Investing in Call to Action Domain Names
Major corporations seem to like call to action domain names nearly as much as they like their branded domain names. Call to action domains can be more memorable to a consumer than just the brand, and it typically encourages the consumer to take action quickly. They are less expensive than generic domain names, and they’re more readily available. They can also be more trackable than a standard brand URL.
Call to action domain names are frequently used for a short period of time, usually during a company’s interactive or integrated marketing campaign. They are liked by companies because they can help spread a message, usually in a fun way. They aren’t typically expensive to acquire, and many of the creative ones that incorporate a company’s brand are unregistered.
For a domain investor, the problem with owning these domain names is that there are several obstacles in selling them:
1) The company could easily change a word to differentiate and buy an unregistered version (CallUsASAP.com could easily be changed to CallUsRightNow.com)
2) Because they are short campaigns (usually), the budgets for creating the advertisement are typically more limited – with the exception of the Super Bowl and a few other big advertising times.
3) It’s hard to find one of these names before it’s in demand, and to acquire a great number and hold on to them, it can be cost prohibitive.
4) Usually the advertising agency creates the advertisement, and they don’t want to spend their allotted budget on a domain name, when the money can be billed for internal labor costs rather than external unrecoverable costs like a domain name.
5) On a creative pitch, there are usually 5-10 ideas and 3 final ideas presented to the client. Between the internal agency pitch and the pitch to the client, there isn’t much time to negotiate a domain acquistion. Agencies won’t pitch an idea to their client unless they know exactly how much a domain name costs. Getting in touch with some domain owners is difficult, and if they can’t secure the name before the final client pitch, the idea may be ditched. The last thing they want to do is get the client on board with a great idea, only to tell them it’s not feasible because of cost or because they can’t even get in touch with the domain owner.
I get a lot of emails from people asking my opinion on call to action domain names. While I think many of them are neat from a consumer’s perspective, I think it’s very difficult to sell them to a company. I highly doubt a company will tailor an expensive advertising campaign around a domain name, and they probably wouldn’t acquire it for a future campaign (all of this assumes the domain owner is even able to get in front of the marketing decision maker).
My advice is to own a couple of these names if you must (buying them at registration fee), but don’t spend too much money on them. Buying call to action domain names is more like playing the lottery.
Just for further proof about this, next time you see a call to action domain name, do a Whois History search on it. See if the company was the original registrant and when the domain name was registered. If you see that it was previously owned by someone, drop them a note and ask them about it. I’ve learned some interesting things about domain acquisition strategy (much of it I can’t post because they asked me not to make it public). I think you’ll find that most of the call to action domains that are being used were originally registered by the company using it, rather than being older domains acquired in the after market.
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