07|22|2009 08:01 am EDT
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?