The domain name conference circuit is really, really busy

Lots of competition creates a dilemma for attendees.

The domain name conference circuit is undergoing a big shakeup in 2014 because there are a lot more options.

A lot of the new(er) options are directly related to the rollout of new top level domain names. Money is flowing because of the rollout, and a lot of new faces in the industry are seeking to learn, meet people, and strike deals.

The huge number of conferences means that prospective attendees will have to pick and choose. Few will go to all of them, whether it be for financial or scheduling reasons. Conferences will have to work harder than ever to attract registrants.


In my opinion, NamesCon made the biggest impact on this year’s circuit, directly affecting other shows that attract domainers (i.e. TRAFFIC and DomainFest).

The January show snagged close to 600 registrants, mostly made up of domainers and new TLD applicants. The timing was perfect and the low price was a huge draw.

I assume there will be a show around the same time next year. Will there be another one later this year? That could make things even more interesting.


DomainSponsors’ DomainFest has gone through a transition. Last year it changed its name to WebFest. And due to layoffs at, some of the people that were involved in the show in previous years weren’t around last February. Then, after last year’s conference, one of the big faces behind the conference, Aaron Kvitek, left.

I assume that’s a big reason this year’s show was postponed, as lack of continuity makes things harder.

It’s back on for this year under the name DomainFest, but the date has shifted to March 31. How much will the date change, relatively short notice, and the “NamesCon effect” affect attendance? Will taking place right after the ICANN meeting in Singapore also dent attendance?

The key for DomainSponsor is not that it attract the most attendees, but that it connect with its core clients. I think it will achieve this, even if the show doesn’t attract as many people as before.


Traffic is scheduled in Las Vegas in May and in Miami in October.

The biggest question right now is what effect NamesCon will have on another show happening in the same city just four months later. Traffic is a much more expensive show, too.

An elephant in the room is Rick Schwartz’s attitude toward new top level domain names. On the one hand, Rick speaks his mind, which is why some people like him. On the other hand, he’s alienated many potential sponsors and attendees of his show.

I’m sure Rick and his business partner Howard Neu know that Rick’s writing about new TLDs means hundreds of thousands of dollars in lost attendance and sponsorships. Some attendees will like that and go just for that reason, but it will also push away many others.

The shows are also (again) close to ICANN meetings, which might affect attendance.


ICANN shows are also becoming a big draw for domain investors, and the locations are pretty good this year.

A meeting in Singapore takes place in March, it goes to London in June, and then comes home to Los Angeles in October.

ICANN shows are free. All attendees pay for is transportation, lodging, and food. They also attract over 1,000 people. Domain investors are sure to weigh these factors in their decision on which shows to attend this year.


On top of this Momentum events has already scheduled two Digital Marketing & gTLD Strategy Congress events. These are geared to new TLD players. But other conferences are also vying for these attendees, which means attendees will have to make tough decisions.

I was contemplating going to the early March event in New York. But I probably don’t want to do both that event and DomainFest in the same month. In my case, I also have to add SXSW to my March Calendar. Many registries will be there.

Then there’s the new DomainsCon show, although I believe that’s targeted to yet another audience.

The point is there are a lot of shows vying for a select audience. I’m not here to pick winners and losers in the conference business, as I truly believe that each show is right for a certain audience.

In my case, I weigh both money and my time (primarily the latter) in choosing which conferences to attend.

Whichever conferences you select, I hope to see you there.


  1. BT says

    Food is covered at the ICANN conferences too. Lots of hosted parties and ICANN puts out snacks and coffee/tea/desserts. ICANN conferences are becoming the biggest domain gatherings period. NamesCon did a good job this year. Low admittance/attendance costs and the cheap hotel in Vegas made it very well attended.

    The best shows IMO are:

    — ICANN event when it’s in a major center (there are three of these this year)
    — NamesCon
    — TRAFFIC East (a distant fifth, may not be worth it this year with ICANN close-by)

  2. says

    I haven’t attended a conference in years but DID attend NamesCon and wasn’t was fantastic! When I did attended conferences in the past, I chose Domainfest. This years agenda there is making it VERY tempting! Maybe!

  3. Phil Buckingham says

    Andrew,Dot Advice is in the process of considering/coordinating a “Namescon,Europe”” in my home city for two days,21/22 June, weekend prior to the ICANN June London meeting.Please get in contact- for more information. Thanks Phil

  4. Meyer says

    It may seem there are a lot of tradeshows covering the domain category. However, if you look at different industries, they all have a lot of shows, conferences & meetings. Attendees just have to make a decision which ones are the most important for them to attend.

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