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Decoding last month’s aftermarket sales

Joseph Peterson shares what sold on NameJet and SnapNames last month, and what the domains could be used for.

Image that says Top Domain Sales with NameJet and SnapNames logos

“Oh but they’re weird and they’re wonderful” – these domain sales.  B-B-B-“Bennie and the Jets” by Elton John is how I first heard the word “mohair”.  Bennie (whoever she is) has “got electric boots, a mohair suit / You know I read it in a magazine.”  So the song goes.  Electric boots may be sci-fi, but mohair is as real as the Angora goat from which the wool of this luxury textile is shorn.  It’s used in carpets, coats, scarves, socks, and of course suits.  Since mohair is a relatively expensive commodity, we shouldn’t be surprised to see the sale of ($5.1k) among other auction results from NameJet and SnapNames during April.

But the biggest sale was Khols .com ($81.6k).  Déjà vu?  At first, I thought this must be a repeat auction because I covered the sale of a Kohl’s typo from January: ($73.0k).  Someone is serious about buying typos of this department-store brand name.  Each of these was the top auction during the month in question. ($44.0k) was the runner up.  I can’t say for certain why that 6-digit domain is worth 11 times as much as ($4.1k), which also has a repeating pattern.  But it may have something to do with the numeral “4”, which is reputedly unlucky in China.  Another 6-digit domain with a repeating pattern sold just above the $2k reporting threshold: ($2.1k).  Short numerical domains don’t need such repeating patterns to sell high, as the 3rd-highest sale shows: ($20.5k). ($20.4k) was the 4th highest sale.  Here too, attentive readers should feel a twinge of déjà vu because DNW reported the sale of the plural, ($10.0k), back in December.  Notably, that was an end-user purchase via Sedo.  Did the same Chinese company pay twice as much for the singular?  This doesn’t strike me as a wholesale price, but sometimes ambitious domainers outbid end users in the heat of the moment.  Interestingly, the variant spelling was also sold as a .NET last month: ($2.2k).

While we’re on the subject of “Not-.COM” sales, let me point out that NameJet and SnapNames sold a total of 82 domains above the $2k threshold; and of these, 10 were not .COM – 6 .ORG, 3 .NET, and 1 .INFO.  My personal favorite was ($2.6k).  As a rallying point, it’s ideal for branding; and the price strikes me as a bargain.  The highest sale was ($10.0k), which is also political in nature.  Other interesting items include ($4.0k) and ($3.3k).  If I mention ($2.3k), will a swarm of flying monkeys descend on this blog?  Conspiracy theories regarding the U.S. military installation, HAARP, are rampant.  Apparently it’s a plot to control the weather, a fiendish mind-control device, and the cause of an earthquake in Haiti.  Plausible.

When it comes to brand names, I’m not always 100% in favor of creative misspellings because they can cause ambiguity when the name is heard and not seen.  Domainers would call that the “radio test”.  And yet there are exceptions to every rule. ($12.6k) is short and sweet, and it’s spelled phonetically – with “F” rather than the less common “PH”.  This can help with international branding, since many languages would use an “F” rather than “PH” for cognates.  For example, “telePHone” (English) is “teleFono” (Spanish).

There were a number of strong “brandable” domain sales: ($5.6k), ($3.6k), ($3.2k), ($2.5k), ($2.2k), ($2.2k), ($2k).  It’s tempting to think of such domains as a blank canvas, but often there will already be 1 or more brands using the name.  A good example of this is ($3.6k), which might be an upgrade for either (aviation research) or (simulation software) or else be used for an unrelated startup. ($3.7k) seems to fit a New Zealand telecom and utilities company.

The foregoing list of “brandables” are neologisms that look and feel like a single word.  A different sort of “brandable” domain would consist of 2 dictionary words in combination.  Plenty of these sold as well: ($6.1k) and ($5.5k); ($2.2k) and ($4.7k); ($3.2k) and ($3.2k).  The last pair hardly seem invented at all – more like an overheard phrase. ($2.5k) is a good name for a website builder or tutorial.  I assume the “U” in ($4.1k) stands for “university”, but conceivably it means “you”. ($7.3k) seems to match a health and wellness brand that was active on Twitter and Facebook as recently as 2016.  Maybe it’s being revived.  Maybe someone else just likes the name.  Or maybe there’s enough SEO value in the backlinks from an old website to justify that price tag.  It’s a good brand name, regardless.  For the benefit of non-American readers, “Hella” is a slang term common in parts of the USA.  It derives from “hell of a” – as in “That’s one hell of a car!”  And it means “very”.  For instance, “Hella good” = “Very good”.  Since “hella” sounds like “health”, transforming the phrase “health and wellness” until it becomes “hella wella” is pretty clever.  The name deserves to live on even if some prior project stalled. ($2.4k) has obvious uses in commerce. ($3k) might promote tourism or be for a domestic audience. ($2.1k) is a city in Russia. ($3.4k) a city in Thailand.  Nothing against the 2nd coldest city in the world, but I’d prefer to visit the latter.  Speaking of cities, ($2.5k) is Spanish for “towns” or “villages”. ($2.4k) is French for “beef”.  Obviously, that’s something most of us buy; so there must be some commercial value in a website about it, although most of us will never choose to visit a site about beef, let alone order a steak online.  In contrast, we might well visit ($3.5k) to order an electric blanket.  Or check ($13.5k) to get a quote.  Or even visit ($3.1k) in order to plan a funeral.

In the age of Google, would we need a directory of local carpet cleaners, a la ($2.3k)?  Possibly not.  But the domain might be used by a single local business to attract clicks in search results or as a memorable address in print or radio advertising.  Certainly, it’s a bit long, and would be far better.  Nevertheless, the domain gets to the point.  Similarly, ($3k) is a bit dull; but it’s generic enough that it might convey some authority or be used to brand a company in a straightforward, no-nonsense way. ($18.7k) is a French word that has been absorbed into English.  Originally it came from fencing.  When touched by the opponent’s sword, one would acknowledge the hit by saying “touché”.  It has come to mean something like “Well played!  You got me.”  There is no obvious application for this word other than fencing (or possibly debate).  But like so many single dictionary-word .COM domains, this one can function as something of a blank canvas.

4-letter .COM sales are a bit boring.  So let me just get those out of the way by listing them: ($11.4k), ($4.9k), ($3.7k), ($3k), ($2.5k), ($2.5k), ($2.4k), ($2.3k).  On the whole, these are pronounceable and/or use common initial letters from English and other western languages.  In other words, they don’t resemble the vowel-less “CHIPs” that were all the rage during the Chinese surge a few years ago.

Even so, the Chinese domain market is very strong.  The #2, #3, and #4 sales in this article all have a China connection, as do others. ($18.5k) may refer to an actress, a makeup artist with a sizeable Instagram following, or even simply be the Filipino version of “Junior”.  Given the price tag – it was the 6th highest sale – I assume it’s out of range for the Instagram influencer. ($4.1k) and ($4k) are both personal names, but I didn’t see any bullseyes for a single most likely buyer.  Probably not the Shangce Gao who wrote a paper on a “meta-heuristic … gravitational search algorithm”, despite his being the top result in SERPs for “Shangce”.  Not the sort of person who wor

Gambling domains are seldom absent from these monthly sales lists, and April was no exception: SlotOnline .com ($3.2k) and RaceFan ($2.1k).  But profit isn’t the only motive for buying a good domain.  Policing is a hotly debated topic in the USA, given perceived racial bias and use of excessive force.  Possibly ($4.4k) will be used for activism in that arena. ($4.6k) might go to a bistro in Singapore. ($2.6k) undoubtedly refers to geodesic domes.

When I first saw ($2.7k) written in lower case – as domains all tend to be displayed online – I wasn’t sure whether to pronounce it as “Troo eh ra” or “True R.A.” or what.  Finally it dawned on me that it’s “Tru Era” without an “e”.  And that’s the name of an agency offering everything from DJs and dancers to videography and web design. ($4.0k) seems clearly aimed at a company called Philo, which offers packages of TV channels in the USA.  They already operate  There was a second TV sale as well: ($4.7k).  And on the opposite end of the chronological spectrum falls ($2.3k) ($2.3k) would be about deep learning and artificial intelligence.  I suppose that domain sale is 1 more step toward the inevitable Terminator scenario of robots enslaving humanity.  But for now, I’m still waiting for some electric boots.


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