Your customers. Your competitors. Your kids.
It takes extraordinary vision and resourcefulness to acquire and deploy a generic .com.au name.
These prized qualities are perhaps what owning such a name communicates.
To have the perfect .com.au tells one and all that you have the means and will to get what you want and achieve more than just ordinary.
SMEs have known this for a very long time. Larger corporations with vast supply chains and notionally unassailable brands have been a bit slower on the uptake, but are now catching up fast.
TheDomains in 2008 once published a list of some examples of generic .com.au names held by large corporations in Australia. This was just a snapshot with some handpicked examples at the time.
Thirteen years on, and it is clear that large Australian corporations and multinationals are on a war path to not only secure generic .com.au names but deploy them across their marketing channels.
Business leaders get it.
Greg Roebuck from CarSales.com.au has spent millions of dollars assembling a near-complete portfolio of generic automotive .com.au names. Examples include Cars.com.au, NewCars.com.au and UsedCars.com.au.
By snapping up the best generic domain names, companies like CarSales and RealEstate.com.au have been able to crowd out competition and dominate their respective verticals. This modus operandi was clear for all to see in REA’s acquisition of Property.com.au for $9 million in 2004, where its express intention was to deny any competitor the use of the domain.
Prized .com.au domains are about more than just crowding out or defensive registration. Brothers Hezi and Gabby Leibovich had been investing in a wide range of generic .com.au names for several years, but needed Catch.com.au. With some cash and commitment they made it happen. Their new masthead is a lot cleaner than CatchOfTheDay.com.au and has enabled them to buttress Amazon’s foray into the Australian market with the equally generic name Amazon.com.au.
Rebranding to a keyword .com.au can be very effective too. For example, entrepreneur Shaun McGowan rebranded Beep.com.au to CarLoans.com.au in 2013, resulting in a $40 million turnover boost in just 5 months.
Less than 12 months later, McGowan sold the business to Eclipx Group for $29,668,000. Not bad considering that “brand names”, which chiefly comprised the domain name CarLoans.com.au, were previously capitalised at $713,000.
McGowan has since gone back for more, buying Money.com.au for $400,000 and LifeInsurance.com.au for $100,000 (in a 24-hour expired domain auction on Drop.com.au), while Eclipx Group has since sold the CarLoans.com.au business to Kim Cannon’s Firstmac, which also owns Loans.com.au and as of October 2020 is Australia’s 14th biggest lender. Are you a business leader? Is the penny dropping yet?
Digital marketers get it.
Digital marketing can be a painful game for those who are beholden to Google’s perennial 93-95% monopoly on search in Australia. “Rent money is dead money” the adage goes.
Marketers are starting to realise that excessive dependence on Google, Facebook and other third party channels can actually expose the business to a great deal of risk.
Paying Google or Facebook is like paying rent. You get plenty of business and conversions, but to keep the wheels turning you need to stay jacked in, like an intravenous drip. As with paying rent, there’s not much in the way of ownership or control. Algorithms can change, policies can change, and premiums often go up.
The alternative is diversifying channels and augmenting control. One of the best ways to do this is through direct-navigation, where site visitors type in your address directly, rather than by going to Google or to a page controlled by Facebook. When customers go to you directly, you cut out the middleman and reduce the risk of them visiting your competitors instead.
Thus it was essential for Stan to buy Stan.com.au, Fetch to buy Fetch.com.au ($132,000 in 2017) and Binge to buy Binge.com.au. No-one can afford to lose business to other players in the space. -With AdWords, Google allows competitors to advertise up top ahead of your hard-won organic rankings even where customers have typed in your company name or brand name. (Shudder).
What about the risk of bad PR?
The meat industry, for example, is a funny one.
- The beef people tell us that beef is the best;
- The lamb people tell us that lamb is the best;
- The chicken people tell us that chicken is the best; and
- The pork people tell us that pork is the best.
- Sometimes there are news articles that come out encouraging the consumption of one meat, to the detriment of others; but then again
- Sometimes there are news articles discouraging the consumption of one meat, to the benefit of others.
By pointing people to Pork.com.au, Australian Pork Limited is encouraging direct navigation to its site, and reducing the risk that users will go to Google, search for ‘pork’ and be presented with some negative news article.
What about just staying on topic?
Web users have very short attention spans. Many begin searching for one thing and instead find another, often forgetting to circle back to what they were looking for in the first place.
If users type “wonder” into Google for example, they will instead of finding information about Wonder bread be presented with a Hollywood movie they might find compelling and read up on. If users type “wonder bread” into Google (in Australia), they will instead first be presented with Wonder Bread in the USA, which is not owned by Goodman Fielder. It’s no wonder that Wonder use Wonder.com.au!
Even beyond this, it is good business to make things easy for people. This is why Challenger Limited changed its call to action on TV ads, from “search for Challenger annuities” to simply “Challenger.com.au” on the screen.
The time to act is now
If you do not already have the optimal domain name for your business or brand, you are haemorrhaging site visits, sales leads and conversions. Worst of all, you are haemorrhaging credibility and kicking the can further down the road to a time when someone more prescient than you has taken your job or is running your company -if it is still around.
Make the move, or be removed.