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:Cue:C.A.T. Help Mobile Edition

Forbes Wires

August 25, 2000

Companies To Sell Matching Toll-Free Numbers, Domains

By Lisa DiCarlo

NEW YORK. 1:30 PM EDT-Lots of people have seen the television commercial for 800-dentist, the toll-free telephone service that helps people find reputable dentists in their neighborhoods. You might think you would find the same service at the corresponding Web address, But you’d be wrong.

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The site is related to dentistry but uses "various forms of media to present messages that combine humor and education to promote positive images of dentistry." In other words, it has no relation to the phone service.

Now, in an effort to offer "dual-branding" the leaders in domain name registration are partnering with offline companies to sell matching toll-free phone numbers with Web addresses. (nasdaq: RCOM), the No. 2 domain registrar behind Network Solutions (NSI), a VeriSign (nasdaq: VRSN) company, is doing a deal with privately held, whereby new customers buying a URL from will automatically be offered the opportunity to register a matching toll-free telephone number. Current customers can also buy a matching phone number.

New York-based has been trying to build up its business beyond sales of domain names so it can be more of a resource center for small businesses. The company, which started trading its shares in March, had $32.6 million in sales and $1.98 million in losses for the first six months of this year.

Earlier this week, NSI and Response Marketing Group, a toll-free number provider, announced a similar service. NSI estimates that a whopping 96% of companies with toll-free commercial phone numbers have no corresponding Web address.

Privately held is taking a different approach. The Baltimore company is a wholesaler of domain names whose average customer buys dozens of names or more at a time. Instead of selling domains directly to individual or corporate customers, BulkRegister sells to distributors, who then sell to the end customer.

The company is targeting what it says is a small but growing market for toll-free numbers starting with the 1-500 prefix. It is partnering with telecommunications companies to co-market Web sites and toll-free phone numbers with the address. CEO Tony Keyes said recently that it sold 1.6 million such names to an unnamed distributor. The two plan to auction the names later this year.


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