Update on auDA election and other matters

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


Shane Moore

With auDA Board elections imminent (probably end of November), I thought it would be good to give potential candidates an opportunity to ask for your vote!

First cab off the rank is my good friend Shane Moore. He first announced his intentions way back in May on Domainer, so it’s good to get a comprehensive update from him.

In my opinion, Shane will make an excellent Demand Class Director of auDA. He runs his own business in Brisbane; he thinks independently; and he’s a listener. He’s also been involved with domains for many years.

He certainly has got one of my votes!


I’d Like To Ask For Your Vote Please!

Written by Shane Moore – 21st September 2016

We’re getting closer to the expected announcement of the 2016 auDA AGM, which means the elections won’t be too far away.

As stated earlier this year, I will be nominating for one of the two demand class directorships, and so far I’ve been very pleased with the level of public and private support.

There are challenging times ahead for the au domain space, and with that in mind I want to provide an update on how I see the current issues and what I’ve been up to generally in the online world.

Direct registrations

In my opinion this is the biggest change to occur during my time in the domain name world, which kicked off back in the late nineties.

There have been other big changes, such as the ability to sell domain names and the monetisation policy, both of which were great positive changes.

The difference between these and direct registrations is that they didn’t affect the average small business owner.

If you owned one or two domains for your SME, with no interest in acquiring additional domains, the changes to monetisation or selling of domains had no real impact on you.

But with direct registrations, every single domain name owner is going to be affected.

The insurance brokerage I founded and continue to run, Trade Risk, has thousands of small business clients, many of whom have an au domain name.

I have spoken with many of them regarding direct registrations, and they aren’t happy about having to deal with yet another issue that’s going to cost them more time and money for no benefit.

A number of them spoke about their frustrations with competitors having confusingly similar domain names, and the addition of direct registrations will only add to this issue.

Are direct registrations really a good thing for Australia?  I’d say they’re a great thing for registrars, but I can’t see the benefit for domain name owners.

What’s doing at auDA?

Ned has done a fantastic job of keeping us all updated on what we do (and don’t!) know about the goings on at auDA.

With that in mind I won’t go over the same issues again, but I do have to agree with Ned that we are being treated like mushrooms.

Having spent most of my career in the corporate world as well as running my own business, I completely understand that there is some information you can release, and some you cannot.

So I understand that auDA can’t just spew out page after page of everything that goes on there, but the current level of engagement with registrants is certainly disappointing.

Under normal circumstances the goings on at auDA would be pretty far down my list of priorities, with my business and my family occupying the first twenty or so places!

But these aren’t normal circumstances…

Decisions about direct registrations and their implementation are possibly being made right now, but it seems that the board isn’t exactly in the greatest of health.

How do we know that the right decisions are being made?

I like to think I’m a fairly positive guy and trust people to do right thing.  The current directors should take notice of what domain owners really want and make their decisions accordingly.

They should also recognise that many of the survey responses came from people who were not fully informed, and whose responses did not necessarily reflect the overall domain name owner’s community.

What I stand for

If I am fortunate enough to have the support of sufficient auDA demand class members, here’s what I’ll be using my position to push for.

1.      No introduction of direct registrations unless all existing domain name owners can be assured they will not be disadvantaged in any way.

2.      Make it easier for more domain owners to become auDA members.

3.      Make it easier for people to register an au domain.

4.      Ensure the interests of domain name owners and users have appropriate influence over decisions that affect them.

5.      Ask questions about auDA’s revenue, specifically in terms of how much it can justify and how it is used.

And most importantly, I’ll be pushing for auDA to be as transparent as is legally possible.

In my opinion, greater transparency will remove the vast majority of issues that people have with auDA.

What have I been up to?

My whole professional life revolves around domain names, websites and digital marketing.

Where I differ to a lot of people in the industry is that I don’t provide any services to other people, and instead only work on my own businesses.

My insurance brokerage, Trade Risk, is kicking along well and continues to grow.

Since my last guest post on Domainer, we picked up an award as one of Australia’s top 30 ‘Elite’ brokerages.  This is the second year in a row we’ve achieved this.

We put on another new staff member just last month, and we’re also working on a fantastic new online system.

It’s not bad for a business which started off as nothing more than a hand registered au domain name!  The premium domains we have added since have unquestionably helped.

My ecommerce business, Nuts.com.au, also continues to grow.  It’s been almost twelve months since we started selling products, however this business might be off to a new home soon.

And then we have NumberPlates.com.au which launched a brand new site just last month.  It’s going really well and proves that the classifieds model can still work well in the right niche.

I just love online business, and in particular online businesses which use premium domain names as part of their branding and overall strategy.

auDA have done a great job of developing the au domain space over many years, and I hope to be part of the board that continues to push it in the right direction.

If you’d like to get in touch with me please email me.  You can also connect with me on LinkedIn.

I’d also be happy to answer any questions on here as well.

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.