Disclosure: I figure any time I write about the presidential campaign, especially on the GOP side, I should note that my employer is on the web team for Fred Thompson’s “testing the waters” committee — and that all observations here are my own.
Once Stephen Colbert signs off, and I’m not supposed to be asleep, I’ll usually click over to “The Tonight Show.” Sorry, Dave, but it’s mostly because Conan follows on NBC (the headline is supposed to be a reference to your line from Cabin Boy, though the wording is more like a Dan the Automator album).
Jay Leno’s “found on eBay” segment* is his most Conanesque skit, down to the big reveal — whether the ridiculous item on the block (tassel hats for house pets, a penny for $10, etc.) found a bidder. It’s a simple game, not dissimilar from Colbert adding comments to Amazon and iTunes, and anyone can play along at home. In fact, I’ve been playing all week.
On Tuesday, Mickey Kaus posted a brief (arguably immigration-related) item pointing toward the auction page (#170121848086) for twenty-six John McCain-related domain names:
$150 for the lot, not an unreasonable estimate of worth and certainly lower than many premium domain names change hands for. And hey, there’s even “free” shipping (i.e. e-mailing some passwords)!
And yet, no bids. Here’s what the page looked like as of Thursday night:
During the week I checked in to see how the bidding was going — or wasn’t — down to the final seconds (I said I was watching closely) at “14:51:26 PDT” or 5:51 p.m. EDT:
But would an eBay sniper emerge at the last moment, from the McCain camp or posibly a rival, to secure the bid with a single bid?
Nope. Apparently cheap isn’t what it used to be.
Despite being linked by Kaus, the counter on the page only recorded ~740 views by the end of bidding — dozens of them being yours truly. According to eBay policy, the seller can post it again once more free of charge, so a second round may be attempted.
If so, it will probably be at a lower price point. But even $150 for 26 domains surely represents a net loss for the seller. (The price per domain works out to $5.75, but an individual buyer isn’t going to get initial registration that cheap.) It’s clear this domain hoarder is bailing on the investment: McCain’s moment seems to be over and the owner was trying to cut his losses. But his timing was off, not just his pricing.
And to be fair to the McCain campaign, they have no use for the domains. They already have JohnMcCain.com, for one thing. And the McCain Internet team is unlikely to borrow a slogan that makes no sense from someone who doesn’t put McCain’s interests first.
These domains are all parked courtesy of GoDaddy, so they aren’t causing the campaign any trouble. The seller doesn’t sound interested in launching an anti-McCain network, but even if he did, the domain alone wouldn’t make it a hit. The other threeGOPfrontrunners have each inspired anonymous oppositional blogs, shady, personality-free repositories of oppo material that go mostly unlinked and must be found via search. I haven’t seen one for McCain, but if one did materialize, it wouldn’t be among the campaign’s top concerns.
To don my Captain Obvious cap (temporarily removing my P.I. shades), having the perfect domain name contributes nothing to sustaining reader interest and confers no intrinsic value. Several of the most popular political blogs started on or still operate on a blogspot.com subdomain.
The usefulness or danger of an independent McCain-themed website is not determined by domain, but content. Type-in traffic is neat but miniscule. Search traffic is worth more, but won’t build an audience. Still the best path to large and sustained volumes of traffic is by being interesting and getting bigger websites to link it.
These domains may be SEO optimal, but they sure sound canned.
Bonus: Full list of 26 domains that nobody wants, with analysis excerpts of the sales copy — and a resolution to that dangling asterisk — after the jump.
· · ·You here? Good. So, how blindly desperate does this promotional copy sound to you?
Thank you for visiting this exceptional auction. As you all know, John McCain is a Republican front-runner for the 2008 Republican Nomination, and in many polls, he is the favored winner of the 2008 Presidential Election. His distinguished service, both as a veteren [sic] and as a Senator from the State of Arizona, has placed him as a natural choice for Commander in Chief.
McCain is the man to watch, and McCain is the new LEADER of the Republican Party.
Nobody will dispute that McCain has served his country honorably and has legitimate foreign policy experience. But he’s not new, and nobody thinks he is the favored candidate right now.
What is up for auction today is TWENTY-SIX PREMIUM John McCain domain names. …
“ChooseMcCain.Com” and “2008McCainPresident.Com” (which has all the key words in one domain) are valued at over $20,000 each! I don’t know what the exact value of ALL the domains together is, but I guarantee you that they are only going to increase in value as we get closer and closer to the 2008 Presidential Election.
$20,000, eh? Then why wasn’t the asking price $40,000+? And you have to love the passive oice on “are valued.”
To be fair to the seller, the domains are are all .coms, which is a pretty good considering the proliferation of lesser-domains being registered — so this certainly demonstrates foresight.
Judgment, not so much:
McCainScandal.Com sounds like good CYA, but what do you do with McCainBacon.Com? Isn’t his occasional anti-pork crusade at least something his supporters and opponents would like? Why not McCainPork.Com?
Then there’s McCainAndAbel.Com and McCainAndAble.Com. Why would you search for McCain and Abel? And what’s to be profited by redirecting visitors to another site? Wouldn’t that be kind of a cheap trick?
And finally, if you’re still reading, the domains themselves:
Have PoliticalMavens.com delivered to your inbox in a daily digest by clicking here