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Mandate Media: Digital Strategy for People Changing the World
Our Blog for Tips, Tricks, and News: Politics + Technology

Candidate Domain Squatting

The New York Times took note of the large number of domain names being grabbed by squatters in anticipation of the 2008 presidential race:

For example, Brett Maverick of Canberra, Australia, registered hillary2008.com in 1999, when Hillary Rodham Clinton was just beginning her bid to become New York’s junior senator. Hours after seeing Mr. Obama, then an Illinois state senator, deliver the keynote address at the 2004 Democratic National Convention, Glenn LaFaye of Floral Park, N.Y., snapped up barackobama2008.com. And rudyforpresident.com was picked up by Robert Steiner of Wantagh, N.Y., eight days after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, as the popularity of Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani of New York surged.

The fellow who grabbed Hillary2008.com says his domain is worth:

“Something in the order of U.S. $30,000-plus,” he said.

Sorry, buddy. You lose. It's worth something on the order of nothing. Zero. Zip. Nada.

Why? Because Senator Clinton already has a well-established website at HillaryClinton.com. Not only are people likely to guess that address, and supporters have already bookmarked, as I told the New York Times, Google matters:

That figure may be unrealistic, consultants say, because the value of these domain names rests on the notion that they will generate traffic as people enter the addresses hoping to find a candidate’s site.

“This used to be a really big problem in the 1990s before Google when it was really hard to find things on the Internet so people would just guess,” said Kari Chisholm of Mandate Media, an Oregon company that handled Internet strategy for Gov. Theodore R. Kulongoski’s successful re-election campaign this year. “A smart campaign ought to try to grab every one of the obvious permutations, but it’s not mission critical.”

Of course, as we reported here at P&T last year, Hillary Clinton did go to some extraordinary lengths to win control of HillaryClinton.com.

Here's the bottom line: If you're thinking of running for office, grab the domain name that matches your own name. If that's not available, for whatever reason, think of something that works. There are always plenty of options.

Sure, we've worked with BrianClem.com, BernieAnderson.com, and EarlBlumenauer.com -- but there's nothing wrong with TedForGov.com, ErikForPortland.com, or DevlinForOregon.com.

Our only advice? If you can, find something that can withstand the long haul. Don't make it "forstaterep.com" if you're hoping to run for State Senate. And don't include the year -- that's out of date on New Year's Day.