A look at the three big expired domain platforms.
The majority of domain names I acquire are expiring domain names sold on GoDaddy, DropCatch, and NameJet/SnapNames. Each platform has something going for it, but all have some drawbacks as well.
This post digs into the three platforms and their pluses and minuses. Please note that, for this post, I’m focusing only on expired domain inventory, not domainer-to-domainer inventory that can be listed on some of these platforms.
GoDaddy auctions off the largest amount of direct transfer domain inventory, including that from all of GoDaddy’s brands, Newfold Digital’s Endurance brands, and Enom/Tucows, among others. “Direct transfer” means that the domains are sold to the new owner without going through the registry’s complete deletion cycle.
This type of inventory has benefits compared to dropped inventory that goes through the complete expiration cycle. First, direct-transfer domains retain their original registration date in Whois. Second, GoDaddy’s deals with other registrars guarantee that the inventory goes through its system, so you don’t have to backorder the domain at multiple expired domain platforms.
The other nice thing about GoDaddy is that all of the domains you win are inserted into your GoDaddy account. Even if the domain is at Enom or Public Domain Registry, they all show up in a single account. That makes them easier to manage.
GoDaddy also has a pretty good (if not buggy) app for searching and bidding. It’s nice to get alerts on your phone when an auction is closing or you are outbid, and to be able to respond immediately.
There are some drawbacks, though. One common complaint is never receiving domains you win. GoDaddy auctions off domains before the deadlines that some partner registrars offer their customers to renew or transfer the domains. This means that an auction you win might be canceled before you receive the domain. You’ll receive an automatic refund but it’s still annoying. (This shouldn’t happen on domains at GoDaddy registrars because of the timing of its auctions compared to the renewal/transfer deadlines for customers.)
It’s also annoying that you have to wait to receive the domains you win. One understandable reason is that GoDaddy has to transfer domains from other registrars to GoDaddy, but there’s also a delay on domains that are registered at GoDaddy.
Another annoyance is the seemingly neverending technical bugs on GoDaddy’s platform.
Oh, and people complain a lot about bidders using the API to place last-minute bids. GoDaddy recently changed its closeout pricing structure in response to complaints about snapping domains the moment an auction ends with no bids. Time will tell if it’s helping everyday domain investors get any good closeout domains.
The DropCatch platform specializes in catching domains that go through pending delete status. DropCatch has over 1,000 registrars in its stable that it uses to snap up domains the moment they drop.
One of the best things about DropCatch is that all of the domains you win are instantly transferred into your NameBright registrar account the moment you pay for them. There’s no waiting and they’re all in a single account.
On the downside, NameBright defaults to not using Whois privacy on the domains you win at DropCatch. This means your phone will ring off the hook and your inbox will be flooded with spam from people pitching you on website and app development. There’s a simple way to fix this, though.
NameBright also isn’t a member of AfternicDLS, so you can’t quickly list your domains on the Fast Transfer system.
Also, as fully deleted domains, you don’t retain the original registration date in Whois.
Keep in mind that inventory that goes through the full delete cycle that is registered at a registrar participating in direct transfer programs with GoDaddy or NameJet/SnapNames goes there first, so you’re catching the scraps.
Some people also complain about the backordering process. At NameJet/SnapNames, only people who order a domain in advance can participate in the domain’s ensuing auction. DropCatch lets anyone bid, so other domain investors benefit from your hard work identifying domains.
Web.com owns NameJet and SnapNames, and Web.com was recently rolled into Endurance International Group to form Newfold Digital. I have to assume that combining NameJet and SnapNames into one modern platform is in the works. Then again, since Endurance already sends its inventory to GoDaddy, will the company decide to scrap the platforms altogether? I hope not, as competition is good in this industry.
The platforms have direct transfer inventory and also compete for pending delete dropped domains. The inventory is the same on both platforms. Web.com owns two of the oldest registrars, Network Solutions and Register.com, where the bulk of its good inventory comes from. This inventory is, frankly, the main thing NameJet and SnapNames have going for them.
With direct transfers, you also get to keep the original registration date in Whois.
Bidders also appreciate that only people who backorder a domain get to participate in auctions.
On the downside, the technology is horrible. NameJet’s app stopped alerting bidders about being outbid years ago. SnapNames is riddled with technical issues.
And when you win a domain, prepare for it to show up in some random domain registrar account. Having to consolidate domains you win is perhaps the biggest frustration with these platforms.
Network Solutions and Register.com don’t obscure Whois by default, so you can expect to get lots of spam and phone calls.
These aren’t the only options for catching expired domains. Dynadot has its own auction platform and there can be good buys because the auctions don’t get as much attention. Sav has become a popular resource for acquiring dropped .io and .co domains, and it only charges the standard domain registration fee for domains you win. Park.io is popular for ccTLDs. Sedo offers the first crack at some expiring IONOS domains.
The expired domain game has changed a lot over the past 25 years and will likely change again in the future. For example, Verisign might offer access pools to catch dropped domains so that drop catchers don’t have to create a thousand registrars.
The biggest question right now is what happens to NameJet and SnapNames given the merger into Newfold Digital. I hope that Newfold decides to invest in these platforms rather than shutting them down. We need competition in the expired domain business.