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How to profit from new domain name rules

ICANN changes the rules, but enterprise IT execs can take advantage of new opportunities to boost traffic, revenue

By Dirk A.D. Smith, Network World
January 23, 2012 06:06 AM ET

Network World - A new era in Web site naming has begun, providing a golden opportunity for savvy IT professionals to go on the offensive with new domains that can capture additional Web traffic and generate new revenue.

Under today's rules, names are available in 280 well-known categories, such as .com, .gov or country codes, like .de for Germany. Under the new rules, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) is accepting (between now and April 12) applications for new generic top-level domains (gTLDs), possibly as many as 1,000. Examples of possible new domains are: cities and regions (.paris), domains tied to specific interests (.music) or domains tied to companies and brands (.motorola).

New era for Web site names begins

According to Jeremiah Johnston, general counsel at domain name re-seller Sedo.com, "Savvy network administrators can demonstrate added value to their company because they know how to have ancillary domain names forward captured traffic to the primary domain name and how to track that traffic. When the company then sees thousands of people coming to these other domains who are then forwarded to pages where they can actually take an action that generates revenue for the company, the company sees the profit in this remarkably underleveraged strategy."

Known as a domain name portfolio, this use of a collection of domain names enables the capture of Internet traffic that would not normally make it to the organization’s web site. It is the 21st century version of adding stores in other towns to capture street traffic that doesn’t go near the original site.

There are two kinds of domain name portfolios; one for domainers (people who buy domain names to then sell for profit on the secondary market) and another for the network executives, CTOs, CIOs, et al. Domainers, by virtue of their profession, know all about building such portfolios. This article focuses on those responsible for the enterprise network, for whom this is generally uncharted territory.

What is a domain name portfolio?

A domain name portfolio is a collection of Internet domain names assembled to promote traffic to a business and to protect against brand abuse. It may contain a small handful of names or, as in the case of companies like Microsoft, perhaps thousands.

As an added benefit, in many cases the portfolio itself becomes a valuable corporate asset in which some components have significant resale value (See Sex sells in the domain name game).

As Warren Adelman, president of Internet domain name giant Go Daddy, says: "Anybody who is serious about an online presence or growing their business should have a domain name portfolio. Be sure to have the names associated with that business, have keywords people use when searching for you, and be sure that your business is protected from anyone getting domain names that you would want in the future." Certainly, his point would include most business operations.

But the need for domain name portfolios is not limited to the business world. Government agencies, educational institutions, political organizations and non-profits should consider it as well. Both President Obama and Mitt Romney spent thousands of dollars recently In "Campaign 2012, Web sites are the new real estate" at GoDaddy.com on domain names. In the education market, Harvard University probably regrets the group of non-Harvard students who registered www.HarvardSucks.org. The site shows a prank they pulled at a Harvard-Yale football game where attendees pretended to be Harvard students yet held paper signs that spelled "We Suck" in huge letters.

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