What are the most expensive domains ever purchased? I don't know about you, but contemplating spending anything more than £50 on a domain name would have me running for plan B.
But for companies with grand plans, and VERY deep pockets, spending millions of dollars on a www. isn't so much of an issue.
Before we look at the most expensive domains, it's interesting to know why businesses fork out so much cash for a simple URL.
Why do brands spend millions on domain names
The majority of the most expensive domains ever bought were purchased post 2007, an era in which the importance of the internet for making money really came of age. For some businesses, a domain name is just a place to plonk some information about their company. But for others, usually brands, it's all in the name. An authoritative domain name gives a solid foundation with which to build a brand online, and can often form the business name too.
A lot of it comes down to trust. For example, would you rather compare home insurance on a website called money.com or money.net? Would you be more likely to book a holiday through hotels.com or book-a-hotel.info?
Having a unique top level domain name usually inspires trust and sets the site as a market leader in the niche.
There are also marketing benefits to purchasing one of these domains as well. From an SEO perspective, buying a domain name like DIY.com like B&Q did in 2001, replacing the less eye-catching bandq.com. DIY is searched for thousands of times each month, and having the exact match domain helps rank for the highly competitive search term and capture the organic traffic.
Another benefit is that purchasing a domain from a website that has already existed for a number of years carries across some domain authority. If a domain already had backlinks, in most cases these links carry across to the new brand website and help give it authority. Domain authority = better Google rankings.
There are some very curious cases on the list of most expensive domains below though where millions have been spent on a .com, but the sites currently don't exist or are extremely questionable in terms of strategy.
The most expensive domain names ever
1. Insurance.com - $35.6m - 2010
Insurance.com was purchased by QuinStreet in July 2010 as a lead generation tool. 2. VacationRentals.com - $35m - 2007
Purchased by the HomeAway group for a staggering $35. Why? CEO Brian Sharples said the purchase was primarily to stop Expedia buying it. Logic. 3. PrivateJet.com - $30.18m - 2012
PrivateJet.com was purchased by Nations Luxury Transport, and the domain now redirects to JetSmarter.com. The idea was to build a brand around luxury travel both online and offline. Looks like they had a rethink. 4. Internet.com - $18m - 2009
Internet.com is pretty much just a news website now, so will be relying on AdSense revenues to help recoup some of staggering $18m paid. It was again bought by QuinStreet. 5. 360.com - $17m - 2015
360.com now redirects to a search engine (not one I've heard of or come across before I must say). It was purchased by a Chinese company called Qihoo 360 from Vodafone in a bid to raise the companies profile online with a portfolio of products spanning mobile hardware, antivirus software and internet search. 6. Insure.com - $16m - 2009
Insure.com was again purchased by serial domain collectors QuinStreet. Looks like they couldn't afford a good web designer for this one. 7. Fund.com - $15.5m (approx) - 2008
Fund.com was an investment advice website, but it's been nothing since 2013. You'd have thought spending over $15m on a domain would lead to a little more urgency in trying to regain the investment. 8. Sex.com - $14m - 2014
Sex.com is probably the most contraversial domain name ever (and not because of its content).
Currently owned by Clover Holdings, there has been a huge legal case around who actually owns the domain - it even inspired a book!
Founder of Match.com Gary Kremen owned the domain under Network Solutions, but it was transferred without permission to Stephen Cohen who had coveted the domain for some time. He used fake phone calls, faxes and emails to convince a Network Solutions employee to make the transfer!
The domain brought Cohen an estimated $50,000 to $500,000 a month in advertising revenues.
Long story short, Cohen was ordered to give back the domain and $67m in lost earnings to Network Solutions. He claimed poverty and got arrested whilst the dispute continued. He's yet to repay the money.
The domain was eventually sold to Escom LLC for $14m. 9. Hotels.com - $11m - 2001
Expedia finally got a domain they were after by snapping up Hotels.com for a cool $11m. It's now a renowned brand name globally. 10. Porn.com - $9.5m - 2007
Porn.com was purchased for a just under $10m in 2007. Not too much more is known, but it appears to have been a lot smoother transaction than sex.com!