I think we can all agree that the Moniker live auction at DomainFest was pretty much a bomb, but I don’t really think this is a bad thing for the industry. There weren’t many bargains in the live auction, which shows that domain owners aren’t necessarily losing faith in their investments and selling their domain names for whatever the market will yield as a consequence. This shows that there is strength in domain assets, especially those that are of high value.
For the most part, it seemed that the high priced domain names that were listed were priced far too high for other domain investors to purchase. Sure, they may be worth the amount to someone with a solid business plan, but most domain investors don’t have business plans for names they plan to buy. Many have them for names they own, but it can be fruitless to build a business plan around a name that isn’t owned by us. This coupled with just a short amount of time between the final list publication and the auction, it’s not very likely that a plan can even be built.
Also, many of the names up for sale at auction have either been listed at other auction(s) recently or had been privately marketed recently. There were a couple of names I made private offers on in the last couple of months, and I decided against bidding on both (even though my offers would have equaled or superseded the reserve). Personally, I don’t like to buy at public auction, and I’ve only done so once. With a market in flux, I didn’t want to be the price setter – especially in a public auction.
So how can live auctions be improved? Mike and his readers have some good suggestions. I’ve also made a few additional suggestions in the past, mostly related to end user education. I still think it would be wise for a domain ambassador to attend a non-domain tradeshow and run small group sessions discussing the importance of generic domain names. Every single industry has tradeshows, and most tradeshows have opportunities for educational seminars. Why hasn’t any company made in-roads with end users yet (with the exception of when an end user already knows that he wants to buy a particular domain name)?
Over the past several years, it always seemed that live domain auctions would yield seven figures no matter what. Well, this isn’t really a reality any more. Domain owners are more picky about what they buy in this tight market, and without domain owners continuing to be speculators, it is much more difficult to produce eye popping auction results with domain investors being the primary target audience.
Times are changing, but I don’t think this is a bad thing for our maturing industry.