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07|22|2009 08:01 am EDT

.CM Auctions and Typo Traffic – What Are These Domains Really Worth?

by Chad Kettner in Categories: Editorial

Every domainer has heard the story of how Kevin Ham built a $300 million empire – particularly how he profited from the millions of people who accidentally type “.cm” (the country code TLD for Cameroon) instead of “.com” when searching for a website.

And now that Cameroon’s ccTLD registrations are open to the public, domain auction houses are targeting domainers and typosquaters alike in an effort to sell high-end generic .CM domains for hefty prices.

In Rick Latona’s premium .CM auction, which ended July 14, some of the most sought after .CM domains such as cars.cm, jobs.cm, and loan.cm were sold for prices ranging between $5,000 to $35,500. And beyond that, the registration fees for .CM domains are expected to start around $350 for 2 years.

So were these domains worth it? And are other .CM domains worth registering? I say no, and here are two reasons why:

.CM Is Intended For TLD Typosquatters

While generic keyword-based domain names will always have SEO benefits, there’s no getting around the fact that .CM domains are meant for TLD typosquatters (unless you own a business in Cameroon). Only 2-4% of Cameroon’s population has Internet access and with registration fees estimated to be around $175/year, there are many cheaper alternatives for domainers who want legitimate keyword-based URLs. So unless you are intending to benefit from TLD typosquatting, there’s no use in owning a .CM domain.

But what’s worse is that NameJet isn’t even trying to hide that fact. The official NameJet .CM domain order page is advertising trademark infringing domains such as Skype.cm, Nike.cm, Volvo.cm, and Amozon.cm as “Popular .CM Preorders”, and openly listing two of the main benefits of owning a .CM domain as “securing natural traffic to your site” and “protecting your brand to avoid any misleading uses of your name”.

On the flip side, they might as well point out that the benefits could also include “taking natural traffic away from the intended site” and “infringing on another brand by misleading Internet users with an almost-exact domain”.

The Revenue Won’t Be As Much As You Think

After hearing about the success Kevin Ham had with .CM domains, some might think that .CM is a sure-fire approach to making money online. Besides, much like 2006/2007  there are still millions of people accidentally typing in “.cm” instead of “.com” periodically – and it’s perfectly legal to own .CM domains as long as they’re not infringing on any trademarks.

Even so, Kevin Ham had almost every .CM domain putting pennies in his pocket. Unfortunately, even the richest domainers targeting .CM would be lucky to grab a couple hundred premium generic domains at a cost of $175/year for registration fees. And at this price it would be tough math to figure out how much traffic the domain will receive, how much revenue it can generate, and whether or not would be profitable over time. Plus, keep in mind that PPC revenue is down and the best generic domains will come at a cost as they’ll only be available by auction.

Word is that there are quite a few previous owners of premium .CM domains that were disappointed with the results. Take it for what it’s worth.

That’s my two cents…what do you think? Are you going to be going for any .CM domains?

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30 Comments

land rover spares

July 22, 2009 @ 9:03 am EDT

It’s an advantage for an error.Personally,i’m always having a mistake in typing .com,.co.or .cm.These are domain accidentally visited through a typographical error.

Gary

July 22, 2009 @ 9:05 am EDT

I think it’s a disgrace.. and there’s a long line of so called industry leaders who should hang their heads in shame. Just wait until the URS posse grab hold of this one.

Dominik Mueller

July 22, 2009 @ 9:13 am EDT

Aside from the typo traffic, DotCM domains are pretty much worthless. Everybody knows these domains are catered to the needs of cybersquatters. Just look at Moniker’s sales pitch, which was posted on their website until recently. It was something along the lines of:

“.CM (Cameroon) is a Top Level Domain that enjoys natural traffic pretty much like .COM.”

Yeah, right… The other registrars and auction houses have also made it clear that .CM is sold as the .COM typo TLD.

Kevin Jackson

July 22, 2009 @ 9:22 am EDT

This is an excellent article, and one that all potential .CM investors should read.

“Only 2-4% of Cameroon’s population has Internet access and with registration fees estimated to be around $175/year, there are many cheaper alternatives for domainers who want legitimate keyword-based URLs. So unless you are intending to benefit from TLD typosquatting, there’s no use in owning a .CM domain.”

That says it all. The $175/year registration fee is not justified, and with that very low level of internet penetration in Cameroon it would almost be waste of time to launch an ebusiness on a .CM domain.

This is the sort of practice that really annoys me, where domain industry players try to profit from the ignorance of people who are obviously chasing overnight riches!

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UDRPtalk

July 22, 2009 @ 9:33 am EDT

It’s truly unbelievable that ICANN is endorsing .CM in the manner that it is being used. Why hasn’t ICANN revoked or at least regulated this ccTLD? It is clearly useless given how it is being advertised as a way to siphon .COM traffic. The Internet as a whole is better off without it. ICANN should prohibit any ccTLD registry from allowing it’s resellers to suggest that it is a typo of another extention.

D

July 22, 2009 @ 9:36 am EDT

I am registering .cm of my biggest competitors in specific niche biz. Need just one customer and it will pay for couple of years reg. fee

Scott Roberts

July 22, 2009 @ 9:43 am EDT

@D,
Now there’s a business practice to be proud of. Not.

Gary

July 22, 2009 @ 9:56 am EDT

what gets me.. is so much effort and campaigning went into rallying the troops to publicly appose the URS and to portray domaining as a largely legitimate business; and then we go and hang ourselves with this.

DomainTweeter

July 22, 2009 @ 10:06 am EDT

Very interesting article – got me thinking about the differences between .com type-in traffic and .cm typo traffic.

Most decent .com generic keyword domains get type-in traffic from several different sources…

A. people who type in domain names (e.g. cars.com) expecting to find a certain type of site
B. people who use the URL box as a search box (since some browsers append .com to keywords)

.CM names on the other hand will only get a small percentage of the people in group A who mistype the .com in a certain fashion (perhaps 5%?) and are likely to cost 15 times more in the initial roll out.

Will also be interesting to see how big .com generic brands react. Since it is a CCTLD, UDRP may not apply, but since many generic .COMs
are trademarked (e.g. Homes.com), companies may file suit claiming that Generic.cm ‘typo-domains’ directly infringe on Generic.com trademarks.

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D

July 22, 2009 @ 12:51 pm EDT

@Scott Roberts
if .com holders are too stupid to get .cm…as the saying goes “Stronger dog f*cks”

[…] the .cm landrush a blight on domainers? Chad Kettner thinks so. I tend to agree. Rightly or wrongly, it’s easy for the media to point to major domain name […]

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[…] the .cm landrush a blight on domainers? Chad Kettner thinks so. I tend to agree. Rightly or wrongly, it’s easy for the media to point to major domain name […]

Scott Roberts

July 22, 2009 @ 1:36 pm EDT

@D
I think that’s a shameful mindset, and certainly not something I’d be proud of. But hey, that’s just me :)

dcmike77

July 22, 2009 @ 2:07 pm EDT

Using Overture – you can see that .cm names receive .3-.6% of the search volume. Type in Yahoo.com and Yahoo.cm and see the difference. Same with Google.

Use that as your guideline.

Making Money Articles

July 22, 2009 @ 3:05 pm EDT

[…] View post: .CM Auctions and Typo Traffic – What Are These Domains Really … […]

adam

July 22, 2009 @ 7:20 pm EDT

The other benefit Kevin Ham had that many don’t talk about is he could do the inverse math that dcmike just did. You have the .cm and you know it gets .3-.6% of the .com so now you know how much the .com would be worth to you. Pretty valuable insight when chasing dropping domains.

D

July 22, 2009 @ 11:11 pm EDT

@Scott Roberts
If my father would be alive I am certain he would be proud of me. Also all people I know/friends would say “Ha, that’s smart (if you can get at least the reg. fee money back)”.

T

July 23, 2009 @ 3:00 am EDT

Countries like Cameroon, Colombia, Niger and Ethiopia should be ashamed. They should have all complained to IANA when they go their ccTLD extension and the people who came up with ISO 3166-1 alpha-2 as well, because they caused the problem in the first place.

The well know auction houses should also be closed down, as they all have auctioned trademark domains. Let’s burn them down.

I must also agree that .CM is too expensive. They shouldn’t be allowed to charge more than 1 Euro.

ICANN should take domains away from the .com holder which only park the domains, because they don’t provide useful content. Let’s kill domain parking.

BTW, only US trademarks should be allowed, the rest of the countries are scammers.

Did I forget anything ?

EM @ KING.NET

July 23, 2009 @ 9:35 am EDT

I wrote a similar opinion last June not to register .CM.
http://www.king.net/2009/06/cm-sunrise-period-opens-at-eurodns.html

Cheers,
EM

[…] keyword .com domain.   I thought this might be a useful exercise after reading DomainNameNews.com recent editorial on .CM Typo Traffic and plan to write a follow up post applying this formula to alternate domains […]

Sertle?me

July 23, 2009 @ 5:29 pm EDT

Wow, 175$/year was very steep indeed.

Gary

July 23, 2009 @ 5:31 pm EDT

…Trademark attorneys are warning companies about a new target for cybersquatters known as “.cm,”…

here we go: http://www.law.com/jsp/legaltechnology/pubArticleLT.jsp?id=1202432459261

humor

July 25, 2009 @ 6:46 pm EDT

I don’t intend to spent $175 a year for a typo (expept sex.cm )

jokes

July 25, 2009 @ 6:49 pm EDT

Also I don’t think that the big companies can do anything about the typos. It’s an other think homes.com and homes.cm

JC

July 27, 2009 @ 10:07 am EDT

Isn’t the $175 exactly what will keep the scammers away? I saw someone posting that they should charge 1 Euro…. imagine what would happen if they did that!

Scams happen when you can arbitrage the price of the domain and revenue from the scam. I’m sure that at this price some will be profitable but NOT that many.

Sounds like some of you are pissed off to find out you won’t be making easy money from .CM. To me, that’s a good thing.

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