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Domain Name, Domain Name, oh where art thou Domain Name

Data Titan Branding
Data Titan Branding

Have you ever visited vimeo.com, paypal.com, or zoetis.com and said to yourself, 'that's a strange name. I wonder how they came up with that'? Actually, I have always been fond of the wordoid domain name trivago.com. Do you know what it means? (Tri)p-(va)cation-(go) -- Tri-va-go. Pretty clever if you ask me.

There are three reasons you might see unusual, dual-word or wordoids, and those three reasons would be cost, cost, and cost. If you are reading this and thinking about that new great start-up company or you have an idea that's going to change the world, the first thing you have to do, even before you file your corporation papers, is come up with a great domain name that everyone is going to remember for rest of their lives. Sounds easy, right? Well, not so fast. Not only is it not easy, but I can officially announce that all the best domain names are officially gone — forever, at least those under $5,000. How do I know this? Because I was there in 1991 and 1992 when the flood-gates of domain names opened up to the world. I was in the right place at the right time, and it was in 1992 that I began buying and selling names just as ICANN and NETSOL were getting started in the world, and seven years before GoDaddy opened its doors. Because of trademark and service mark laws, I was smart enough not to buy cocacola.com, mcdonalds.com, and madonna.com, but I could have.

So, what is the best approach in selecting a domain name, particularly if you are just starting a business?  Is it better to purchase a .com extension, a .net extension, or one of the many new extensions like .technology, .realestate, .expert or .professional?   Here are three points to consider as you embark on your branding journey.

Point 1:  If you think domain names purchased from a reseller or third-party broker are expensive, wait until you find out how much it costs to market a really bad domain name like buyahousefromme.com or webuildrocketenginesinthedesert.com. Yeah, these domains are ripe for the picking at just $15 per year, but you will have to spend a trillion marketing dollars to make them memorable... maybe even two trillion. I used to tell clients that the source code was everything, but not anymore. Now I tell them it is all about brand, brand, and more brand!

We frequently talk with our clients about how much a "good" domain name costs, but "good" is relative. We have had clients spend $200 on a domain name and been very happy while watching others spend tens of thousands on a comparable domain name and do so without too much grumbling because they know how competitive their marketplace already is. When it comes to domain names, do not get cheap. You will pay for it later.

If you need a domain name for a consumer-facing business, then a .com is a must. If you need a domain name for an Intranet site, customer or business portal that is not “consumer-facing”, or you are a B2b company in a niche market, a (.net) domain isn't only cost-effective, it can be a really smart choice, especially if they are coming to you through marketing other than search engines. Truth is the best domain names are owned by large re-sellers and individuals who “squat” or “park” on the names until you show up with a once in a lifetime offer. I should know... I am one of those deplorable's that frequently buy and sell domain names. Once you find that perfect name and negotiations are over, there are numerous domain name brokerage firms like godaddy.com and escrow.com who provide escrow services to facilitate a smooth transition.  Never conduct the purchase of a domain name through buyer-to-seller directly. Always use an escrow service. The small fee you pay is money well spent. This is how thousands of domain names are purchased and transferred between buyers and sellers every year, with sales from a few hundred dollars to over a million dollars. Yes, some domain names, like whiskey.com, auction.com, and candy.com, sold for over a million dollars.

To start your search, visit sites like sedo.com, greatdomains.com, afternic.com, and buydomains.com.  At Sofvue and DataTitan, we use sedo.com and escrow.com to complete the sale.  Sedo has over a million non-auction domain names ready for purchase meaning you can buy the domain name on the spot, and at the price posted.  Other re-seller sites will put a minimum bid requirement or starting price point on a domain, but every time you make a bid, you’re automatically told that the minimum bid has gone up and you need to make a higher bid. That is a scam and do not fall for it. Avoid these sites at all costs. Another option is to purchase an available domain through auction sites like networkSolutions.com, register.com or godaddy.com, or purchase the domain name directly from a domain brokerage.
Another option is to contact a domain owner directly to learn whether they would consider selling an already purchased or “parked” domain name.  There are pros and cons to this approach beyond the scope of this article, but as the old saying goes, “the first one to talk loses“.  We use escrow.com when assisting buyers and sellers who have purchased or sold a domain name, and some of the best domain names I own were purchased directly from a seller who did not even know their domain name had value.

Point 2:  Be prepared to invest in the right name, and to spend some green.  The days of paying $10 to $35 dollars for a “good” domain are over.  In 2008, Pizza.com sold for 2.6 million dollars. Yes, 2.6 million dollars. Today, we have clients who spend $500 to $10,000 for a “good” domain name.   This may seem too costly, but the right domain name can save you thousands of dollars in marketing costs if it meets your branding requirements.

Point 3:  In early 2014, ICANN announced the release of hundreds of new domain extensions into the marketplace, such as ".technology", ".io", and ".photography", in an attempt to provide more name availability to the marketplace. It did not work. Although there are a number of domain names being purchased with the new extensions, many are done so by big companies in an attempt to maintain brand control. That said, the ".com" extension is still the most coveted and sought after extension. That is why Disney paid $7.2 million dollars for go.com when they could have purchased go.fashion for a mere $2,600. It is also the reason some companies use wordoids to come up with a domain name that has the ".com" extension. A few examples you have likely heard of include trivago.com, skype.com, and meebo.com. For our clients, and until we see evidence to the contrary, we continue to recommend to our clients to purchase domains with the .com extension, or for B2b companies in specialized niches, a .net or specialized extension like .energy, .golf or .marketing,

For now, the (.com) extension remains the reigning champion, and in today’s highly competitive business climate, stick with what works.

Sofvue, LLC
7558 W. Thunderbird Road Suite 1-454
Phoenix, Arizona 85381
Office: 623-322-1417