5 Essential Lessons Learned from T.R.A.F.F.I.C. 2011

T.R.A.F.F.I.C. Conference & Expo 2011Last week, Rick Schwartz and Howard Neu hosted the T.R.A.F.F.I.C. Domain Conference & Expo in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Top domain name investors from around the world converged at the Ritz Carlton for five days of networking, sharing, learning, partying and dealmaking. (Pictures online at DomainSherpa’s Facebook page.)

Many in attendance walked away with new partnerships, new customers and new investments; I walked away with a tremendous quantity of new friendships and lessons learned from presenters and others in attendance.

Here are five lessons learned that you can use to grow your business that I gleaned from this conference. If you attended the conference and learned a lesson or two that is not covered here, please let us know about it in the comments.

Premium Domain Names Are a Non-duplicative Competitive Advantage

Bill Karamouzis Keynote Interview with Michael Cyger

Keynote speaker Bill Karamouzis in a fireside chat
with DomainSherpa's Michael Cyger
(photo compliments of Ron Jackson, DNJournal.com)

Bill Karamouzis of MindJolt, the T.R.A.F.F.I.C. conference keynote speaker, built two online gaming companies, and then successfully sold both of those companies for millions. What he did next was take what he had learned from the previous six years and apply it to his latest business, Hallpass Media (sold to MindJolt in April 2011). By purchasing premium generic domain names with massive exact match searches, like CookingGames.com, StickGames.com and Dressup.com, Karamouzis was able to attract thousands of visitors through type-in traffic that his competitors were buying advertising to reach every day. Instead of spending his budget on advertising, he invested in his business and developed more content and a rock-solid delivery platform. Karamouzis concluded, “The type-in traffic continues to grow over time, and the domain names continue to increase in value.”

Avoid the Definition of Insanity; Do Something Different

Michael Gilmore and Tim Schumacher

Michael Gilmore of ParkLogic and Tim Schumacher of Sedo in the "Barbarians at our Gates" Panel

The overwhelming sentiment of many presentations was that parking is not an effective monetization option and that declining Google AdSense revenues cannot be relied upon any longer. People often define insanity as taking the same action over and over again and expecting different results. Along those lines, Michael Gilmore of ParkLogic said, “It’s time for domainers to change their behavior. If revenues are declining, assume they’re going to continue to decline. Until you do something different, the absurdity will continue.”

Rick Schwartz Adam Dicker Scott Cleland

The Domain King Rick Schwartz, Adam Dicker of DNForum.com and author Scott Cleland

The answer, of course, is monetization through development, which can take many different forms. Adam Dicker of DNforum.com said, “You have to escape Google or you are always going to be at their will. I’ve done it a few times with sites – you need to find your own products, your own resellers, and build a real company.” (Dicker and his revenue-producing website businesses will be featured in an upcoming interview; sign up to be notified when it is available.)



New gTLDs Will Allow Stratification

Howard Neu Jothan Frakes Monte Cahn

The Internet Lawyer Howard Neu, Jothan Frakes of Sedari.com, and Monte Cahn of Right of the Dot

“Stratification is one word to describe what the Internet will become,” said Jothan Frakes of Sedari. The hundreds of new top level domains can be directly compared to the increase in channels on radio, television and satellite/cable, which began with a few and now offer something for every taste (e.g., music stations focused on smooth jazz, Christian contemporary, folk, Caribbean, etc.).

Monte Cahn of Right of the Dot summarized the new gTLDs discussion well, saying, “In the next five years, Internet users will double and usage will quadruple. Facebook and Twitter show that people like to be in groups and niches. And this is what the new gTLDs will allow.”

How to Value the New TLDs

Frank Schilling Stuart Lawley

Frank Schilling of InternetTraffic.com and Stuart Lawley
of ICM Registry (.XXX sTLD)

Frank Schilling of InternetTraffic.com provided a takeaway that I had not considered before: “A good namespace is only as good – or as valuable – as the best generic registrations in it.” For example, the sale of Sex.com for $13 million set a bar for other .com domain names. What is the best .info or .ws selling for today?





Sometimes Following the Trends Reduces Income

DomainHoldings Team Cabana

The DomainHoldings.com Team Hosting Guests in their Cabana
(L-R: Ryan Colby, Mark Daniel, Chad Folkening and son)

In business, people will often copy the practices of others, thinking those methods are optimized for revenue or are a “best practice.” An example of this is the evolution of parked page designs, which have become homogenous across many parking companies. But John Ferber of DomainHoldings.com warns otherwise from their testing: “The uglier a parking page, the more confusion for the reader, the more click-throughs on the page, the more revenue.”

Use the Internet Archive Wayback Machine and look at some old parking page designs. Sometimes it pays to A/B test your parking pages, rather than just copying the design of others and assuming they have optimized the page design for maximum revenue production. The difference may be quite striking.

Uniregistry.com

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18 Responses to “5 Essential Lessons Learned from T.R.A.F.F.I.C. 2011”

  1. barbie says:

    I don’t understand why .ws domains are now used for warez websites, .ws was created for Samoa I think.

  2. peter bordes says:

    Michael thank you for the summary. We were looking to find more info on the summit. Were any new areas such as the use of social media for parking domains , or domain monetization strategies covered?

    We have been working on building out our Content Ad Channel on our PerformanceExchange and looking at new ways we can help power up the domain industry. As well as rolling out the beginning of our domain site network, and have been looking at how to evolve site design and use of social. http://www.dependableautoinsurance.com is an example of what we believe to be next gen of domain template designs with content & ads tied in along with automated social tools.

    We have been experimenting with a new social Twitter publishing platform called Twylah.com that we have found gets meaningful seo very rapidly by combining web 1.0 & real-time web 2.0 to accelerate SEO traffic. Have you seen any of these types of implementations or strategies used? this is the Twylah page on the domain http://tweets.dependableautoinsurance.com/

    Love to get your and others feed back.

    best

    Peter

    • You bet, Peter. My pleasure.

      I don’t remember any sessions discussing the use of social media in/for parking domains, but there were plenty focused on domain monetization strategies. There were tons of service providers in the audience as well, so you couldn’t shake a .XXX glow pen without hitting someone else who was interested in talking about monetization. I suspect the same will be happening at DomainFest in February.

      Combining social media and domain name monetization is a great topic. I’ll take a look at your URL above and see if we can find anyone to talk about it in greater detail. I met the new dev leader at Domain Holdings and it seems like they’re pushing well into this space.

      I have not heard of Twylah. It’s an interesting service. I’ll have to spend some time with it to learn more about it. When you say, “gets meaningful seo very rapidly” what are the results you are seeing?

      Best,
      Mike

  3. Toby Hardy says:

    Hi Michael: Was not able to attend, but thanks for your great coverage. Certainly enjoyed meeting you @ GeoPublishers Expo. Our total focus is in development like Adam mentions above. Will be launching http://www.FrenchRiviera.com in January. Amazing market to build on for years to come.

    • Great to hear from you, Toby.

      Fred Mercaldo’s interview is going live next Wednesday, and we discussed FrenchRiviera.com briefly during the show. It’s very exciting and I can’t wait to see the live site.

  4. Peter says:

    Good summary Michael! I wish I could have been there this year but maybe next time! Thanks
    for giving us the high lights!

  5. Samit Madan says:

    Good stuff Michael, as always.

    I’ve been developing brands since forever and this is spot on “Premium Domain Names Are a Non-duplicative Competitive Advantage”.

    You can’t beat a great domain as an excellent launch pad for a business.

  6. Michael,
    Thanks for attending the conference and sharing the what you learned. Point #2 is key because the beauty of domains is that your domain name is a big as your idea to monetize it.

    Thanks again and Great job!

  7. bharath says:

    From your previous articles i already started purchasing domain in .com and many more.
    Day by day this domain fever is increasing in me, that is happening from your articles.

    So, Please keep updating us.

    Thank you Mike.

    • Thanks for your comments, Bharath. I’m glad you’re finding the articles and shows useful in your investing. Be sure to email (using the “contact us” link at the top left-hand corner of the page) or comment on an article if there are any topics that you would like me to cover in more detail — I appreciate all reader feedback.

  8. Good article Mike!

    Everyone will find something useful for themself.

    Thanks!

  9. José Féria says:

    all the people have a different opinion about everything. Each has his theory about how other things work. But I think this is just speculation and a way for us to justify to ourselves that we are not wasting our time …
    Life is simple, it’s us that complicate it. And the areas are like life … simple, like something dot com

    I’m Portuguese and live in a tourist area. When I started studying marketing at university in 1998, the Internet has not had much expression in Portugal, and I was trying trying to figure out how to build a great brand. I came to the conclusion that there were two ways:
    1 – spend millions on advertising with a name that no one had heard
    2 – Assign the name of a company name that people already looking for. But that, in the opinion of many, it was corny …

    Today, I think that the simpler we think, the easier we can win. And if we realize how our audience thinks, can reach them more easily.
    According to the logic of human beings, we want the maximum performance at the slightest effort, and feel safe in our transactions. This is why we gather in communities since prehistoric times. That is why social networks and the opinions of our peers are so important.

    Another feature of the human being is to change the version, when we are comfortable, and now realize how something works.

    I think this is the reason why the dot com is so powerful … Because people already know that anyone can create a brand with any name, but to get a good mark in dot com had to have been the first, or have invested time, money or knowledge … and when we have a dot com, we are the only ones to have a dot com.
    If even managed to win the dot travel (travel is a very strong generic name), I think that brands are not created by brands that will.

    Why travel (dot) com is different from whatever (dot) travel.

    There is only one (dot) with each name …

    I personally do not believe in the new TLDs, such as which, I’m from Portugal, and not use the (dot) pt

    I think that a (dot) com has more power in the United States of America, the (dot) us. Especially because when I do research here in Portugal, never to find sites (dot) us and find many (dot) com.

    So if the Internet is meant to be seen globally, we must use a global brand as strong as we can

    The second part of my theory is:

    For I want a good command, if not use what you have?
    Parking a good domain is like having a good bitch for other people to enjoy for free …

    Nhaaa. If we have a valuable commodity, we must use it and take the best that this product has to offer. Like did the big brands that have good domains. Booking, Travel, palmsprings …
    :)

    This is using the right tools for the right job. If I have a good surfboard, do not I use to play tennis!
    So if I have a good domain name (dot) com, I will not park!

    It’s just an opinion …

    • Very good theories, José.

      You are exactly correct in your comments — everyone has their own opinion. In the end, in a few years from now, the winners will be decided by the value of their portfolio, the amount of cash in the bank or the size of the online empire they have created — whatever their yard stick for measuring success and personal fulfillment.

      Thanks for commenting and sharing your thoughts.

  10. Mike Law says:

    Great article Mike! Thanks for sharing.

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