internet marketing

domain name marketing

By now, we all pretty much know what a domain name is – we see them everyday as we go online and use web sites to access information, products and services. Domain names such as yahoo.com, cnn.com, nationedmedia.com and google.com have become very much a part of our everyday lexicon. it’s somewhat hard to imagine that just 10 years ago, when the Internet was just starting to take off around the world, most people didn’t know what “dotcom” was at the time. However, back to the subject at hand, what is the impact on domain name marketing as we know it, and how important are domain names as part of your internet marketing strategy?

When thinking about domain names, I like to thing of the analogy of real estate. When it comes to real estate, the best properties are the ones that have the most desirable features such infrastructure, demographics, location, scenery, etc. In very much the same way, premium domain names are those that have the highest current or potential internet traffic. The golden secret behind this trend is known as direct navigation. As it turns out, a good number of internet users do not even bother using search engines such as google.com or yahoo.com to find web sites, instead they use “direct navigation” to web sites that have domain names that best describe the product, service or information they are looking for.

The most valuable domain names are those that capture the most traffic, which internet users directly navigate to using either generic or brand-specific terms based on the product, service or information that they are looking for. For instance, if I directly navigated to sex.com, I would expect to find probably the most authoritative resource on the topic “sex” (by the way, the domain name sex.com holds the highest price for a domain name ever resold for US$ 14 million in January 2005). The same applies to generic domain names such as cars.com, music.com or mortgages.com. On the reverse side of the generic domain name internet marketing trend, is that of brand-specific domain names. This is one area that is hot with litigation, especially in the US and Europe where companies and people have registered domain names that infringe on well known copyrighted brand names (see kenyaairways.com). This is something that not only affects companies, consider where a person is also a well-known and highly global brand as well, how much revenue-generating internet traffic are they losing by not owning their OWN domain name? Probably millions of dollars! (see rkelly.com).

The business model behind high traffic domain names is that the domain owner is an intermediary who may or may not actually provide an offering that is directly linked to the domain name in question. The domain name owner then builds a web site that is rich in contextually relevant web site links to internet advertisers who want to reach the target audience who directly navigated to the domain name. Each time an internet user clicks on one of the advertiser links, the domain name owner is paid a fee for directing traffic to the advertisers’ web sites. This may sound like a fairly simple concept but as the internet continues to grow and become widely accessible globally, lots and lots of money is being made by domain owners and internet advertisers through this approach. This business model basically monetizes premium domain names for the domain owner and internet advertiser, representing a growing internet marketing segment.

Behind the scenes of domain name marketing, is an entire ecosystem of intermediary service providers. The easiest way to get on board is to buy google adwords using keywords and key terms and that are relevant to your offerings. Once this is done, Google will publish your adwords in a contextual manner on web sites that have relevance, including those that were directly navigated via intermediate service providers. Once internet users land on these domain name web sites, they will/could have an opportunity to click on a link to your web site.

However, in practical terms, the most cost-effective way to take full advantage of domain name marketing is to own the domain names that are relevant to your offerings (that’s if its not already too late!) under the global “.com” extension which is the most desirable since it has top-of-mind relevance. If this is not possible, then register your business and/or brands under country-specific domain name extensions such as .ke, .ug or .tz (i.e. Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania) within the geographies where your business operates. In time, as they already do, internet users are directly navigating country-specific domain name extensions rather than a global domain name extension such as .com or .net (see google.co.ke). As mentioned earlier, domain names are like real estate, secure yours now to take full advantage of domain name marketing.

This article was first published in the June 2007 edition of Marketing Africa Magazine.

About the Writer:
Moses Kemibaro is an internet marketing professional and founder of Dotsavvy Limited (www.dotsavvyafrica.com ). He can be reached on [email protected]

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