Domain Auctions

Afternic Launches Pre-Expiry Domain Auction Service

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I received an email from Pete Lamson, Senior VP and GM of NameMedia this morning announcing that Afternic was launching a pre-expiry domain auction service. This is good news for the domain business, as Afternic has extensive experience in the domain auction vertical, and all of the NameMedia properties have strong customer and technical support in place. It will be interesting to see which registrar(s) will be partnering with Afternic on this venture.

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NameMedia Launches Domain Auction Sales Platform

New Service Will Feature Exclusive Domain Inventory

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

December 19, 2007 Waltham, MA—NameMedia today announced the launch of Afternic Auctions on the company’s award-winning AfternicDLS domain sales platform.   With this launch, NameMedia expands AfternicDLS’ suite of products to include exclusive pre-expiry domain auctions.   These daily auctions will allow buyers to purchase domain names from among thousands of names that have not been renewed by their owners prior to expiration.

“We are pleased to further enhance our marketplace by operating exclusive, daily domain name auctions,” said Pete Lamson, senior vice president and general manager of NameMedia’s marketplace. “The Afternic Auction platform, backed by Afternic’s personalized service and flexible bidding options, gives domain buyers another source of premium domain names.”

The Afternic Auction platform, launched after extensive customer usability testing, includes the following product benefits:

–       Simple search functionality and bidding interface
–       35 day “Preorder” period, followed by extended 5 day auction
–       Individually prepared Domain Appraisals available for every auctioned name
–       Personalized bid management system including:   Bid Increase Alerts, Domain Watch Lists, Closing Soon Reminders and more
–       Capability to download the inventory of upcoming auctions to facilitate analysis and bidding strategies
–       Secure domain escrow process

“Customer reaction during beta testing was very positive, particularly with respect to the platform’s search technology, bidding interface and bid management summary,” said Adam Gross, product director for NameMedia’s domain marketplace.   “We look forward to this launch of another new service for our customers.”

For more information, visit www.Afternic.com

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For Press Inquiries, Contact:
Libby Levinson
781-839-2809

For Business Development Inquiries, Contact:
Tom Murphy
Vice President, Business Development
781-839-2871

About NameMedia

NameMedia operates a leading targeted online media business and a leading online marketplace for domain names. Further information is available at www.namemedia.com.

Sedo to Repeat .mobi Auction

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According to a post on DomainNameNews.com and a post on NamePros, Sedo will be repeating the recent .mobi auction. In an email to clients, Sedo and the .mobi MTLD decided that the results of the recent auction would be null and void after some technical glitches occurred. As reported here, the initial auction set a sales record for total value of .mobi names sold ($1.5 million) and for the highest sales price for a .mobi name – $616,000 for Music.mobi.

.mobi MTLD and Sedo announced that they will will conduct a new auction at Sedo.com beginning on January 23rd, 2008. Coincidentally, this falls on the same day as the Snapnames/DomainFest live auction in Hollywood, California.

The Problem With Domain Auctions

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Ask almost anyone what the biggest impact on the domain aftermarket in 2007 has been, and chances are they will tell you its the emergence of live domain auctions everywhere. Moniker, Snapnames, Godaddy, GreatDomains.com, DomainTools…etc all have announced or held live auctions recently. While this is good news for the most part, I’ve personally noticed it has caused some problems in the aftermarket.

The first problem is that many domain investors aren’t willing to sell their top quality generic domain names other than at auction. They know that top dollar is often found at auction, and they aren’t usually willing to compromise, unless an offer blows them out of the water. While this isn’t unreasonable, it has hampered buying opportunities outside of auctions.

Another problem with domain auctions is that many buyers aren’t buying domain names other than at auctions. Many buyers know that many great names will be up for auction, and they would prefer to make a big splash at auction rather than through a private sale, unless it is a great deal. Buyers may be reluctant to buy a name privately in the event that they need the cash for an auction.

The sheer amount of domain auctions that are going on within the industry is also causing an issue. It is difficult to get all buyers to focus on all auctions. As a result, there may be less competition among bidders, and names may sell for less than they would have if more buyers were present. The auction houses want the market to determine the prices, so they encourage sellers to set reserves as low as possible, but this becomes a difficult task, when the market for certain domain names may not be bidding at a particular auction.

Some owners are struggling to determine the best venue in which to sell their names, as the different auction companies hold auctions at various industry conferences and on their own. Also, listing domain names in an auction often requires exclusivity (before and after the auction), removing names from the market whether or not they sell at auction. Finally, if a name doesn’t sell at auction, an artificial price ceiling is created for that name, even though it might not have sold simply because the right bidders weren’t in attendance.

I know this may sound crazy, but while domain auctions are having a positive impact on the industry as a whole, they are also impacting the industry in other ways. I think the most important things auction houses need to do to grow the industry is to encourage end users to attend the auctions to acquire the best names for their business.

.Mobi Shines in Sedo Auction

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Mouths dropped throughout the domain industry after the completion of Sedo’s most recent auction for .mobi domain names.   The auction grossed over $1.5 million in sales, which could be a record for this extension.   The sale of Music.mobi for $616,000 easily eclipsed the previous public sale record of Flowers.mobi for $200,000. In fact, Games.mobi also doubled the previous record, selling for$401,500.

The amount of money paid for these names is significant, and it shows there are people who feel strongly about the future success of the extension.   I eagerly await to see who the buyer is and what is done with each of these high caliber names.   Should consumer friendly sites be developed on these names, it would be significant in that others may follow suit, further boosting the relevance of .mobi.

Industry giants such as Bank of America (bofa.mobi), ESPN (espn.mobi), AAA (aaa.mobi) and others have built mobile-friendly website on the .mobi extension.

The adult industry has always had a major impact on the advancement of various technologies such as VCRs, DVD players, Web development, and probably even more that I can’t think of off the top of my head.   I wonder what the impact would be if they began using .mobi domain names for handheld porn.   Sure, it probably wouldn’t be openly welcomed by many, but when has it been?   That could really advance the .mobi extension, as consumers become aware of it.

Courtesy of the Mobility.mobi forum and verified by Andew’s post on Domain Name Wire, below are some of the key sales from the Sedo Auction:

Music.mobi $616,000
Games.mobi $401,500
Sports.mobi $101,000
Movies.mobi $82,000
Game.mobi $61,000
Juegos.mobi $61,000
Videos.mobi $51,000
Photos.mobi $51,000
Sport.mobi $51,000
Job.mobi $43,600
SportsBetting.mobi $41,000
Radio.mobi $34,500
Fashion.mobi $32,000
Horoscope.mobi $30,000
Wine.mobi $30,000
Play.mobi $28,150
Video.mobi $25,555
Jokes.mobi $24,100
Flower.mobi $21,500
Dictionary.mobi $21,500
Musica.mobi $20,600
Movie.mobi $20,500

Godaddy: Tell Us How to Improve Signature Auctions

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Godaddy Logo Godaddy is asking its customers to provide feedback on how the company can improve its Signature Auctions, after the first round saw pretty poor results. This request is one of the smartest moves I’ve seen from one of the big domain companies. Most companies would probably have tried to put a positive spin on the results, which may have made them look foolish. Because of their humble appeal, I will give some advice that I believe could improve their next Signature Auction.

1.) Better Names at Reasonable Reserves

Godaddy should do what it takes to ensure there are good quality domain names on auction with low/reasonable reserve prices. They should seek out domain owners and cut deals with them to guarantee certain prices will be achieved (lower commissions, sales price guarantees, bid on behalf of Godaddy’s internal portfolio…etc). The better the quality names at reasonable reserves, the more likely it is for buyers to show up and bid. Conversely, the more wealthy buyers that are present, the more likely it is for domain sellers to list their names at reasonable reserve prices.

Sellers are reluctant to put their names on auction at a lower reserve because if there aren’t enough buyers, they’ve created an artificial price ceiling for their domain names. Hypothetically, a $500,000 name with a reserve price of just $100,000 might not sell if an interested buyer doesn’t show up. If that’s the case, the domain owner has created a price ceiling that isn’t realistic because it probably would have sold for $500,000 in a different venue.

2.) More Publicity

In the days leading up to the auction, there didn’t seem to be any publicity for the auction. It was almost like Godaddy wanted to have a soft opening, but when they chose that route, bidders didn’t show up (or if they did, they didn’t bid). Godaddy needs to publicize their next auction as much as possible. I suggest the following:

  • Purchase impressions in all the domain forums and domain blogs
  • Buy related Adwords
  • Email entire database of current customers
  • Ask Bob to blog about the auction to generate buzz
  • Issue press releases touting the high profile domain names
  • Give coupon credits to VIP customers

3.) VIP Invitations

There are quite a few people who are known for bidding aggressively at other live domain auctions. Senior Godaddy executives should go through their rolodexes and do what they need to make sure these bidders show up. Godaddy might even want to ask them what types of names they are looking to purchase, and they should make sure at least some of these types of names are on auction.

4.) Manage the Escrow Process

Instead of handing off the sale to Escrow.com to complete an auction (or any of TDNAM’s sales for that matter), Godaddy should handle the transaction on their own. This is an important part of the process, and it will ensure that payment is made quickly, and the domain name is transferred promptly and correctly. Why should they leave anything to chance?   All other major auction houses offer in-house escrow services, and I don’t see why Godaddy still doesn’t.

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The better the auction results are, the more likely it will be that people will want their names listed in future auctions. The better the names in auction, the more likely it will be that buyers show up and bid. The second round will be much more successful than the inaugural attempt because Godaddy was smart enough to ask for advice from the domain community.

Godaddy Signature Auction Results

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It doesn’t look so great for Godaddy’s first Signature Auction. According the the listing, only 2 of the 31 listed names sold. As I said in a post a couple of weeks ago, there really weren’t very many names on the list that were that appealing, and the few that were good, had high reserves.

As I said a few days ago, I didn’t see much hype surrounding the auction, although it did receive a fair amount of press. It looks like Godaddy should huddle up, figure out where things went wrong, and make adjustments for the next time. With the addition of domain industry veteran Adam Dicker, Godaddy is still in a good position.

Godaddy has a strong brand and large following, and once they get the right mix of premium names, fair reserves with their good technology, they could have a competitive product.

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