Wine Domain Name Economics
Domain Name Commerce…Now there’s a topic that hasn’t been hot since the heady days of the Internet Bubble.
Yet today I run across a press release by winedomains.com, a company that traffics in domain names…as you might expect. They report that with the opening up of direct sales after the May Supreme Court ruling, sales of wine-related domain name sales have increased siting the consummating of the following sales:
Explorewines.com seems to be the bargain here.
However, if you head over to WineDomains.com you’ll find a price list for various wine-related domains. Of those with prices listed "petitesyrah.com" is the most expensive going for $9999.(this must be a typo) For you bloggers out there, you can pick up "wineblog.net" for $4400.
In reality this is pretty interesting stuff. It’s a combination of real-estate-type commerce and assumption about the meaning of certain words. My guess is that the values associated with these various domains you will find are highly subjective.
Wineries are best served by registering domain names which are likely guesses by people who don’t know it for sure (based on the winery’s name). For example, try all the possibles for Kendall-Jackson (kj, k-j, kendalljackson, kendall-jackson, kjwine, kjwines, …). Most point to the Kendall-Jackson Web site. At $8.95 a year per domain (or less), this is relatively cheap insurance that someone looking for your winery will find you.
Notice also that no one will guess an ending other than .com.
The implicit assumption about the domain names for sale above is that they are memorable in some way. But you still have to make people aware of them (i.e. marketing). Why not just make people aware of the name of your winery, and make sure their “reasonable” guesses are likely to work.
With the advent of google, I think most people will now just do a search on the name rather than trying lots of domain names. For Kendall Jackson, the only name worth getting is kendalljackson.com. I agree that it’s not worth bothering with .net, .org, .us etc.
As someone who actually negotiated and purchased a domain name during the dot-com craziness when business.com went for $7.5 mil, I know you can get most names for very little money if you have some patience.
A reasonable strategy:
1. Get a domain name that is close to what you want.
2. Use it while getting your google ratings up and negotiating for the domain name you want.
3. When you get the domain name you want, keep both and redirect the old to the new. It may take a bit of work to get people to change their links, however the effort involved can be much cheaper that spending $10,000 on a domain name, not to mention the delay in negotiations.
Excellent points, Steve. Boy, wasn’t that Internet Bubble crazy!! I could tell you some stories too.
Thanks for the great input.
I thank Tom for posting the information regarding the WineDomains.com press release, and yes Tom, you are correct, PetiteSyrah.com for $9999 was a typo, it is actually available for $7999!
While both Mike and Steve have good points regarding domain naming strategy and knowing that Mike is in the business of critiquing “winery websites” I will say they both exhibit limited knowledge about the real reasons for using such natural domain names in the wine industry, whether you are a wine producer or an online wine retailer.
With many tens of thousands of worldwide wine labels competing for the same customers and shelfspace, a strong internet presence now and going forward will determine the successes and failures of wine brands and contribute to the important building of wine brand loyalties. In my opinion, a strong internet presence starts with strong content and the securing of appropriate domain name or names, not in the building of a really cool flash website. Others would say that just acquiring your own wine’s brand names with a dot com (.com) attached should be enough and obviously that is a proper start. Taking it a step further, after securing the URLs of your own wine brands, one may find that traffic to your website is lacking, especially if you are an unknown. This is where additional strategic acquisition and use of targeted generic wine domains and search engine optimization can help fuel your online branding efforts.
My experience is in generating traffic from carefully selected domain names that already have built in traffic. As an example, you may have a rather long winery name that people have a difficult time spelling, not unusual in the wine industry. By leveraging a shorter generic domain, as an example, FrenchWinery.com for a boutique French wine or NapaCabernet.com for an Napa Valley Cabernet, you have overcome two factors, mispellings and creating a memorable web address. Securing and leveraging such generic domain names will also ensure, along with proper SEO, favorable placement for wine lovers to find you, while searching for generic wine terms through an engine like Google.
If you are a winery with a great Petite Sirah, why not leverage a domain name like PetiteSirah.com or an alternately used and recognized accurate spelling like PetiteSyrah.com to drive PS lovers to your site and brand? Am I wrong?
The downside for wineries and wine retailers is the limited availability of such key dot com domains and the reason why the wine industry should jump on key wine domains while they are still available.
Mike, I am not making any assumption about the domain names for sale above stating that they are memorable in some way, it is actually simpler than that, people already intuitively type them into their address bars naturally everyday searching for wines or wineries they are looking for, it is called ‘direct navigation’ and publicly traded companies like Marchex are betting billions that they will become profitable because of it.
Steve, a lot of wineries and wine retailers are going to take similar advice as your ‘reasonable strategy’, and because Google and other search engines are moving towards a total ‘pay for position’ model, spending $10,000 for targeted type-in domains today (2006), will look like a bargain in 24 months considering they will possibly have to spend the same amount and more yearly for the same portion of their search engine traffic.