PALM BEACH, FL – The purchase of big city, state and/or regional domain names have always been a strategic move for media companies to control their presence and brand in a particular market. For example, The Boston Globe acquired the domain name “Boston.com” in 1995, The Philadelphia Inquirer acquired the domain name “Philly.com” in 2004, and the McClatchy newspaper chain acquired the domain name “Miami.com“ in 2005.
Additionally, the Tallahassee Democrat, the only newspaper in Tallahassee, Florida, acquired the domain name Tallahassee.com. The Lexington Herald Leader, the only major newspaper in Lexington, Kentucky, uses Kentucky.com to host its website for their newspaper. According to the Wayback Machine, The Florida Times-Union acquired the domain name Jacksonville.com sometime in 1997. The domain name was originally registered by a company called Jacksonville Internet, Inc. in 1995.
While these domain names were not public sales, Miami.com, for instance, was estimated to have cost the newspaper company $1 million, according to the book “The Watchdog Still Barks: How Accountability Reporting Evolved for the Digital Age” by David A. Kaplan, a writer and journalist who worked for 20 years at Newsweek, and for Fortune magazine for five years. The Philadelphia Inquirer, who also did not disclose the amount it paid for the domain name, philly.com, was also estimated to have cost the company around $1 million. The domain name was originally registered in 1994 by a company called Philadelphia Internet, Inc. The Philadelphia Inquirer acquired the domain name in 2004.
Here are some other .com city, state, regional and country specific geographic domain name sales considered significant in price over the last couple decades. Names that did not make this list were names without specific prices, without solid references, names sold in combination with stock options, and/or names sold in groups or packages, etc.
- LasVegas.com – In 2005 a one-time payment of $12,000,000 was made with an agreement to make monthly payments for roughly 35 years – until June 30, 2040 – for a deal valued at nearly $90 Million total.
- China.com sold for $11.7 million in 2013
- Korea.com sold for $5 million in 2000.
- California.com – sold for $3 million in 2023.
- Russia.com – sold for $3 million in 2009.
- Chicago.com – sold for $1,000,000 (According to IRS Filings) in 2017.
- America.com – sold for £474,977.28 in 2010 – The exchange rate between British pounds (GBP) and US dollars in 2010 was 1.5615 GBP per USD. So, £474,977.28 in 2010 was equal to $741,677.
- Melbourne.com – sold for $700,000 in 2007.
- Ireland.com -sold for 490,000 euro in 2012 – The exchange rate between euros (EUR) and US dollars (USD) in 2012 was 1.2246 EUR per USD. So, 490,000 EUR in 2012 was equal to $600,054.
- Macau.com – sold for $550,000 in 2006.
- Jerusalem.com – sold for $510,000 in 2010.
- NewZealand.com– sold for $500,000 in 2003.
- Brazil.com – sold for £302,489.98 in 2010 – Using the exchange rate of 1.5615 GBP per USD in 2010, £302,489.98 in 2010 was equal to $472,338.
- LongIsland.com – sold for $370,000 in 2010.
- Arizona.com – sold for $350,000 in 2021.
- Portugal.com – sold for $350,000 in 2021.
- Pensacola.com – sold for $150,000 in 2018.
- SantaRosa.com – sold for $75,000 in 2008.
Other newspaper companies using regional domain names are The Arizona Daily Star, with the domain name Tucson.com. According to the Wayback Machine, the Arizona Daily Star acquired the domain name Tucson.com sometime around the year 2000. The domain name was originally registered by a company called Tucson Internet, Inc. in 1994.
The Kansas City Star uses the domain name, KansasCity.com. According to the Internet Archive, the Kansas City Star began using the domain name KansasCity.com for its newspaper website sometime around 2007. The domain name was originally registered by a company called Kansas City Internet, Inc. in 1994.
The Omaha World-Herald uses the domain name Omaha.com. According to the Internet Archive, the Omaha World-Herald began using the domain name Omaha.com sometime in 1999. The domain name was originally registered by a company called Omaha Internet, Inc. in 1996.
The Cincinnati Enquirer is a daily newspaper in Cincinnati, Ohio which uses the domain name Cincinnati.com. According to the Wayback Machine, The Cincinnati Enquirer acquired the domain name Cincinnati.com in November 1998. The domain name was originally registered by a company called Cincinnati Inc. in 1996.
According to the Wayback Machine, media conglomerate Cox Media Group acquired the domain name Pittsburgh.com sometime in late 1999 or early 2000. The domain name was originally registered by a company called Pittsburgh Internet, Inc. in 1996. Cox Media Group was previously using the website RealPittsburgh.com for its Pittsburgh Cable News Channel website.
According to the Internet Archive, The Greensboro News & Record acquired (or registered) the domain name Greensboro.com sometime in the late 1999 or early 2000. The domain name was originally registered by a company called Greensboro Internet, Inc. in 1995. The Greensboro News & Record is a daily newspaper in Greensboro, North Carolina who had been using news-record.com and thedepot.com.
According to the Internet Archive, The Gainesville Sun acquired (or registered) the domain name Gainesville.com likely in the 2000 area. The domain name was originally registered by a company called Gainesville Internet, Inc. in 1995. The Gainesville Sun is a daily newspaper in Gainesville, Florida.
According to the Wayback Machine, The West Side Leader and South Side News Leader newspapers acquired (or registered) the domain name Akron.com in the late 1998 timeframe. The West Side Leader and South Side News Leader are two weekly newspapers that serve the Akron, Ohio area.
The Richmond Times-Dispatch, a daily newspaper in Richmond, Virginia uses the domain Richmond.com. According to the Wayback Machine, Richmond.com was acquired by Media General from TWG Portals LLC of Richmond in 2008.
Syracuse.com is owned by Advance Media New York, a digitally focused news, information, and advertising company serving Central New York. Advance Media New York is a subsidiary of Advance Publications, a privately held media and publishing company based in New York City. Syracuse.com is the flagship brand of Advance Media New York. Syracuse.com was launched in 1995 as a joint venture between The Post-Standard newspaper and Syracuse.com. In 2012, The Post-Standard and syracuse.com were merged into a new company called Syracuse Media Group.
Dayton.com is owned by Cox First Media, a division of Cox Enterprises, Inc. Cox Enterprises is a privately held global conglomerate headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia, with approximately 55,000 employees and $21 billion in total revenue. Its major operating subsidiaries are Cox Communications, Cox Automotive, and Ohio Newspapers (including the Dayton Daily News). Dayton.com is the website of the Dayton Daily News, a daily newspaper published in Dayton, Ohio. The website was launched in 1996 and offers local news, sports, entertainment, and opinion content.
AnnArbor.com is owned by MLive Media Group, a division of Advance Publications. AnnArbor.com was launched in 2009 as a replacement for The Ann Arbor News, a daily newspaper that was published in Ann Arbor, Michigan. The website was created by Advance Publications as part of its strategy to transition its newspapers to online platforms. AnnArbor.com content moved to MLive.com after four years as a standalone website.
While most companies have chosen to host their domain names, others, including some above, redirect them such as the The Sacramento Bee, which points Sacramento.com to www.sacbee.com. The domain name Reno.com is currently redirected to The Reno Gazette Journal, a daily newspaper in Reno, Nevada. The Augusta Chronicle acquired the domain name Augusta.com in 2000. The domain name was originally registered by a company called Augusta Internet, Inc. in 1996. Augusta.com is currently redirected to the Augusta Chronicle, a daily newspaper website.
As with any real estate or physical land, there is a limited supply of great domain names, especially exact match “.com” domain names; they serve as valuable assets which almost always are worth more than when they were originally acquired, due to the increasing popularity of the internet and the growing importance of domain names.
Newspaper companies have been particularly interested in utilizing the advantages of exact match “.com” domain names as their businesses are often locally focused on particular markets and regions.
Historically, localized, regional, and geographic specific “.com” domain names have typically had a tremendous edge on dominating their market in search engines. This advantage has seen a gradual decrease or decline in strength, intensity, and power, over the years, particularly with the Google.com search engine, but any advantage in today’s incredibly competitive market can be a make-it or break-it strategic move, which should never be underestimated.
Keep in mind that most domain name sales are private and go unreported or are sold for undisclosed sums. Interestingly, most of the highest GEO domain name sales in history included in this specific list above have not been newspaper companies. Some are travel agencies and some are even parked.
About The Author: John Colascione is Chief Executive Officer of Internet Marketing Services Inc. He specializes in Website Monetization, is a Google AdWords Certified Professional, authored a ‘how to’ book called ”Mastering Your Website‘, and is a key player in several Internet related businesses through his search engine strategy brand Searchen Networks®