There will be a point when domain name speculation as we know it will end. In its wake will remain a number of big guys – the folks like Kevin Ham and Frank Schilling who today own multi-million dollar domain portfolios and are growing their inventory daily. These guys and those like them have the money, development resources, years of experience and flexibility to adapt and change and bend with the changes of the search market and the Internet, so they will be the survivors.
Right now, much of the money with domain name speculation is made by hosting a “parked” page on every domain in the inventory – the speculators then make money on all the traffic that goes to those pages through pay-per click (PPC) advertising. Some of that traffic is accidental, some of it because people utilized “direct navigation,” typing URLs directly into the search bar. But what happens down the road when the search engines get even smarter? What happens when Google and Yahoo are able to correct misspellings on the fly? Or when consumers get savvier and learn to not click on the ads that clutter the parked pages? What happens if Google discontinues its AdSense for domains program ? Or if a new search engine emerges that completely changes the way that search happens?
What will the new world look like? New business models are already emerging, but most of what is “new” is based on the tried-and-true media/publishing model. Richard Rosenblatt is taking his vast network of domains and turning each of them into a Web 2.0 site with user-generated “how to” content. Ham’s company, Reinvent Technology, has a mission “to transform our direct navigation business into a cutting edge media company by leveraging new technology, innovative ideas, and intellectual capital.” In 2005, venture company Highland Capital Partners bought YesDirect, a holding company with 600,000 domain names. It has since launched turned that company into NameMedia, which features a product called Direct Search that turns domain names such as www.photography.com into an online community, employing an “editorial model” to create a “compelling user experience.” They also hired Kelly Conlin, former president and CEO of IDG – a media company.
As John Andrews put it in his blog, “The next wave of the competitive Internet has arrrived, and it’s driven by the Domainers. No, not parked pages, and no, not typo squatters. Domainers as publishers.”
And in case you don’t believe him, Schilling points to this post and agrees. But instead of considering this a commentary on how the domain name industry is changing, he calls the trend the “potential/catalyst to change publishing.”
~ Today’s view: http://www.flickr.com/photos/13799608@N08/1412989830/
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