11|27|2007 02:13 am EDT
Domain name registrar Network Solutions announced in a press release today the launch of an enhanced business listing service. The service allows domain owners to advertise within their whois listing by adding company information, news or even a for sale listing.
According to NSI, their Whois queries reach over 1 million users per day. For $12 per domain, the new enhanced listing service would allow domain owners to add more information to their domain whois details and potentially put that information right in front of those viewers.
Domain Name News tested out the service to find out how it works. Follow the link for more information in to our peekinto the NSI Enhanced Business Listing (Enhanced Whois)
The new service seems to be pitched at business owners.
By advertising in WHOIS, the authoritative database of record for all domain names, companies can add essential business information to their WHOIS search results page including company description, business contact information, references, hours of operation, products and services offered, and current promotions. Businesses can even advertise whether their domain name is for sale in their WHOIS search results.
In all likelihood though, the majority of the use of this service will come from domain name owners who are looking to sell their domains. No matter who choses to use this feature, this enhancement should open the door for some creative advertising to appear in the whois. With limitations on what can be included in the whois in the past, creative domain sellers have resorted to using email addresses, company names or even dns servers in an attempt to indicate to potential whois searchers that a domain name is for sale. Buydomains.com for example uses the dns THIS-DOMAIN-FOR-SALE.COM and email address email@example.com on many of their domains that are for sale. This new service may prove to be a valuable tool for any domain owner to sell their domain.
We decided to dive right in to the service and see how it works. In investigating this service, Domain Name News added the enhanced listing service to the domain name AccidentsHappen.com. We were interested in seeing what sort of information could be added to the whois, where and how it appears and how easy the function is to add to a domain.
It is important to note that only domains registered at Network Solutions can add this information. As with most Network Solutions add-on products, it was fairly straight-forward to choose and add the service to a domain name within the users account. Navigating to the Manage Domains section in the users account and clicking on the domain name will take you to a page where you can and looking under the domain details one can see the “Add an Enhanced Business Listing in WHOIS” option. Once selected, you simply proceed to checkout and make your purchase.
The next step is the configuration of the ad. The account management section notifies the user that they have a listing to configure. The configuration page provides ready made examples of listings (see graphics below) and also lets the user custom create their own text.
It’s very easy to use and set up an enhanced listing. It took no less than 5 minutes to set this up and the results could immediately be seen at NSI whois search for the domain and at other whois sites such as domaintools.com and godaddy.com
The ad allows for a number of different lines of text with a header for each section, such as Company, Promotions, Description, Price, Email, etc. It is not clear how much exactly you could put in the text fields of these sections and the headers do not appear to be customizable. We tested the amount of text possible by copying some text from the press release as a demonstration. Also, as you can see in our example below, it doesn’t appear that html links or email links in the ads are functional and there doesn’t appear to be a way to add any sort of images in to the ads.
HTML is being blocked most likely to prevent pop-ups and others issues, but allowing an image to be placed in the ad or other enhancements to text would definitely be a nice additional feature.
One important part about this service that may frustrate anyone selling domains is not clear before purchasing the listing but becomes abundantly clear when looking at the NSI results of the whois search.
My ad isn’t seen at first glance because NSI places the listing at the “bottom of the fold”. The ad appears underneath other services that NSI sells. Their Certified Offer Service (COS), other domains for sale, and other advertising on the top portion of the page directly competes with a domain seller. The “enhanced listing” information does appear in bold and larger type but it is placed much lower on the page, at the “bottom of the fold”. For a $12 placement, one would think that the ad information would appear closer to the top of the page. These other services that NSI places before the “enhanced business listing” ad provide a revenue stream that NSI likely is not willing to give up for a mere $12. The COS fee for example is $19 (plus a 5% transaction fee). I suppose it makes good business sense not to cannibalize a revenue stream by providing the direct means for a whois search to lead right to a domain seller, but this is not clear until after you have purchased the service. It doesn’t seem that $12 gets you a lot of priority.
Whether the service will provide the advertiser with more information on how many pageviews/visits their listing receives is not clear. This sort of data would be very valuable for any domain owner who is wanting to sell their domain name. In the future, NSI could expand this service and use this data to sell more advertising on whois searches for specific domain names and maybe even sell additional advertising or cross-selling potential for “competing” domains. For example, accidentshappen.com could pay a premium (even bid to appear) directly on the whois results for accidents.com, statefarm.com or insurance.com
The enhanced listing service seems like a good first step. It shouldn’t take long for other registrars to copy-cat and likely even improve upon this concept. With better placement on the page and additions like image functionality, links, and better text handling, Network Solutions would likely sell more of these enhanced listings, especially to domain sellers. The capability to advertise on other whois results would also be a really exciting opportunity and likely make this a very potent distribution channel for those looking to sell. At 1 million whois queries a day, NSI is really a very powerful search engine for domains and what better place to sell a domain name than right where the buyer is looking !