Domain strategy and management is one of my areas of expertise. I find that it's often an under-valued element of a company's overall interactive marketing.
Whether you're looking at a primary domain for branding and ease of recognition, or an add-on domain for search engine keyword relevance, domains have serious business value online. Keeping your registration up-to-date is a vital business activity; but it's still often forgotten in the mix. Years pass between renewal dates, staff changes happen, and the next thing you know, your customers and prospects come to your website only to find a registrar placeholder page!
This is a lesson that Disney apparently had to learn the hard way this week, when they apparently let the domain lapse on their popular children's gaming site, Club Penguin. Children (and their frustrated parents) discovered the lapse when they attempted to log on and manage their penguins and "puffles."
Ironically, Disney values the site at up to $700 million dollars, paying $350 million in cash with an equal amount in potential earn-outs for the gaming website, which is monetized via subscriptions that allow players to upgrade their characters "lifestyle" (similar to adult virtual worlds like Second Life).
As it turns out, they missed sending a check for the most important $9.00--the one to their registrar to keep the domain up and running.
The bad news is, if it can happen to a company the size and sophistication of Disney, it can happen to you. So, how long has it been since YOU checked the expiration date on your domain registration?