It’s not often that .com.au domain names attract the attention of the mainstream media.
Earlier this week, we saw reports from some of Australia’s leading newspapers on an unprecedented sale within the .au namespace.
In what could turn out to be Australia’s most expensive digital asset sale on record, five prominent .com.au domain names were listed for sale on www.namesell.com by Brisbane-based company Domain Guardians.
The domain names – sydney.com.au, melbourne.com.au, brisbane.com.au, adelaide.com.au and auction.com.au – have been tipped by Domain Guardians to potentially fetch somewhere in the order of $1 million as a total package.
Mike Robertson, co-founder of Domain Guardians, said the sale presents a unique business and marketing opportunity for a savvy investor.
“In July last year, the CEO of a Denver real estate company paid a seven figure amount for denver.com and plans to develop it as an online hub for Denver. Denver has a population of about 600,000, and its economy is small compared to that of Australian cities Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane.”
“Imagine the commercial potential for someone owning all four Australian capital city domain names, with a combined population of around 10 million,” Mr Robertson said.
The interest generated in the sale of the .com.au domain names is a testament to the maturation of the .au aftermarket. While still in its infancy – especially compared to .com – there are signs the monetary value of .au domain names is on the increase.
For instance, in September 2011, investmentproperty.com.au became the highest recorded domain name at auction when it was snapped up for $125,000 by New South Wales property developer Vision Homes. Similarly, hardware.com.au was purchased at auction by Woolworths in 2010 for $33,000. There are unofficial sales rumored at significantly higher values, however often domain name sales remain confidential and there are no laws that require the details published as there are for offline real estate sales.
These sales demonstrate the enormous intrinsic value .com.au domain names hold despite their retail price which starts from as low as $20.
In fact, when we commissioned Deloitte Access Economics to investigate the economic value and impact of the .au domain namespace, they found .au domain names contributed $475 million to the Australian economy and were responsible for creating more than 4300 full-time jobs.
It will be interesting to see what impact new Top-Level Domains like .sydney and .melbourne will have on these capital city domain names and the .au namespace in general. By 2014, the New South Wales and Victorian governments will be set to launch the two namespaces to provide a landmark online identity for two of Australia’s most recognised cities.
We can only guess at the impact this might have on the likes of sydney.com.au, melbourne.com.au and associated generic .com.au domain names like hardware.com.au. My guess is that all three namespaces will complement each other. Innovative people will come up with ways to use the new domain name options that most would never guess today. Although, they will look obvious to our future selves…, no doubt.
Whatever might eventuate, it is clear the local domain name marketplace is certainly heating up and it will be interesting to watch this space over the next year.