Last 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 AdvantageBill 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 DifferentThe 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.” 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“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 TLDsFrank 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 IncomeIn 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.
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