A still from a Go Daddy TV commercial scheduled to run during the Super Bowl… (Go Daddy Group )
Go Daddy, known for racy TV commercials, plans to reveal something more in its Super Bowl ads Sunday.
The registrar for Internet addresses will be promoting the Web domain extension .co, a short version of the popular and ubiquitous .com, during the most-watched sporting event of the year.
"We believe it deserves some special promotion," said Bob Parsons, chief executive and founder of Go Daddy Group Inc. "People identify with .com, and .co is just one step less. It's like the other .com."
Go Daddy, which manages half of all Web addresses in the U.S., plans to feature two commercials during the Super Bowl, one of which will reveal a new Go Daddy spokeswoman just for the .co domain. It declined to say how much it paid to air the commercials, but a 30-second spot has averaged about $3 million.
Its "Go Daddy Girl" lineup has included Indy car racer Danica Patrick and pro golfer Anna Rawson. Go Daddy hopes the new commercials will do for .co what its first commercial did for the company's growth.
Since it first began airing the sexually suggestive Super Bowl commercials in 2005, Go Daddy's share of the market for registering Internet addresses has climbed to 50% from 16%. It is now the world's largest, managing more than 45 million domain names.
Peter Conti, an analyst with online research firm Borrell Associates, said a large part of Go Daddy's growth can be attributed to its provocative commercials, sports sponsorships and other edgy promotions.
"Go Daddy took a stance with marketing to the general public and not just to the technical niches," he said. "What they did is they brought [domain registration] to the masses and made it easy to understand and fun."
Now Go Daddy, whose sales increased 25% to $947 million last year from $759 million in 2009, is hoping that the new Super Bowl commercials will lead to a second rush of domain purchases, Conti said.
Go Daddy, based in Scottsdale, Ariz., makes money by charging an annual fee for the registered Internet addresses and by providing, for a fee, a way for consumers to run and maintain a Web page.
"The publicity will popularize the .co and make it acceptable, and in return, that'll lead to more sales," Conti said.
Until last year, the extension was designated for the country of Colombia. But because of a dispute over rights, .co became available to the general public. Go Daddy subsequently became one of 10 companies worldwide licensed to sell Web addresses with the .co. extension.
Go Daddy has about 1,600 employees in U.S.-based customer-service support centers. Parsons said he believed Go Daddy was the only domain registrar with a staff dedicated to Spanish-speaking customers.
"While people love using the Internet to conduct business, have fun, communicate, interact socially, when it comes to solving problems, people would much rather deal with another person," he said.
The company, founded in 1997 by Parsons, was originally named Jomax Technologies, but employees wanted something more memorable. An employee suggested "Big Daddy," but that was taken, so Parsons suggested Go Daddy, which was available.
Mike Bender, co-founder of AwkwardFamilyPhotos.com, a blog of humorous portraits, has used Go Daddy to help him run his website since he purchased the domain from it in April 2009.
Initially, Bender said, he used a free service to host his blog, which worked fine because it only received only about five hits on the first day. But after the websites of several radio stations linked to his page, AwkwardFamilyPhotos.com ended the week with about 1 million impressions, and he had to find a different way to host it.
"There were so many new things that I was trying to absorb that that was overkill for me. I wanted someone else to come in, someone with the expertise to really handle that, and I think that's what Go Daddy ended up doing," Bender said.
And despite some bumps in the first couple of weeks with Go Daddy, Bender said, the fact that customer service was always available to help him is what kept him and his website, which now receives about 15 million page views a month, with Go Daddy.
Parsons, 60, who has run software businesses since he was in his 20s, said he figured throughout his career that if he wanted to beat his competitor, he needed to listen to what his customers wanted and just do what they asked.
"When you give people what they want, they tend to hang around you," Parsons said, laughing. "It's that simple."