Domain names can be viewed as either a product or a service. In the product model, a potential purchaser browses available names, selecting one that is a good match. Seen as a service, the domain expert works with a client to identify aspects of an optimum name, and then helps them secure a name, irrespective of current owner. Pre-purchase and post-purchase support is provided. Of course, it is possible to offer a hybrid, with some combination of product and service aspects. Under the hybrid model, a portfolio of names is presented, along with personalized naming and branding consultation. In this article, I explore how domain investors might incorporate additional value-added service aspects, along with some of the challenges of the service model. The term as a service has come to mean delivery of products and services via cloud computing. Common examples include Software As A Service (SaaS) and Infrastructure As A Service (IaaS). Wikipedia has a comprehensive list of the many as a service possibilities. Is there an opportunity to offer Naming As A Service as a cloud-based automated intelligent service? What would be the implications for domain name investors? Naming As A Service: User View Let’s start from the viewpoint of a client seeking a new name for a business, organization, product, app, show, campaign, etc. The following is a list of services they might potentially need as part of the naming process, although not all would apply to any one situation. General information on what makes a good name. Explanation of how the domain name system works. Overview of how names can be created through word combinations, creative spellings, synthesis of words, acronyms, etc. Analysis of existing names in the niche or application. Information on domain name limitations, such as special characters, length, etc. Generation of a list of possible names available to hand register. Survey of relevant aftermarket domain names currently available for sale. After narrowing the possible names list, a look at registered trademarks, and, depending on the type of product being named, copyrights or patents. Whether registered trademarks exist or not, a look at how the potential name is used around the world. In the case of aftermarket listings, a look at past use of the domain names. General guidance on price ranges for names of different types. A look at what a proposed name means in different languages, in history or mythology, urban or slang use, etc. Linguistic aspects of the name. As appropriate, emotions associated with the sound of the name, or the psychology of colors in brands. The visual look of the potential domain names, both in print and in a logo. Alerts for possible misinterpretation, for example by breaking the name in a different way, or unintended negative connotations. Information on the extension, such as usage, registration base, registry information, history, major companies, if any, that currently use the extension, etc. Focus group testing of a short list of domain names looking at positive feel, unanticipated meanings, reactions to visual and oral presentations, memorability, etc. Social media handle availability. Information on the domain transfer process. Payment or rental plan options. Possible assistance with sales agreements. How escrow-type processes work, including options. Renewal fees associated with the name. Some sort of reliable third party, automated or human, fair market retail price range, so that the purchaser can feel they are getting good value. Again related to fair value expectation, a list of comparator retail sales. Negotiation of an aftermarket purchase. Advice on choosing a registrar. Assistance with the transfer of ownership. Assistance with finding trademark or business name registration services, along how to document use of the name in commerce. Possible help with incorporation, seed financing, development support, etc. Post-sale assistance with selecting a web host, DNS settings, security certificates, email configuration, etc. Options for online marketing of the product or service. Assistance, as relevant, with content management services, online stores, payment systems, databases, apps, email distribution lists, WordPress or other setup, etc. Subsidiary names for marketing campaigns or other uses, along with defensive registrations. Monitoring global use of variants of the name. General information on the UDRP process, when needed. Longer term follow-up contact with respect to any questions, as well as feedback on the name acquisition process. Of course numerous naming and branding companies exist that provide a number of these services. Domain brokers who handle name acquisitions, routinely assist in some of these. Some of the brandable marketplaces already offer several of the services mentioned. Challenges of the Service Model There are numerous challenges to the service model for domain investors who operate as a one-person business. There is no guarantee the service offering will increase number of clients, and may simply detract time from other domain activities. Most service industries count on repeat customer loyalty, but often a client for a domain name will only make a single purchase ever. Loyalty is more readily established and maintained with direct personal connections, but unless you sell geo domain names, odds are your customers will not live in your area. With almost 16 million .com domain names currently for sale, it is likely that the best name will not be one from your own portfolio. We need a finder fee system that adequately compensates those who match buyers and sellers. A vast array of skills would be required to offer most of the types of service listed above. It is important to stress that one is not giving legal advice, but even with that caveat, potential risks may be associated with giving information. The current climate may represent an opportunity for using solutions such as Zoom to offer pre-purchase and post-purchase service that is low cost, effective and personalized. If one is recommending products that you truly believe offer good service and value, and disclose any affiliate relationships, there are possible additional revenue streams from a service oriented model. Cloud Based Service for Domainers Let’s now look from a domainer perspective at something closer to the conventional meaning of Naming As A Service, that is cloud based offering of services on a subscription model. Many of the tools we use as domainers are already offered on the cloud, either as free services or as subscriptions. Is there benefit to packaging of some key services under an umbrella subscription? Are there key tools which are not being met by current online offerings? In the latter category, I can see some sort of low cost, online focus group to test out names might be worthwhile. It would have to operate with confidentiality assurances and have quality respondents. Cloud Based Service for End Users What about Naming As A Service for end users? The big registrars already offer web hosting and other services, along with their aftermarket and registration activities. Many have name suggestion tools, and some include automated appraisals or an agent acquisition service. But is there space for a cloud-based naming service that is independent of any one registrar or marketplace? It would need to have authority and impartiality, not trivial to maintain along with financial viability. While an encyclopedia of articles on different topics would be easiest to create, I think some sort of query-driven system would be more user friendly. The current marketplace name search tools produce long list results, containing a mix of relevant and irrelevant names for most searches. What about a different approach, where the person seeking a name provides an open format description such as the following. Surely even the current state of artificial intelligence should be able to interpret the request and generate a list of possibilities. A key aspect would be asking the user to rate the possibilities and then refine the list using feedback. Reinforcement learning is one of the major trends in artificial intelligence, and is well suited to this problem. Imagine, integrated with the service, the possibility to get human focus group testing of the short list? And along with that information on costs, both acquisition and holding, history of use, search volumes, similar names in use, social media handle availability, and so on, all presented in one user friendly place. Or the system should be able to interpret requests like the following. Or offering impartial advice on a question like this. Share Your Opinions So what do you think, is there room for increasing the service component in the domain business? Do you currently offer pre-purchase or after-sale service with your domain names? What is the one new cloud-based service that you really want as a domainer? If someone offered domainer tools under a single umbrellas subscription service, what tools would you like to see in the package? What are your thoughts on adequate finder fees for those who match buyers and sellers? Do you think that an artificial intelligence enabled, cloud-delivered, service is feasible. Could it incorporate most of the services sought by those naming a product, business or organization? Many domain investors have built up a superb set of related skills. The essential question is whether there is a way to better share this expertise to the advantage of both the domain investor and the client. In case you were wondering, NamingAsAService.com was registered in April 2017, while NamesAsAService.com has been registered since January 2016. NAAS.com is taken in 77 different extensions. That acronym is conventionally used for Network As A Service. Thanks to Dofo.com for tools that I used in researching several aspects of this article.