When I first started buying domain names in 2007 category-killer domains were all the rage. Just to make sure we’re all using the same terminology here, by category-killer I mean domains that describe a specific product category.
Here’s a relevant example of one today. So we all know that beer is so last year and hard seltzer is in, big-time right? (okay I personally still prefer beer but I’m starting to feel like the odd man out). Back in the early 2000’s a company that wanted to dominate the hard seltzer market might really want to get their hands on HardSeltzer.com. Domain investors would market names like these and say, if you own the category killer here then people will think of you as the market leader.
Over time, this faded away. Now if you search for “hard seltzer” in Google you’ll find White Claw, the category-leading brand in first place followed by Drizly, the alcohol delivery service that can get White Claw to your doorstep. My guess is that if you asked White Claw if they wanted HardSeltzer.com, they’d probably say – nope, we already have WhiteClaw.com.
Looking at the DNJournal top ten list from this year, you’ll see – no category-killers to be found:
Now you might say. Hey, come on Morgan, BettingTips.com that’s a category, it’s the “betting tips” category. Sure, kinda, but that’s not what I’m talking about in this post, I’m talking about product categories.
The idea years ago was that if someone wanted to buy something online, eventually they’d be able to just go to “that product” with a .COM at the end and viola – there’s your market leader. In reality what happened was companies like Best Buy, Amazon, Home Depot and many others built their own brands and people now go there to buy things.
People buy a new flat screen tv from BestBuy.com or Amazon.com, not FlatScreenTV.com which is parked.
If someone was opening a new online site for buying flat screen tv’s – today they’re more likely to go with something like TVDirect.com or TVSource.com, in short, the brandables won.
Of course I’m excluding a nice big juicy market here which I want to make sure not to gloss over – one-word .COMs. Yes, if you own a domain like Hammer.com, you can get a pretty penny for it…but chances are, someone isn’t buying it to sell hammers, they’re using it as a brandable just like Amazon and Apple do.
While there was a day where search results on Google came back with exact-match category-killer domains, that’s just not the case any more. Just do a search for anything from hard seltzer to baseball cards (dacardworld.com is #1 on Google for that one) and you’ll find the brands win the day.
For domain investors sitting on a category-killer domain that they think a big company is going to buy for big bucks because “they want to own the category” that ship has sailed, they already do own the category and they no longer need the domain to match.