its Federated Travel brand.

Congrats to Calle and his hard working team at the CO Registry. This has been a hell of a year for him, and in my opinion, he deserves the TRAFFIC Domainer of the Year award.

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