Saturday, November 15, 2008

Monetizing the .tel for domainers

(this is in response to a domainnamewire post)

People in the domaining business think of .tel primarily as a domain extension first and a service second. In fact, it should be entirely the other way around. And so people who haven’t bought domains before (and the companies that haven’t sold them before but are becoming registrars to be able to integrate their services into the .tel platform) are the very people who are getting very interested in this service, not because it’s a domain, but because of the features and functionality. .tel is a very simple proposition, but is essentially unlimited in its scope and ability to grow into something far more functional than a simple interactive business card.

.tel is about simplifying communications (or, in more PRish words, reducing friction in communications). It has a clear focus – exposing all the ways you can contact an individual or a business. People will quickly discover what a .tel means to them – instant access to interaction. You set it up easily as you’ll have seen from the beta and it’s immediately accessible from any device. The amount of information is so small, it’s much cheaper and quicker to access over a mobile device than regular html sites (and over PCs too). We don’t do content (although you can dynamically generate your site’s “contact us” page with the .tel automatically) and no, you can’t put PPC ads on the page.

So what does that mean to domainers?

Personally, I see the general dependence on Google/Yahoo sponsored links as the main (if not only) revenue generator for domainers to be a very weak achilles’ heel for the whole domainer industry. Many in the domainer business are so focused on what they see as the Holy Grail of monetization (Google and Yahoo ads) that they’re convinced that there’s no monetization in the .tel.

What are the PPC revenues from mobile devices which is where the major growth is in the future?
Certainly not in web advertising. For mobiles, which are primarily communications devices, PPC actually means “Pay Per Connection”. When you look at it in this light, there are a ton of ways domainers can create revenue through affiliate programs, premium rate numbers for competitions, signposting to content-specific sites, etc. Some of our beta testers (sign up for free) are having a great time thinking of other ways to make money. The content IS the advertising, the marketing IS the product. Andrew Allemann hit the nail on the head when he likened it to a yellow or white page service. We all hate the inflexible way that these are run online today, but that didn’t prevent Yell earning over $1.5B in the past six months.

Monetizing your .tel if you’re a business is about making the phone ring (or email or website ping, facebook page increase in fans, twitter avatar get more followers, and so on) in exactly the same way – but being in control of how they do so and providing a really strong service at the same time. You can even use your .tel to list all of the domains you have for sale (especially the .mobi ones!). Let’s please get rid of the “Click” in PPC and transform it into the more general “Connection”.

Of course, the way we’re doing this with the DNS is pretty cool too, as others have already acknowledged, but we’re only using this because it’s the unique way to deliver a service that anyone can use which is 100% under their own control. I strongly believe that the only way a global, dynamic, decentralized, infinitely scalable yellow/white pages directory can work is when each person (moral or physical) owns its little piece of the directory. Dear reader, you’re never going to invest in publishing a single point of communications for yourself if you’re not absolutely certain that you’re in charge of it for the length of your (hopefully long) life.

Finally, indeed there are no auctions, it’s first come, first served, no premium names and only a reserved list of names that allow Telnic to conduct its business. I guess this might be a threat and an opportunity to the domainer community. A threat, as more people can invest at a level they can afford, increasing the gene pool. An opportunity, because your money will stretch further and the opportunity for another globally effective piece of real estate online that is so completely different from anything that’s been before, with huge consumer appeal, is an affordable gamble, I would assume. And personally, I'm a big fan of the K.I.S.S. principle, and in my experience as a general rule the simpler systems such as first-come-first-served tend to win in the long run.


Andy said...
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Rik said...

Indeed it is thoroughly possible to measure connection metrics. For example, you can easily create a sip server that will track all connections through, and forward to your client companies, bill them etc...
That's what all the operators do, and you can find dozens of them more than willing to provide you a turnkey solution, hosted or not. Believe it or not, the world of communications is quite well-versed in tracking. ;)

Again, the point here is that we've got on one side domainers who know best how people use the Web and Internet in general, and on the other side communications operators who are eager to tap into this Web userbase.
The tools are there now to track everything and move beyond the already-saturated advertising pay-per-click model.

Andy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Rik said...

Telnic (the .tel Registry) will retain a very limited number of domain names for:
- operational purposes such as,, or
- demonstration purposes such as, or
- reserved list imposed by ICANN that apply to ALL registries such as country codes

All other domains (whether currently in use or not) will be made available for Sunrise and Landrush on a first-come, first-served basis. No auctions.

The active domain database will be culled by sunrise (dec 3rd 2008).

Regarding integration with telecom operators, any reader should feel free to contact me ( or their contact at Telnic directly. Making the ecosystem thrive is the main goal of a registry. :)

Anonymous said...

U say first come first serve no auction, and this make me want to ask a question, let use ebay as EXAMPLE only, if ebay forget/dont know .tel domain and i buy and own it already, did ebay has the right to obtain through court?

Rik said...

dev lim,
.tel domain names are subject to the Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (UDRP), which establishes a procedure for resolving many trademark disputes relating to domain names. More information on the UDRP is available here.

Luke said...

I've followed your advice and monetized some of my .tel websites (just the first iterations -- they'll always be works in progress). Here are some examples:

I'm open to comments, criticism, etc.