GoDaddy Levels Playing Field for Closeout Domain Auctions

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GoDaddy has announced that starting February 1, 2021 all closeout auctions will start at a $50 dollar BIN, plus the renewal fee instead of the prior $11 dollars plus renewal fee. Although it seems like a $39 dollar price hike, it may only be $1 buck.

What’s the big deal?

Leveling the playing field, in my opinion.

GoDaddy is THE expired domain name auction service with several popular domain name registrars feeding to the inventory, in additions to GoDaddy’s expired inventory. This results in around 50,000 expired auctions daily, which is a lot to choose from.

With domain auctions, most bidding activity takes place near the end or even beyond the end.

Since there are a fair amount of domains that buyers wish “not to highlight with a bid”, someone could wait for the regular auction to end and if no bids were placed on a domain during the normal auction, a dutch style auction with a $11 dollar BIN started minutes later. Nice strategy, but people started gaming the system and winning the majority.

Not bidding in regular auction was common. It became a habit, one that I did as well. Don't bid $12 dollars and highlight the domain, hoping that I can grab it for an $11 dollar BIN in closeout. Closeouts were all the rage. The problem, I started to lose most closeouts that I could win prior and rarely would get any closeout domains most of the time. It only got worse over the past couple of years.

The problem?

Some buyers were spending big bucks on tech and utilizing GoDaddy API access to send “buy requests” and put the domain into their GoDaddy cart the second the switchover took place. (switchover from regular auction to closeout was in general around 30-60 seconds).

Investors were spending upwards of five figures on the tools to do this automated closeout sniping and that doesn’t include the 20, 30, 50, 80+ domains a DAY some were buying with the tools.

It was getting out of hand IMO and I would even think that all the API requests may have been stressing the GoDaddy Auctions system.

It became super competitive to “grab closeouts” and just a few bidders were dominating the entire process. I even tried to build one of these closeout grabbing scripts. The key was getting the domain into your cart with a “buy call”. Once the domain was in your cart, nobody else could get it. In the cart, you had 2 hours to checkout or it was automatically removed and put back into closeout auctions. My script worked in principle but not when it mattered (in testing but not real battle as it was too slow).

I stopped bidding at GoDaddy Auctions because I could rarely win a closeout and almost always would lose in auction. I mainly focused on closeouts though, so I simply stopped as it wasn’t worth the research time and effort.

What will the change affect?

It’s hard to say really but I am hopeful that everybody has a better opportunity to acquire domains. I think it will be good that people get out of the rut and bad habit of not placing a regular $12 dollar bid and see if you can get it at closeout. Some may actually start winning at the $12 dollar price point. For the most part, it may totally kill off “closeouts” because 99% of the good domains should be getting $12 dollar bids at some point in the overly long 10 day auction period as $12 is cheaper than $50 and the reason it may kill off closeouts totally.

I expect A LOT more $12 dollar bids and auction prices between $12-$49 will be common. In general, that’s lower than the majority of “drop catching” service backorder fees, so it will still be the hot place to acquire expired domain names, with a great mix of inventory.

Closeout prices will change daily, starting at $50 dollars and then dropping to $40, $30, $11 and then $5 bucks plus renewal fees, but the daily price drops in the new closeouts will not likely see much activity.

The prior API dominate players may change up from sniping to automated bot bidding in auctions. The API bidding is still over-powered to human bidding and proxy-bidding. It’s a future problem and I would be happy to see API bidding completely removed from the GoDaddy Auctions.  I will continue to push for that, as I feel it’s unfair and I simply won’t use the service if the concerns are not addressed.

Overall:

I welcome the changes and appreciate the nudge to break an old bad habit of "hoping I can get it at closeouts" for a buck cheaper than the starting bid price. Grabbing a closeout was getting nearly impossible and totally removed me from it, so it can't hurt. It will help drive change and more $12 dollar single bid auctions. The highlighter of bidding amounts is something that would be nice if it didn’t play a factor as it becomes an easy search metric. I’d hold off until late to bid, it’s the best play.  

Extra tip: The GoDaddy Investors app is a big bonus for auctions, mainly for the alerts that you get just prior to an auction ending. The push alerts on mobile are worth the use of the app alone, you just need to "watch" a domain to get the auction end alerts. Apple version. Android version.

The information contained in this blog is provided for general informational purposes about domains. It is not specific advice tailored to your situation and should not be treated as such.

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