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Domain Auction Marketing


Name Intelligence’s DomainTools has something like half a million registered users, and the company blog has an Alexa ranking much greater than any other industry blog, so I applaud Jay Westerdal for the marketing effort he is putting forth for the upcoming Domain Roundtable conference auction. While many industry auctions seem to rely on emails and press releases announcing the domain names that will be auctioned, Jay has been writing up mini-reviews for some of the better names that are due to be auctioned in a little over a week. As we get closer to the auction, I anticipate seeing more auction names released.

While the ideal marketing effort would be to distribute informational kits about each domain name to potential end-users, I think Jay’s effort goes above and beyond what other auction houses do (he may already be marketing to end users behind the scenes for all I know). With auction commissions reaching up to 20% per sold name, you would think auction houses would really be marketing the domain names in auction to get the best prices for each name. I think this is a great step.

Since end-user businesses should be able to justify spending the most for a domain name, they would be the most likely target. I look forward to the day that domain auction houses market certain generic domain names to the potential end user audience. Educating end users on why they should purchase a generic domain name to support their marketing and branding efforts will be the key to fully unlocking the true value of generic category killer domain names.

If you still haven’t signed up to attend the Domain Roundtable conference, you still have a few days to do so. If you vote in the Name Intelligence User Choice Awards, you will be given a coupon to save $50 off the registration fee. Although it says the voting ends 4/11, it doesn’t look like it has been disabled yet, so you might want to check it out ASAP.

About The Author: Elliot Silver is an Internet entrepreneur and publisher of Elliot is also the founder and President of Top Notch Domains, LLC, a company that has sold seven figures worth of domain names in the last five years. Please read the Terms of Use page for additional information about the publisher, website comment policy, disclosures, and conflicts of interest.

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Comments (7)

    Kelly Lieberman

    Why is it that the sales reps at the major domain auction houses aren’t doing this kind of work in the first place? I don’t know what their cut is but it only makes sense that they should be doing some active marketing of the domains in order to earn their commission.
    It is not hard to do a Google web search or news search and look for key players in the industry that the domain applies to and contact them. The auction houses can also get the domain owners involved by giving us the opportunity to write up a few descriptive sentences that could go in the auction catalogue (please, NOT just a spread sheet!)or up on the screen during the live auction.
    In no other venue, are assets of this caliber, with so much intrinsic value and worth sold so casually. If we expect the end user to consider a 5-7 figure purchase than we need to make darn sure that they “get it”. If they don’t, and we can all laugh about it for another five years internally, aren’t we shooting ourselves in the foot?
    Let’s educate the end market, let’s get the auction houses, the sales reps and the domain owners and industry leaders working as a team and we will see the end of some of these “flat auctions”.
    Kudos to Jay!

    April 13th, 2008 at 2:13 pm


    The top names need even more than just a personalized packet, they need a phone call with the CMO and even CEO if possible.

    April 13th, 2008 at 5:04 pm

    Michael Castello

    Good point. I see many companies becoming unfocused to what is needed. They grow beyond what they can handle, more interested in managing their money instead of their clients. This illustrates the power of an individual like Jay that still has control, making make relevant decisions that matter to his clients and public. So simple, but very smart.

    April 13th, 2008 at 5:05 pm

    Conor Neu

    I agree completely. I’ve spoken of this before and I think it will only adjust over time. As more brokers come into the market, margins will shrink and service will improve.

    It has been easy until now. Domains sold no matter what. As we see a few of the auctions going poorly, it is time for the brokers to step up their marketing efforts.

    Stats and general announcements are helpful. What Jay is doing is great. In the end, the brokers need to be out finding the right clients. For top generics they should be bringing in the big companies in that industry. If they want true sales to flourish, they are going to have to market to buyers outside the domaining industry.

    It will take time, but the brokers will go out of business if they do not take this approach.

    April 13th, 2008 at 6:39 pm

    Emil @KING.NET

    Domain Round Table needs to advertise to domain blogger as well. For example, even I often use website but not paying attention to some of their advertisement. It would be nice to re-post their marketing articles to blogger like this one.


    April 13th, 2008 at 10:52 pm


    It is my experience that the domain auction houses offer very little by way of “Professional ” guidance.
    when discussing minimum reserves I was told to use the company appraisal tool which IMO has no bearing on historic values, market conditions or foreign language .com’s where the markets are evolving and linguistics dictate longer single word generic descriptions. xxx $$$ on an company appraisal tool analysis that means nothing to any amount of dormant generics other than a fee for the CEO to look at the appraisal for fear that a disclaimer was omitted.

    An art auction house or national real estate agency would welcome clients and work with them to get a fair and equitable price for all parties. 20% plus escrow fees is acceptable if the marketing includes potential end users and advertising agencies for the TLD’s

    The auction is to be held in Europe. The domain auction house account executive informed me
    XXX appraisals are the only domain appraisal service recognized by the U.S. IRS for tax purposes.XXX appraisals are a vital feature for our domain auctions.
    Are you suggesting the next time I buy a piece of property or valuable art I should forgo the Appraisal process and simply guess at a price? Or simply assume the seller has but the correct price tag on the item I’m buying?

    my reply
    For my part I have simply asked the opinion of xxxx on the minimum value you would set against the domains in order that I have an idea what figure to set against the xxxx registrations at auction.
    If it was property or art I would base my valuation on past sales and market conditions.
    The xxx domains have some historic sales to offer possible indicative values. However, I am not aware of any xxxx language .com keyword registrations that have been sold at auction and certainly not in xxx language .com’s
    To use your analogy I would ask the property agent for some idea of the price my house is worth in the market before putting the house up for sale

    April 16th, 2008 at 2:57 am


    More can be done. Jay’s “promotion” work is just because he has the platform, but the audience is VERY fragmented and untargeted. We all know that a shotgun approach isn’t as effective as a precise targeting like a sniper rifle. I will personally do my own marketing (grudgingly) when I auction domains because I haven’t seen this being done. . . seems silly but it’s what has to be done at times.


    100% agreed. My best domain auction sale came when I emailed 10 companies who might have been interested in the name. In the end, the name sold to a domain investor for 2x the reserve price.

    April 16th, 2008 at 10:01 pm

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