First of all, I’ve always enjoyed Gary Vaynerchuk’s appearances and he’s definitely a person worth listening to. If that weren’t the case, I wouldn’t have written this post in the first place. When it comes to his DOMAINfest keynote though, I think he’s fundamentally wrong and will try to explain why.
Before I start, I just want to say that since I wasn’t there in person, I’m only working with the information Morgan shared though his post. But while I wasn’t able to watch his entire appearance, I’m reasonably confident I understood the essence of his message.
I think the quote below represents a good starting point:
“Someone asked Gary about the domain name Cabinets.com, and the value it would have ten years from now. Gary made a great point, look at the 16 year old who in ten years will be picking-out cabinets. Your average 16 year-old spends a LOT more time using apps then surfing the web, yes, that happened. So in ten years when she’s looking for cabinets she’ll go to an app she already knows and loves, the idea of going to Cabinets.com will seem as old school as going to the library and looking things up in a card catalog.”
Two things are (in my opinion) fundamentally wrong with this way of thinking:
1) Referring to the 16 year-old who uses apps and stating that since apps will alter his behavior, domains will be less important in the future
2) The assumption that type-in traffic is the main selling point of a domain
Let me start with the first one. Sure, young people are using apps, fair enough. But let’s thing about it for a moment:
Approximately 15 years ago, a *lot* of 16 year-olds used Geocities, couldn’t we have said something along the lines of “16 year-olds are now using Geocities free of charge and the concept of not paying for their Web presence will remain so deeply ingrained in their mind that when they grow up, there’s no way they’ll be willing to pay a premium for a domain!” back then?
Of course we could have, yet as we can see, that didn’t exactly materialize.
It’s just an example of course but I hope I managed to make it clear why in my opinion, referring to current habits of young people and extrapolating in order to predict the future has been proven time and time again to be an unreliable method. Now of course, that doesn’t mean it couldn’t end up being true this time but given the awful track record this approach has, I tend to think not twice but ten times before using it.
Alright, let’s move on to the second aspect I referred to: the assumption that type-in traffic is still the main selling point of a domain. In fact, I think we shouldn’t use the word “still” in the first place because type-in traffic should have never been the main selling point.
Some domainers thought it was but personally, I think the most important selling point of a domain is… the domain itself
In other words: its memorability, the trust factor it automatically gives you and so on. Sure, type-in traffic is a nice (or in some cases very nice) bonus but it’s just that… a bonus.
Simply because type-in traffic is unpredictable and there are a lot of things which can end up having a negative effect on it: browsers that block parked pages, the decline of typing in domains as a way of surfing the Web (I agree with Gary on this one and actually referred to this aspect a few days ago) and so on. Again, a nice bonus but definitely not the main “selling point” of a domain, not by a long shot.
These are just two of the arguments I consider fundamentally flawed, I don’t want to insist too much because I’m sure you understand my way of thinking and the “What will the future bring when it comes to domains?” debate is way too complex for just one blog post to be enough.
Am I saying domain values can only go up?
Of course not.
I don’t know what will happen to domain values, neither does Gary Vaynerchuk or anyone else for that matter. I respect his way of thinking but in my opinion, his thought process is fundamentally flawed when it comes to this particular debate.