The headline on the business page of last Monday's Boston Globe read "Web name loophole exploited for profit." Since I have a colleague who's got some Web names that he wouldn't mind exploiting for a profit, I thought I'd give the article (an AP wire story by Anick Jasdnun) a quick scan.
The article described a grace-period that's available to those who put a claim on a URL. Apparently, you have 5 days before paying to figure out whether there's going to be any interest in the URL as a mechanism for generating advertising revenues. The pracitce of grabbing lots of URLs and figuring out whether there's any there there is called "tasting," and is aimed at trapping those who mistype in an address. Instead of getting "site not found," you got to the faux site that will contain ads and links - as likely as not, to the offers and and sites of rivals. In December the number of daily tastings averaged 1.2 million.
Here's how tasting works:
Speculators write software to automatically register hundreds or thousands of names. Some are variants of trademarks or generic keywords that Internet users are likely to type -- or mistype. Others are names grabbed after their original owners fail to renew.
During the grace period, the entrepreneur puts up a Web page featuring keyword search ads and receives a commission on each ad clicked. Services like Google Inc.'s AdSense for Domains and Yahoo Inc.'s Domain Match help large domain name owners set them up, even as the search companies officially oppose abuses in tasting.
Addresses likely to generate more than the $6 annual cost of domain name are kept -- not a high threshold given how lucrative search advertising is these days.
The rest are thrown back into the pool on the fourth or fifth day, only to be grabbed by another group of domain name tasters
This article also quotes the CMO of a "brand protection firm" - and who ever heard of such a thing - as saying that the system"allows people with criminal or speculative intent to dominate."
Now, regarding the URLs that my buddy managed to snag once Dice-K was signed...
When the Red Sox signed Japanese ace Daisuke Matsuzaka, my colleague - whom I shall call "Mr. T" - jumped right on a few Dice-K URLs. He is more of what I would call a lifelong Red Sox fan than what I would call an out-and-out URL speculator, but his intent was, frankly, speculative. What the hell, Mr. T thought. Let's see if someone is interested in any of these. He didn't grab these URLs by spamming or scamming. He went online and signed up for them. No tasting: he paid for the full meal. Now he wants to know if anyone else is interested in taking a bite.
Like me, Mr. T is already a Dice-K fan. Unlike me, Mr. T has not - at least to my knowledge - yet penned a haiku tribute. Here is mine:
And that was even before I knew that Dice-K would be wearing Damon-san's number.
Back to the URLs that Mr. T owns:
I don't want to put words in Mr. T's mouth here, but, as his agent of sorts, I will state that he does not want these URLs to go to anyone with intent to trash or make fun of Dice-K, anyone who is now or ever has been a fan of the New York Yankees, or anyone who would be up to no good here. He would prefer to make these URLs available to Dice-K himself, to his translator, to his agent Scott Boras, or to other nice guys. Members of Red Sox Nation. Sons of Sam Horn. Dirt Dogs. Rem Dawgs. Theo Epstein.
Mr. T especially welcomes friendlies. But business is business, and Mr. T is no fool when it comes to business.
Anyone interested in a Dice-K URL, click on the link and you'll find a way to contact Mr. T.
Principals only, please.
Act now. This offer will not be repeated. The season starts in just a few weeks.