John Andrews is a Competitive Webmaster and Search Engine Optimization Consultant in Seattle, Washington. This is John Andrews blog on issues of interest to the SEO community and competitive webmasters. Want to know more?

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June 16th, 2008 by john andrews

Airline Domains: TAM Airlines doesn’t own TAM.com

TAM Airlines (TAM) is the largest airline in Brazil, and has been expanding operations. They used to compete with Varig in Brazil, which owns Varig.com as well as Varig.com.br, the Brazilian equivalent, and GOL. Airline web sites are notoriously badly configured for SEO, and these are not exceptions, but TAM airlines doesn’t even own TAM.com. For a major airlines, this is very unusual.

American Airlines naturally owns AA.com. British Airways secured BA.com. Japan Airlines, known as JAL, naturally owns JAL.com. They also own the necessary variants of their names, such as AmericanAirlines.com, and BritishAirways.com.

Looking further, Dutch airline KLM of course secured KLM.com, their natural domain. Northwest Airlines can be found at NWA.com. Even South American airline Lan Airline has secured lan.com for itself, which must have been difficult given the generic value of LAN in the computer field (local area network — the domain surely had very high value). Truth is, if you are competing in the global travel space, you simply MUST secure your brand as the customer perceives it. Most airlines know that.

The Polish airline LOT Polish Airlines owns LOT.com, another strong generic domain that had high value to others. LOT knows the value of that domain as a brand. Delta Airlines is found at Delta.com, despite hundreds of non-airline businesses operating under strong Delta trademarks. Continental Airlines owns Continental.com, even though there are very major companies in other industries also operating with the name “Continental”. Why do you think Continental Airlines owns it? If you are a serious airline, you simply must own your name, no? If you visit a page of the Airline Blog that covers Brazil, you will see numerous contextual ads from travel agents and travel companies putting the TAM brand right in front of the consumers. Do they know the value of the TAM brand more than TAM airlines?

So TAM Airlines doesn’t know this? Or maybe doesn’t care. I would find it very hard to believe that the IT systems company near “Mount Tam” in California, the current registrant of TAM.com, would hold out for a higher price than a major International Airline could afford for an exact-match, 3 letter dot com. I don’t know the owner of TAM.com so I can’t be sure, but seriously… if Pizza.com went for just over 2 million, how could a 3 letter exact match for a significant International airline be too expensive to buy out from a small IT company? The online Pizza business last year was billion$ strong, and expected to double in the near term. Anyone could launch into that revenue stream immediately with a 2+ million dollar purchase of THE generic domain in that market. That’s less than the cost of producing a SuperBowl ad, and there was no trademark at risk. For TAM Airlines, with TAM.com an exact trademark match as well as a consumer brand match across languages, it must be worth buying, no?

United Airlines owns United.com, as we would expect although honestly I would not be surprised to learn someone else owned United.com since it is so generic and such a common trade moniker. Yet, United Airlines owns it. Smart move, or simply an essential necessity? Southwest Airlines owns Southwest.com. Swiss International Airlines owns Swiss.com. Spain’s Iberia Airlines owns Iberia.com. I personally know 2 restaurants in high-tech neighborhoods with that name. There’s no way the name wasn’t an early target for many companies. The United Arab Emirates airline “Emirates” is, of course, at Emirates.com. Australia’s Qantas Airways owns Qantas.com, of course, right? They were also smart enough to get Quantas.com, which is how I know them because my language doesn’t like Q’s without associated U’s.

Like I said I don’t know the TAM Airlines people nor the TAM.com registrant, but I think this expose of TAM airline’s sloppiness is a good reminder that companies should research their brand situations today, rather than tomorrow. I’m betting a handful of domain investors will call the current owner of TAM.com now, looking to bet that it has unrealized potential.

We have a joke here in our offices about domain name valuation. When a client says “We don’t have our brand as a domain name, but we want to try to acquire it. How much is it worth?” the only answer we can give is “We can’t say for sure, but it’s worth more today than it was yesterday“.

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June 13th, 2008 by john andrews

Gas Price : Now $4.59 per gallon

Remember those debates about whether or not gas would reach $5 per gallon this summer? No? Well, surely you remember when they suggested it might reach $4 this summer? Well, it’s not summer yet, and where I live regular gas has reached $4.59 per gallon already. Check Google News to see all the reports of problems related to the unusual run up in gas prices… you won’t see much.

gas sign showing 4.89 per gallon gas price

Oh sure we up here in the Upper Left Corner of the US are long drive away from refineries on the Gulf coast… transport from those refineries would add significantly to the cost of gas, especially if gas were increasingly expensive. And that’s why we have our own refineries just 5 miles away. Did you notice the picture above is a Conoco station? Yup.. they own the nearby refinery. Remember that thing called the Alaskan Pipeline? Ever wonder where that ends.. where the terminals are for all that American oil? yup.. relatively close to us, since we are the closest mainland terminus for the shipping routes. So why is gas so expensive? I bet it’s not yet $4.59 per gallon near you. I also bet it will be soon.

At $4.59 for regular, things are already starting to break.

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June 12th, 2008 by john andrews

Think Tank – for domainers and web entrepreneurs

Think Tank is happening and I am now looking forward to it. I can personally vouch for the quality of Dave Klein (DK), who has put this together. He ran a charity poker tournament last fall that was nothing short of great, and several off us encouraged him to follow his instincts after he suggested he would like to host a quality gathering of movers and shakers in this Internet industry. I have full confidence, and I just signed up without hesitation. Those who know me know that is a rare thing.

Serious domainers looking at developing their empires should consider this meeting. I expect it to be on a par with T.R.A.F.F.I.C. Miami last year in terms of the quality of the invitation-only participants, with a focus on empire building using this Internet thing, as opposed to any specific aspect of that (such as SEO or domaining). I can think of a dozen of you who would both contribute and benefit from this meeting, as it is planned. It’s in a quality location, run by a quality host, who is the real deal when it comes to no b.s. this-stuff-matters. No sessions, no speakers, and a non-disclosure requirement. Good stuff.

If you didn’t get invited just follow these steps and tell DK why you belong. Be specific and don’t hold back – if you move millions of eyeballs per day let him know. If you own or monetize premium domains let him know… something like “I’m an entrepreneur and I have a thousand domains” will not get you past the cut, so don’t be shy and tell Dave just why you expect yourself to be considered valuable to the other attendees. If you know me personally and think it will help, tell him how you know me and then continue to make your case. Rest assured that simply knowing me will not be enough!

I think I share a vision that we’re all in this to meet up, listen and share ideas to make good things happen. DK has planned this as NOT an elitist event, but one that is indeed limited to the people who will make it an effective, productive, and inspiring experience for all of us who attend. As an attendee I myself want it to be inclusive of the brightest minds, the freshest thinkers, and the people who don’t just talk the talk but have and continue to make things happen on the web. As far as I know this is a full-boat, invitation-only event which means nobody’s sponsored and nobody’s participating to hawk their wares or write gossip columns..and DK has declared no audio or video at the event (too bad it had to be said, but I’m glad it was).

Most of the smartest people I know in this Internet entrepreneuring space are not in the SEO/Internet marketing industry, which is why I wrote this post. You know who you are. This event is billed as by and for Internet entrepreneurs, not just SEOs and marketers, so please consider hitting Dave early with an email, according to his request, to get an invitation. He’s a great guy and worthy of your consideration. I hope to see you there!

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