Rook Media buys Domain Sponsor


On April 21st announced that Rook Media bought its Domain Sponsor monetization business. 
Domain Sponsor was founded in 2002 as one of the original domain parking companies.   Rook Media claims to be Europe’s largest domain monetization platform.

Last month's DomainFest was interestingly produced by Domain Sponsor, in contrast with past DomainFests which were produced by the parent company  Was there already an informal deal?  

What's left of  A press release by Corinne Forti stated that "Oversee can now focus on more aggressively developing its growth businesses. The company has been continually enhancing its online portfolio of web properties and mobile applications with strong brands that engage user’s passions."  



DomainFest is Happening After All

When NamesCon was announced for the late January timeframe they took the time slot that DomainFest had used for the past few years.  DomainSponsor had not announced anything for 2014, after changing the name of their conference to "WebFest Global" in 2013.  DomainFest returns to Hollywood March 31st - April 2nd this year, and the early bird price of $695 expires on February 14th.  After that you will pay $995 (or $1495 at the door).  

DomainFest is now the mid-priced domain conference.  It is more expensive than NamesCon - but cheaper than TRAFFIC.  Unlike NamesCon - it appears that they will serve food!  This undoubtedly accounts for some of the extra expense.  Their "very special headlining event" is still "coming soon" as I write this.  Last year at WebfestGlobal the speaker was Kim Kardashian.  

While DomainFest is sponsored by a single domain monetization company, they have treated other companies fairly at their conferences and invited others to participate on a basically level playing field.  I can't help but wonder if their late announcement and date change will hurt attendance.  Almost 600 people attended NamesCon.  While this number is small by many standards - Affiliate Summit down the street had 10 times as many attendees - it is probably the largest turnout for a domain conference in 2014.  

If you are in the mood for a domain conference next month you can save $300 by signing up by Valentine's Day. 


NamesCon - A Last Hurrah for dotcom Domain Investors?

There's a new domain conference around the corner and it will only cost you $199 until December 1 (then $399 before January 7th).  The NamesCon conference will be held January 13-15 at the Tropicana in Las Vegas.  The conference overlaps with Affiliate Summit West and InterNext, so there may be more than one reason for you to be in Vegas.  Richard Lau is sponsoring the conference, and the not-so hidden agenda seems to be attracting domain investors to the new .whatever  TLDs that are currently launching.  What will this mean to your .com domain portfolio?  That's sure to be on the agenda.

Frank Schilling and Jeremy "Shoemoney" Schoemaker are being promoted as keymote speakers.  Frank is highly respected by domainers, and is investing heavily in the new TLDs.  His debate with Rick Schwartz at a recent TRAFFIC conference is informative and entertaining.  He is clearly betting a lot of money on .whatever TLDs, and his .tattoo TLD is having a sunrise in 2 weeks and is actually live and resolving. Shoemoney had an incredibly popular podcast for several years and is one of the kings of affiliate marketing.

How will this affect your domain portfolio?  Obviously Frank and Rick have different opinions about this.  In the short run I doubt that it will affect things too much - but I have let go of most of my .net and .info domains. 20 years from now we will likely see a completely different domain landscape.

If TRAFFIC is a little too expensive for your budget in these times of lean parking incomes, you may want to consider a winter trip to Vegas.  I can't pass up a good deal.  I'll be at NamesCon to see what all the fuss is about.  Who knows, maybe this will be my last domain conference.  There should be good drinks all around, but I don't expect to be drinking the new TLD Kool Aid.


Brave New World of TLDs


GoDaddy buys Afternic and SmartName from NameMedia

GoDaddy announced this week that it bought domain parking company SmartName and domain marketplace Afternic from NameMedia.  GoDaddy will apparently get business name generator NameFind as well.

This leaves NameMedia with its BuyDomains unit.  It will be interesting to watch what happens as GoDaddy absorbs these businesses.  Will they charge for domain parking with SmartName? Their own parking product charges a fee.  GoDaddy's reputation is for up-selling and charging at least small fees for most of their services. Some domain owners dislike all of the up-sells when you go to check-out at GoDaddy; and their Super Bowl ads get mixed reviews.  The company continues to thrive, however, and these new additions will help it maintain it's huge market share.

Afternic is based in Massachusetts and provides a marketplace for domain owners to buy and sell domains. The company lists over 5 million domain names and claims that users make more than 75 million domain searches on the site each month.

GoDaddy CEO Blake Irving stated in an interview with Domain Name Wire: “We’re making [it] really, really simple for anyone who wants to find a great domain associated with their venture, regardless of whether it’s in the aftermarket or something that’s never been claimed before.” 

Once integrated, Afternic will allow GoDaddy customers to buy millions of already registered domain. GoDaddy’s latest acquisitions are part of its strategy to improve its small business offerings, according to Elizabeth Driscoll, vice president of public relations at GoDaddy, in a PC World interview.  GoDaddys claims 12 million customers, most of which are small businesses.  Terms of the SmartName and Afternic acquisition were not disclosed.