Blogging is big business, and it doesn’t get much bigger than in than world of “Mummy Bloggers”. It’s a pretty lame term to describe the many and passionate mums of the world who have created websites covering everything from activities for kids, cooking for kids and families, travel with families and a whole lot more. In Queensland things are getting a little bit tense over what are alleged to be unethical activities relating to the registration of several website domain names.
“Mummy Bloggers” are popular with their readers, and with brands looking to target that very important and often hard to target market of the working and stay and home mum. On Facebook alone two sites have attracted over 400,000 “likes” each, so when one allegedly buys a domain name very similar to the name of a competitor – things start to hot up.
For clarity, a “Domain Name” is the written address we all use to navigate around the internet. It’s the “dot com” or “dot com dot au” we have in our mind when we want to visit a site.
Early on Wednesday, Katrina, a Gold Coast Mum who runs the website “The Organised Housewife” posted an intriguing message on her Facebook page – for her 448,000 Facebook fans.
Katrina makes a very valid point. It’s up to website owners to look for similar domain names and register those to ensure you can get as much of the traffic to your website that you can. When someone hears about a site by word of mouth, the first thing they might do is to visit by typing in the website address.
So what happens when a very similar domain is purchased by another person or organisation, and directed to a different, and in many ways competing site? People visit, and they stay, and they read. Good business for that other website right?
The problem isn’t a legal one – unless you own the trademark to your business name and that can be aggressively defended (at great cost). The problem here is the perception and the perceived ethics involved – and that is never more clear than in this very case.
In the case of “The Organised Housewife”, website “Stay at Home Mum” has indirectly addressed the above post by acknowledging ownership of “100’s of domains were redirected to our site”. One such domain was “organisedhousewife.com” and “organisedhousewife.com.au”. Until earlier today, visiting either of those sites took you straight to the Stay at Home Mum page (It has since been updated to direct visitors to a Wikipedia page).
Stay at Home Mum posted to their 400,000+ Facebook “fans” today:
When it comes to successful Facebook posting, engagement is key. Stay at Home Mum is doing a great job of engagement with that post, over 500 people have commented. The problem is, they’re not happy – not happy at all.
Fans and readers are calling this unethical, asking for a more sincere apology and generally expressing a “dislike” for the behaviour.
EFTM has also been contacted regarding other similar actions allegedly undertaken by “Stay at Home Mum”. Chris Gryg, Managing Director at Stay At Home Mum Pty Ltd was earlier this year involved in an email exchange with a representative from Brisbane Kids website “brisbanekids.com.au”. Chris it seems, is the registered owner of “brisbanekids.com”.
Ngaire Stirling from BrisbaneKids.com.au told EFTM “My copywriter offered Chris Gryg a few hundred dollars for the Brisbanekids.com domain name, however he replied wanting to lease it to us for $150 a week, or sell it for $20,000”
Chris clearly wasn’t too concerned with the whole issue, he tweeted this message earlier this week: (which he has since deleted)
The problem for Stay at Home Mum is the power of the reader – when Mummy Bloggers go to war, they unleash their most valuable asset – their readers and fans.
Stay at Home Mum is a business, a media company (albeit a small one) which publishes content on the website it runs, and offers advertising and other product integration opportunities for businesses, it looks like fans of The Organised Housewife are turning to those businesses to express their concerns.
Fans of The Organised Housewife have been posting regular messages on the Facebook page of the Suncorp Bank who have at some stage run advertising on the Stay at Home Mum website
To their credit, Suncorp have started responding with a generic message to all posts
In the end, without a trademark lawyer getting involved, there’s nothing illegal going on here. However, the ethics of any business which registers the domain of a competitor, only to redirect it to their own page are very strongly drawn into question.
Imagine if Telstra or Vodafone registered the domain “yesoptus.com.au” – There’d be a backlash, and that’s what we’re seeing in this case today. (Fortunately for Optus, they already own “yesoptus.com.au”)
Comment has been sought from Stay at Home Mum but has not been received at the time of publication.
EFTM has spoken to Jody from Stay at Home Mum and we’re delighted that she has seen fit to correct the error of her ways by gifting the domain names in question to the relevant website operators, and temporarily standing down Chris Gryg.