Dot-LA domain name up for grabs, thanks to Go Daddy, Laos

Source: Tuesday, July 9th, 2013

We've got dot-com, dot-gov, dot-net and dot-tv, so are we ready for dot-LA? The Lao People's Democratic Republic thinks so.

The small Southeast Asia country uses dot-LA as its country code but has been trying to market it as a brand for more than a decade.

Now the country is part of a partnership that includes Go Daddy, the Scottsdale, Ariz., Internet-domain registrar and Web-hosting company that has launched the first big marketing campaign for dot-LA focused on businesses of all types in the Los Angeles area. And for the privilege of this envied regional identifier, you will pay a tidy $39.99 per year.

In a separate marketing push on Monday, Go Daddy began an online auction of more than 300 dot-LA names -- the bulk of which are specific to the entertainment industry. Bidding started at $100 for names such as Inside.LA. MovieStars.LA, Scripts.LA, Sets.LA and Acting.LA. The auction will run through July 18, and, by Tuesday afternoon, the highest bid was $115 for the name MovieStars.LA.

"Go Daddy is a very strong brand in the domain-name industry, and we just saw an opportunity to take a top-level name and position it properly. There is a lot of context behind the letters LA, and we saw this as the best opportunity to put it before the people and let them make use of it," said Richard Merdinger, Go Daddy vice president of domain name registrations.

The company made the name available on its website late last month without any fanfare -- a soft launch of sorts to gauge interest.

"We're very pleased," Merdinger said of dot-LA's reception. "Since the start of the auction, we've seen a threefold increase in the number of LA domain-name registrations."

Giving a business a Los Angeles-specific cyberspace identity doesn't take long, either. "You can register the name in a matter of minutes, and if you use a website builder, you can be up and running in a couple of hours," said Go Daddy spokesman Nick Fuller.

In addition to media outreach, the marketing campaign includes billboards sprinkled around the Los Angeles area.

Partnering in the campaign are Dot LA Marketing LLC and the registry company CentralNic Group, both located in Woodland Hills.

Ben Crawford, director of Dot LA Marketing, said the companies have been working on the rollout of both campaigns for the past few months.

"We wanted to give dot-LA the launch it really deserves, and it's particularly timely because last week dot-NYC was approved," he said. "Go Daddy is the best-known name in the business."

He added that the Los Angeles market is rife with potential, and there are likely lots of companies that want a particular domain name but discovered the dot-com version had already been registered and priced out of reach.

"Ninety-eight percent of the names not available on dot-com are still available on dot-LA, and that means businesses can get the name they want at the normal retail price," Crawford said. "We've got high hopes for dot-LA. It's the first domain to be launched as a name for a city, so we're really breaking ground. People who live and work in Los Angeles are very proud of their city, and we think they will jump at the opportunity to get a domain name that tells visitors they are a local business."

Andrew Allemann, editor of the website Domain Name Wire, which tracks the industry, said the timing was probably right for Laos to step up what had been an under-the-radar marketing effort.

A few years ago, Tuvalu, a Polynesian island of 10,000 people between Hawaii and Australia, made the dot-TV domain available.

"Dot-TV is kind of catchy, and basically that's what's happening here," Allemann said. "They are trying to rebrand this as a domain name for Los Angeles, and they [Laos] have been trying to sell it for a while, but they didn't have the marketing muscle. With Go Daddy, they have that. Go Daddy is probably the world's largest domain-name registry. Whenever they promote a name, it can make a big difference."

The Laotian Consulate in Los Angeles could not be reached for comment. To view the auction proceedings, go to here.