|The Domain Dialogue: Death? Depression? Same Old Same Old? Evolution? |
What is your current domain dialogue with yourself and your view of the domain dialogue "at large"?
Death: Loss of interest. Reading about the same domain issues over and over. Nothing new, least not new of any real interest. Even new TLDs hold no real interest, save the interest of those promoting the new TLD.
Depression: OMG! Yahoo/Google killed (is killing) domain arbitrage with new rules and quality scoring! PPC parking revenue is down and there are rumors of parking's imminent demise! Sales are auctions are still mostly wholesale pricing events! No easy road to riches. 1998 met 2002. 2005 meets 2008?
Evolution: "Listen, the real money is in development." Geeze, who woulda thunk! Easy peazy. Oh no! Development is challenging!
The same old same old: It's business as usual except the accompanying musical score changes periodically. What's up at WIPO? PPC is down. PPC is up. Another 6 figure sale. "How much is this domain worth?" Newcomers keep asking the same old questions that have been raised 100s of times before.
In my view the domain dialogue has matured. The excitement is largely gone. All the good stuff has long since be secured. The "you're squatting on that domain by not developing it" flamewars of 2000 are ancient history. Auctions are so common you have to ask: "Why another one? Didn't we just have one?" New gTLDs now get a response somewhat like "Geeze, didn't ICANN just announce another gTLD?".
Is the excitement gone? Is the domain honeymoon over?
What is your current domain dialogue with yourself and the world?
I like what co-founder Rick Schwartz had to say at the recent T.R.A.F.F.I.C. conference,
"There is no doubt that we are at the epicenter of history in the making. All the titans of business across the street are crumbling and here this little tiny group of domainers is becoming the next generation of "real estate" barons. Domains may turn out to be the safest asset in the world. You can control them from anywhere at any time, you don't have to wait for the bank to open, you can move them on a whim. They produce income and, if you have good ones, the value is rising. So we have a lot to be thankful for."
I'm not too sure about the "real estate barons" bit, but maybe it's time to cash up the other side of domaining and look at the Life Style options it allows. Go somewhere with a low cost of living, with speedy Internet access, warm, somewhere you've always wanted to go to.
Not really. The excitement is still there - it is just that the focus has moved from the domaining business being a relatively small scale one concentrated on .com to one that now encompasses the gTLDs and ccTLDs.
|In my view the domain dialogue has matured. The excitement is largely gone. |
Most of the stuff that was domain tasted/kited is now being released as tasters and kiters have to adopt a more rational (as opposed to blanket registration of every dropped domain) approach. Part of that, based on domain registration trends, may be due to the reality that most non generic tasted/kited domains have limited lifetimes governed by link decay.
|All the good stuff has long since be secured. |
Many domainers that once were here probably spend more time on other fora now. It is a business but it still has its excitement. Though the market itself is moving from an irrational boom market to a more rational market where domainers have to think before registering. However judging the domaining business by the frequency of posting and level of traffic in this forum might lead one, wrongly, to despair.
|Is the excitement gone? Is the domain honeymoon over? |
The real fun with .com is just about to begin.
|The real fun with .com is just about to begin. |
That piqued my interest. Would you care to elaborate on that comment?
My first thought is that you're hinting at an impending influx of dot coms onto the market due to the financial turmoil, as people get rid of holdings they can no longer afford. Or did you mean something else?
The .com market has been artificially inflated for the last few years due to the effects of domain tasting and kiting. Domains that would have normally have dropped and been reregistered were kept out of the mix. Prices were similarly unrealistically high and this led to classic bubble crazes such as the LLLL.com one. It is almost as if the market will create business even where none existed. Domain tasting was effectively destroying the economic model of the domains business. I've been working on a site with domain statistics/graphs of the TLDs. What happened in 2007 with .com was almost an example of a system that was destabilising. (If it has been up to me, I would have eliminated the board of ICANN for creating such a mess.) The trend of deleted registrations was being very closely tracked by the trend of new registrations. That is the classic domain tasting pattern.
|That piqued my interest. Would you care to elaborate on that comment? |
Without the domain tasting element, or at least a much smaller domain tasting element, the growth of .com is not as erratic. This critical perception that the .com domains were running out and the massive growth of .com over the last few years has, I think, driven a lot of the pricing of .com domains.
The gTLD market is undergoing a severe change. Now this might be at odds with what some people think but ccTLDs are becoming more important and countries are going ccTLD positive (where the number of ccTLD domains registered in that country is greater than the number of gTLD domains). This effect was not visible because of the impact of domain tasting on .com and .net - however once this was taken out of the equation, the number of new registrations in .com is not quite as high as it appeared to be. And the cumulative ccTLD growth is competing with .com and the other gTLDs.
|My first thought is that you're hinting at an impending influx of dot coms onto the market due to the financial turmoil, as people get rid of holdings they can no longer afford. Or did you mean something else? |
Tasted domains, the ones that were registered a few years ago, are beginning to drop. As I said earlier, part of that may be due to the link decay making all but a handful of good generics worth retaining. The economic situation may also play a part in the number of drops but the domain business, the gTLD part at least, works on a yearly registration basis so a lot of the the highly speculative junk domains that have been registered this year will not begin to drop until early 2009. The key registrations will be those that have been registered less than twelve months ago. And with arbitrage being hit, the revenuestream that many domain tasters depended on to grow will not be there to pay for non-performing and poorly performing domains.
Another factor that has been missed is the changing nature of browsers. The Direct Navigation model is very vulnerable to browsers. The first sign has been the NXDOMAIN traffic being hijacked by companies like Microsoft. However this traffic would not have made its way to the Direct Navigation sites anyway. The interesting thing that most people seem to have missed with browsers such as Chrome is the way that bad website lists can be downloaded in the background. What's to stop browser providers from adding parked and DN sites that are not using their PPC feeds to that bad website list? Would the average user even care? I remember mentioning the possibility of something like this happening in a comment on Frank Schilling's blog over a year ago.
I don't know yet if .com growth will go negative but if it does it may happen in January/February 2009. At best .com will plateau just below the 80 million market for the next six months. Though my predictions may be off if all those unemployed bankers set up their own websites and get into the domaining business.
[edited by: tedster at 8:11 am (utc) on Oct. 13, 2008]
|The Direct Navigation model is very vulnerable to browsers |
This is absolutely true, guys still hanging on to direct navigation as a long-term strategy should go download a copy of Google Chrome and wake up and smell the coffee...
|classic bubble crazes such as the LLLL.com one |
Yes, I think we can safely file that one under "bubble." As for getting out of direct navigation, it seems like Webwork changed his business model just in time.
Will the day come when URLs are as irrelevant to regular users as IP addresses?
Hmmm . . some interesting early comments.
Are you still interesting "in domaining" - the domainer's life - or have you killed off the thought processes that help to define you as "a domainer"? (Even if you were only a part-timer. :P )
Still checking the auction results? Why? What are you looking for? Do you still read DNJournal? Why? Just to keep up?
I'm asking for folks to describe 2 vistas, 2 personal points of view:
- How you see the domaining world "at large", now - today? Where do you see the domain dialogue heading? - AND
- How you - personally - relate to domaining? Where are YOU heading in relation to your domain portfolio and what has changed, for you, during the past 1-2 years?
I sense a shift in the wind. Frank Schilling has stopped blogging. Talk of "the domain channel's end" (see IsItMeOrIsEveryoneElseStupid.com) has some folks thinking. Domaining as parking is losing appeal for some because it is "too dependent". Rick Schwartz is still talking the talk whilst the Doubting Thomases refuse to find merit in his spiel. It looks like the "domain tasters" may have finally been dealt a death blow . . but not entirely . . so maybe there's a bit more room for others to "find a domain" . . unless you have given up. Yet, money is tight so who has coin for "domain speculation"? No speculation = no domaining? Nah, there's always fresh meat, right? Just feed the illusion, the delusion?
Despite the lack of evidence of a speculative "domaining frenzy" I sense, as always, the presence of "domain gloom and doom opportunists" - those who are still in the game of looking for bargains - because they are taking the long view and don't mind a bit of domain gloom and doom. To them it's a buying opportunity.
What about you?
[edited by: Webwork at 3:36 am (utc) on Oct. 13, 2008]
Still interested. Though doing domain and hoster stats is part of my business work.
|Are you still interesting "in domaining" - the domainer's life - or have you killed off the thought processes that help to define you as "a domainer"? (Even if you were only a part-timer. :P ) |
The reasons for the changes and trends I am seeing with the domain stats. I tend to ignore the fanboy articles and concentrate on the data.
|Still checking the auction results? Why? What are you looking for? Do you still read DNJournal? Why? Just to keep up? |
It is becoming more stratified than it was. The people at the top who are not smart enough to diversify or get out of the market at the top are in for a very nasty shock as easy PPC/parking revenue disappears. Activity in the lower end of the market is becoming somewhat more frenzied but some of this is due to .mobi entering its Junk Dump phase (the period when landrush domains come up for renewal and the highly speculative registrations that could not be flipped or sold are dropped). Ironically the numbers of new .mobi registrations is still outstripping the numbers of dropping .mobi domains (only just though).
|1. How you see the domaining world "at large", now - today? Where do you see the domain dialogue heading? |
The biggest thing for me is that domain tasting has been curtailed - I burned out a few harddrives computing the stats because of the morons in ICANN allowing that anomaly to persist even when notified of the damage it was doing to the industry. Most of my domains are for projects and development rather than parking. The hard part is getting the time to develop them.
|2. How you - personally - relate to domaining? Where are YOU heading in relation to your domain portfolio and what has changed, for you, during the past 1-2 years? |
What happened with .asia was expected by some. But what was surprising was to see the perfect hockey stick or almost exponential decay graph of registrations as the .asia landrush ended. However like other markets, the domain market is cyclic.
|Yet, money is tight so who has coin for "domain speculation"? No speculation = no domaining? Nah, there's always fresh meat, right? Just feed the illusion, the delusion? |
The end of domain tasting has dampened that frenzy. This is one of the important set of figures for .com
|Despite the lack of evidence of a speculative "domaining frenzy" |
Mth ¦01/Jan ¦01/Feb ¦01/Mar ¦01/Apr ¦01/May ¦01/Jun¦01/Jul ¦01/Aug ¦01/Sep ¦01/Oct
2008¦788545 ¦1067119 ¦963539 ¦1132605 ¦1587161 ¦82146 ¦182580 ¦261507 ¦363904 ¦498310
2007¦776995 ¦3133887 ¦2446178 ¦-2339306 ¦2291827 ¦3190543 ¦2233119 ¦2222704 ¦-2864103 ¦-109931 ¦1734415¦484705
The domaining business needs a KT event every now and then to keep progressing. Some of the dinosaurs will fail to adapt. That means more opportunity. The most vulnerable are those who specialise in one TLD only - specifically the .com TLD. They are dependent on one global market instead of seeing it as a set of smaller, national and niche markets.
|Despite the lack of evidence of a speculative "domaining frenzy" I sense, as always, the presence of "domain gloom and doom opportunists" - those who are still in the game of looking for bargains - because they are taking the long view and don't mind a bit of domain gloom and doom. To them it's a buying opportunity. |
|Most of my domains are for projects and development rather than parking. The hard part is getting the time to develop them. |
I, too, find this is my biggest obstacle and why I have actually considered selling some really good widget trade names since I just know I am not going to get round to doing them.
There is also the factor of how long a new name takes to appear in the Google SERPs. If one is really lucky it can be 2-3 weeks however it can be as long a couple of years before Google even considers it worthy of a reasonable ranking nevermind how authoratative or unique it may be.
Note I say new domain names, my experience with my own older names (never tried it with a pre-used domain name) that have had sites on them and removed and then replaced with a new site, has always been positive and ranked very quickly.
Certainly I have no intention of buying any more new gTLD names simply to park them and I have always bought the ccTLD when buying the gTLD, I wouldn't buy just one of them.
|but ccTLDs are becoming more important and countries are going ccTLD positive |
Yep, I've been saying this for a long time and judging by the Google SERPs experimentations with geo-targetting this is the route they are attempting to take...note attempting, it's fairly diabolical in my sector in several countries.
One other factor is also swaying my decisions...finding anyone else, including family, who is interested in doing this! They love the money but won't do the necessary learning and hard work:-(
|Are you still interesting "in domaining" - the domainer's life - or have you killed off the thought processes that help to define you as "a domainer"? |
mostly (b) partly because I think the concept of being a "domainer" is too narrow a business model. Domaining is an accident of flaws in the way the internet is constructed. As people are saying on this thread, browsers are slowly eliminating that flaw. It's time to evolve.
having said that, I'm keeping my eye out for some good deals in the financial downturn.
Right now most asset prices are falling like rock, it may be a good opportunity to unload some names for good money and buy into other assets at low prices: buy low, sell high.
The current crisis may shift more value to nationalized domain property. May be selling sub-prime .com's might be well timed. I would hold on to prime .com's if I had some, though.
I have a serveral hundred of dollars in .mn domains, I purchased them mainly because I live in Minnesota and thought they might be worth something locally.
I am going to dump them, because google did not associated .mn with Minnesota and even more there was no local interest in the extension as far as a resale value.
This is actually one of the biggest mistakes that people make with ccTLDs - thinking that because the state code is the same, the ccTLD will have some kind of resonance with the people. The problem is that .com is the default domain that people think about in the US. Even .us, the US's own ccTLD is a minor player compared to US .com usage.
|I have a serveral hundred of dollars in .mn domains, I purchased them mainly because I live in Minnesota and thought they might be worth something locally. |
Google's algorithm tends to automatically associate ccTLDs with the relevant country even to the extent of prioritising ccTLD over IP.
|I am going to dump them, because google did not associated .mn with Minnesota and even more there was no local interest in the extension as far as a resale value. |
Good quality keyword and generic domains will probably hold their value. Most of the bubble .com domains will be dropped. The sheer number of dropped .com domains since 2000 is staggering. The same mistakes that were made then were made again during the last few years.
|The current crisis may shift more value to nationalized domain property. May be selling sub-prime .com's might be well timed. I would hold on to prime .com's if I had some, though. |
Somehow I think that search engine algorithm developments may put the value of geo-domains of the location[profession/service].com type in danger over the next year or so. Single city name type domains are probably long gone so this could almost be a type of bubble craze if they weren't so useful. However their value is based on search engine algorithms and type-in traffic. These are two of the most fickle traffic sources around.
single pages sites with a paragraph and links to relevant sites might work well enough. If you own 100,000 domains you are out of luck, but your top 200-1000 names can be managed that way. A nice template and there you go. Mix adsense with aff marketing is it's much better than direct navigation
Let me make a statement: Some domainers believe the domain market will once become something like the real estate market was, a market where half the population will participate and speculate. I do not think so, domain names are much more individually useful, while everyone could live in a house near his work, an apple seller may never be interested in a used car part domain name. Domains are not a liquid asset and that makes investing into them only worthy for those you could pick up lots of names at low prices or for those in the prime segment where always several buyers are competing for the same name; but even such a domain property may bind too much capital which could be better invested. Talking about illiquid assets, even a house is probably more a liquid asset than a domain.