As Frank Schilling pointed out yesterday afternoon, the Swim.com auction netted $214,500. By clicking on the bidder ID of the winner, everyone could see that the email address was none other than the owner of ClubSwim.com, Avi Benaroya. Some quick research shows that Avi also is the owner of other swimming related domain names such as SwimOutlet.com, Swimmer.com, SwimLessons.com, SwimmingInstructor(s).com, and many more. With his purchase of Swim.com, it shows that Avi and his company get it! They know the most valuable domain name in their category is Swim.com. They fought off other bidders, and they won the crown jewel domain name. Very impressive.
I just saw a television commercial sponsored by the United States Postal Service, and although I am not surprised by the lack of forward thinking, I am shaking my head that the USPS just doesn’t get it.
The advertisement (during primetime MLB playoffs) begins with a disheveled looking man walking onto a bus and choosing a seat next to a woman. He begins by informing her that she just won a random lottery sponsored by a clearly fictitious organization. To claim the multi-million dollar prize, all she needs to do is write the man a check to cover some random fees. Essentially, the man is playing the part of an in-person Nigerian scammer commonly seen online.
It is a clever advertisement (and ongoing campaign) playing on the fact that these scams are much more obvious in person than online, and people need to beware when they receive suspicious emails. I dig the message. I think it is very important for non-web savvy people to know about these scams, know how to spot them, and know what to do when they come across one.
HOWEVER, the commercial ends with a large graphic directing people to visit FakeChecks.org for more information. GUESS WHAT! FakeChecks.COM is owned by someone else. How many people do you think will accidentally directly navigate to the .com in error – especially considering some web browsers automatically enter the .com extension? The USPS should never have used a .org domain name where the .com is taken. If they needed to have that specific .org, they should have bought the .com for whatever it cost. They then should have forwarded the .com traffic to the .org so they didn’t lose any eyes. The advertising campaign probably cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. Why would they chance sending confused consumers to the wrong domain name, especially considering the message.
This has to be one of the most ironic, idiotic campaigns I’ve seen in a long time. The USPS just doesn’t get it!
Just to be a bit more clear, I am not advocating that the USPS shouldn’t have used a .org. I think the .org suits this campaign quite well. I think they might have been wise to choose another domain name where the .com was available, as people will inevitably enter the wrong extension. In my opinion, many consumers are trained to goto the “.com” extension. Why take a chance that some consumers will do this and end up on a site not controlled by the USPS.
There is much more that goes into determining the value of a domain name than a simple revenue multiple or traffic report. The value of a domain name lies in the name itself. The reason we have domain names is because the IP address system would be too complicated for consumers to remember. It’s much easier to remember ElliotsBlog.com than a string of ten random numbers. Because we use domain names as memory recall devices, the most descriptive, and easiest to remember domain names are best.
When I look to buy a domain name, the most important thing I evaluate is whether I believe a business can be built on that particular name. It doesn;t matter if it is a service or product based company, when a person hears a domain name, they should know what they will find when they navigate there. Nearly all of the domain names I purchase have this attribute, and I think it is important for domain investors to consider this when they are buying their next domain name.
Traffic and currrent/expected revenue are important, but the actual name is the most important valuation factor for me.
It’s very cool to see someone like Calvin Ayre in touch with what people are saying about his company.
If he wants to run any direct/interactive marketing ideas past someone in his key demographic (28M, Blackjack player, Maxim subscriber, Sports fan, Ketel/Red Bulll drinker…etc.), he can drop me a line! When I play, its usually at the Tropicana, and I know that gaming direct marketers are some of the smartest and most savvy in the business.
I do have one suggestion for Calvin. Instead of forwarding CalvinAyreFoundation.com and TheCalvinAyreFoundation.com to NewCalvinAyreFoundation.com, I believe he should just use CalvinAyreFoundation.com since “New” is no longer in the Bodog domain names. Since they are all being forwarded, it doesn’t really matter so much, but it makes more sense now.
The Coalition Against Domain Name Abuse (CADNA), a non-profit association created to stop various domain name abuses, has responded to the Internet Commerce Association’s (ICA) 8 point member Code of Conduct. The code was created to promote industry best practices to all domain owners in order to maintain ethical business practices. CADNA is most concerned with the points related to infringement upon other companies’ trademarks, as their membership is comprised of some of the largest companies in the world, including, AIG, Dell, Marriott, Yahoo, Verizon, and several others.
CADNA’s response includes three additions to help enhance the code of conduct. Their suggestions include:
“First, ICA members should oppose domain name tasting (not just kiting), and using a third party’s brand, or other trademark misuses, without permission. Such actions should be avoided altogether, even if the name is registered for less than five days.Secondly, ICA members will not monetize (serve ads) on behalf of their third party customers’ domains that infringe upon brand names without explicit permission of the trademark holder. This commitment includes agreeing not to register domains that are confusingly similar to brands.
Lastly, ICA members who are registrars will not taste domain names themselves, and they will not wait for ICANN to establish a policy to uphold their fiduciary obligations to the public.”(Source: CADNA Press Release)
As a Professional Member of the ICA, I agree with all of their points. In the past, I bought non-infringing names before dropping them within the 5 days, but that wasn’t to test traffic. I did it when I first started in the business to try and take a $7 registration to flip it for $25 a couple of days later. I don’t think this is particularly harmful, but since many people use the loophole to quickly test traffic on potential trademark names, I don’t see the harm in closing it.
I don’t believe a domain owner should have the right to own a clear and undisputed trademark domain name. In my opinion, nobody except Verizon has the right to own a domain name like VerizonMobilePhones.com except for Verizon.
The most difficult situation is determining when a domain name clearly infringes upon someone else’s trademark. Just because a domain name happens to have the letters “aig” and “insurance” in them, doesn’t necessarily mean it is infringing on AIG’s brand trademark. For example, AIGInsurance.com would clearly be an infringing domain name; however, PaigeInsurance.com, a NH-based insurance company run by the Paige Family, would not infringe simply because it has “aig” and “insurance” in its domain name.
One point of interest related to this press release is the lack of actual press it seems to have received. When CADNA was created a couple of months ago, I read news articles everywhere. My Google Reader sent me PR notices from tens of news outlets throughout the world. For this press release, I didn’t hear about it until 4 days after the release, and had someone not posted it in one of the forums, I wouldn’t have seen it at all (Thanks to Josh Melamed for posting it on Rick’s Forum!)