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Search Marketers : study this list

If you are in SEO/SEM then you probably understand the historic value of a domain name from a marketing perspective. You are also probably increasingly understanding the market value of generic domains, and perhaps developed domains. But do you recognize just how fast this market is advancing?

Adam Strong over at DomainNameNews just published the Moniker silent auction results, covering the domains that were not sold or not brought to the bay at T.R.A.F.F.I.C. conference in Miami. Of course it includes the BigFamousOnes like for $360k, but SEO/SEM practitioners should take note of the tail of that list. One hundred and eighty nine (189) domains sold for less than $700. That’s less than the consulting fee for chasing and acquiring a domain on behalf of a client. The way Moniker runs things, many of those domains were prepared in advance for easy transfer at Moniker. One hundred and fourteen (114) of them went for less than $400. As I suggested in Paying for Privilege, the rights to a domain represent a unique privilege to publish under a brand on the Internet.

As I wrote some time ago in “Domain after market wipes out domain name consultants” (click the listing), these auction lists and the availability “for sale” lists represent the new pool of domain names available to SEO/SEM consultants. Sure it sometimes still pays to hit the registrars with your creative brainstorming, but I rarely find that time productive anymore (who else remembers the “bug reaper dot com” commercial?).

Side note of Interest: When the Dallas Cowboys allegedly balked at actually paying their own $275k winning bid on after the live auction, my friend and search colleague Todd Mintz posted a note to marketing site Sphinn. I commented as follows:

This is history in the making. Not only is a test of the value of .com domains in the aftermarket, but it is a stage for all sorts of precedent in the business world where domains are concerned. If Dallas screwed up this will alter corporate behavior in the domain aftermarket.

Dallas dropped the ball at what would have been amortized as marketing expense at roughly $20k per year for 15 years, after which it would be free and probably a significant contributor to asset value. Yesterday it was $275k, today it sold for $360k, to domain investors.

Today “cowboys” is synonymous with the Dallas Cowboys. What will it mean tomorrow if it is developed online for a country western affinity theme or a Pixar animated series or a perhaps a gay affinity site? The Dallas Cowboys own “cowboys” as a brand and just missed their first shot at owning it online. I wonder how expensive that education is…

In the DomainNameNews discussion someone calling hirself “Innocent Bystander” challenged the domainers, suggesting there was no good rationalization for such a high price tag. Oops… that person was posting from an IP block owned by the Dallas Cowboys! My take is there was sincere marketing discussion over there, and they don’t get it so they made a decision to back out of their deal. We can all call it silly and dumb but we also can see the way that marketing unit is behaving… and perhaps learning as they go. Will heads roll? I especially like this follow-up comment from “MrSpartan”

“It is bad press for an organization who is based on winning and excellence to back publically back out of a winning auction bid because they did not understand the rules of the business they were conducting AND lose out to another bidder who bids more than they could have paid a day earlier. They look foolish and Stupid.”


  1. TheMadHat wrote:

    Minimum salary for a rookie player in the NFL: ~$250k
    Probable ROI for that 3rd string defensive lineman: $0

    Face value of Cowboys ticket: ~$80
    Number of tickets sold per game: 60,000
    Approximate length of game: 3 hours
    Time it takes to make $275k: ~11 Minutes

    Cost to the Cowboys for one the dumbest mistakes they’ve ever made: Priceless

    Friday, October 19, 2007 at 4:11 pm | Permalink
  2. Todd Mintz wrote:

    The Dallas Cowboys decision looks dumb now…in 5-10 years, folks will be laughing at them for their level of stupidity.

    This is a big story now but it will be a much bigger story in 1-3 years when the magnitude of screw-up is finally realized not only by the football team but the entire business community.

    Friday, October 19, 2007 at 4:43 pm | Permalink
  3. evolvor wrote:

    I think everyone is needs to stop thinking seo geek for a fing minute and really think about this.

    Think about sports brands. For the most part, they are not “unique”, as far as their names go. Cowboys. Eagles. Bears.

    The average sports fan searching online knows this. They know that if they go to and it’s not a miami dolphins site, that they’ll just go to Google and search for “miami dolphins.” Not a big deal.

    I like how everyone thinks just because Dallas is loaded and Jerry has deep pockets, that they can just toss money around like it’s no big deal.

    And F$@% that “no ROI for that $250,000 rookie third string lineman”. Most players start out as rookies, most third string. And after a few years, when that player learns the ropes and starts and wins games, then the roi kicks in.

    Every business needs to have people making cost decisions, and in this case, someone decided that 300k was a lot to blow on a domain name.

    Do they know less than we do about domains and seo and sitting on our asses in front of computers all day? OF COURSE. They’re not seos, they’re sports moguls.

    Am I going to confuse some gay cowboy site with the Dallas Cowboys sports franchise in ten years? Probably not.

    ‘Cause I’m probably just going to Google cowboys anyway. And what will I find? Go ahead and check for yourself.

    You can have the cowboys domain – I’d love to see what kind of other monetization you’re going to do with it. I hear the AdSense for cowboy-related keywords is through the roof.

    Or you can sell belt buckles. That’s the only way you’re gonna make that investment back.

    Friday, October 19, 2007 at 6:21 pm | Permalink