The Domain Show 2020 Recap

The domain industry chartered into new and virtual territory with the debuting of the first ever digital investors online conference sponsored by Dan.com: TheDomainShow.com.

It’s Founder and Executive Producer, Page Howe, is no stranger to the industry, investing in domains for 20+ years, having sold 5,000+ domains (most notably sold Seniors.com for $1.8M), and once known for his domain tip sheets, emoji domain investing, and occasional DomainSherpa appearances through the years.

As all eyes were on Page and team, industry professionals eagerly awaited and anticipated what the shift would be like from a paid in-person to a free virtual conference experience spanning three days, July 23-25.

There were many questions to be answered from the time it was announced in early April:

  • What would be the format of the show?
  • Who and want would be presented?
  • Would sessions be live, pre-recorded, or both?
  • How would the show address time zone challenges?
  • and many more…

Initially billed as $99 for all sessions with the first 500 sign ups free until April 15th, TheDomainShow.com was made affordable and free for all to see and participant by the time it was go time July 23rd, exactly one week ago.

And no worries, if you missed the conference, on-demand replays have been made available for your viewing pleasure at the time of this publication at $39, $99 and $199 memberships.

The Domain Show - Replay Tickets

Day One of The Domain Show

Nevertheless, the opening day was finally here, but not without a few technical glitches and challenges as just over 1,400 persons were glued to screens awaiting the maiden virtual voyage of The Domain Show.

Built on the Zoom Webinar platform, the conference was a little tricky and confusing to attend as the experience wasn’t as seamless as hoped — at least to begin with.  But Page and team expeditiously adjusted quite well in the moment to successfully land a jam-packed first day of interviews.

The first-ever virtual domain conference kicked off with the Welcome and then onto the first session of the day with “Monte Cahn: Mr. Domain Names 1994-2020”.

While I wasn’t able to commit to the entire day, I did attend a few sessions, one which was billed as “Ninja and The Mann” — Bill Sweetman interviewing Mike Mann. I knew of Mike Mann, but didn’t really comprehend the breath of his contribution to the domain industry, having patented name spinning.

I was also impressed by Darpan Munjal’s session — “Fireside Chat with SquadHelp CEO Darpan Munjal”— about how SquadHelp is educating and building customer awareness about how branding is critical to the success of a business, product, or service named accordingly. He shared innovative thoughts as for how domain investors can best leverage the buying and selling of domain names that intersect with the core principles of branding.

I unfortunately missed the “Lunch Networking – Social” session and Michael Gilmour’s session, “Where has all the Money Gone?”, about domain stats and monetization. But good thing I registered early and can take advantage of the replay pass for missed sessions due to other obligations.

Jeff Sass, Chief Marketing Officer of .CLUB and many other magical titles, by far had one of the most clever presentation uses of slide and video mashup as he discussed “The New Normal: Marketing Tips & Insights for Now & Tomorrow”. Jeff, how in the world did you do pull that off while speaking on 5 different topics?

  • Online All The Time
  • Zoom: Doom or Boom?
  • Booking.Yeah
  • Category Killer Domains
  • What’s The Story

While Jeff dazzled us with his brilliant tech and presentation skills, he delivered insightful and actionable content seamlessly woven together through thoughtful storytelling.

Next up was Fred Mercaldo, Founder and CEO of Geocentric Media, Inc. and Scottsdale.com, sharing about geo and city domains in the session “Geo Domains 2020 History and Opportunity”.

Fred shared quite a bit of information too.  One of his best lines was him sharing the story of how his previous business only closed 5 out of every 6 golf vacation packages, yet when he acquired and transitioned to operating the same website on Scottsdale.com, they closed an eye-popping 9 out of 10 sales. Fred said it best, “When you combine content with credibility, you’ve got it made.”

Fred concluded his presentation sharing about the opportunity for major news or media outlet to purchase a package of 20+ city .com assets attaining an annual tourism financial impact of nearly $145 billion and 100M+ population.

I missed both David Warmuz’s, CEO of Trellian.com, Above.com, and Drop.com.au, session on “Monetization to Marketplace”, and Jothan Frakes’s “Expanding the Domain Market” where he interviewed Robert Jacobi and Jason Nickerson.

While I hoped to attend the next two sessions, I missed both fielding domain inquiries, which was great.

I concluded Day One of The Domain Show with Derick Downs’, Digital Consultant of Downs Agency, session: “The Other Side – Domain Development and SEO”. Having nearly two decades of experience in development and SEO, I’m always interested to see, learn, and compare notes from colleagues in the industry.

Derrick introduced three powerful tools I had not heard of that were certainly worth a further review. In addition, Derrick shared a very comprehensive Step-by-Step-by-Step Local SEO Guide and a real-time tutorial on how best to design optimal re-marketing/retargeting Google Ads.

Derick Downs Agency

Day Two of The Domain Show

If you enjoyed Day One, then Day Two of The Domain Show certainly was going to blow your socks off — in other news, did Dan.com give out virtual socks? Simply asking for a friend.

I started my day a bit later than expected, missing both the “Pre-Show Social Room Open” and “Welcome Day 2 High Value Domains”. However, I was not going to miss hearing from Andrew Rosener, “The Hardest Working Person in the Domain Industry”, and his fireside chat.

Andrew, CEO of Media Options, shared wonderful insight and wisdom of how branding and domain names are simply one in the same, especially in a post-COVID society of digital commerce. He strongly believes and confidently states, “The most important investment you can make in your brand today, is a .com domain name.”

Andrew Rosener - The Domain Show 2020

Drew also shared his expectations about what it meant to switch from a global growth climate to a global crisis climate, the distinct variances between the two climates, and their micro and macro impact on the buying and selling of domains, especially in the premium and ultra-premium domain sales.

In short order, the pandemic caused a binary moment for businesses to die or thrive in going completely digital with the best .com domain that best represented their industry, an attribute of their business, or a completely new name. And in Drew’s words for companies that seized the moment in purchasing the best .com domain in this moment… #OffTheMarketForever.

Next up were Ari Goldberger, ESQwire Law Firm, and Larry Fischer, GetYourDomain.com, discussing “Big Names and Is it Registered”. Following their talk was Chris Zuiker’s, Head of Sales & Marketing at Media Options, session “.Com Strategies From a Valuation Expert.”

While I hoped to have attended the previous sessions, I fielded a few customer calls and recorded some long awaited podcasts guests, which also led to missing Ron Jackson, DNJournal.com, interviewing David Castello, Chief Operating Officer and Editor-in-Chief of the Castello Cities Internet Network, Inc., about predictions on “The Future of dotCOM”.

David had plenty of sound bites covering a number of topics — the two types of buyers, the .com party game, Chinese domain market boom, new gTLDs and those to arrive in the coming years, COVID’s impact on domain industry to name a few, but one defining sound bit was about whether or not new TLDs are worth investment vehicles. In regards to new TLDs being compared to .com, David states, “You can sell copper, but don’t tell somebody that copper is going to be gold.”

David shared quite a few stories of companies leveraging their way to exponential profits simply purchasing a .com, like the story of HotelReservations.com buying Hotels.com. Per David, they instantaneously boosted their revenue by 19% and they were already making a fortune of money prior to the purchase.

David and Ron covered a lot of ground in roughly 30 minutes before it was time for the thinker, innovator, and laureate to enter the spotlight, none other than Kate Buckley, Founder and CEO of Buckley Media.

Kate Buckley | The Domain Show

While we as a nation attempt to figure out when schools will open, school was in session as Kate waxed poetic about the varying reasons buyers desire to purchase domain names and how to match domains for the highest and best use case. From simply showing up with an expectation and desire to do our best to learning to sit in the buyer’s seat when representing domain names for sale, Kate did not disappoint!

And speaking of not disappointing, Jeff Gabriel, Co-Founder of Saw.com, shared wonderful insight about how to pragmatically consider domain name offers as well as an excellent breakdown and categorization of one and two .com domains.

Breaking up the late afternoon was the “TheDomainSocial.com”, hosted by Arif Mirza of NameCult.com and Producer of The Domain Show.

Braden Pollock — angel investor and serial entrepreneur — kicked off the evening with the “SEO Domains” session, interviewing Jason Hennessey discussing the role SEO metrics play in the value, and potential resale value of domain name with SEO attributes.

Immediately following this session, Braden rebooted with an award-winning, most natural look for a one-hour, tell all session with longtime friend, entrepreneur, and domain investor Morgan Linton.

Braden Pollock Natural Mask Look | The Domain Show

The pair had quite the hour as they freely discussed a wide range of topics:

  • Three defining factors driving auction prices
  • Expectation of portfolio cashflow and ROI
  • New extensions to explore beyond .com (and Morgan’s sleeper of the decade)
  • The shift towards context-specific domain names
  • Data-driven domain investing
  • …and Ron Wells (please do what you can to support)

In addition, Morgan returned to close out Day Two of The Domain Show to talk about the shift of COVID, and the impact on the domain industry and digital commerce in general. Morgan also unveiled the intersection of where domains meet the startup world as well as shared a few domains he successfully developed, including a .us website that outranked the official irs.gov website.

But prior to Morgan, up next was good ol’ Shane Cultra, THE DomainShane.com, with the session interview “Welcome to the Six Figure Club”. If you’re wondering about “six figure club”, Shane (and team) recently joined the club with two 6-figure sales within 6 hours, having invested in domains since 1999. 👏🏾

In addition to operating a family-owned nursery by day, Shane specializes in three categories of domains — plant and garden related domains, one word generic .com domains, and short 4-letter and under.

Shane shared valuable insight about overpaying for domains, yet how to best price wholesale and retail to best position yourself for continuous success.

Braden Pollock, Shane Cultra, and Morgan Linton | The Domain Show 2020

Final Day of The Domain Show

Based on experience, the concluding day of most conferences is as dull as the word dull itself. But not on the final day of The Domain Show. It was a mad dash, jam-packed sprint towards the finish from beginning to end. I loved it!

While I missed “Basics of Domain Investing” presented by Page himself, the key highlights from the final day started with an amazing “Fireside Chat with Reza Sardeha, CEO of Dan.com” (and the sponsor of The Domain Show).

Fireside Chat with Reza Sardeha of Dan.com | The Domain Show 2020

I don’t know where to begin because Reza touched on so many phenomenal thoughts and insight about where the industry has been, is, and where he sees it going based on data.

One of the topics piquing my interest was Reza’s vision to build an open, all inclusive domain distribution network. Reza believes a single system, much like what the MLS does for Real Estate, is prime to unite the domain industry in a collective and collaborative way that’s good for all while simultaneously addressing key pain points of domain name buyers.

Another great thought he shared was about how the domain aftermarket must create frequent frictionless transactions by increasing liquidity and simultaneously reducing the time it takes to purchase and secure ownership of a domain.

He touched on many other topics — future of payment plans, buyer and seller communications, the innovative change for leasing domains, fractional domain ownership, integrated seller and buyer value propositionthat are well worth the admission price of on-demand replay at any level!

One of the things I enjoyed the most about Saturday’s lineup, besides being on the bill myself (more on that in a minute), were the “Domainers at Their Desks” sessions. I didn’t have a personal connection with the participants prior to their session — Sam Charles, Roman Edmond, Dan Rubin, and Arif Mirza, but thoroughly enjoyed getting to meet and hear from each person about their journey and lessons learned along the way.

Domainers At Their Desks | The Domain Show 2020

Sprinkled between the “Domainers at Their Desks” sessions was a session where Page interviewed the founder and developer of One Word Domains, Steve Tey, about why and how he built a tool in less than 48 hours that allows people to search a list of available and brandable one-word domains.

OneWord.Domains at The Domain Show 2020

Next up was long-time domain investor, developer, and serial entrepreneur, Tommy Butler, discussing the intricacies of building out and brining values to domain names, focusing primarily on city and geo domain development, yet relevant for domain development in general.

Immediately following Tommy’s session, was the session “They Call Him 9” with Jason Eisler, Founder and President of DNAdvisor. While the title was somewhat of a head scratcher, attendees discovered the meaning and story behind the title was that Jason revealed during Mike Cyger’s weekly Domain Social that he sold 9 domains in one week.

Jason also shared outbound marketing tactics — researching names, identifying qualified buyers, A/B testing communications, informal and formal messaging to name a few — he uses to sale domains as well as covered what the difference is in spamming versus value-based selling.

I missed Grant Polachek’s, Head of Branding at SquadHelp, session “The SquadHelp.com Naming Ecosystem” preparing for my presentation that followed (sorry Grant). His presentation is one I’ll be reviewing in the coming days, seeing how SquadHelp actively empowers domain investors to transact at greater sale-through rate.

Nevertheless, the time finally came for yours truly to take the stage as I presented a well-received “Tools For Your First Domain Development Idea”. Unfortunately, I hadn’t realized the length of time for my presentation had changed from 1-hour to 30-minutes, so my presentation was cut short.

But no worries, I went all in sharing my process of the how I demystify and simplify the domain development. Literally, I can purchase a domain, setup web and email hosting, secure the website with auto-install FREE SSL, setup WordPress with an elegant, professional-looking themed website, and integrate MailChimp and Google Analytics all within a 1-2 hour window.

Tools for Your First Domain Development at The Domain Show 2020

With the time I had and as you’ll discover in the presentation over at DomainDevJourney.com, I shared a trove of primary and secondary tools I use — without affiliate links — when developing domains into websites, which I personally develop 1-2 sites annually. It’s worth a review if you’re considering domain development, or you’ve tried before and got stuck for whatever the reason.

And for those wondering, I hope to re-record the entire presentation and post to the web in the coming month. 😉

Immediately following my session was NameSilo introducing new their services NameLot and Catch.Club. I’ll have to watch the replay in the coming days to see what all I missed, as I was working to ensure my presentation made it to the web for attendees (sorry again).

Rounding out presentations were pre-recorded sessions from David Chandler“Tips on Using 15 Tools for Domainers”, and Michele Van Tilborg, President of .CLUB Domains — “Premium Domains with Names.Club.”

Being a tools person myself, I found David’s presentation very insightful. In fact, he covered 2 tools that I’ve not used in a while and totally forgot about that are worth reviewing since they’ve updated with greater features and overall functionality.

The very last presentation of the day before the wrap up and closing remarks was “Smoke On The Water – Domain Smoke” with Dennis Tinerino, Founder and Editor of DomainSmoke.com.

Dennis shared his journey of how he got into domain investing, why he chose to launch Domain Smoke, and where he hopes the industry heads in regards to automation and portfolio management, empowerment of beginners, diversification of payment plans, and innovative mobile apps to connect buyers and sellers in frictionless communication and transaction.

One of the most entertaining portions of Dennis’ time was sending attendees on a DomainSmoke.com scavenger hunt for “pineapple man”. The winner, Joelle Morin aka ZestyQueen, won and took home the domain InnovationWallet.com (CONGRATS!).

In addition, Dennis and Morgan Linton have joined forces to a create the Domain Flipping Contest. Domain investors MUST ENTER CONTEST BEFORE 8/1/2020, emailing [email protected] or [email protected] to be eligible.

Domain Flipping Contest | MorganLinton.com and DomainSmoke.com

In short, domain investors compete against one another by purchasing a domain from the Domain Smoke Daily Auction Newsletter and sell it for the highest value — investment cap of $500. Contest ends October 30, 2020.

All in all, Dennis was a great closer and true closing session for The Domain Show. And speaking of conclusion, this concludes my “The Domain Show” experience. Hats off to Page Howe, Arif Mirza, and team for accepting the challenge to deliver a virtual conference to engage, equip, and empower the buying, selling, developing, and investing of digital assets known as domain names.

I’ll be back shortly with a “The Domain Show Hits and Misses” post.

Thanks and that’s all for now! 😉

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Written by Alvin Brown
He's an experienced and passionate serial entrepreneur, founder and publisher of Kickstart Commerce. Alvin possesses a great love for startups dominating their market using profitable digital strategies for greater commerce.