I’m nominating for the auDA board this year

This post was originally published on Domainer.com.au by Ned O’Meara.


Shane Moore

I was thrilled to learn yesterday that a friend of mine has decided to stand for election as a Demand Class Director at the auDA elections later this year.

Shane Moore has fantastic credentials in my opinion, and will be a great representative if elected. He’s Brisbane based, and has been involved in domaining and online marketing for over a decade. Some of his online businesses include Nuts.com.au and NumberPlates.com.au.

He also runs a successful insurance brokerage specialising in insurance for tradies. Have a look at TradeRisk.com.au – it’s a great example of a thriving business website!

Here in his own words is why Shane wants to be elected.


I’m nominating for the auDA board this year

Nominations don’t open until much later in the year, but given the recent interest in auDA issues I’ve decided to make my announcement earlier than planned.

I will be running for a seat on the auDA board this year.

I feel that the board has been without a director who genuinely represents small business and domain investors, and who engages with the community on a regular basis.

The board has instead been dominated by people from within the domain name industry, as well as people who may not necessarily have the regular SME owner’s best interests at heart.

It makes sense that the board would be made up primarily of people from within the domain industry, however given the way that pending changes in the AU domain space will affect all SME owners and domain name investors, it is my intention to be their voice on the board.

I believe I fill a rather unique gap between genuine end-users of premium domain names, and pure domainers.

But before I get into my background, I think it’s important to begin with where I stand:

Direct registrations

I’m on record as having said I supported the idea of shorter domain names, in the form of direct registrations.

What I don’t support is any form of implementation that damages existing com.au domain holders and their investments in branding, trademarks and indeed the domains themselves.

It is my firm belief that all existing com.au domain holders should be issued the .au version of their domain without the risk of losing it to any other party.

Australian business owners and domain name investors have invested vast amounts of money into com.au registrations, both as new registrations and aftermarket purchases.

There should never be a situation where direct registrations jeopardise these investments.

Ultimately, if I was given the opportunity to oppose direct registrations at the board level, I would.

Despite my personal fondness of shorter domains, I am well aware that the majority of people I seek to represent are firmly against the introduction of direct registrations.

I do believe however that the battle we need to be concentrating on is implementation.

Engagement with registrants

I believe auDA needs to seriously increase its level of engagement with existing registrants.

The vast majority of end-users, in particular SME owners, have no idea about what is happening in the Australian domain name space.

Whilst their domain name might represent a very small priority within their business, they should still be fully informed about any possible changes affecting their domain name or names.

Direct registrations are a major example of where many people believe engagement with everyday domain owners was poor, and who knows what other changes will come in future that need to be far better communicated.

Evening up the balance

Small business owners, and large businesses for that matter, are the major users of domain names in Australia, however they have very little representation on the auDA board.

Whilst some past and present board members may have been SME owners, I do not feel that they were on the board as a genuine representative of SMEs.

My background in small business and domain names

The business I founded six years ago, insurance brokerage Trade Risk, has used premium domain names in order to grow into a multi-award winning national business.

I know first-hand that without investing in premium Australian domain names that I could not have achieved the same success.

I am also the founder of Nuts.com.au, which is a fast growing online food retailer, as well as the owner of NumberPlates.com.au which is a leader in its category.

What my businesses have in common is the use of premium Australian domain names.

I have invested strongly in these and many other names, and I am very aware of their value as business assets.

I have a lot to lose if the implementation of direct registrations is handled poorly, as do many other SMEs and domain investors.

Unlike the vast majority of end-users I’ve also been a part of the domainer community for many years.

I registered my first .com domain in 1999 and my first com.au in 2003.

I have been a member of numerous online groups since 2010 and have been a constant contributor throughout that time.

Corporate Experience

Whilst I haven’t sat on previous committees or boards, I do have a strong background in the corporate world prior to moving into small business.

Prior to founding my own business in 2010 I was employed as a compliance analyst for a subsidiary of the ANZ Banking Group.

I’ve held compliance and project management related roles with corporates including Suncorp Bank, the National Australia Bank and other smaller financial institutions.

I also have some public sector experience, having spent time in London working for the UK Government.

In my current primary role, I am the principal of my own insurance brokerage. With insurance being a very heavily regulated industry, I am required to uphold very high standards in terms of compliance.

So why vote for me?

I feel very strongly that SME owners have been completely left in the cold when it comes to direct registrations.

I also believe that domain name investors (who are also SME owners) have been completely under-represented on the auDA board for many years.

Some past and present auDA directors seek support from the domain investor community around election time, however once the election has been run we rarely hear from them for another year.

I have been a strong contributor to the domain name investing community in Australia for a number of years, and also a strong advocate for small businesses using premium domain names.

It is my intention to finally give SME owners and domain name investors a genuine seat at the table so that we can have some well-deserved influence over policies which can and will affect our livelihoods.

Even if we cannot win a seat on the board, at the very least we can send auDA and the current directors the message that we are prepared to act together for our own interests – just as many of them have been doing for years.

If anyone wants to contact me for further information, please email me.

Thank you for reading.

ASIC is watching you on Facebook!

ASICAccording to a recent report by Insurance Business, ASIC are keeping an eye on the Facebook and other social media pages run by insurance firms.

For the full report follow this link.

I personally have experience with ASIC querying one of my company’s websites, and I’m planning on writing about this shortly as a lesson to other website owners and managers.

Stay tuned!

Insurance firm among the 100 ‘coolest’ companies in Australia

Cool Company AwardsEarlier this month Australian Anthill Magazine announced the winners of their annual Cool Company Awards.

Whilst insurance brokerages may not typically be thought of as being ‘cool’, one such firm managed to make the cut.

That firm was Brisbane-based Trade Risk, who provide both general insurance and life insurance services to the building and construction industry.

Australian Anthill had this to say about the companies who made the list:

“Cool Companies manage to stay one step ahead of the rest. They breed leaders who are rule-makers and rule-breakers. They are organisations that aspire to be admired. They are trend-setters in attitude and action. Quite simply, they are… cool!”

What makes Trade Risk a cool company?

Probably the fact that they are doing things a little differently to most other firms.

They have a strong focus on online marketing, and this has allowed them to build a great little business in far less time than traditional firms.

Whilst Trade Risk were the only insurance brokerage to make the top 100, there were a few other insurance and finance related businesses.

  • Nimble – Short term lender
  • OzForex – Foreign exchange provider
  • Finder.com.au – Online financial comparison service
  • Health.com.au – Health insurance provider
  • Moneysoft – Online budgeting service
  • Mozo – Online financial comparison service

One thing that all of the companies listed above have in common is their major focus on technology.

It would be great to see other insurance brokerages and financial planning firms make the list next year.

To see a full list of the 100 coolest companies in Australia follow this link.

Underwriter with a cool new website

It’s fair to say that most underwriters and insurance companies have fairly unexciting websites.

That’s not to say they don’t do their job well and provide value to users, but they certainly don’t leave any sort of memorable impression.

Brooklyn Underwriting have bucked the trend with their new website, which it’s fair to say is quite different to any other insurance related website I can think of.

brooklyn

What makes this even more interesting is that Brooklyn only deal through intermediaries, so all the effort is mainly for the benefit of insurance brokers rather than consumers.

Denver Van Gramberg, Brooklyn’s Marketing & Distribution Manager, had the following to say to Insurance Business:

“Brokers spend a lot of time on insurer websites.  The idea was to make the time being spent on the website a bit special.  We had a look at some of our competitors and the market in general.  We found there was no real interaction or interest factor.  People go onto the site, do what they have to do and get off.

“We wanted to provide a bit of entertainment around the business use of the website – and try and have a little bit of fun, rather than being stoic.”

Personally I think the look and functionality of the new site is fantastic, and is certainly a lot different to the websites of other insurers, underwriters and brokers.

One area that I particularly like is the team section, in which all of the Brooklyn staff are depicted in a police line-up.

Brooklyn Team

By clicking on any of the staff members you are taken to another page with a more casual photo of the team member along with additional information about their current role and their background.

Insurance really is a people business, so it’s great to see a bit more personality in the team profiles and in the overall website.

I can’t recall the source, but earlier this year I read that no matter how ‘boring’ the product or service promoted on your website is, it is still important to ‘surprise’ visitors to your website with interesting design features.

Brooklyn’s new website may not necessarily mean that brokers will be inundating them with new business, but a website that is more enjoyable to visit and interact with will certainly not hurt.

ASIC targets insurance websites

ASICIt has been reported today that Insure 247 were rapped over the knuckles by ASIC over their online marketing of insurance.

In a statement released by ASIC it was revealed that four of the websites operated by Insure 247 were believed to contain “misleading or deceptive advertising”.

That’s a pretty serious allegation, but it appears that the parties involved have been able to make the necessary changes to the websites without too much drama.

There were two main issues involved.

Misleading text

The statement from ASIC shows that they had serious concerns with some of the text used on the websites:

“ASIC was concerned the websites gave the impression consumers were accessing an online tool which compared the features and the cost of different insurance products. ASIC’s review found there was no evaluation or comparison of the products.”

One such example was the text “compare thousands of insurances from fifty different insurers”, but upon investigation there was no such comparison offered.

In my opinion this was probably just a copywriter getting a little over excited, but the fact is you simply cannot make claims on an insurance related website unless they are factual.

Insure 247 are not alone however, as over the years I’ve seen plenty of misleading text on insurance related websites.

I don’t think there is a deliberate intention to mislead people in most cases, but if someone can be misled then it doesn’t really matter whether it was deliberate or not.

Insurance company logos

The second issue was the use of insurance company logos, which ASIC made the following comments about:

“Further, ASIC found Insure 247 displayed the logos of insurance providers that were not offering quotes for the product featured on that page of the website. For some insurance products, only one insurance provider received consumer details through the website when consumers were likely to think their details would be passed on to many insurers.”

Using the logos of the big insurance companies is a great way to build some credibility for a financial adviser or insurance broker’s website.

There is nothing wrong with doing so, and I even have a selection of logos on my own firm’s website, but don’t go displaying logos of insurance companies if you don’t use them!

It’s fair enough for a consumer to expect that if they see certain logos on your website then you’ll be using or at least comparing the products offered by those insurers.

The lesson here for website owners, regardless of whether you’re an AFSL holder, an authorised representative or just an online marketer, is that you need to make sure your website does not have the potential to mislead or deceive.

Lifebroker sold to TAL

lifebrokerOne of Australia’s biggest online life insurance providers has been acquired by TAL.

Lifebroker was founded in 2004 and has grown to be one of the top two largest online providers of life insurance.

TAL has owned a 10% stake in the business for the last three years, and this week moved to full ownership of the business.

Of most interest to me was the amount paid for the remaining 90%, but sadly the purchase price has not been released.

What we do know is that TAL’s parent company, The Dai-ichi Life Company, valued Lifebroker at $28 million in June this year.

Presumably the existing owners would have sought a premium in return for relinquishing their entire shareholding, in which case it would be safe to assume that the final valuation was somewhere in excess of $30 million.

That’s a hefty chunk of money in anyone’s language, and it shows the level of confidence that TAL has in the continued growth of online life insurance.

Unfortunately it also shows how focused TAL is on the direct insurance market, which in my opinion could lead to more Australians taking the DIY approach instead of seeking professional advice.

In case you didn’t know, TAL also owns the InsuranceLine brand which is heavily promoted on television.

What is Lifebroker?

So what exactly has TAL bought themselves?

Lifebroker is a website that allows consumers to compare premiums for life insurance from a range of insurance providers.

In addition to life insurance, consumers can also access trauma, TPD, income protection, mortgage protection and funeral insurance.

Lifebroker compares policies from a range of insurers including AIA, AMP, Asteron, BT, Comminsure, Macquarie, MLC, OnePath, Zurich and of course TAL.

It’s not clear whether or not Lifebroker will continue offering non-TAL products, but based on comments from TAL’s CEO, Brett Clark, it would appear that they will:

“Lifebroker has built a reputation on the objective comparison on life insurance products from a range of different life insurers.”

“We strongly support consumer choice and a competitive life insurance market.”

That’s good news in my opinion, because the last thing we need is another so-called comparison website which only compares products from a single insurer.

Personally I still believe there is a big conflict of interest in an insurance company owning a comparison website.

Hopefully TAL does the right thing and makes very clear disclosures on the Lifebroker website rather than burying it in the FSG.

Provided that they do that, then good luck to them and I take my hat off to TAL for investing in online assets whilst the others are left behind.

Another six figure finance domain name sale

carsalesThis week we received news of yet another six figure sale for a finance related domain name.

The domain in question is carloan.com.au, and whilst it may not be insurance related, it’s still worth looking at.

James Wester brokered the sale of the domain on behalf of previous owner OMG, which is a wholly owned subsiduary of Fairfax Media.

The buyer was CarSales.com Limited, the owner of Australia’s leading online car sales portal of the same name.

Whilst the parties would not reveal the exact price, Wester advised that it was in excess of $200,000.  This would make it the largest domain name sale in Australia for 2013.

Seeing CarSales as the buyer was certainly not a surprise to many people in the online marketing industry, as they have been prolific buyers of automotive related domain names over the last few years.

This sale certainly shows the value in generic finance domain names, and it will be interesting to see if CarSales simply parks the domain (excuse the pun) or builds it into a new car loan service.

Insurance domain name sales

Whilst many insurance companies and brokerages market themselves online under their own brand name, many choose to build websites under generic names also.

There are numerous reasons for this, but generally these companies are looking to build satellite websites that target particular niches, with the idea that they will funnel prospects or leads back to their main website.

What do I mean by a generic name?  Generally they are based around a product or a service, as opposed to  a brand name.

Examples could include ‘carinsurance.com.au’ or ‘insurancebroker.com.au’ etc.

There’s no question that this strategy that has worked well for some people, but if you think that getting your hands on such a domain name will be easy, think again!

We’ve used sales data from Netfleet, one of Australia’s largest domain name markets, to show just how much you’d need to spend to get yourself a premium generic insurance domain name.

Here are the top 15 insurance domain names sales from 2009 onwards:

  1. $30,001 – carinsurance.net.au (2012)
  2. $16,223 – petinsurance.com.au (2011)
  3. $12,001 – lifeinsurancecomparison.com.au (2011)
  4. $10,052 – homeinsurance.net.au (2012)
  5. $5,568 – doginsurance.com.au (2012)
  6. $5,152 – funeralinsurance.net.au (2011)
  7. $4,801 – cheap-travel-insurance.com.au (2011)
  8. $4,500 – lifeinsurancequotes.com.au (2009)
  9. $3,568 – catinsurance.com.au (2012)
  10. $3,001 – lifeinsurancecomparisons.com.au (2011)
  11. $3,000 – homeinsurancecomparison.com.au (2010)
  12. $2,778 – boatinsurance.net.au (2012)
  13. $2,501 – incomeinsuranceaustralia.com.au (2012)
  14. $2,501 – marineinsurance.com.au (2012)
  15. $2,042 – lifeinsurancequotesaustralia.com.au (2012)

Do these domain names represent a waste of money, or a fantastic opportunity?  It really depends on what you do with them.

Who owns the big insurance domains?

Regular readers will know how valuable generic domain names can be in the insurance sector.

Super premium domains in the finance sector have sold for six figures in the past, and we decided to have a look at who owns the super premium insurance domains and what they’re doing with them.

For each domain we have used the whois records to reveal the owner and have also looked at how the domain is being utilised.

We’ve also provided valuations on each domain name with assistance from some of the experts at DNtrade.  The valuations are based on the domain name only, and not the associated website.

Insurance.com.au

insurance.com.au

Owner:  Insurance Consulting Services Pty Ltd

Value:  $200,000 – $250,000

Usage:  Stand-alone website which offers quotes for life insurance products and referrals for general insurance products.

Comments:  The most generic of all insurance domains is surprisingly not owned by one of the major insurers, and is instead owned by a financial planning company.  It’s not a bad looking website, but is fairly light on information.

LifeInsurance.com.au

lifeinsurance.com.au

Owner:  iSelect

Value:  $150,000 – $250,000

Usage:  Redirects to the life insurance page on the main iSelect website.

Comments:  With online life insurance being a red-hot sector, this would be one of the most sought after domain names out there.  By using the domain as a redirect iSelect would not be getting an major SEO benefit, but given that they already rank number 1 in Google for ‘life insurance’ I don’t think they’ll be too concerned.

CarInsurance.com.au

carinsurance.com.au

Owner:  Luke Donnelley

Value:  $150,000 – $200,000

Usage:  A very basic one page website with no ability to request a quote or contact them.

Comments:  It’s almost unbelievable that such a premium domain has remained in private hands and is still so underutilised.  No doubt the owner is fully aware of its value and has received countless offers over the years.

HomeInsurance.com.au

homeinsurance.com.au

Owner:  REA (realestate.com.au)

Value:  $30,000 – $50,000

Usage:  Redirects to the realestate.com.au website.

Comments:  It’s not a huge surprise to see this domain used by the owners of realestate.com.au, but it is surprising to see that it is very underutilised.  There is an insurance section on the website, but this domain does not redirect to that area.  I should add that I believe ‘realestate.com.au’ is the best use of ANY premium generic domain name in Australia.

IncomeProtection.com.au

incomeprotection.com.au

Owner:  Income Protection Pty Ltd

Value:  $50,000 – $100,000

Usage:  Main website for the business of the same name.

Comments:  Out of all the premium insurance domains, this would be the best utilised.  In this case an entire business has been built around the domain name, and having met the original owner who started the business around 15 years ago, it has been quite successful.

TPDInsurance.com.au

tpdinsurance.com.au

Owner:  iSelect

Value:  $5,000 – $10,000

Usage:  None.

Comments:  This is the second entry for iSelect, but unlike lifeinsurance.com.au which redirects to the relevant page of the iSelect website, tpdinsurance.com.au simply returns an error message.  This certainly seems to be a lost oportunity, however iSelect already rank #2 for the term in Google and would probably get limited benefit from using this domain any differently.

TraumaInsurance.com.au

traumainsurance.com.au

Owner:  iSelect

Value:  $5,000 – $10,000

Usage:  None.

Comments:  iSelect have scooped the trifecta with lifeinsurance.com.au, tpdinsurance.com.au and traumainsurance.com.au.  Unfortunately this one also returns a nil result, but iSelect won’t be too upset since they also rank #1 for this term.

IncomeProtectionInsurance.com.au

incomeprotectioninsurance.com.au

Owner:  iSelect

Value:  $20,000 – $50,000

Usage:  None.

Comments:  Ordinarily a domain name with three words would no be considered as ‘super premium, but this particular domain would be one of the rare exceptions.  Unsurprisingly this domain is also owned by iSelect, and as with their TPD and trauma domains it simply returns an error message when you attempt to visit the site.

TravelInsurance.com.au

travelinsurance.com.au

Owner:  TIOTN Pty Ltd

Value:  $150,000 – $250,000

Usage:  Travel insurance business of the same name.

Comments:  Finally we have a second premium domain name which is being properly utilised.  Travelinsurance.com.au is a fully branded website offering travel insurance as a fully fledged business.  Unfortunately for the owners of this website it does not rank very well in Google at all, which is a little unusual for a well used premium domain.

BusinessInsurance.com.au

businessinsurance.com.au

Owner:  H and N (Nominees) Pty Limited

Value:  $20,000 – $50,000

Usage:  Insurance brokerage of the same name.

Comments:  The last domain we’ll look at is businessinsurance.com.au, and it’s pleasing to see that this is another very well utilised domain.  The website is owned by an AFSL holder and contains plenty of great information about business insurance and about their company.

Small Business v Big Business

It’s interesting to see that other than those owned by iSelect and REA, many of the super premium domain names are not owned by big corporates.

It’s also clear that the smaller sized owners are utilising their domains in a far better fashion than the big corporates.

The reason for this may be that the big corporates can afford to buy up valuable domains and sit on them, whilst smaller businesses really need to generate a return on what will have been a fairly large investment in most cases.

iSelect

Going back to iSelect, they own four of the best insurance domains available, being lifeinsurance.com.au, tpdinsurance.com.au, traumainsurance.com.au and incomeprotectioninsurance.com.au.

These four domains have a combined value of anywhere between $200,000 and $400,000 depending on who you ask, and potentially even up to one million dollars.

But each of the domains are completely underutilised, and there is probably little need for iSelect to develop the domains since they already rank #1 or #2 in Google for each term.

So why would they spend up big on buying them?  One possible reason is to simply stop anyone else from getting them and doing something more substantial with the domains which could compete with iSelect’s main website.

To Be Continued

In part 2 of this article we will be asking some of the owners of these websites why they decided to invest in a premium domain name.

We hope to get some interesting answers to share over the next few months.