General Domain Information

Are Numeric Domain Names an “Emerging Trend”?

I had my first debate/discussion via Twitter (albeit a short one) yesterday about whether numeric domain names can be considered an emerging trend. I read Inside Domaining’s tweet about the topic, and I disagree because values are stagnant and down for most numeric names (as they are just about across the board). I cited my experience selling 887.com late last year as evidence of a difficult market, and I also have experience selling 4 number .com domain names and 3 number .net domain names in the past.

Inside Domaining countered back that 2 and 3 number .com domain names were selling great last year, which is something I do not dispute. However, they sold well last year because TJ Demas bought many of the big ones for huge prices for a special project. IMO, this doesn’t make for an “emerging trend” simply because one buyer bought some names and had to pay a huge sum to get them   (ala Rick selling iReport.com for $750,000).

Just as when the 4 letter .com domain names sold out last year, the perceived values went through the roof and they were selling for great sums. Now that people are realizing most are useless, prices are bottoming out. The buyers are disappearing and people are realizing that rarity does not equate to value at all times, and some domain investors lost a lot of money.

I believe if someone pays a considerable sum for a numeric domain simply because TJ bought several last year for his project, the buyer will probably lose money. IMO, this is like a person owning toy-related domain names claiming that toy names are an emerging trend simply because Toys R Us paid $5.1 million for Toys.com (which I am sure will happen).

This industry isn’t like real estate where you can look in the MLS for neighborhood comps.   All domain names have unique values.

So… what do you think… Are numeric domain names an emerging trend or not?

Elliot’s Blog Newsletter

I recently exchanged emails with the director of my grad school program (MS in Direct & Interactive Marketing – now the Integrated Marketing Program) at NYU, and I let her know about some of the things happening in my business and personal life.   Among other things, I mentioned that I am using my direct marketing skills just about every day.

After thinking about how I am using them and how I could be using them better, I decided that I should add a newsletter to my blog.   I figure I can send out weekly or bi-weekly emails to let people know what the most read and most commented articles I posted have been, and I can provide other updates.

A newsletter is one of the best ways to communicate with interested parties, so I might as well start one up and see how it goes.   I know someone will ask, but I am not looking for sponsors – especially because I don’t know how regularly I will send the newsletter, nor do I know how many people will eventually sign up.

So… feel free to sign up for my newsletter.   I will probably send the emails out on a Saturday or a Sunday and they will probably not be regularly sent at first.   Also, in the comment section here, please let me know what you would like included in the newsletter.   Here is what I am thinking right now, but I would like suggestions:

  • Links to most read articles of the week
  • Links to most commented articles of the week
  • My top ten dropping domain picks of the coming week
  • Links to articles of interest off site

Domain Assets Strong Despite Economy

I don’t need to share any recent sales data to show that the economy is impacting domain values.   I think the bottom line is that good domain names still sell for high prices, and average to below-average domain names are difficult to sell these days.

One thing is certain though.   No matter how difficult the economy is, nor what happens to currency valuations and/or fluctuations, domain name assets are stronger than many other assets, and they are very similar to land and precious metals, all of which are limited and have intrinsic value.

Regardless of what happens with the economy, precious metals such as gold, silver and platinum will still have value. They can be used as bartering tools (if necessary) and they can be used just about anywhere in the world.   Likewise, the best real estate is the world will still remain valuable.   You won’t be able to make a ridiculously low offer for a piece of land on the water in Palm Beach any time soon or ever because there will always be someone there with a better offer – be it cash or cash equivalents.

Domain names can’t be lost (unless you forget to renew them), they are difficult to steal if you are careful, and good ones are valuable just about anywhere in the world you go.   The Internet is one thing that binds just about the entire world, and it isn’t going anywhere.

Sure, people may be struggling to survive financially and things may appear to be getting worse, but as far as I can see, the impact is somewhat isolated.   I think some people need to spend less time watching the news and more time focusing on how to improve their own economic conditions.  

Fear is as dangerous as what is feared.

Two New Features I like About Domaining.com

There are two new features I really like about Domaining.com. The first is that I can now filter the blogs and domain news sources I want to read from those that I don’t. There seems to be data overload in the domain space, and it’s annoying when I miss a good article from someone I respect because it got pushed down by articles I avoid.

The second feature I like and could probably create on my own (but don’t) is the Twitter feed with “domain” as the keyword. Any time someone posts a Twitter update and it contains the word “domain,” it is featured on Domaining.com.

There have been a few times where people ask simple domain related questions that can be answered by an industry pro. This can open new doors and lead to new introductions. There have also been plenty of times where people are critical of domain owners, calling them squatters and other uninformed comments. This creates a good opportunity to educate.

As far as Twitter goes, I am just a rookie but am quickly learning about the power it has. People across every walk of life use Twitter, and it gives unparalleled access into places you might never have imagined going.

Consider Alternate Spellings

One thing I think about when evaluating domain names to purchase is the possibility that there are alternative spellings to the domain names – both accepted spellings and common typos. If the alternate spellings are common, I typically won’t buy these types of names, because there will often be confusion, and the last thing I want to do is develop a website and find that people accidentally navigate to the alternatively spelled domain name.

This is something I am especially cognizant about when the alternate spelling is commonly accepted as the proper spelling – or their is a commonly used abbreviation.   A quick example of this is a name like FortWorth.com and FtWorth.com.   I would have a difficult time paying 6 figures for either of these names, because there will always be confusion – especially when pitching businesses over the telephone.   I would find it annoying to have to explain, it’s “F-O-R-T Worth dot com” or visa versa.

If you do have the opportunity to buy a good domain name that has common misspellings (both accepted and unaccepted spellings), and you are gung ho about development, I would try my hardest to buy the misspellings as well and do a 301 redirect to the properly spelled domain name.   Once you begin to develop your website, you are going to increase the value of the typo, making it more expensive for you to acquire down the road.

This is one of the little things to consider before your development project.

A Domain Name is Great… BUT

Having the category defining domain name for your field or industry can put you many steps ahead of your competitors, but in order to have a successful business, you need more than just the domain name. A solid business plan is important for any company who wishes to do business on their category defining domain name.

A prime and relevant example of this was exhibited on DNW yesterday.   In December of 2008, The Parent Company and nine of its subsidiaries, trading on NASDAQ under the quote “KIDS” filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. According to DNW, the company owned some category defining and/or premium domain names, including Toys.com, ePregnancy.com, Birthdays.com, Hobbies.com, and eParties.com.   Apparently owning these great domain names wasn’t enough to survive.

A category defining domain name can help enhance a company’s presence online, but it can only do so much.   If a company brings on employees, office space, inventory, technology, debt, and other overhead, they can fail just as any brick and mortar company. There are plenty of brick and mortar businesses in great locations failing every day for a variety of reasons, and a business with a great domain name can succomb to market conditions.

Owning an industry or category defining domain name can make a good business better, but it isn’t a panacea.

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