ARI Registry Services, an Australian company offering New gTLD registry services, published a blog article criticizing the purchase of the domain name racing.com for $500,000+.
The domain name racing.com was bought by Australian south east state horse racing authority Racing Victoria for an undisclosed fee.
The domain was sold by domain investor Adam Strong that bought the domain in 2006.
Racing Victoria will use the domain to further its services and racing coverage throughout national and international markets, with a new website and further digital inventory set to be launched by mid-September.
Racing.com currently redirects to the official Racing Victoria’s website: racingvictoria.net.au
Director of Strategy for Racing Victoria Andrew Catterall commented on the upcoming launch of Racing.com
“We think its a strong message that we are being aspirational in having a non-geographic specific brand. We have things like the spring carnival and we do aspire to have more of an international audience,”
The article written by Adrian Kinteris, CEO of ARI, starts by asking 3 questions (What’s a domain name? What business function do they serve? Can a domain name generate ROI?) and then goes on to explain “why the purchase of racing.com is tantamount to flogging a dead horse.” Adrian Kinteris estimates that the racing.com was sold for $500,000 or more.
The problem with underpinning a $15 million digital media business under racing.com is that it fails the signpost test.
Let’s think about it for a second. What is racing? Is the word synonymous with horse racing? Not really. What about car racing, boat racing or bike racing? Perhaps you’re talking about pigeon racing!
When I Googled the word racing, the first result was a news item about American NASCAR racing.
Also, what inference does the .com add? Where is .com located? What does it stand for? Does it tell your target audience that your business is focused on Victoria? Certainly not.
The domain name racing.com is not a very useful signpost to direct people to a website about horse racing in Victoria, Australia. It’s too generic, won’t be assisted by search and is a poor execution of a good vision.
An argument against the statements above is that Racing Victoria will get more traffic looking for other types of racing. But people that will see Racing.com advertised by Racing Victoria will most likely remember it. Also after doing a small google search I found that “horse racing” is called just “racing” in Australia. And of course the buyer is called Racing Victoria and not Horse Racing Victoria and they already own the domain racingvictoria.com.
Imagine you heard an ad on the radio for Victoria’s new digital horse racing news platform and there was a call to action at the end of the ad for racing.com. What do you think most people would remember about the ad and how would they act upon it?
I think the theme of horse racing in Victoria would be the strongest key message. Whilst you might remember a mention of a .com web address, my intuitive reaction would be to visit horseracing.com or Racing Victoria’s corporate website.
Interestingly, our research shows Australians have been conditioned to visit websites ending in .au when looking for locally-based content. This is because .au is Australia’s home online.
My experience tells me that an ad for racing.com in Australia will leak a lot of traffic to racing.com.au, which is unfortunately owned by betting company Tabcorp. That’s a nice win for Tabcorp!
The problem is that racing.com does not have an intrinsic connection with Victorian horse racing that would lend itself to intuitive navigation and recall.
Racing.com might bleed to racing.com.au in Australia but the opposite might also be true at the same time. So the net bleed might not be so large. Also the problem is that maybe racing.com.au wasn’t available for sale.
And then the post ends with yet another attack to .com after the Donuts attack last week:
The most unfortunate aspect about the decision to pay a high-end, six-figure sum for racing.com is the fact domain names are now radically transforming.
Hundreds of new domain name suffixes such as .menu, .monash and .sydney are being added to the Internet alongside the familiar .com, offering individuals and businesses like Racing Victoria greater domain name availability, choice and innovation.
Unlike the meaningless and unintuitive .com, these new domain names allow for a clear and descriptive signpost that lets your audience know exactly what your business is about even before they land on your website. They provide an affinity to a geographic location or market vertical that .com is unable to do.
Take for instance .racing which is set to launch soon. It would offer a more creative and relevant domain name such as horses.racing, victorian.racing or vichorses.racing.
Another option would be .melbourne. Country-level geographic locators such as .au, .nz and .uk have helped organise the Internet and now we have the option to take this to the city-level. I’m not saying racing.melbourne or horses.melbourne is appropriate, but it would be somewhat more specific.
There is also a .horse Top-Level Domain and almost 1,400 other options that will become available over the next year.
The fact is, the launch and use of these new domain names will soon make the purchase of half-million dollar .com domain names look silly.
It’s all about connecting your vision with an intuitive, memorable and efficient signpost.
There is nothing “silly” or “meaningless and unintuitive” about .com. If there is something silly here it is the fact that .horse is offered as an alternative to .com by a company using .com for it’s website: ariservices.com. And let’s don’t forget. I don’t expect the value of the domain name Racing.com to decrease in value any time soon…