ARI Registry Criticizes The Purchase Of Racing.com For $500,000+

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…

Sold.Domains

About Konstantinos Zournas

Konstantinos studied Computer Engineering and Computer Science in London and lives in Athens, Greece. He works on domain names, websites and software development. Has been online since 1995 & domaining since 2002.

28 comments

  1. I remember this was sold on DNForum for $150,000 in 2006

    While a good profit ($350,000) for seller, it really hasn’t met the expectations (fantasies?) of many who thought *premium* single name generics .COMs (like this one) would be fetching at least low 7 figures by now, after all these years

  2. The attacks on .COM from Mind & Machines, Donuts, and now ARI Registry just come off as desperate and delusional.

    So far the new gTLD have vastly underperformed the rosy projections. There is very little end user demand and many domainers are growing tired of the new extensions.

    These registries are offering inferior products. Their only option is to attack the king, because the other option is just becoming completely irrelevant.

    There is only (1) .COM. It is globally used and recognized. It is synonymous with the internet.

    Should an end user go with a .COM, or a lame new extension in an endless sea of lame new extensions? I think the answer is pretty obvious.

    Brad

    • New gTLDs could have some room in the internet namespace but not to replace .com in a couple of months as some registries hope.
      Saying .com is old and irrelevant has the opposite effect of what they are trying to accomplish.

  3. As far as I know the sale price has not been reported. It could have sold for more.

    I think Adrian Kinteris pulled the $500,000 number out of his ass.

    Brad

  4. I LOVE IT!

    When you look at the money companies spend on marketing, spending $500,000 on a domain like that is a drop in the bucket, and it will bring them more long term ROI than a lot of other advertising they may have done in the past.

    Kinteris doesn’t seem to understand the true value or purpose of a domain.

    If he thinks the purpose of a domain is for just for SEO, he’s completely in the dark.

    The fact that doing a Google Search for “racing” takes you to NASCAR has nothing to do with it. If anything, it underscores the opportunity to literally expand ownership of that word for the entire horseracing industry. When people think of racing, they want them to think of horses.

    A brand name is something people can see in an advertisement, and remember it when they get home. A great domain serves the same purpose.

    If you saw a billboard that had “Racing.Com” in the corner vs “racingvictoria.net.au”, which are you more likely to be remember when you get home? Clearly it’s Racing.Com.

    It boggles my mind that so many people think a good domain is just for SEO. I built successful web traffic for my sites long before search engines ever existed, and 75% or more of my traffic still comes from brand recognition, supported by offline marketing.

    While some may say paying for offline marketing is a waste of money, when you can get free eyeballs at the moment they are searching, that’s also missing the point. Not everyone is searching for racing, so that audience will continue to be reached online and offline… and whenever they promote it, they will have an easy brand to remember.

    Coupons.Com paid over 2 million to buy the best possible domain for the coupon industry. Was it about SEO? Not as much as you think. It made sponsors, affiliates and everyone in the industry recognize them as the leader.

    This is their way of saying, when you think of racing, think of horses.

    Keep in mind, although they are using the domain for Horse Racing in Victoria, Australia, I’m sure they may be thinking about creating a worldwide portal for horse racing.

    One thing I know for sure, they may get some free publicity about this.

    • Kinteris is Australian yet he searched at google.com so the results were about Nascar.
      (see my comment about google.com.au)

      I completely agree with you that a lot of people only see domains in terms of SEO. I never think of SEO when buying a domain name.
      You need a domain that people will remember the next day.

  5. reminds me of back in 1999 when some college kid took his savings and bought races.com for $2000 to start a site about running. network solutioins inadvertently dropped the name and someone re-registered it.

    as they were the only registrar back then there was pretty much nothing you could do about it. they offered him a bunch of lame two and three word running names for free to replace it but he just gave up. don’t know what happened to that guy. maybe he went on to become a success in running. maybe he killed himself. i don’t know.

    the point of my story is why pay over $500,000 for racing.com when you can buy pokerandracing.com for under $250,000 which is twice as good because it has poker in it too. and all you need is a ten dollar down payment and you can call me up twice a week and ask me any question about poker or horse racing.
    and if it doesn’t work out for you i’ll give you back half of the original ten dollars.

    i’m done now. there’s only one shot left in the bottle and i don’t want to waste it.

  6. “When I Googled the word racing, the first result was a news item about American NASCAR racing.”…………………………………….That would be a testament that NASCAR remains very popular with a dedicated audience and optimizes it’s SEO capabilities. Also, NASCAR has been in the sports headlines for over a week due to an unfortunate tragedy involving a three time champion……Had you Googled the word “racing” when the Kentucky Derby was on you probably would see an article about horses. And speaking of “horses”….What is Horses.Racing???…..The plural just does not work in this case…..

  7. ok, so there is a lot of the usual self promoting crap here from Adrian talking about new tlds and other nonsense.

    But this bit is 100% the truth,

    “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!”

    They’ve made a massive error not owning the .com.au because that is the default extension for Australia. This is an Overstock style mistake in my view. They’ve gone from a .net.au (absolutely awful extension choice) to a .com so things have improved but they still have not got it right and may well have to rebrand again in the future if they can’t get the .com.au.

  8. Is he going to switch from ariservices.com to a new gTLD?

    • Yes they have switched to ARI.services . . .oh wait no they just redirect that to their crappy .com Talk the talk and walk the walk Adrian.

      • What a stupid move. I noticed the same thing with .xyz… their homepage is xyz.com.

        To make matters worse, that home page has a video mocking .Com’s as some relic from 1985, where they compare it to a broken down ’85 Honda Accord, then they cut to a video of a high performance Audi.

        Talk about sending mixed messages.

        Meanwhile, I decided to see what I find at xyz.xyz… dead end. Nothing. Not even a redirect to the .com.

  9. Racing.com is more credible and memorable than any of his examples. btw they now also own horse.racing.com, victoria.racing.com,..etc. I THINK THEY KNOW that .com is intuitive, people don’t need to remember it. Lets compare victoria.racing.com and victoria.racing. It takes some effort to remember not to add .com at the end, LOL.

    • .com is not intuitive for an Australian who is looking for a local site. The country code of Australia is not .com, unlike in America.

  10. Snoopy The company said “..aspire to have more of an international audience,” To that ends wouldn’t the .COM be the obvious choice!? .com.au is local. Why was it even brought up. They are looking to go international. I’m sure we all agree the .com.au would be nice to also own, but lets be clear it is no where near the value of the .com.

    • They’ve said they hope to target domestic and international people with it “more of an international audience” doesn’t mean only an international audience and this domain is flawed for usage to the local market without also owning the .com.au.

      The .com.au isn’t “nice to own” for an Australian company, it is vital. the reason why racing.com is a lot more valuable than racing.com.au is because of the appeal to US based companies and those who have an international audience. They buyer has no doubt paid a lot for it and is is worth a lot, but it makes little sense for them to use it. I’d say they have taken some very bad advice or no advice at all.

  11. The name actually sold for $842,000 aud. Easy to find out if you do some research into the financials the buyers is obliged under law and members to disclose

    ARI Registry Services has no clue. I doubt they will be around in 2- 5 years once the BS spin about all the new exicitng useless extenstionswears off. Racing.com will be around after they go broke.

  12. .com can be used to market locally to different countries. .want to try that with com.au.

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