I got into an interesting debate with a colleague the other day regarding the acquisition of a domain name for one of their clients, a large corporation.
During the course of planning a major integrated ad campaign, the team at my colleague’s agency realized they would need to create a mini Website to support the campaign. Not surprisingly, said mini Website would need its own unique domain name.
It was then discovered that the desired domain name, let’s call it DesignerPets.com, had already been registered by a third party. (Note: I actually own DesignerPets.com, but it’s mentioned here just as an example.)
Because the client really, really wanted to use DesignerPets.com for the campaign, the decision was made to have the agency try to purchase the domain name from its current owner.
The agency was successful, and the domain name exchanged hands for a modest but fair four-digit sum. The negotiation and transaction was handled through an intermediary (not me, although I’ve acted in this role many times) who did not divulge to the original owner of the domain name the identity of the buyer or their plans for the domain name.
In my opinion, this (using an intermediary or ‘broker’) was a smart play, and one I always recommend to clients that want to buy a domain name from someone else. Had the original owner of DesignerPets.com known from the outset who was buying his domain name and why, he’d have wanted a ridiculously over-inflated amount for the domain name.
My colleague thinks this approach was “underhanded and unfair.” He is even concerned that the former owner of DesignerPets.com will go to the media and complain how he was "duped" (according to my colleague) by the large corporation. I suggested this would only make the former owner look like a sore loser.
Perhaps I’ve spent too much time following the writings of Sun “The Art of War” Tzu, but I think my approach of using an intermediary is just smart (albeit tough) strategy. Had the agency not taken this approach, they’d probably still be haggling over a price for the domain name, and their client’s campaign would have been delayed – or forced to use a different domain name.