Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Prices for .News Domain Package Names Uncovered


Donuts announced a  "six figure" price for the sale of a group of platinum .news domain names.  The package contained the domain names cancer.news, climate.news, food.news, health.news, medicine.news, pollution.news and science.news. While originally a false name was used in the announcement of the sale, after research by DomainIncite, it was subsequently disclosed by Donuts that the purchaser was in fact WebSeed, a company founded by Mike Adams. Mike Adams is known as Health Ranger for his previous content at Natural News.

As has been pointed out by others, the actual content on the sites is at best highly questionable. There is certainly not balanced coverage of scientific content on the sites in my opinion.  For example, my examination of the sites reveals frequent anti-vaccine content that has been well debunked by medical and scientific experts, as well as extensive climate change criticism that is contrary to the evidence amassed by respected scientists over decades. The writing on the sites is frequently alarmist and sensationalistic, with strong political undertones.

While the sites may appeal to alternate truth advocates of various conspiracy theories, they certainly do not, in my opinion, provide a scientific view. The Genetic Literacy project looked at the types of information spread by Mike Adams through the complex wet of Natural News sites prior to his move into these domain names.  Fortunately, I think the bias on these sites is so obvious that most will not consider them authoritative information sources.

I have been  able to uncover the prices paid for 5 of the 6 domain names in the package.  I share that information in the next section, along with a look at some comparator sales for reference.

Prices Uncovered

By accident I stumbled across the exact price for one of the domains during a GoValue search looking at a similar name when one of the six names in the package came up as a comparator.  For prices up to $25,000 GoDaddy GoValue show the exact price, while above that they only show >$25,000.  A bit of searching in GoValue quickly revealed the purchase prices for all but one of the domain names (for some reason no price appears for the medicine.news name).  I give that information below.

  • cancer.news $19,167
  • climate.news $19,166
  • food.news $19,166
  • health.news $19,167
  • pollution.news $19,167
  • science.news $19,167

If the medicine.news domain name sold  for $19,166 as well (but see update below), that brings the total price of the six domain package to $115,001, confirming the six figure package price reported in the press release.  As of today, none of the domain names show up on the NameBio sales database. You can see the prices for yourself by going to GoValue and entering one of the names in the search.

UPDATE: I have now done a little more research on the domain name medicine.news trying to figure out why it does not have a price given like the others.  While contact details are hidden under privacy, the ICANN Whois shows that the domain name was first registered on July 10, 2015. It was most recently renewed in July of 2018. I then used the Wayback Machine to confirm that the website has indeed been active since mid 2015, for example this is how it looked in 2016.  While  no contact information or ownership was provided, one of two ads on each page seems to be for a Ranger related item, and the content seems so similar to the sites operating today in tone and coverage, it seems almost certain that Mike Adams has long owned and operated medicine.news.

Now if the domain name medicine.news was not really part of the sales package, despite its inclusion in the press release, then the combined sales price of the other 5 domain names is just $95,835 and the press release description of a package of 6 domain names selling for six figures is inaccurate.  In the first DomainIncite post it was stated "It appears that the same buyer has acquired several other presumably non-platinum .news domains, including vaccines.news, nutrients.news, menshealth.news and emergencymedicine.news."  While these names have been registered, I could not obtain any price information via NameBio or GoValue. The name EmergencyMedicine.news, does resolve to an operating website that is clearly part of the same group as other six sites, full of articles against the scientific and medical 'establishment' and favouring various alternative treatments. My first thought was that this had been purchased as part of the package, and its price pushed the total over the $100,000 mark.  However, an ICANN Whois indicates that name was first registered on July 15, 2015, so it seems that it can't have been part of the package either. Another of the names, vaccines.news, also is operational at a site clearly linked to the others, but again the registry data on ICANN seems to preclude it being part of the current package.  We therefore are left unclear on the total price of the 2017 package deal between Donuts and WebSeed, and indeed how many domain names are in the package. 

Comparator Prices

I think that a premium was paid for these domain names when one compares to previous sales that have been recorded at NameBio.  There have been, not counting these six, 12 sales of .news extension domain names on NameBio with an average price of just over $3700.  Only one of the sales was for more than the prices above, the single letter name i.news sold for $35,000 at Rightside in June of 2016.  All of the other sales are for about 1/10 (or less) of the prices paid for each of the .news names in the package. You can browse the full NameBio comparator list at this link.

GoValue automated estimates of worth for each domain name are a few thousand dollars for each name in the sale.  The highest when I checked was food.news valued at $4100.  It is true that the word food sold in the .club new domain extension for $9000.  I would say that while the prices are on the high side for the six domain names in the package, they are not completely unreasonable.  Clearly names like science.news and health.news are premium domain names and are worth a lot.

If these prices were to be placed on the NameBio sales database they would be placed in 25th place in the highest new domain extension sales so far in 2018.  You can browse the list at this link.

Closing Notes

In researching this article I also had a look at ICANN Whois data, most of which is didacted under privacy.   However, it is interesting to note that the domain names have different registration and  expiry dates, and several are earlier than is implied in some of the press information on the sale.  For example the domain name food.news was registered on Oct. 24, 2017.  I also found it somewhat surprising that multiple years were not registered, as is frequently done for premium digital assets.  The current registrations in fall  of 2018.

The press release discloses that the sales occurred late in 2017, but the announcement was delayed until the sites are fully operational. The six sites are linked, with navigation at the top of each quickly taking you to one of the others.  Some content is also shared across the sites.  The prices paid for the domain names are somewhat high even for these premium names, and it seems that what WebSeed was purchasing, in addition to the memorable domain names, was an attempt to get respect and authority. The press release for the sale says in describing the content at the sites "quality and authenticity are top priorities" but in my humble opinion that is not supported by an objective evaluation of the sites.

At least on the day that I looked on the sites, they contained only a small amount of niche advertising. While the press release says that there will be minimal advertising, an  alternative explanation suggests that the sites are off to a rocky start in terms off broad acceptance. I also evaluated each site using the VisitRank site that gives the popularity of a site depending on web traffic. The sites generally ranked  somewhere in the 3 million to 10 million range. While this is not insignificant, the sites are not yet on the Alexa 1M.  Science news was the most popular of the new sites, at just over 3 million.  When I did a Google search on the words 'science news' (without quotes), at least  here in Canada, the WebSeed site is on page four. By comparison the real science news site, ScienceNews.org, a highly respected nonprofit that has been operating for decades offering high quality information, places about 7000 on VisitRank and on the top of the first page of Google.  I am surprised that the real Science News site does not issue a UDRP challenge for science.news, as it seems clear to me that it results in dilution of the long established name Science News.

While the initial announcement seemed to give momentum to Donuts and the .news extension in particular, the association with websites promoting alternative 'truth' and conspiracy theories (admittedly mixed with occasional snippets of authentic content) will hurt the adoption of the .news extension by many. As was said by DomainIncite "I can’t help but feel that .news has the potential to take a big credibility hit due to the content of these sites." Nevertheless, the registries cannot, and should not, police what content is placed on domain names they sell. From the number and  content of advertisements on the sites when I recently checked, it would appear to me that most understand  the true nature of the sites.

To my knowledge the price information revealed here has not previously been reported.  If in fact it was reported elsewhere, I am happy to give credit to those sites, so please do let me know.

Original post Aug 7, 2018

Update Aug 8, 2018 with additional research on medicine.news added, along with associated uncertainty on what names were  really in the package.  The title was changed slightly to reflect this uncertainty of package price. 


Original post Aug 7, 2018.

Fine Print

This post is offered for informational and educational purposes only, and should not be considered domain name investment advice. While an attempt has been made to be accurate, there is no implied or explicit warranty, and you are responsible for verifying any information of importance to you.

I try to be fair, balanced and objective in my analysis.  If you feel this post does not meet that standard, please express your concerns to me.  As disclosure, I do have a domain portfolio that is predominantly ngTLD domain names, although I do also own a number of .com, .ca, .co and a few other country code extension domains..

In a few cases there may be affiliate links will on this blog. This means I receive a small amount if users visit or make purchases via the link. You do not pay any additional charge due to using an affiliate link, and in some cases below the normal price. I receive no identifying information about who clicks, or does not click, any link. I never accept compensation to provide favourable review of any particular service or product.

The text of this posting is ©R.L. Hawkes, all rights reserved. However, you may, without permission, use reasonable length portions of the post as long as a link to this post is also provided. If you wish to use the complete contents of a post, please request permission. I am normally open to reprinting, but will consider each request individually. 

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