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Conferences

20 August 2010

DOMAINfest’s Power Networking Day: Part I

I just got back from New York, where I attended DOMAINfest’s 1-day Power Networking event. It was my first industry event, and I don’t think I could have picked a better conference (well, mini-conference) to attend my first time around. The event, which was sponsored by Oversee.net, DomainSponsor, and Moniker/Snapnames, included a full day of guest speakers, panel discussions, a live auction, and plenty of networking opportunities.

The morning started with a great talk by Jeff Kupietzky, CEO and President of Oversee.net, who spoke about 5 Myths of the Domain Industry. The details of the talk have been covered by Domain Name Wire. The two points that stuck out to me the most were:

  • Myth #2: Mainstreet Has Come and Gone
  • Myth #4: Mobile Apps Will Threaten Domains

Jeff’s point about Mainstreet was that major media outlets have only recently started covering domains as a viable investment strategy. A key factor was CNBC’s 5-minute spotlight in July on domains and the upcoming sale of Sex.com, which you can view here. Moniker’s announcement of the sale of TShirts.com for $1.26 million on Wednesday helped generate some publicity for DOMAINfest, including a camera crew from CNN and writers from national publications PCWorld and the New York Daily News.

I think his point about it being “only the beginning” is dead on, and that we have to continue to educate the public and not be shy about announcing completed sales. For every 100 domain name sales that are listed in DNJournal’s weekly report, there are probably hundreds more than don’t get reported, because of non disclosure agreements and privacy issues. Big names like Sex.com and XXX.com (which did not sell at Wednesday’s auction) are sure to draw headlines, but most people will hear of sales like that, and think domaining is only for the elite. Sure, those names are only accessible to big players, but there are a lot of opportunities at the $100,000, $10,000, and $200-1000 level that would be of interest to mainstream America.

I actually have a few ideas about this, and think we need to stop advertising to other domainers, and start utilizing channels geared more toward the general public—the WSJ, YouTube, even Craigslist. But that’s material for another post.

Myth #4, that smartphone apps are threatening web domains, was especially timely, considering the meteoric rise of iPhone and Android apps in the last two years, and articles such as this one from Gigaom. Jeff’s explanation was that there is a shift coming, but that the industry will adapt by shifting away from using domains purely as address locators, and more as brands.

Next up was Naresh Rekhi of ComScore, who spoke about measuring users’ actions and online engagement. Here were a few of the points I found interesting:

  • Canada leads the world in time spent online, with 39.7 hours online per visitor a month. Israel (#2) is rapidly growing in this respect, and surpassed the U.S. this year.
  • Every single video metric has increased (although this isn’t much of a surprise)
  • More than half of Google’s advertising revenue comes from international markets.
  • In the last year, “coupon” searches grew at 53% compared to retail. With the economic downturn, people are turning online to find ways to save money. [Which makes me think I should develop CouponCompanies.com]
  • Social retail and group buying (Groupon, LivingSocial, etc.) are growing quickly, although they remain more popular with women than men. Men prefer buying from pure-play retailers, where they can get in, find what they want, and get out.
  • Despite the rise of social media, the majority of retailers still aren’t taking advantage of advertising opportunities within that space.

The keynote address was given by David Mason, Senior Vice President of the AOL Content Platform, which acquired StudioNow. His company employs a network of hundreds of content writers and videographers to produce videos for companies, at a higher quality (and lower price point) than most of its competitors. City Search and Simon & Schuster are among their clients. I was impressed by the quality of the demo videos he showed, and I think it’s a great model.

Next up, Part II: Small Groups and Some of the People I Met at DOMAINfest. Time to grab a Coke and take a break from typing.

> Go to Part II

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About Nadia

Nadia is the editor of DomainSushi. Her love affair with domain names and web development dates back to 1998, and she is passionate about educating the tech community, small business owners, and laymen about domain name strategy. Follow her on Twitter: @DomainSushi.

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