One Degree contributor Bill Sweetman recently became the General Manager, Domain Portfolio at Tucows where he is managing and monetizing a very large collection of domain names.
One Degree: What are some things that brands, big and small, should think about when looking for domain names for campaigns?
Even if you are planning to promote and drive people to a sub-domain of your existing domain name, e.g., campaign_name.catmas.com, you have to understand that a certain percentage of your target market is still going to attempt to directly navigate to the campaign by typing in campaign_name.com. If you haven’t nailed down the ownership of campaign_name.com ahead of time, you risk sending a portion of your target market someplace else, maybe even to a competitor. That’s never a good thing for either a campaign or the overall brand, especially if campaign_name.com leads to a porn site.
One Degree: What’s the biggest mistake marketers make when it comes to domain names?
Underestimating their importance. Marketers need to integrate a consistent and comprehensive domain name strategy into the foundation of their business. Such a strategy needs to take into account which domains, extensions, and variations should be used to generate in-bound traffic as well as how these domains are managed, measured, and protected. Domain names are serious business, and they require the full attention of the marketing department; this is not something you just pass off to the IT department without thinking.
One Degree: What should marketers do if the domain name they want is already registered by someone else?
First of all, don’t assume the name you want can’t be bought from the current registrant. Almost everything is for sale if the price is right. Failing that, you may be able to find a similar or even better domain name on the aftermarket. Most marketers I speak to aren’t aware that thousands of domain names exchange hands every day this way, and most of them sell for under $1,000. That’s a small price to pay for a memorable and marketable domain name. That’s why, ahem, Tucows launched its Premium Domains service, which makes it easier for people to quickly find and purchase an aftermarket domain name.
One Degree: What should a marketer expect to pay for a good aftermarket domain name these days?
How long is a piece of string? While there are various objective factors that can be taken into account when attempting to value a domain name, determining the true “fair market value” for a domain is just as much an art as it is a science. It also changes over time. At the end of the day, the best determinant of a domain name’s value at any given moment in time is what a buyer is willing to pay for it. Like real estate, however, the supply of quality domain names is finite. I expect that the average price paid for domain names is going to increase over time.
One Degree: Are .com domain names still important when there are so many other domain extensions available these days (like .ca, info, .tv)?
As a proud Canadian, I have to admit that I’ve enjoyed watching the mainstream awareness and usage of .ca domains mushroom over the last few years. In most cases, however, .com remains the gold standard of domain name extensions, and I don’t see that changing anytime soon.