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11|14|2012 01:10 pm EDT

Facebook’s New Monetization Strategy – Best News for Domain Owners in Years?

by Kevin Ohashi in Categories: Miscellaneous

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This is a guest post by Kevin Ohashi. Kevin is a 10 year veteran of the domain industry. He currently is working his startup, Review Signal, which transforms the opinions people share publicly on social media into a review site for consumers. It currently provides web hosting reviews and will review domain registrars soon.

I was reading Mark Cuban’s thoughts about Facebook trying to get him to pay to reach his fans. It’s an interesting opinion and one I can empathize with. The crux of it is this picture:

Brands have spent millions of dollars getting people to ‘Like’ their brands. Now, Facebook is asking them to pay more to reach the audience they already paid to build. It feels fundamentally unfair because Facebook has changed the rules of the game half way through.

Of course, there is another perspective to consider: the users. They probably don’t want every brand spamming them. There is some ambiguity to the word ‘Like’. Some would argue it’s not a laissez faire situation where brands are free to advertise to every user as much as they want. Facebook’s EdgeRank is supposed to improve the user’s experience by curating what users see in their feed (and it just so happens that more money greases the EdgeRank wheels).

That’s a quick synopsis of the article. Let’s get back on topic.

Why is this important to domainers?

Mark Cuban is advocating for brands to maintain more control over the way they communicate with their audience. He’s promoting Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram and MySpace (no joke!). It’s not mentioned in the article, but there is still only one place that the brand still maintains full control: their domain name(s).

I’ve argued in the past that domains are becoming less necessary as brands opt to use social networks for their primary web presence. Facebook has about one sixth of the world’s population as users. It’s easier to manage, easier to share content and easier to reach your audience (assuming you have money to spend).

This is a real kick back from brands. Maybe it’s just one guy. Maybe not. But it should be a good reminder that when you buy into these social networks, you’re potentially making a deal with the devil. They control the rules and you are beholden to them and the changes they decide to make in the future. Your relationship with your fans is moderated by someone else.

In the developer community we worry a lot about building our software on top of someone else’s platform. We’ve seen Twitter take out competitors it didn’t like and restricting their API to control what developers can do. Perhaps it’s reckoning time for brands. Maybe they will experience the risk they’ve put themselves at by investing into social media on platforms they don’t control and that don’t have an established business model.

Let me be clear: I don’t think this will stop brands from using social media. However, it may be the first of many tiny cuts in Facebook’s business model which moderates how it will deal with brands. Some brands may decide to try to control their fans’ experience more and invest in their own domains. At the margin, there may be some increased demand for domain names. Which is good news for domainers and the first good news I’ve seen in a while for the industry. I think the longer term outlook is still fairly grim for most of the industry, but end user demand is the only bright spot in my mind.

02|22|2012 08:20 am EDT

Why Businesses Should Not Rely On Facebook URLs For Advertising

by Frank Michlick in Categories: Social Media

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Recently we’ve seen more and more companies use Facebook URLs in their advertising. While other marketers, and also of course domainers, are against the practice, it appears this is now a more relevant question. Facebook recently took the URL away from the official city portal and reserved it for their own use.

Facebook URLs – Yours today, gone tomorrow? Facebook is planning to create city portals

As German news-site Heise Online reported Facebook apparently took away the URL from the official portal of the city Munich (Muenchen in German) first citing technical difficulties as the reason. For more than a week the Facebook page has not been reachable under its old address.

Screenshot of

The page had gathered almost 400,000 fans according to Lajos Csery, who is the manager of the company operating the city portal. In an interview with Bayerischer Rundfunk, he stated that there had been no advance notice from Facebook and when they inquired about the issue they were told that there was a technical issue. Later on they found out that Facebook is planning to set up their own city portals and Facebook has now moved the page to (city portal Munich), which so far only has about 1,200 “likes”. Facebook told the operator that the “fans” will still be moved to the new page. City names without additions are no longer permitted as Facebook URL names according to the recently changed rules of Facebook.

In a similar story pharmaceutical company Merck sued Facebook, in order to receive information why “their” Facebook URL to a US company with the same name. According to the BBC, Facebook had cut a deal with the company but had not followed through with giving the company the URL.

As Facebook becomes an important marketing tool and usernames and vanity URLs become more coveted, you can be sure that Facebook will find a way to monetize on this.  Savvy marketers should be more and more wary of using these URLs in offline marketing and protect themselves for the possibility that “their” Facebook URL will be taken away too.

11|28|2011 12:06 pm EDT

Merck Sues Facebook Over Username

by Frank Michlick in Categories: Legal Issues

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Do Facebook and Twitter need a UDRP?

As reported by Tech:Blorge today, German pharmaceutical giant Merck is suing Facebook in a New York Court (reported by WSJ) to demand details as to why Facebook will not allow them to use the “” username for their Facebook page.

According to Tech:Blorge, “The German firm came first, while the US firm was created using American assets surrendered by the German firm during the first world war. To minimize confusion and to avoid trademark disputes, the German firm is known as EMD Chemicals in North America, while the US firm is known as Merck Sharp & Dohme outside of North America.”

The German company says it cut a deal with Facebook last year allowing them exclusive rights to the address but has failed to follow through (BBC).

What do you think, do we need UDRP-like rules for social media URLs?

[via Tech:Blorge]

07|28|2011 01:28 pm EDT

FaceBook files TypoSquatter Lawsuit Based on Domains

by Frank Michlick in Categories: Legal Issues

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Apparently Facebook has not only continued their practice of filing disputes for domains names it saw infringing on its trademarks but now also has changed gears and filed a suit on July 22nd against more than 100 parties claiming Cybersquatting, Trademark infringement, False Designation of Origin, Trademark Dilution, Breach of Contract and Tortious Interference . The filing with the United States District Court for the Northern District of California (PDF) lists 104 different domains with the majority of names containing the term “facebook” in some variation (i.e. but also lists the domains (14) that the typo-domains are/were redirected to (i.e. which according to a notice posted on the site was a redirect service at one point and

The listed defendants are:

  • Cyber2Media, Inc.
  • Daniel Negari
  • Cleanser Products
  • Counter Balance Enterprises Ltd.
  • FB Promotions/Freebie Promos
  • Mackrooner Ltd. Inc.
  • Newgate Services Ltd.
  • Pioneer Enterprises Ltd.
  • Rabbit Gogo Media LLC
  • SMTM Enterprises Ltd.
  • YourTick
  • Zilt
  • Jacob Daniels
  • Jerry Hui
  • Ryan Johnson
  • Eric Jordan
  • Karrie-Lee Karreman
  • June Kimchi
  • Tim Meyers
  • Ankit Pandey
  • S. Pace
  • Elise Petri
  • Mark Risi
  • John Souza
  • Michael Suggs
  • and John/Jane Does 1-119

This topic was also covered by Elliot Silver and Bill Hartzer. Hat tip to Domain Trader.

01|11|2011 06:04 pm EDT

Farmers Bureau Sold Domains for $8.5 million, Including to FaceBook

by Frank Michlick in Categories: Domain Sales

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While Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of FaceBook had revealed on November 15th, 2010 that his company had purchased from the American Farm Bureau Federation, he did not reveal the purchase price. However the Bureau revealed today on their annual meeting that the organization earned $8.5 million USD by selling a couple of domain names. According to the report, they are is barred from identifying the buyer. The Federation now uses as its Internet address “but may own four dozen domain names related to farming“.

[via Reuters]

11|18|2010 09:10 am EDT

DOMAINfest Global Adds Ben Mezrich as Speaker

by Frank Michlick in Categories: Events, Up to the Minute

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Ben Mezrich, Author of “The Accidental Billionaires: The Founding of Facebook,” will Be Featured Speaker at DOMAINfest Global 2011
Fireside Chat to Include Remarkable Stories and Insights into the Minds of Young Geniuses

LOS ANGELES, Calif. (November 18, 2010) – DomainSponsor®, the domain monetization division of®, announced today that Ben Mezrich will be interviewed by Jeff Kupietzky, CEO and President of at the fifth annual DOMAINfest Global® (DFG) event, scheduled for February 1-3, 2011 in Santa Monica, Calif. Mezrich chronicles the amazing stories of young geniuses who become wealthy against tremendous odds while skirting the edges of morality.

Ben Mezrich latest book, “The Accidental Billionaires: The Founding of Facebook, a Tale of Sex, Money, Genius and Betrayal,” was released in 2009 and was optioned by Sony Pictures. Aaron Sorkin adapted the screenplay into the critically acclaimed and globally successful movie, “The Social Network,” directed by David Fincher.

“It is a great pleasure to have Ben Mezrich join us,” said Kupietzky. “Ben’s ability to tell a story will captivate our entrepreneurial audience by offering a first-hand look at the incredible accomplishments of very smart people willing to take risks. Our audience will also hear his unique insights into the development and evolution of social media and why this medium is one of the most critical channels for businesses today.”

Mezrich is the author of eleven books, including the wildly successful “Bringing Down the House: The Inside Story of Six M.I.T. Students Who Took Vegas for Millions.” This best seller was on The New York Times Best Seller List for 63 weeks and sold over two million copies in twelve languages.

In the span of his career, the author has brought readers into new and startling worlds, sometimes by surprising methods. During his research for “Bringing Down the House,” he taped $250,000 to his body and smuggled it with some of the most notorious card-counters in the world through airport security. While writing Ugly Americans, he visited exclusive “Japanese Only” underground sex clubs in Tokyo and juggled roadblocks and run-ins with the Japanese mafia.

The discounted registration rate of $1,195 for DOMAINfest Global (Feb 1-3, 2011) is available until December 31, 2010. Last year, more than 600 Internet professionals from 26 countries attended DOMAINfest Global.

[via Press Release]

11|15|2010 03:56 am EDT

AOL to add Vanity Email under Domains as, and

by Frank Michlick in Categories: News, Up to the Minute

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CNET has learned details on a limited beta release of AOL’s mail update, called “Project Phoenix” which will update AOL’s email interface. The new system, expected to be available to all users some time in 2011, will also offer users a number of choices from different domains instead of the dreaded domain: (an abbreviation of its classic “you’ve got mail”),,, and AOL said in the announcement that mail accounts for 45 percent of its page views. Facebook is said to announce a new email service today, as reported by TechCrunch, going hand in hand with their purchase of

[via Gizmodo, CNET]

09|22|2010 12:24 am EDT

Facebook Typos Deleting Wednesday

by Adam Strong in Categories: Legal Issues

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Days after won a UDRP decision to gain ownership of , a large batch of “less stellar” typo domains are being deleted Wednesday. Most of these domains showed an expiration date that was further off, so in all likelihood the owner of these domains issued a forced registry deletion in order to cut the liability.

The domains deleting Wednesday include :

It’s highly likely that these names will end up being grabbed and auctioned at one of the top auction spots like or Several of the above names already have multiple bidders at Namejet.

Facebook has been making aggressive legal moves on companies that use the word “book” or “face” in domains. received a great deal of the press surrounding these “David vs Goliath” suits.  Robin Wauters weighed in with his thoughts on these overreaching moves at TechCrunch and Erick Schonfeld points out that Facebook is even trying to trademark the word Face.

With overreaching bullying tactics like these, I’m 100% positive Facebook will be aggressive toward more obvious names like these deleting names, possibly even stopping any auction before it begins.

06|10|2009 12:28 am EDT

Facebook Vanity UserName Release Details

by Adam Strong in Categories: Miscellaneous

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As mentioned previously Facebook is introducing Vanity URLs on Saturday . . .or what they are simply referring to as usernames.  Further details of the new usernames was posted on the Facebook blog today and there is a countdown to the Saturday, 12:01 AM EST release date as well.

With over 200 million active users, the addition of usernames to Facebook is a pretty big change to navigation. The improvements will help people easily find users and information on the site and provide much shorter and more practical URLs for use on print materials, social media, linking, SEO, etc.  As Facebook points out :

“This way people will have an easy-to-remember way to find you. We expect to offer even more ways to use your Facebook username in the future. . .

People can enter a Facebook username as a search term on Facebook or a popular search engine like Google, for example, which will make it much easier for people to find friends with common names.”

Current policy states that users will only be allowed one username per account ( I’m sure many people already have multiple accounts) and a username for each of the pages that you administer . . . only pages with 1000 fans and created before May 31st are eligible.   Facebook is also only allowing usernames to be 5 characters or longer (so much for and I guess is exempt ) and they will only be in Roman characters for now. Usernames will not be able to be changed either, so as TechCrunch puts it “choose wisely”.

The introduction of these new usernames will likely provide Facebook with similar challenges of username squatting that Twitter has faced and even the lawsuits that come with parodies.   To jump ahead of that, Facebook has a page where brand owners can submit their requests to prohibit trademarks from being used in user names.

06|01|2009 04:55 am EDT

Facebook to Introduce Vanity URLs

by Chad Kettner in Categories: Up to the Minute

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According to TechCrunch, Facebook is getting ready to let users claim vanity URLs to point to their profile page – with an official announcement expected later this week followed by a landrush period soon after.

This means that instead of having a ridiculously long URL for user profiles (such as, users will be able to have a URL that makes a little more sense – such as putting their name or nickname after

Facebook first toyed with the idea of vanity URLs in March, giving a few away to celebrities and businesses such as…

  • (for Ashton Kutcher)

And since then, even more URLs have been passed around to Facebook friends and associates:

  • – Facebook Sr. Platform Manager
  • – Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook)
  • – Founder
  • (I’m choked)

[via TechCrunch]

Note: Before you get too excited and start planning your vanity URL, there’s a chance that Facebook may charge users for them. So with that in mind, how much would you be willing to pay for your first option?