Brandable Boutique Space Getting A Little Feisty
Back in July I wrote about the brandable boutique wars heating up, things are now getting amped up to another level. There was a thread started on Namepros where a poster Tom Carl pointed out that Brand Bucket was selling some domains on Flippa. These names are owned by the parent company of Brand Bucket and are not customer domains. I think Carl raised a good topic for discussion, and without these types of threads a lot of questions would go unanswered.
One of the points of contention was that when you list your names on Brand Bucket you have to give them exclusivity. Some posters were taken back by the fact that Brand Bucket was not doing the same for their own domains and keeping them exclusive to Brand Bucket.
Michael Rader who is the owner of Brandroot entered the thread with the quote, “Well desperate times call for desperate measures.” Michael went on to say that Brand Bucket visibility on Google was virtually non – existent.
Margot Bushnaq from Brand Bucket then replied:
Let me jump in here…
Domain listings on Flippa: We have a great relationship with Flippa, and have been talking to them for over 6 months about how we can work together to increase exposure of the Brand Bucket inventory. We are currently running a test — with only names owned by us since we do not yet have permission from other domain owners — to see if there’s the possibility of a fruitful partnership. We will know after the auctions have run their course. We aren’t hiding anything, as the auctions are under our account and most actually mention Brand Bucket in the title. Businesses grow through experimentation and innovation, not by maintaining the status quo.
The whole “sinking ship” thing: This is based on two things that I see: 1) The fact that we don’t list the names that we sold, and 2) the musings of a competitor, which apparently seem to be rubbing off on a lot of people on this forum.
Our business has always been that the customer comes first, and we WILL NOT compromise the decision we’ve made to keep our transactions private and out of the search engines since this is a huge concern for many of our customers. What I can share is that we are on track to exceed the $1M mark that we did last year, while maintaining an average sale price of about $2500.
My personal belief is that a business should be built on a great idea, hard work, and positivity. Words live forever on the internet, including negative ones, which is why I try to stay out of forum pettiness. The bottom line is that people choose to do business with people, and I want to be the kind of person that customers and domainers want to do business with in the long run. That’s especially important since I and the company I built are supporting many more people than just myself.
She also pointed out the move to HTTPS as the reason for the lack of search engine visibilty:
We recently changed over our site to use all https://, and asked that our current non-https indexed pages be flushed. We are currently waiting for this change to propagate through the Google search index.
Bill Hartzer has written why he was switching to HTTPS, Bill wrote a piece on how the move was going so far.
Exactly one week ago, I moved my site from HTTP to HTTPS, making my whole entire site serve up content securely. As you may recall, Google officially came out and said that HTTPS is a search engine ranking signal now. One week after I moved the site, here is an update. Overall, traffic from Google organic search is up 9.58 percent. And the overall quality of the traffic is much better, as well.
You can read the full article here
The thread started to heat up and sides were clearly drawn, those who were pro Brand Bucket vs those who were pro Brandroot.
Michael Rader expressed his feelings that he did not feel like he was treated well while being a customer at Brand Bucket.
Being the owner/operator of Brandroot I know it’s probably not wise for me to keep interjecting here, as it simply sounds competitive (it’s not), it’s the passion I had against BB that energized me to start Brandroot. For the most part I was ignored and was treated as very “petty.”
Next things turned to advertising under a competitor’s keyword
Someone pointed out that a search for Brandroot on Google showed a paid ad at the top from Brand Bucket. Now of course this is legitimate, Google has fought many cases over the years from Geico to Louis Vuitton and many more.
Another poster said that they had seen a Brandroot ad, while searching for Brand Bucket, Michael Rader replied, “Nobody is complaining about Brandroot doing this, they are complaining about Brand Bucket doing it, although we did start a campaign to counter theirs just today. We’ll play their game, even though it will likely get very expensive for the both of us. ”
Later in the evening Michael posted, after there was some discussion about advertising under a competitor keyword.
I just had a long conversation with a Google rep about it. But as you can see if you search any large company, Google, Facebook, Twitter, Pepsi, etc. (even Louis Vuitton) as a keyword in Google you won’t see any advertisements on the results. I’m guessing that Google doesn’t care about smaller business who can’t fight them and cost them tons of money, which I told the rep. It looks like they take measures to protect big brands to avoid these kinds of lawsuits, otherwise you’d see tons of ads filling these competitor’s pages. Anyway, @margotb of BB wants to play dirty by stealing our brand identity, we’ll have some fun too, except you’ll always see Brandroot above BB ads because we don’t have a bid limit. Also, I don’t see that BB has any trademark on the name, so we can freely use “BrandBucket” in our ad text, whereas they cannot use our name.
Let me know when you want to stop using our trademarked brand for your gain Margot.
Brand Bucket did not buy Namerific
Another topic that came up was that Brand Bucket had purchased Namerific, I had spoken with Zane Gocha over the summer and asked him if this was true ? He was vacationing at the time and said no, the rumor persisted for weeks, and Namerific co – founder Mike Navarini joined Namepros last night and posted the following:
Hey guys, my name is Mike Navarini and I’m the co-founder and current owner of Namerific. As many of you can probably tell, I have been silent in this forum and pretty much every other public place since Zane and I launched the business several years ago. To give credit where credit is due, Zane actually started the business with his site, ZTGbrands which morphed into Namerific. Zane handled most of the operations of the company until recently, when he sold his interest in the business. We will be issuing a press release shortly with more details about that.
We want to apologize to any of our domainers who’ve had to deal with delays in regards to getting their names up on the site live. We’re working to change that ASAP. We’ve hired two part time designers to work on the pending list, and we are also strategizing on a new incentive model which will involve contests and prizes for designers. A part time writer is also on board with us to write descriptions on approved domains to get them pushed to the design queue. To assist with day to day operations, we have hired additional full time staff to manage various aspects of the business. Shortly, things will operate much more smoothly in terms of processing domains and getting them live.
You can read the full post where Mr. Navarini explains his background and future plans.
For domain investors the increased competition is good all around, the three biggest players in the space are all working to up their game, they are all working to get your business.
Brand Bucket and Brandroot require exclusivity and a fee to list, Namerific remains free to list and no exclusivity.
Disclosures: I have no names listed at any of the three brandable boutiques written about. In the future I may list names at all three.