Archive for June, 2010

AusRegistry International makes ICANN Brussels yellow

Thursday, June 24th, 2010

by Tony Kirsch

Some ideas start off good………..and then actually surprise you and become truly brilliant.

As one of the major sponsors for the ICANN Brussels meeting currently underway, the AusRegistry International team spent a number of hours looking for fun and innovative ways to engage with the expected 1500 attendees.

It was always going to be a well attended event. A great city and in particular, a crucial time in our industry with the process for new gTLDs rapidly approaching finalisation and the ever expanding interest in Internationalised Domain Names (IDNs) among the hot topics.

We set out to make a statement at the ICANN with an idea that would generate opportunities for our Business Development team to engage with ICANN patrons, represent our commitment to innovation within the Domain Name industry and reinforce our “TLD Specialist” brand position. We also wanted to the idea to capture the personality, creativity and ownership  of the new gTLD program at a time where excitement levels are about to reach fever pitch.

Tough brief?

Not really…We have some great creative people in our team and I enjoy working with them to create awareness for AusRegistry International for all the right reasons.

Somewhere along the way, we came up with the idea of getting people to create their own “TLD t-shirt” right there at our ICANN booth. A simple idea you might say, but it’s always the simplest marketing activities that make the most impact. We chose bright yellow to ensure our t-shirts would stand out and gave conference attendees the opportunity to own their own little piece of the web on their t-shirt (no, this wasn’t an EOI process for new gTLDs)!

While we were excited about the potential of our new idea, we had no idea how successful it was going to be. 500 T-shirts, over two days, with a second order on its way. We’ve been run off our feet in the last few days making t-shirts for everyone and it’s great to be watching people walking around the meeting wearing our shirts  –  kids names, partners names (brownie points for the boys), pets, nicknames, acronyms, brands and even a few IDNs are being sported around ICANN #38 to add a little AusRegistry International colour and humour to the conference.

From all reports even ICANN Chairman, Peter Dengate-Thrush and ICANN CEO, Rod Beckstrom were seen wearing the “.peter” and  “.dad” shirts respectively which is fantastic.

So for those of you at the meeting, make sure you come and see us at our booth in the exhibition area to get your free shirt. Stocks are low so come and say hello to one of our friendly staff ASAP. While you’re there, have a chat to us about your new gTLD requirements.

For those of you participating remotely, make sure you watch the video feed for the Public Forum meeting on Thursday afternoon (Brussels time). Each person that has received a shirt will be encouraged to wear it to the forum as a sign of symbolism to the ICANN Board that the community supports new gTLDs and are ready to move forward in this next step of innovation and expansion of the internet.

We can’t wait to turn Brussels yellow!

Corporate TLDs – Why keeping mum seems to be the order of the day

Thursday, June 17th, 2010

By Tony Kirsch

Global brand protection powerhouse MarkMonitor recently released survey results revealing the intentions
of their corporate clients with respects to new gTLDs (see survey here).

After reading the report, it’s fair to say that I’m not surprised by the results, but continue to be frustrated by them. Where are all of these forward thinking and revolutionary online marketers and brand managers?

Are they so unaware of the opportunity that has been placed before them or are they just being very savvy?

Whilst 22% of the 97 respondents stated their intention to apply – that’s 21 for those madly reaching for a calculator, a whopping 55% (53 respondents) were ‘unsure’ as to their intentions.

Given the likelihood that ICANN will shortly be providing some long awaited clarity around application dates for the new TLD program (looking more and more likely to open in Q1 early  2011) it is disappointing that such a large number of corporate organisations are still undecided as to the direction they intend to take.

I fully appreciate that with the limited clarity on how to effectively utilise it, public support for the .brand TLD concept has been lacking. However look closely and it screams out to be heard, this is an amazing, one of a kind, opportunity for brand owners to make a huge statement of leadership, innovation and a commitment to the digital space.

Sure, I can hear the trademark attorneys sitting up in their chairs, ready to fire their arguments that the corporations of the world are the ones most severely impacted by this new TLD program and that the large brands have been victims of fraudulent activity both online and offline for years.

I hear you and the ICANN community hears you… your case has been well made over the last few years within ICANN circles discussing the policies for the new gTLD program.

However, at least in my slightly biased view, this is the one time where organisations have the opportunity to ‘redefine’ themselves and rise above the noise cluttering their online messages and build a new home where consumers can begin to easily identify and trust you again.

I agree that brand holders shouldn’t have to go and register their names in every new TLD. However, what I’ve been suggesting to a number of trademark holders around the world is that there is a different way at looking at this program that can seriously benefit your organisation.

Surely some of the millions of dollars you spend each year in protecting and promoting your brand could be used to take it to the next level (and perhaps open yourself to strategies that might actually reduce your expenditure in years to come)?

One can only assume the rationale behind the lack of announcements and/ or the apparent indecision is the result of either one or a combination of the below reasons;

•    No benefit in announcing early –Have the early adopters such as Canon and Deloitte really gained much of an          advantage? Hard to say right now but expect to see a few more in the next few months.

•    Confidentiality constraints – For many, in particular brands with acronyms, announcing early may bring                    unwarranted attention at this stage of the game.

•    Lack of Awareness – Don’t worry, you’re not the only one. ICANN’s communication program for this hasn’t even        started yet so expect to see a lot more attention on this in the second half of this year.

•    Uncertain timeframes – Now this I really understand. Brand managers have no doubt been approached by                    people discussing this new TLD program only to be told that there is no end date and no idea when there will                        actually be one. Believe me it’s as frustrating for me as it is for you.

•    Implementation Concerns – How do I do this when I’ve just spent millions on my .com address or a new                     promotion? How do I transition? All common concerns we’re hearing which encourage a ‘wait and see’ scenario.

•   Questions of how to actually use it? – Do I engage with my customers and provide them with a                                         tonykirsch.brand   domain name or just use it internally? What value can I add to my customers on top of a clear               marketing message that   will really help our organisation?

•   Buy in – Getting approvals from all of the relevant stakeholders and sharing the idea internally could be simply too       hard. Who is championing the cause at your organisation? They probably deserve a raise.

•    Cost – Many have suggested the USD 185,000 application fee to ICANN is too expensive. In reality, by the time you       put together your application, your bank guarantees and your Registry Services it’s going to be much more than               this. So if you’re worrying about the USD 185,000 and can’t see the enormous branding benefits and the possibility         of reducing your expenditure on brand protection into the next decade, then this opportunity probably isn’t really for you anyway.

All these points are entirely valid and depending on the organisation, could shape the decision on whether to apply or not in early 2011.

However, organisations can no longer afford to be complacent regarding application timeframes. ICANN have specifically stated that they will ‘continue with the current implementation plans leading to the launch of the New gTLD Program’  (see announcement here) and have made significant inroads into the Final Applicant Guidebook which is currently slated for an October or November 2010 arrival.

Examination of the most likely path forward therefore indicates that the program is due to begin accepting applications sometime in Q1 or early Q2 next year and it’s important to note that there is a limited 45 day window so those that don’t submit their application and miss out may be waiting for quite some time for another opportunity and risk being disappointed.

For many organisations, these timelines represent a significant challenge. Whilst it all sounds easy, there is significant time required to educate and motivate key stakeholders to take this innovative step as well as find the right partners to help you with the necessary application and registry services.

MarkMonitor’s conclusion from their research is the same as mine – Given the significant amount of work required for a new TLD application and the obvious necessity to obtain buy in from internal stakeholders, the time to begin these discussions is right now.

I for one can’t wait to watch this unfold.

ICANN may not be perfect, but it is working

Sunday, June 13th, 2010

by Adrian Kinderis

Though I have been critical of some of ICANN’s shortcomings, I remain a strong supporter of ICANN’s role as a private sector-led, multi-stakeholder global regulator for the Internet’s core addressing systems.

My recent blog post about my concerns with the communications processes relating to the addition of the first Arabic script IDN ccTLDs has been quoted in an ITU Staff Paper prepared for the ITU Council Working Group on the World Summit on the Information Society, to be held in Geneva tomorrow.

This document seems to suggest that my criticism was based on the fact that the delegation of Russia’s .рф IDN ccTLD did not occur at the same time as the three Arabic script IDN ccTLDs.

That was not my point at all.

The delegation of .рф involved co-ordination between IANA and Russian stakeholders to ensure that it occurred during the Russian Internet Governance Forum, held in Moscow from 12th-14th May.  My criticism of IANA was based on the fact that there was no such co-ordination displayed in relation to the delegation of the three Arabic script IDN ccTLDs, which occurred on 5th May.

I have received some strong feedback in relation to my comments, but I stand behind the substance of my complaint, which is that ICANN, and in particular, the IANA function, needs to improve its communications processes as the number of new TLDs being added to the Root will increase over the months ahead.

It would be a mistake however to interpret this criticism as in any way suggesting that I do not support ICANN as the appropriate regulatory body for the Domain Name System.

On the contrary, the idea that the International Telecommunications Union, a 145 year-old global intergovernmental bureaucracy, would take over ICANN’s role in managing the global Domain Name System, is something that fills me with dread.

I can only imagine, for example, how slowly the new gTLD program would be advancing, were it occurring within an ITU-led governance regime.  In reality, I am almost certain that it would not be advancing at all.

As I said at the start of this piece, ICANN may not be perfect, but it is working.

The IDN ccTLD Fast Track is an example of how ICANN can function well.  As Chris Disspain, Chairman of the ccNSO, said at the Russian IGF meeting last month, “the IDN Fast Track initiative is a stunning example of enhanced co-operation at work within the ICANN framework and displays just how much can be achieved – and how quickly – when governments embrace the spirit of WSIS and meaningfully engage and cooperate with the private sector in the development of internet policies and processes.”

The ITU currently has 191 member states.  According to this ITU Staff Paper, the highest percentage of member states that have attended a meeting of ICANN’s Governmental Advisory Committee (GAC) is 31.4%, at last October’s meeting in Seoul.

I would therefore encourage the ITU to devote its energies to ensuring greater participation from a higher proportion of its member states in the GAC, rather than continuing to focus on efforts to undermine ICANN and to usurp its role in the management of the global Domain Name System.