How NOT to Research a Story – USA Today

(Disclaimer: I work for Namemedia, Inc. who is one of the largest owners and resellers of domains in the world.  I don’t work in that end of the business, and I don’t speak for them.)

I picked up an interesting article today via David Churbuck’s Delicious.com feed, from USA Today with the salacious title “Cybersquatting’ crooks profit on marketers’ brand names.”

Now I hate cybersquatting, but I have to say this, which I said yesterday and have said ad nauseum over the years: your domain name is a business asset.  A corollary to that would be that you need to protect it, just as you would any business asset.

Simply put, if you’re planning to launch a new brand and you haven’t secured the appropriate domain names that are associated with that brand, you are a fool.  At the very least, you’ll be increasing the value of something you will most likely need to buy at some point.  So do your homework!

The thing that ticked me off about this article was the fact that it appearred as though the writer had written it right off a Marketing Association press release. It showed almost no thought about the issue, and in appearance, seemed to aim at driving home a single, shop worn idea: cybersquatting is bad.  Wow, hold the presses.

There are several other sides to this, none of which are considered, mentioned, or apparently, even though of.

  •  What happens when I own a domain and one of the big guys decides to create a new brand using the same name, such as yesterday’s example of Blatz.com.  Are we proposing that even with “prior art” I should reassign the domain to them, simply because I otherwise might be considered “cybersquatting?”
  • Is it not the companies responsibility to protect their own brand?  There is plenty of history with people setting up shopping sites under unused brand name inspired domains.
  • If you didn’t buy a particular domain, you cannot consider revenues made on that site “lost revenues” associated with your brand.
  • The assumption underlying this article is obvious, that sales made via third party shopping sites, etc. necessarily would have gone to the brand with which they might have appeared to be associated.  In my experience,  such sales are generally more casual impulse buys.  

Here’s the part that makes me really annoyed:

They drive people to a “squatted” site via e-mails or through paid search. Once they’ve led someone there, they hope to steal credit card information, spur clicks on ads to skim revenue from online ad networks or sell fake products, such as pharmaceuticals or pricey handbags.

Since when did USA Today decide it was a nepharious act to show advertising to people on your own website, in hopes that they might actually click on it?  Is that not THEIR OWN REVENUE MODEL?  Further, is not email or paid search also condsidered marketing?  Why would marketing one’s own website be considered “theft?”

Listen, I don’t cybersquat and I don’t condone it, but this article is simply ludicrous.  USA Today, stop phoning in your work…

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