Domain name auctions have never been, and will never be, for end users.
I’ve read a lot of complaints over the past week about how late the domain auction houses have released their auction lists for this week’s TRAFFIC show in NYC. That’s a fair complaint. Domain lists should be released weeks, not days, before an auction.
But the main complaint I hear is that by releasing the lists so late, it makes it impossible to market the domains to end users. This is true, but even if the list was released months in advance I don’t think that would change things.
Look, we all want end users to buy our domains. Getting their attention is difficult. Getting their attention and then asking them to participate in an auction at a specified time with specific rules and compete against many other people is downright crazy.
It happens every once in a while. The Cowboys bid for Cowboys.com (but we all know how that ended up). It won’t happen often, at least not with big companies. Acquiring a valuable domain name is a lengthy, signature-laden process for Fortune 500 companies. They also have bigger fish to fry. And don’t think that one of these companies would let its employees bid in an online auction if there are adult domains in the mix; their access to the site will be blocked.
This isn’t limited to domain names. If you’ve ever attended a patent auction, you’ll notice that it’s the end users and other investors selling the patents and only investors buying them.
Aftermarket.com realizes this, and it’s one of the things it kept in mind for its auction this week. Domains must be priced so that investors can expect to flip the domains in the future. They aren’t priced for end-users.
Live domain auctions remain one of the best ways to sell domain names. But don’t expect utopia. If you want to sell domains to end users, pick up the phone and start dialing.