Rob Grant is one of the original domain name investors, having built a great portfolio many years ago. He has also sold a number of high profile domain names, including TorontoRealEstate.com ($140k), and JacksonHoleRealEstate.com ($80k) among others. These days, Rob is probably more well known outside of the domain name business for being the father of Lana del Rey, but that is another story!
Without much of a doubt, Rob is a fan of .com domain names. Today on LinkedIn, Rob posted a poem (I think) called Dot Titanic. As you might imagine, the poem is about new gTLD domain names, and Rob has a pretty dim view of them and their prospects:
New Gtlds are going down as fast as the Titanic and taking most of their shocked passengers with them.The hidden iceberg (and what nobody saw below the surface) happened to be a fatal loophole governing unregulated price increases for all new Gtlds.
Rob has gone on the record to discuss the new extensions before. Heres a quote of his from a DNJournal article dating back to 2014:
Ive seen a significant increase in the number of qualified and substantial offers coming in from brokers for the premium .com real estate domains this, paradoxically, as many of the new competing real estate extensions are just now being launched, most notably .realtor, and to a lesser extent .house, .home, .realty, .mls, .estate, etc. Over 23 new real estate related gTLDs are scheduled to launch (or have launched already). As this growing clutter of new gTLDs overwhelms the public and the real estate industry, there appears to be a growing identity crisis among agents and brokers and especially consumers.
Robs portfolio of .com domain names is quite expansive. In addition to owning top RealEstate.com domain names in markets across the world (HawaiiRealEstate.com and NewYorkRealEstate.com to name two), Rob also owns domain names like Adirondacks.com, Marathons.com, and TropicalFish.com.
Its always interesting to get the perspective of people who have been in the domain business for a long time.
Per DNJournal, Rob Grant sold TorontoRealEstate.com for $140,000! In the same article, Ron Jackson writes thats the highest price for a geo real estate domain. The next best sale known is HamptonsRealEstate.com for $100,000.
What Im sure helped the
sale is Grant had previously dealt with the buyer. He had sold him OttawaRealEstate.com
prior to this transaction.
Real estate is a huge niche and I dont doubt the domain is worth it for the enduser. Still, this is a tremendous sale as typically geos are capped around $30,000-$40,000.
What I mean by that is you dont typically see a geo domain of any niche go beyond that price range.
Granted, real estate is the king of all niches but this sale is so far above par, it has to be a milestone of some sorts.
The closest Toronto domain sales I could find are TorontoLimos.com for $20,000 and TorontoBusiness.com for $4,700.
Congratulations to Rob Grant for going beyond market price and setting a new benchmark for geos.
When consumers first began using the Internet there were only a handful of generic top-level domains (gTLDs) to choose from: .com, .org, .net, .info and a few others (this list does not include restricted TLDs, such as .edu, .gov, and .mil since they can only be used by specific types of organizations or registrants). While there have been attempts over time to increase the number of gTLDs, the efforts have not gone far, and the originaldotcomremains the supreme leader.
A couple of years ago ICANN,
the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, decided to allow
companies, individuals, and organizations to create more specific domain
names around hobbies, industries, businesses, cities, and more, in the
hopes that it will increase competition and choice for anyone hoping to
create an online presence (https://www.eurodns.com/international-domain-names/icann-new-gtlds/faq/).
There are several key features that supporters of the new gTLD system like to point out. First, anyone who registers a gTLD owns and operates a critical part of the online world, and will be in charge of any and all domains that register using that gTLD. These are virtual pieces of real estate, and like physical property it can represent a potential money-making opportunity for those who wish to buy, sell, and lease domain registries to others. Other benefits include:
Increased awareness and recognition
for brands that register trademarked names.
Currently there are close to 700 registered gTLDs in about 20 different categories (see the full list at www.newgtldsite.com/new-gtld-list). You can find broad TLDs such as .medical or more narrow ones such as .[city name], and everything in between. The total number of gTLDs is projected to at least double, and could get much higher.
The Four Types of TLDs
There are a few different categories
that new top-level domains will fit into, depending on what you want.
There are also variations for TLDs in non-Latin languages, such as Mandarin, Cyrillic, Japanese, and Arab. Millions of applications have poured into ICANN for these domains, which are similar to Latin-based languages in terms of the available categories and potential extensions.
Many Consumers Not Ready to Switch
While the prospect of being
able to target marketing, increase brand awareness, and encourage competition
online is certainly intriguing for businesses and brands, recent statistics
have shown that consumers still prefer dotcom over any of the new gTLDs.
There are a variety of reasons that people have not been rushing to new
TLDs, but often it boils down to the fact that consumers are familiar
with dotcom, and worldwide brands have built a powerful presence around
their .com websites.
In a 2012 interview Rob Grant, a domainer millionaire who buys and sells thousands of websites and domain names from his company WebMediaProperties.com, was confident that dotcom is not going away anytime soon. Its online presencewebsites from the largest corporations to the smallest blogsis undeniable. As with any strong brand, the introduction of several competitors often only confuses consumers and strengthens the one that everyone is familiar with (find details of his interview at http://www.thedomains.com/2012/07/23/rob-grant-on-the-new-gtlds-dot-com-will-always-win-the-horse-race/).
Almost by accident, companies and people have helped build and reinforce the power of dotcom. Billions of dollars in advertising have been spent on dotcom branding, with integrated campaigns across traditional media (television, print) and new media (web and social media) that solidify dotcoms position at the top of the domain extension world.
Its also important to remember that this is not the first time new domain extensions have been introduced. As the Internet has expanded over the years there have been other TLDs, such as .jobs, .museum, and .pro. While they dont offer the same personalization and brand differentiation that the proposed new gTLDs will, they have not gained enough traction to overtake (or even compete with) dotcom.
There is a caveat to the potential
for a dotcom challengerGoogle spent millions for over 100 new extensions,
as did Yahoo and Bing, and if search engines decide to prioritize new
domain extensions over dotcom, that could give gTLDs a boost.
There are a lot of other technical considerations that brands, companies, and organizations should consider before switching to a new gTLD. For example, there could be problems with website functionality when migrating from a .com to a .brand, search engines might have more difficulty indexing and identifying sites, and all the time spent creating reputable backlinks (which boosts SEO) will likely be lost. Brands should also consider whether their name would make a good extension by asking questions like:
Is your name short enough
to make it easy to remember?
Finally, consumers might just have difficulty finding your website since they are so used to the dotcom extension, which leads to decreased traffic and reduced conversions and sales. With all these potential pitfalls, the new extension might not offer enough value to give up on the branding that your current dotcom provides.
Since it first began the Internet has been changing and adapting to meet the needs and desires of its users. While the new gTLDs present an interesting opportunity for change, it may not be enough right now to push consumers toward this new frontier. Many companies are still waiting to see how it will play out before jumping headfirst into the fray.
RealEstateDirectory.com CEO Rob Grant and eDevelopers.com President and CEO Cody Maher have announced a unique content and leasing partnership with the initial launch of PhiladelphiaRealEstate.com. After several months of testing and development the site went live in June and has just been successfully leased to Philadelphia based realtor Noah Ostroff, who will operate the site as a unique real estate portal in the major Philadelphia markets.
Grant said, "We are extremely excited to partner with Cody Maher and Dino Adamou of eDevelopers with the initial launch of this unique platform and I'm thrilled to be working with
Noah Ostroff, who has proven to be a very entrepreneurial and forward thinking Realtor in his approach to traditional real estate marketing. This is a big commitment on everybodys part with the signing of a long term lease, as well as a willingness to experiment with a unique real estate model that will grow and evolve as the market changes."
approached Grant back in October 2010 at the T.R.A.F.F.I.C. South Beach
conference in Miami. Dino Adamou of eDevelopers said, Rob liked
what we offered but was initially hesitant to move forward as others in
the industry failed to deliver on their promises. However, we agreed to
test our model out on a few of his real estate domains. It has been wildly
successful and we are extremely excited about what the future of this
model might hold.
Cody Maher said, "We designed the Software package to be highly scalable and easy to deploy. Within a matter of 1 week, we launched the real estate platform and began focusing on the SEO campaign which has been running for two months. The domain was originally beyond page 10 in Google search results and today sits at the top of page 2. We anticipate the site to hit page 1 within the next 3-4 months.
Their client, Noah Ostroff is also a happy camper. "This is an amazing opportunity for anyone looking to capitalize on an opportunity to grow their business through one of the most sought after domain names in their region. It is a turn-key package that will seamlessly enhance their current business without interruption," Ostroff said.
In addition to the launch of PhiladelphiaRealEstate.com, Grant and the team at eDevelopers are testing new platforms with sites at CaymanRealEstate.com and IowaRealEstate.com. Grant said that if the model continues to be successful, this same leasing concept will be executed across more real estate domains in the RealEstateDirectory.com portfolio - the largest network of geo-targeted real estate domains in the world. Grant and eDevelopers hope to open up new opportunities in the real estate industry by offering 'turn key' real estate portals to brokers and agents who are looking for both powerful branding and strategic marketing solutions
turn key web portals with their real estate, ecommerce and lead generation
platforms. In addition to these software packages, the company operates
a content creation company at ecopywriters.com as well as a link building
service at edomainers.com. Together, these businesses provide clients
with a comprehensive approach to web development and SEO.
(Posted August 4,
Grant said, "It's
important to remember that this is the one extension that all companies
(Fortune 500 companies on down to small businesses everywhere) have all
built massive brands around both online and offline (print, TV,
radio, etc) over the last 15 years. All other extensions have basically
played a defensive role. This means that billions of dollars in advertising
and marketing have been spent on the Dot Com brand itself. It's what consumers
are familiar with and understand."
Grant continued, "The introduction of thousands of new extensions will only confuse the consumer, and serve to strengthen the Dot Com brand. What people forget is that we have already been through a similar test case with the introduction of new TLDs like . Biz, . Info, . Travel, .Mobi, etc." click here for article
Grant is one of the
original pioneers in the internet domain space. His company, WebMediaProperties.com,
has been quietly and methodically acquiring and developing valuable domain
assets dating back to early 1996.
In addition to the above, Grant also operates his own private label network of 1500 developed web sites showcasing travel, sports and lifestyle.
While I was away on a South Florida visit Friday, the Wall Street Journal ran a new feature piece spotlighting a special listing from real estate domain pioneer Rob Grant's AdirondackRealEstate.com website. The property represented by Rob's company that the WSJ showcased is Kilkenny Lodge - a magnificent Adirondack lodge built in 1901-02 as part of a summer compound for William Kingsley, a New York banker who became president of the U.S. Trust Company.
The lodge was selected for
the spotlight in a new interactive WSJ feature that will be showcasing
unique properties from around the world. Readers are invited to go online
at WSJ.com/realestate to
The building has over 4,200
square feet and features seven bedrooms, six baths, hardwood floors, wood
paneling, massive stone fireplaces, a private study and library, and a
spectacular 80-foot long porch that stretches along the entire length
of the lodge. The property is situated on a very private 2.3 acre plot
surrounded by woods and streams with magnificent views of the surrounding
By Ron Jackson
The final business day at T.R.A.F.F.I.C. 2011 got underway Tuesday morning (October 18) with another bountiful brunch at the Ritz Carlton Hotel on Fort Lauderdale Beach. This brunch was special though - it was the 7th Annual T.R.A.F.F.I.C. Awards Brunch that honored companies and individuals who excelled in our industry over the past 12 months.
Before the awards
were handed out there were a couple of other business items to take care
of. Those started with me taking the stage to provide an update on third
quarter domain sales which showed a nice improvement over the same quarter
a year ago. I will be detailing the stats I shared in our next newsletter
that will be out within the next 24 hours.
Rob Grant owns the world's largest collection of geo-targeted .com real estate domains and it is a rare occasion when he parts with one of them. However, this evening Grant, the CEO of RealEstateDirectory.com announced that he has sold ParkCityRealEstate.com to EW Partners of Park City, Utah for $60,000 in a deal brokered by GoDaddy.com.
Grant said, ""We rarely sell any of our valuable geo-targeted real estate domains unless the offers are significant and reflect the true value of these names. ParkCityRealEstate.com was a domain that I originally hand registered back in the November 1996. This is a great example of how valuable these real estate .com domains have become over the years as a unique asset class - despite ongoing recessions and our current global financial crisis. Frankly, there's no better investment out there."
Recently, Grant partnered
with Sothebys Select Real Estate to leverage his domain names in test
markets throughout New York, building custom sites around geo-targeted
domains like www.LakeGeorgeRealEstate.com. These partnerships are based
on generating targeted real estate leads that can convert to actual sales
"If you're fortunate enough to own a specific real-estate.com domain in a given city or region, and you take the time to really develop that name into a major real estate portal, you'll invariably own that market on the internet," Grant said. "We've proven that repeatedly with our own real estate firm here in the Adirondacks. AdirondackRealEstate.com is now responsible for 95% of all our real estate and vacation rental leads. We rarely use print any more for any of our real estate advertising."
Congrats to Rob, whose sale will undoubtedly give him a spot on this week's Top 20 sales chart that will be out Wednesday.
"We are very excited to partner with Select Sotheby's International Realty on this unique project and to be working with John Burke," Grant (who is based in Lake Placid, New York) told us. "If this first site performs the way we think it will, it may represent the future template for a major build out of our powerful New York real estate network in select markets."
The RealEstateDirectory.com was founded in 1996 by Grant who owns the largest network of geo-targeted real estate domains in the world, including LondonRealEstate.com, JapanRealEstate.com, TokyoRealEstate.com, AustraliaRealEstate.com and GermanyRealEstate.com, as well as hundreds of other countries and cities around the globe.
"Our current strategy is to partner with companies like Sothebys here in Upstate New York which offer excellent inventory and a large network of experienced agents," Grant said. "It's critical that we have internet savvy agents who can handle these real estate leads and convert them to actual sales."
Throughout New York State,
RealEstateDirectory.com owns domains representing the most important markets
throughout New York State, including
AlbanyRealEstate.com and SyracuseRealEstate.com to name just a few. The
majority of these domains are still utilizing a traditional parking based
platform generating PPC revenue, but Grant has his sites set on forming
more development deals like the arrangement with Sotheby's to unlock the
full potential of these domains.
"As the traditional PPC revenue model slowly dies, large domain portfolio owners are now finally moving into the next development phase," Grant noted. "For real estate domains, the highest and best use has clearly always been as fully developed real estate portals. The commissions which can be generated from the sale of physical real estate dwarf any other revenue model we know of."
"The way we've structured the LakeGeorgeRealEstate.com deal with Sotheby's is that RealEstateDirectory.com owns the actual web site and Select Sotheby's International Realty provides all the unique inventory and listings. Its a very simple and straight forward arrangement. If we can generate the leads, Select Sotheby's International Realty agents can convert these leads into sales," Grant said.
What you havent heard
is that he has inked a white-label partnership with Epik to breathe new
life into his prized portfolio of category defining cheap.com
domains - Names that have been lying in wait for over 10 years until the
right combination of time and technology offered an opportunity to exploit
their potential. The time is now, in our currently troubled and deal driven
economy, and the technology is Epiks portal and eCommerce platforms
that are perfectly suited to it.
Starting two months ago with an initial launch of 50 portal names and a signature Epik solution that can be leveraged to other owners of cheap ecommerce domains, Rob has already seen significant 300% improvements (week over week) for domains operating on the new Epik platform. If this pilot program performs well, Rob has plans to launch over 100 Cheap portals over the next 12 months rolling out an ambitious Cheap Shopping Network in hundreds of product categories.
An Evolution With Epik
Rob realized it was time to tap into another segment of his diversified portfolio. But how?
There is never any clear choice or simple road map to follow when you are starting down a new path Rob says. But it feels good to move forward and to be on the offensive, especially in such a difficult economy when so many businesses are failing.
So Rob chose Epik, and although its still quite early in the game, he's glad he did.
Epik has devoted a team
of very bright people to help us, he says. We are learning
on the fly and making adjustments to stay on course. Our goal is to grow
in stages. Our first stage is the current product portals that have just
been launched. Second stage will be drop shipping with select vendors
and manufacturers. The third and final stage will be full blown e-commerce
for those sites that qualify. Obviously, this third stage is extremely
complicated and involves buying and warehousing product from overseas
for each of the niches defined by our domains. At this point, were
a long way off from tackling any of these issues. Our goal right now is
to get the first 50 sites launched successfully and then see which domains
turn into real winners.
Yeah, that was back in 1998, when we listed a remarkable property located in the Catskills in upstate New York. It was a private estate located on a mountaintop called Glen Tonche, and it was owned by the Pitcairn family out of Philadelphia. And typically most mid-size real estate agencies can only service listings within say a 50 to maybe 100 mile radius. Basically, it comes down to how far a real estate agent is willing to drive to show a property. So your boundaries are pretty limited. Glen Tonche in the Catskills was located over three and a half hours away from my agency up here in the Adirondacks. So that was a huge distance by traditional standards.
So when we listed this property, the first thing I tried to do was enlist the cooperation of local real estate firms down in the Hudson Valley and Catskills. But they felt strongly that we were invading their territory and they gave us no cooperation. So we were forced to find alternative marketing, and we created a showcase website for Glen Tonche on CatskillsRealEstate.com. We began to market the property online and through select magazines. And in July of 1998, we successfully sold Glen Tonche in-house using the Catskills website. The price was $1.7 million, generating a commission of over $150,000 to our firm. This proved to me that the Internet and domain names were incredibly powerful tools and they were going to change the way traditional business was done especially in the real estate space.
Today our websites are responsible for some of the biggest sales we've had. Properties like Camp Cobblestone, which we sold recently for $2.5 million and Camp Konocti, which we sold for $3.3 million. So the Internet has become by far and away the most important resource we have as an active agency.
Well, it was a logical expansion of the concept that I saw with Catskills Real Estate and Adirondack Real Estate. And actually, when my web designer back in 1996 first came to me and said, "You know, you should really own Rob Grant Real Estate." And I thought to myself, "Well, really who the hell cares about Rob Grant? No one knows him and no one's going to search for him. But what they do care about are the Adirondacks and Adirondack real estate." So for me, the light really went off when I put myself in the shoes of the searcher or the consumer. And as soon as I realized the significance of owning a powerful geo-targeted domain, I began to expand out of New York. We created a huge vertical in New York -- AlbanyRealEstate, SyracuseRealEstate.com, so on and so forth. But then quickly moved beyond New York out across the country, and then ultimately we jumped from the US to Canada and then onto all of the international markets.
Well, obviously the biggest change is going back to1996, there were just a few people out there acquiring these names because there really was absolutely no reason to buy a domain. There was no way to monetize it. Very few people even understood what it was. There were no search engines. This was long before Yahoo or Google or any of that. Hard for a lot of folks today to believe. So you bought these names purely on a hunch. It was really gut instinct and nothing more and there were very few of us out there doing it. But the guys who were out there doing it were very smart, and they had the same conviction and belief that I did. I had the advantage of having worked on Madison Avenue, so for me I felt that a generic domain defining an industry represented a future brand. So I was convinced that if you could own these category defining domains that someday, maybe in five, ten years as the Internet matured, these domains would take on huge value. But back then, they were essentially worthless and in fact they cost you money because you had to register. The only register back then was Network Solutions and you were paying 100 bucks a pop. So you had to think long and hard about acquiring any kind of significant portfolio.
It's interesting. I just deleted hundreds and hundreds of hyphens. I know over in the UK they like hyphens. And I know from an SEO perspective hyphens can be very important. I do keep the hyphenated real estate domains, again just as a defensive play. But I have let many hundreds of hyphenated domains go just in the last six months.
This is part five of a series of five with one piece of advice from some of the most successful domain investors, domain developers, domain monetizers, and others involved in the domain industry. I asked them for one piece of advice they would give to a part-time domain investor looking to build his business. I believe there are quite a few people who are part time domain investors, and I also believe just about anyone involved in the industry can apply some of this advice to their own business models.
I really appreciate all of the contributions from the industry leaders who contributed, and I hope the advice contained within is helpful to you now or will be helpful to the growth of your business in the future.
Rob Grant, WebMediaProperties.com & RealEstateDirectory.com:
All it takes is one good domain.
The rest will follow.
Today, our domain space has become increasingly cluttered with domain litter useless extensions and obscure country codes that blow around in the wind like trash in a vacant lot followed by domain investors running wildly around chasing all this garbage.
click here for Elliots Blog with Rob Grant Interview
here for Elliots Blog
Grant walked away from a dream job on Madison Avenue so he could move to New Yorks
Adirondack Mountains, even though there was no job waiting for him there. We
happened to get lucky because we hit that market just as the Adirondacks were
starting to be rediscovered, Grant said. People were starting to come
up from New York, New Jersey and Boston and I found I was able to sell the residential
properties for two and three times what I paid for them. That kind of ushered
in my real estate era. As the economy started growing again, Grants business
boomed. At this same time, in 1995-96, Grant became aware of the Internet and
domains. That was a remarkable awakening for me because I had the Madison
Avenue marketing background and I had the real estate background and suddenly
these two powerful thing merged. I looked at a domain and thought My God, not
only is this a brand as the Internet develops, but it also has all of the properties
of real estate, Grant said.
LOS ANGELES--(BUSINESS WIRE)--LeaseThis, LLC announced today the introduction of LeaseThis.com, a radically-new, cutting-edge Internet advertising platform that seeks to revolutionize the business of online advertising. Research has shown that while the number of global Internet users is growing exponentially, the availability of premium, targeted domain names is rapidly decreasing. The result is an increasingly difficult task for businesses to establish an online presence, or even reach out and attract new customers, through a meaningful domain name.
LeaseThis.coms proprietary, patent-pending technology is designed to address this issue by better aligning the interests of online advertisers with those that control the Internets premium real estate. We are the first company to offer domain leasing on a scalable, global platform, thereby releasing the incredible value of premium domain names to businesses and individuals around the world, said Jonathan Boswell, CEO and Co-Founder of LeaseThis.com.
The value of a premium domain name is easily illustrated in the real (as opposed to virtual) world of real estate. According to the 2005 NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers, 82 percent of first-time homebuyers and 78 percent of repeat homebuyers used the Internet to search for homes, and 24 percent of buyers actually first found their home on the Internet. For many Internet users, that search starts with real estate domains. For example, a prospective buyer looking for a home in Atlanta often types AtlantaRealEstate.com (www.AtlantaRealEstate.com) or AtlantaHomes.com (www.AtlantaHomes.com) into their web browser. With a median home price in Atlanta of $265,000, it is easy to see the intrinsic value of this type of highly-targeted traffic.
Furthermore, a recent study conducted by WebSideStory, Inc. (www.WebSideStory.com) shows that this type of direct navigation has a conversion rate more than 80% higher than that of traditional PPC (Pay-Per-Click) advertising on Yahoo! and Google.
Ammar Kubba, COO and Co-Founder of LeaseThis.com, acknowledges that the early response has been tremendous. Businesses desperately want access to this premium traffic, yet the current PPC model often fails to capitalize on the true power and value of premium domain names, to the detriment of both advertisers and domain owners alike. With LeaseThis.com, we now have the ability to deliver this highest-quality traffic directly to the businesses that need it most, in the most efficient and compelling manner possible. We see it as the next logical step in the evolution of search marketing.
To develop its comprehensive and unrivaled inventory of premium domains, LeaseThis.com has been working closely with prominent domain owners such as Rob Grant, CEO of the RealEstateDirectory.com, which controls one of the worlds largest and most sought-after portfolios of Real Estate domain names. According to Grant, the advantages to controlling a valuable domain on an exclusive lease basis are significant. By leasing a strategic industry domain, companies can now effectively leap frog over their competition. Instead of merely being listed with dozens of other advertisers on a traditional PPC template, one company alone will have the exclusive use of these extremely valuable domain properties.
The initial release
of the LeaseThis.com platform is currently available exclusively to select
beta partners, in preparation for a full-scale global launch in early
In less than a week, the nonprofit group sold farm.com for $200,000. The buyer? The online pet supplies business Pets United, which already owned dog.com, fish.com, and horse.com.
"We've never dealt with
anything like this before," said Ruben Orduna, vice president for
development at the foundation. "We were scratching our heads trying
to figure out if this was O.K. But it was surprisingly easy and a great