February 2010 - Issue #55

 
 Big Changes at NameMedia

NameMedia has made a big change in their parking strategy in January.  It appears that they have sold the GoldKey.com domain name and they are converting most domain owners to their formerly high-end SmartName service.   If you parked domains at GoldKey or ActiveAudience you have probably received an email asking you to change nameservers on your domains.  SmartName is known for innovative services such as their SmartName shops.  These instant ecommerce destination sites monetize through non-traditional services (such as Shops.com) and they also allow you to include your own AdSense ads on the pages. 

SmartName has also announced new content options for sites parked there.  They have a new blog-like content system that allows domain owners to create content-filled web sites on their domains in an automated manner. The sites pull in external news and blog feeds to create a unique web that may even rank in search engines. The sites are monetized by PPC ads, and like their shops, the domain owner cah add their own PPC ads.

Your old GoldKey or ActiveAudience logon should work with the new SmartName system.  There is a learning curve involved in their new system - but I am planning to start learning.

 
 Domain Conference Overload

Is there really a need for three domain conferences within 30 days?  There is a hard core group of professional domainers and domain journalists who go to almost all of these conferences. Andrew Allemann of Domain Name Wire had to pay an extra $500 for his TRAFFIC Las Vegas air fare after booking his flight for the wrong week.  He reported that he was booking flights for TRAFFIC (January 21-23 ), DOMAINfest (January 26-28 ) and Domainer Mardi Gras (February 11-13 ) at the same time and apparently got confused.

What about the rest of us?  Can you afford to jet to Las Vegas, L.A., and New Orleans in the same month? I can't.

I expect that this will be the last year that we see 3 conferences so close together. DOMAINfest was apparently the best attended conference - with over 650 in attendance.   Oversee.net has gained a reputation for having the best combination of content and parties at their DOMAINfest Global conferences.  They have carved out a good time for snowbirds to travel to a warmer climate (even though it is the rainy season) and I don't expect they will change.

Domainer Mardi Gras was originally sponsored by Modern Domainer magazine.  It is now sponsored by Parked.com.  They don't have much flexibility about when they hold their conference - they can't reschedule Mardi Gras.  This conference was apparently lightly attended last year.  It is primarily a time for domainers to party and relax in the middle of the winter.   Next year Mardi Gras will be on March 8th - so the conference (if they still hold it) will be in March instead of February.  Will they still have it?  It depends on whether Parked and DirectNIC find it worthwhile.  If the turnout is low, then this conference may be the first to go.

The TRAFFIC shows are being run by Rick Latona this year.  Their website is much more professional and the conference got good reviews (except for the buggy live auction).   We may see a pared-down line-up in 2011. Some have suggested that TRAFFIC is scheduled this way to capture people who are on their way to DOMAINfest.  If that strategy is working, then they probably won't move either.  If they drop a show in 2011 their January show may be the one.

The "average" domain owner would benefit from picking one of these events to attend every year or two. You'll learn about new developments and get a change to meet other domain professionals.  Don't limit your attendance to domain conferences, though.  Consider attending seo conferences such as an SMX event or an affiliate conference such as Affiliate Summit.  As domain parking income dwindles, we all need other business models to consider.

 
 Post-Parking Monetization - Rapid Site Builder

Oversee.net's DOMAINfest Global was again a big success.  The company is the parent company of Domain Sponsor
- one of the premier domain parking companies - but they also introduced domain owners to some new monetization options at the recent conference.    Rapid Domain Builder generated a lot of buzz at their "Pitchfest."  The purpose of the pitchfest was to introduce domainers to "new, alpha- or beta-stage product and service ideas for increasing website traffic and revenue."

Rapid Domain Builder appears to be a hosting and content management package that is priced in a pay-as-you-go manner. It is still in beta and it has some rough edges. I've played around with it a little and there is a learning curve - but there is also a lot of promise. It uses several different content management systems, and allows you to use AdSense and DevHub as well. You can even create Wordpress sites with their platform (although I'm still not sure why you would want to - WordPress is free and easy to use.)

It does not appear to me that the service adds any content to your domains unless you pay extra for this. You can apparently hire staff to create content for you and develop out your site within their system. You can see your Rapid Domain Builder sites before you pay to actually host them.   Kicking the tires is free.  

Expect to spend several hours figuring out all the options here. Rapid Domain Builder is built on the MyPage.com platform which appears to primarily provide hosting services. The service promises to give domain owners a quick way to develop and monetize in bulk. Pricing is still a mystery to me too.  In some places they quote prices as low as $1 per domain, and in other places it looks like $299 plus $2.99 per domain. That's quite a big difference.  I see the potential in their site, but I am hopelessly lost figuring out all the options.