Domain names are Internet Real Estate – location, location, location
Kipp talks to Keith Shanahan about the 'diamond in the rough' that is the domain market on the Internet...
October 8, 2012 9:57 by M. Aldalou
License plate auctions have been held numerously in the UAE and other states in the GCC, where buyers shell out big bucks to get their hands on a rare and expensive number plate because it has a ‘ring’ to it. Thousands of Dirhams (if not more) are shelled out by wealthy individuals eager to own that prized double or triple digit possession. But, it’s more than just being a good story to tell, it’s also an investment.
Catching up to the trend of investing in Internet Real Estate has been a progressive one but an educational curve is still needed, according to Keith Shanahan, a dot com investor and owner of 600 valuable domain names including TheMiddleEast.com.
“There are many wealthy individuals out there who either haven’t come to terms with it or simply don’t realize the value of investment that comes with owning popular domain names,” he says. “If we were playing American baseball, the Internet is still only in the second inning of a nine inning game; more and more of the Internet Properties are just in the beginning stages of being built.”
“The Middle East” is searched for over 2.7 million times per month and that is taking only Google’s statistics into consideration without even thinking about the traffic coming in from AOL, Yahoo or Bing. According to Shanahan, geographic names make the list of some of the most valuable names to ever be sold in the aftermarket. “It’s exactly like Real Estate; it’s all about location, location, location. If a wealthy individual or smart businessman were to buy the domain name TheMiddleEast.com, considering the amount of searches it receives and the power of SEO it carries by default, they’re already more than half way there. If they go on to build a strong website on top of it, they’re set.”
When asked who his main target audience is he said more commonly travel firms, airlines, hotels and other companies in hospitality or travel related industries. “But it doesn’t have to be just them. There are a lot of wealthy individuals, especially in The Middle East, who will realize the value of such a strong geographical name, even if they don’t have an idea for a website at the time they will still jump at the opportunity.”
He is currently holding TheMiddleEast.com up for sale at $2.5 million. Some of the other geographical names that were sold for a pretty penny included Korea.com for $5 million and Russia.com for $1.5 million. Last year, the name of Dubai.com was up for auction and the owners were asking for a whopping $4 million.
Kipp curiously asked Keith why the name wasn’t sold.
“It just wasn’t promoted or advertised properly to the region’s population. Some people are experts of the domain name industry but on a whole, there is still a lot of educating and informing to do. Many people don’t know much about the market or the value of these names and what they could potentially do with them,” he said. He also added that the world economy had pulled things back at the time and so people were in turn, spending less.
Shanahan got into the domain name business way back in 1998, just when some of the last .com names with single words were being bought. He says that things are very different now and that almost all the good names are bought. On the other hand, many still remain unused and undeveloped.
“Earlier, people were quickly getting their hands on geographical names because they immediately saw the business and online traffic potential of them. The latest trend that I am seeing now is the development of those websites that had remained dormant.”
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