Is Microsoft looking to buy into the domain market? It could be a winning strategy.
The last time I talked to a Microsoft representative on the record, he said the company was very interested in the domain channel but had no immediately plans to provide an ad feed to parked domains.
Would Microsoft be so bold as to buy up hundreds of thousands of generic domain names? It’s plausible.
Microsoft has lagged both Google (NASDAQ: GOOG) and Yahoo (NASDAQ: YHOO) in search. It has invested lots of money trying to improve search and even launched its own pay-per-click ad network. The search efforts haven’t paid off. So Microsoft decided to buy marketshare but Yahoo rebuffed it.
In other words, the company is having trouble improving to get market share and trouble buying market share.
But there’s one avenue in which the company could buy up search traffic: generic domains. Owen Frager’s suggestion that Microsoft may be looking to buy portfolios from Frank Schilling, Kevin Ham, and Marchex* (NASDAQ: MCHX) actually makes some sense. Microsoft could just forward the pages to Microsoft search results alongside its ads if it wants to. It could buy a lot of traffic to its search product in little time. This would make Microsoft search relevant again, and potentially be a lot cheaper than buying Yahoo.
We know Microsoft is interested in the domain channel. Time will tell how it plans to engage with it.
*I own a nominal number of shares of Marchex.