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Domain names: The price is right

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So you’re a new business or a startup. You’re looking to put your brand or service on the market and drive the traffic to it like never before. You’ve got great ideas; a hard-working, dedicated team of players; and seed capital all set.

Your friends and family, casual acquaintances and friendly strangers, all wish you the best of luck in your new venture. But luck, says Andrew Rosener, is something you can buy as well as have wished on you.

How can that be? Most entrepreneurs believe you either make your own luck, or it just comes and goes like a summer breeze and can’t be controlled, just factored in. What Rosener is talking about is the wise purchase of your domain name. If your new company is selling perfume, you wouldn’t want a domain name like “skunk.com”, would you? Of course not! If your startup is about stock trading, then “crash.net” is not going to cut the mustard.

Unlike passionate Juliet in Shakespeare’s play, who says: “What's in a name? that which we call a rose/By any other name would smell as sweet.” Her adolescent mindset is that the name of something doesn’t matter, it’s what that something “is” that matters. But try telling that to a prospective customer who is considering buying your brand of SEO services and notices your domain name is “obscurity.com”. Not gonna happen.

Andrew Rosener, whose company, Media Options, is a domain broker and online media consulting firm, can quote some spectacular prices paid for domain names. Take, for instance, the country of South Korea; they wanted the only logical domain name there was for their official tourist site – Korea – and they paid five million dollars for it a few years back. The ubiquitous Yellowpages.com was purchased by AT&T for a whopping one-hundred million dollars!

Rosener says that if you care to, you can bid on the domain name “Beer.com.” Originally purchased for seven million dollars by Thought Convergence in 2007, the site is now a cyber blank. There’s nothing on it. Not even cyber weeds growing in the cyber cracks. Budweiser uses their own name for their domain site, so they are not interested.

Even if it’s just a contraction of your business name, or its initials, if you’re big enough and famous enough, you’ll want to have that contraction, by hook or by crook – or by paying through the nose. Facebook paid eight-and-a-half million dollars for “Fb.com” back in 2010.

Disappointingly, “pdq.com” has nothing to do with pretty damn quick, but stands instead for Public Data Queries. On a more positive note, although we don’t know what they paid for the domain name, “wtf.com” stands for exactly what you’d think.

In 2007 the holders of “Porn.com” sold out for a cool nine-and-a-half million smackers. If you visit that site today you’ll find just exactly what you’d expect – and shame on you for going there!

Similarly, but more expensively, the holders of “Sex.com” sold out for thirteen million dollars in 2010. But with the search traffic associated with that three-letter noun, many Internet marketing mavens think it was still a bargain!
Startups may gamble a bit, but they’re not likely to want to bid for either “Slot.com” or “Casino.com,” both of which sold for five-and-a-half million dollars just a few years ago.

How about buying a domain name, not because you necessarily need it, but out of spite – so someone else won’t get it? This is what super-successful entrepreneur Brian Sharples, founder of homeAway, did when he purchased the domain name “VacationRentals” for an astounding thirty-five million dollars. In a Youtube video Sharples brazenly admitted the only reason he bought the domain name was to keep Expedia from obtaining it!

Of course you probably don’t have the millions necessary to purchase just exactly the right domain name for your service, product or enterprise. But then again, you might be surprised to learn some of the domain names that are still currently available for much less than a million.

There’s “oregano” and “blood” that are taking bids right now. And, reminds Andrew Rosener, you don’t necessarily have to buy a domain name – they can actually be leased, just like a car.

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