Back in February Rick Schwartz wrote a post “Are Flat Rate Auctions Coming to T.R.A.F.F.I.C.?” where he introduced the Guaranteed Placement Program, which is the new format for how the October 2011 T.R.A.F.F.I.C. auction at the Ritz Carlton, Fort Lauderdale will be run. In a nutshell, a flat rate of $500-$2500 will be charged to domain owners to submit a name in the October auction. This will make domain owners carefully consider names they submit and how they price them.
This is a very interesting idea with great potential because it will force those who want to have their names in the top domain auction of the year choose premium domains and price them realistically. Unless some really uneducated domainers with lots of money to blow decide to list regfee names for $500+ a pop this new format will bring some good domains to the market with prices that should encourage bidding. Schwartz mentioned that with this program they will greatly reduce or eliminate commission fees and hinted a commission schedule with a sliding scale may be in place. Also, there will be NO silent auction following the live auction, another change I think will benefit the live auction.. you either bid now or it’s gone!
So, you submit your reasonably priced premium domain to the T.R.A.F.F.I.C. auction in October and pay your flat rate, you’re all set now for a great sale now right? Wrong. T.R.A.F.F.I.C. auction organizers are not promoting domains in the auction for you. You have made the investment to list your domain at T.R.A.F.F.I.C., now it’s your responsibility to get interested parties to show up. That’s why Rick started talking about the auction in February. A quote from one of the commenters on Rick’s post that made a lot of sense ‘John’ said:
Here’s some other reasons I think it will work: Have you seen endusers move? They move slow, real slow. Sometimes their process and red-tape prevents them from moving quickly. Sometimes it takes months for me to close a sale with those people. Creating the buzz now and promoting earlier allows the deep pocketed endusers time to get their ducks in a row to come bid on your name.
So many of the auctions that accompany domain industry events and domain auctions in general are put together so fast and marketed for such a short period of time that it makes it very unlikely for end users to show up and bid on a premium name. Oftentimes after major domain auctions I hear folks moaning and groaning on forums and blogs about how these are all domainer to domainer sales and the industry is not moving forward, end users never show up to auctions, etc. Can an auction promoter really guarantee to promote dozens or hundreds of names to relevant end users? If you are serious about selling a great name now, the venue is there, the guaranteed placement program in effect, you know best the end users for your name and if you want them to show up you have plenty of time to notify and remind them of the auction.
I feel this could change the way domain auctions are organized and am hoping to see a very successful auction in October. I still have a couple questions about the new format.. Will potential buyers be able to bid remotely by phone or online? Playing the devils advocate here, I read somewhere in Rick’s writing that “crap names” will not be allowed into the T.R.A.F.F.I.C. auction in October, but if you have a guaranteed placement program how can you disallow certain names? Especially if a seller thinks he has end users that will show up for the auction? Last, how/where does a seller submit names now for the October auction?