NamesCon is back! And like the last one in September 2020, this one was also virtual due to the Covid-19 pandemic. I’m here to give you a round-up of my highlights of the convention. It was fun to attend and I still learned a ton, despite it being my second NamesCon.

Here are a few of my key takeaways.

Covid-19 continues to change everything

As it has changed every bit of our lives for the last year, the domain industry has been changed completely mostly because this has been one of the biggest years in the growth of domains, ever. Hundreds of thousands of businesses are coming online for the first time, and they all need domains – not just for websites, but for email and other web services. The pandemic has also kept NamesCon virtual for the foreseeable future (though the hope is that Namecon in September will be in person or at least hybrid).

From various panels – here’s my selection of a few of the most popular TLD’s from 2020:

.CLUB and Clubhouse Hype

The biggest buzz during NamesCon was about the hot new app called Clubhouse and the huge popularity of the .CLUB domain name, an app with a perfect nTLD synergy. Clubhouse is like a radio you can talk back to. Millions of people are having conversations with people all over the world about lots of interesting things. The app is only open by invite right now (and it’s quite hard to get an invite!). I’ve written more about the .CLUB and Clubhouse trend here.

My First NamesCon Panel

On a personal level, this NamesCon was big for me because I made my debut on a NamesCon panel. I recently joined the DNA Working Group as part of the I2Coaltion in my capacity doing marketing for Blacknight. We were invited to do a series of panels for NamesCon, and I got to be on one of them. My very first time being on a panel in the domain industry! Of course, it was all virtual, but I think the panel went well. Unfortunately, I can’t share it but if you have access to the NamesCon Platform (you can watch the panels whenever you like) you can see my debut under the panel called “Domains: Essential to Brand-based Marketing.” As I work more in the domain industry for Blacknight, I hope to be on more panels and participate in more events.

Fireside with Elliott Noss

The highlight of this NamesCon was the keynote fireside chat with Elliott Noss from Tucows. Tucows, of course, is more famous now as a domain registrar but they have been around the internet for a while, initially running a popular shareware downloads website (that was only recently just shut down). It was an interesting chat about the future of the internet and how we can all make it a better place in the age of Parler and online hate speech. It’s a shame that the chat was so short – I could have listened to Elliott talk for hours! This is also a topic we’ve talked about recently too, read our CEO’s thoughts on Parler here.

NamesCon have put the video on YouTube:

Take the Journey That Transforms You

Another highlight was a few panels that had nothing to do with domains, as usual, they brought in outside experts to talk about various things. One highlight was Cassie De Pecol, who is the world’s youngest woman to visit every country in the world. At first, I kind of rolled my eyes at the conversation, because it’s a bit rich to talk about travel right now when none of us can actually go anywhere. But she had a good message – and that was to focus on taking the journey that transforms you, whether it’s visiting a place or accomplishing a goal that makes you a better person. It’s a good message for anyone to intake.

Domain Names: From the Outside Looking In

Another panel that the DNA Working Group put together was a panel of those outside the domain industry. It’s pretty easy for us to eat our own gravy in the domain industry – we love them after all! But it was interesting to get an outside perspective of how marketers and corporations think about domains – which is a bit different than we do. Key takeaways were that you should always think about the perfect domain name when you’re creating your company, not to be afraid to register a specific domain for a specific marketing program, and to not think of domains as something in the realm of the IT department – marketing and PR departments should have some shared ownership over the domain portfolio an organisation has. What was interesting was how little marketers actually think about domains – something we need to get them to think more about!

Virtual is as virtual does

I’ve now been to two NamesCons, both times have been virtual. They seemed to have worked out a lot of the kinks with the virtual platform. There were a lot more features this time around, but I didn’t feel like wasting my time with most of them, I was mostly interested in the panels. I didn’t take advantage of the networking stuff or speak to any sponsors (I’m not in the ‘market’ for anything). I got a few spammers/self-promoters in the messages, but nothing that wasn’t unexpected considering the type of event that it is. I never had a problem streaming the videos and everything seemed to work smoothly. When we can all finally go physically, it will be weird!

The social was… interesting

At the end of the con was a Domain Social where everyone who attended could join a massive Zoom call. Most people were on mute, but it was an open conversation with many of the big names in the domain industry – at one point there were over 150 on a single Zoom meeting! It was fun and interesting to hear the voices of so many people that I’ve communicated with via email or on Twitter. It will be nice to be able to meet all these people in person when we can all attend events again.

Did you attend NamesCon 2021? What were some of your highlights? Let us know in the comments below.

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