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Brilliant Move By TRAFFIC: If the Online Bidding Doesn’t Work: Drop It

One of the hardest things in business is to admit defeat.  Most of the time it really isn’t defeat, it’s merely the fact that at this point in time you just can’t make something happen.  Type A personalities, like myself, seem to think that with enough hard work, money, or both, anything is possible.  Some times that’s just not the case.  You have to stick with what’s working until something better is completely stable. Rick Latona thought he could finally bring an online auction to a conference with little to no glitches. He was wrong.  Boxcar thought the same thing.  Rick Schwartz and TRAFFIC look like they refuse to make the same error.  The did the smart thing and decided that they weren’t willing to have their auction go to hell like the others so they abandoned online bidding all together.

I think it’s smart for a few reasons.  With the quality of names that are up for sale, the buyers will have no problem getting on the phone to make bids.  The past indicates that there has not been an issue with available staff to take online bids so history tells us that phone bidding should go relatively smoothly. Here are the “new” rules for the TRAFFIC auction this year.

We are going to have to stop the paid submissions to the T.R.A.F.F.I.C. Auction TODAY for any domain less than $50,000!

We have had a GREAT response but if we take any more, we won’t have room for any of the domains we will be hand picking nor the premium domains we want to attract. So those that have contracts in your hands, you have until 5PM TODAY to get this done.

Opportunity comes in many forms and then Flies Away. This birdie is gone. And another T.R.A.F.F.I.C. idea will just be copied and then we will be told how bad T.R.A.F.F.I.C. sucks. Get the picture?

We will have NO online bidding.

To bid at the T.R.A.F.F.I.C. auction you will either have to be there or will be open to PRE-QUALIFIED bidders with contracts and credit card on file 72 hours before the start of the show. We can handle up to 12 simultaneous bidders but have never had more than 4-6 on any one domain name. They will be given instructions 72 hours before the auction as far as call in numbers etc. Phone and/or text bidding only.

Each offsite bidder will have a total of 10 seconds to place a bid or not.

Once a phone bidder drops out or refuses to meet the current bid, he can not bid again for that specific domain and the contact is terminated. So the bidder is either in at each level, or not. This is going to be fast paced, exciting and different than previous auctions.

The Domain Industry runs right through the T.R.A.F.F.I.C. Intersection and those that can’t accept that just get left further and further behind.

I only real flaw I see is the “you’re out and you’re out” clause but it really shouldn’t come into play but once or twice. Bidders often have second thoughts and they can even be during the auction.  Even people willing to spend hundreds of thousands.  By not allowing them back in you are not forcing the issue but rather leaving money on the table.  Again, t will not happen very often but I have been to several auctions where the bidder had second thoughts and jumped back in.  There is no strategy that I’m aware of nor an advantage if they did.  All in all I think this is a great move.  The overall “we are better than everyone else at this so do what we say” feeling of the email is probably unnecessary, but it’s hard to argue with success and it wouldn’t be a Rick Schwartz run auction without it would it?

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7 Replies to “Brilliant Move By TRAFFIC: If the Online Bidding Doesn’t Work: Drop It”

  1. This is a smart move?

    They are closing the auction off to the majority of people, how is that good for the domain owners who have domains in auction? Most bidders would be online, not at the conference. And if a big company had some sort of interest in a domain they would now need to send a rep to the conference instead of being able to monitor and bid from their desk chair.

    This is good to attempt to drive up ticket sales so they can put cash in their pocket but other than padding their pockets that is the only good that will come out of it.

    1. JFT,

      You don’t have a phone? You are going to spend $10,000 and can’t call? Everyone I know has a phone. Would you rather call in and be 100% sure you can bid on a domain or bid online and have a chance of having it screwed up? Everyone keeps saying they should make a better online bidding system yet nobody seems to be able to pull it off. No need to send a rep. CALL.

  2. I agree Shane. And the whole domain auction scene has become a farce. I have spoken to those at Fortune 500 companies and can’t get a real discussion because they are laughing too hard. By many they are seen as a joke. Good for Rick to try and change it up a bit. He can always go back to the old way next year if this does not work.

  3. to me the only way including online bidding in a live auction environment would make sense is if you had each online bidder sign up before hand and submit their own proxy bid, the top amount they’re willing to pay for the domain. an auction rep would then act on behalf of the online bidder’s pre-determined bid and place bids accordingly. if they win, they win…if the bid goes above their proxy bid, they’re out of luck.

    if i were bidding for a $50,000 domain name i sure as hell would be on the phone monitoring the situation if for whatever reason my schedule pulled me away from attending what may turn out to be a huge financial investment. just my 2 cents.

  4. In the glory days it made a lot of sense but today I can’t see charging people or devoting 1/2 of a program’s time slot to a special event that doesn’t become special when just anyone could attend it online. It’s the magic of the sense of urgency and seeing the other bidders that make s a live auction perform as no other can. See Frank Schilling’s essay about it here:
    and here and here: and here:

    and five years later- still singing the same old song!

  5. I don’t have any stats in front of me but weren’t a large number of purchases made via online or phone buyers? I’ve been to a number of the different shows/auctions and have seen names sell from online/phone bidders that got no interest from the show crowd. The show crowds were more interested in having the snacks and free drinks.

    Then there is this part about “you’re out and you’re out” thing … I may be wrong but isn’t that how auctions go? People will sit back when outbid, let others continue and then pop back in at the last second? Isn’t this part of what makes auctions exciting? How is it going to be productive to knock someone out before the auction is over assuming they won’t bid any higher?

    It sure isn’t serving those who’ve paid whatever fee it is to get their domains listed to kill off potential buyers in order to force them to bid when you want them to bid. It would bother me immensely if qualified buyers that couldn’t make it to the show weren’t allowed to bid on something I want to sell.

    I don’t think the online or phone buyers are the problem with the auctions. It has been flawed software and process … there always seems to be technical issues that arise.

    As the other poster had said what if there are corporations that have serious interest in particular domains but no interest in spending the money too or sending employees off to the conference when all they are interested in is the domain?

    They are likely just going to write off the domain rather than be “forced” to send someone in person. Guess it makes sense as a way to get people into the room but not to close sales … but I think it’s going to backfire into an even bigger failure than many of the auctions have been.

    If anyone has spent some time watching the Barrett Jackson or Meachem car auctions you’d see that phone/online bids play a big part in their end sales. If the online/phone bidders are such a waste … why aren’t all those other auctioneers eliminating those things and instead making them in some cases more important than people at the show?

    Owen … I can see what you’re trying to say with the “urgency” but the reality is that corporations and many high end buyers don’t care about that. They are willing to spend big money on the domain if the opportunity is there … they aren’t interested in playing games.

    Like I’ve said … I’ve been to a lot of these auctions over the years … I can’t recall ever seeing anything I would describe as “magic of the sense of urgency” at them. Sure. there is a bit of frenzied bidding but it’s never been ” “magically exciting”. No offense to anyone involved in where this is going but all it looks like to me is yet another scramble to reinvent the auction rather than fix those things about it that weren’t working. JMHO …

  6. We used to both sell and buy a lot of domains through live auctions online bidding. Most of these were names in the low mid 3 figure to low 4 figure range. We haven’t done so in probably 18 months. The reason? Quality has gone down and reserves have gone up. From a buyer’s perspective, it became pointless to wade through the crap. From a seller’s perspective, fewer active buyers meant prices on reserves set to stimulate bidding meant domains selling for less than they should have.

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