Archive for the ‘Corporate TLDs’ Category April Fools’ is no laughing matter: what .google could mean for other .brands

Thursday, April 2nd, 2015

Tony KirschBy Tony Kirsch
2 April 2015

When April Fools’ Day rolls around each year, Google is generally one of the front runners for jokes – often making headlines for its quirky gimmicks. This year was no exception.

Yesterday, Google launched its first domain name under the recently delegated .google Top-Level Domain (TLD), a massive milestone for all .brand TLD owners. Google is encouraging millions of people around the world to visit:

The page offers a ‘flipped’ view of Google search – as if perhaps, you were inside Google itself looking outwards.

com.googleWhen promoting the stunt, Google openly promoted it as a product of new gTLDs and specifically its .google Top-Level Domain. Could it be perhaps, that Google is giving users a taste of what’s to come – a view from the inside of Google’s own corner of the Internet? The move from renting a small piece of .com to now hosting its search engine under on its own Top-Level Domain should not be understated in its significance.

The move attracted a lot of attention as many noted the use of .google and praised Google for its creativity.

There’s been much speculation about how Google will use its new gTLD assets – from the .google brand TLD to the likes of .app which Google famously acquired for $25 million earlier this year.

The fact that Google chose to use its .google TLD for this stunt could suggest a wider strategy starting to come into play. Based on its track record, the company’s April Fools’ efforts were always going to garner a lot of media attention, and they have been quite overt in linking this domain to new gTLDs.

trevor long tweetandrew bennett tweet

Hopefully, is the ‘soft-launch’ of a larger .google strategy that will begin to roll out as Google continues to raise awareness of the namespace.

So what does this mean for other .brands? It’s no secret that in the world of tech, where Google goes, people follow. If Google starts to activate .google more broadly with as much creativity and innovation as, it will provide a great example for other .brands on how to use a brand TLD to realise its full potential.

Some brands are already making waves with their TLD strategies. We’re very proud to be partnering with the likes of Monash University (.monash, the first .brand TLD to go live) and the Australian Cancer Research Foundation (.cancerresearch), which were both reported by CSC to be performing well in search and even have pages appearing in the Alexa 1M Ranking.

Our TLD consulting team is working with .brands to simplify their launch process and maximise business success. We’ll be watching closely to see what example Google sets as more .google sites start to emerge.

Still think .brands might be a waste of time? Google doesn’t!

Wednesday, May 7th, 2014

RyanBakerBy Ryan Baker

Like many, I’ve been watching the rollout of the first 150+ new Top-Level Domains (TLD) with interest.

The new Top-Level Domain (TLD) program was designed from the outset to enhance competition and foster innovation.

It was a great result for the wider industry to see approximately one-third of the applications received by ICANN submitted by some of the world’s largest companies seeking to own and operate their own .brand TLD.

Even with organisations such as Apple, Citibank and IBM applying for their respective TLDs, scepticism remained on the potential for .brands to succeed.

Where would the utility come from? How would customers embrace such a change? How would large organisations be able to incorporate this into their marketing mix?

Finally perhaps most ominous, what will it mean for search and will there be any advantages for .brand applicants?

While it’s still very early in the process, a few trailblazing true innovators have given us some preliminary answers and the news is extremely positive.

Evidence of real success

French insurance giant AXA recently launched their .axa TLD to the world and offer the best evidence to date that .brand TLDs have a definite future in the digital marketing landscape.

Less than two weeks after registering and in their .brand TLD, AXA now appear on the first page of Google search results. When searching for “axa annual report”, the .axa domain is the third result in English and “axa annuel rapport” appears in the fourth position for French searches.

Beyond just Google, Bing shows the result at number two and Yahoo at number eight.

This is a truly impressive result given the number of applicable web properties for this topic and the short amount of time the domain has existed. Yes, this has a lot to do with the relevance of the content – as it has been and will continue to be.

However, the domain is clearly reinforcing some level of credibility here and despite being new, hasn’t negatively impacted the rankings of the page.

The AXA annual report example also illustrates other key benefits of .brand TLD ownership. Using differing language versions of the same domain, they have been able to provide customised content for differing user bases.

With these included, the list of tangible benefits .brand TLD operators can realise immediately from their new asset are compelling:

1. Control

Being completely in control of domain name allocation within their TLD. No more competition for domain names in the open market, as well as the ability to define intuitive parameters for users to find content (eg. for English, for French).

2. SEO

Globally applicable search benefits. While the sample size is admittedly small, the reality that Google, Bing and Yahoo are actively embracing .brand TLDs for their authenticity and showing strong search results has the potential to be a huge boon to brands and end users.

3. Messaging

Guaranteed authenticity for messaging from the channel. Customers can rest easy knowing with 100% certainty that the content on is sanctioned by AXA, since no one outside the corporation can register an .axa domain name. Keep in mind that it’s entirely possible for bad actors to register domains in competing TLDs with the aim of confusing end users, and a .brand is a new and extremely strong tool to combat this confusion.


AXA’s .brand strategy actively combats bad actors.

While we’ve already seen three new .brand applicants sign registry agreements (.sharp and Google’s .gmail and .youtube) this month, the last several months have seen 256 total TLDs delegated, with only a handful (five total, or less that 2%) being .brands.

This is in addition to the world’s first .brand TLD, .monash for the Australian University and the recently signed .bmw and .samsung TLDs which are soon to join the digital landscape.

All in all, it’s really positive news for those innovators that took the plunge by applying in 2012.

So why wait?

There is no denying that ICANN has made the path through contracting and delegation complicated with various hoops to jump through.

The good news for .brand applicants is that there is help available should they require it. The upside is that the carrot is very real and very attainable.

Delegating and realising the benefits of a .brand TLD as soon as possible should be the goal of every brand marketer worth their salt, as .brand applicants push to delegate their TLDs and non-applicants clamour to apply to ICANN in the second round.

By Ryan Baker
Domain Name Industry Consultant
ARI Registry Services

Looking internally for the success of your TLD strategy

Wednesday, October 2nd, 2013

Adrian KinderisTony Kirsch, Senior Manager of International Business Development at ARI Registry Services, discusses the importance of getting internal support for the success of your .brand Top-Level Domain strategy.

By Tony Kirsch

Last week, I had the privilege of presenting at the Digital Marketing & gTLD Strategy Congress in London on how to create a TLD strategy and activate your path to market for launch.

Some of the best and brightest minds in the industry attended and it was encouraging to hear from major brands such as Phillips, Microsoft, Google and KPMG, as well as a variety of other applicants.

While in my previous blog I discussed why a .brand TLD strategy is important, let’s now delve deeper into engagement strategies and why this is the key to a successful .brand.

Why do I need internal engagement?

Internal engagement is a critical element of a TLD strategy because your .brand TLD is going to impact every aspect of your organisation. From technology to marketing and even customer service, everyone in your organisation needs to be engaged in your TLD strategy at differing degrees.

While you may have already engaged key decision makers during the process of applying for a new TLD, many haven’t sought the necessary strategic input across the organisation – something that is extremely challenging for multinational enterprises (and for some of their consultants!!).

You have to appreciate that how one department approaches your .brand TLD might be different to another department.

However, done correctly, your TLD strategy is the perfect mechanism to align key department’s .brand aspirations with your organisational goals.

Who should you engage internally?

Ideally, the critical areas of your business to target are your C-Suite executives, IT infrastructure and systems teams, digital, brand, legal and marketing departments. This is where the key decision makers lie who can make or break your .brand.

You should also consider bringing in the finance department, PR and internal communications teams, and any agency support your organisation receives from digital, branding and advertising specialists.

Finally, don’t forget that even though you are a .brand, you’ll need to engage your Registrar too (if you haven’t already done so).

Remember, engaging with some internal audiences might be a challenge because there are still people out there that don’t know anything about new TLDs.

Change management

Adopting a .brand is a massive change for any organisation.

It’s important to remember that change is never easy and often clouded in risk as people intuitively resist transformation.

This is why your TLD strategy serves two purposes: 1) To provide purposeful direction in the launch of your TLD; and 2) To act as a mechanism to engage internally and gain the support of your key stakeholders.

The reality is that you’re not only taking ownership of your .brand strategy, you will also be seen as the change facilitator. Leaders of large change programs must take responsibility for generating the critical mass movement in favor of the change. This requires more than mere buy-in or passive agreement; it demands complete ownership of the entire change process.

The five steps

I detail these steps in far greater depth during our TLD strategy workshop sessions. At a high level, below are the five key elements you should consider as part of internal engagement for your TLD strategy:

1. De-risk

A successful TLD strategy will need to take a ‘whole of business’ approach if it’s to be effective. Remove the target from your back by involving key stakeholders early and de-risk your .brand TLD investment.

2. Get support from your TLD advisors

Get support from your trusted TLD advisors to guide you through the process. There’s no need to reinvent the wheel.

3. Secure budget

You’ve made an investment in a core piece of Internet infrastructure. Now it’s time to activate this investment. Engage internally to make a business case to secure budget.

4. Get internal resources

You can’t do this yourself. Collaborate and consult with key stakeholders in all departments to share the load. It’s often far more effective to have others champion the cause for you.

5. Align with corporate goals

Does your .brand TLD strategy reflect your organisation’s mission, vision and values? Now’s the time to engage every department to get collective buy-in.

Your plan

You’re building something from scratch and you need to get your plans in place. Internal engagement is the key to successful project planning and management.

Think about the construction of a house. You would never build a new house without detailed plans.

Similarly, with the creation of your TLD strategy, you should facilitate constructive internal engagement so you can build a plan that provides visibility across all facets of your business operations – and provide a digital platform for your organisation for many, many years to come.

By Tony Kirsch
Senior Manager – International Business
ARI Registry Services

Tony Kirsch is widely recognised as an industry expert within the new TLD program and is employed by ARI Registry Services, an International Domain Name Infrastructure Services organisation based in Melbourne, Australia.

Tony has advised some of the world’s largest firms and Governments on their new TLDs and his in- depth understanding of the program’s intricacies is widely sought after in order to assist the creation of companywide processes and strategies.

$5 billion reasons you should know about new Top-Level Domains

Thursday, August 11th, 2011

Adrian Kinderis, CEO of AusRegistry International, explains how entrepreneurs and brands can get a slice of the $5 billion domain name industry through the new Top-Level Domain program.

By Adrian Kinderis

In January next year a revolution is set to usher in the most expansive and fundamental change to the Internet in its history. The new Top-Level Domain Program, administered by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), will see web addresses move beyond the traditional .com to .anything in a dramatic shift that will introduce a new platform for creativity and major new revenue streams for online investment.

For those not aware, the program will allow brands, entrepreneurs and governments to apply for their own version of .com – moving from to .pepsi for example – and secure a unique slice of Internet real-estate that will dramatically change the way Internet users around the world navigate to find content online. For more information, here is a video of an interview I did with Bloomberg Television about the program.

So, now that I’ve got you interested, you’re probably thinking about the best way you can gain a slice of the $5 billion dollar domain name industry. You might be an entrepreneur out to make your next million or a brand looking to make a statement of leadership in the digital space.

Here are my top six tips on how you can take advantage of this billion dollar opportunity and own a trusted, regulated slice of Internet ‘real estate’:

1.    Don’t try to be the next .com

The biggest revenue-making opportunity under the new Top-Level Domain Program lies within the formation of generic word Top-Level Domains. Rather than trying to become the next .com, entrepreneurs should look to create boutique name spaces, turning over lower registration volumes, but at higher margins – the online equivalent of running an exclusive VIP country club.

Take .music, which would be created as a targeted name space specifically for the music industry. Such a name space is probably never going be a competitor to .com, however it will hold significant value to the music industry given it will be directly tied to the subject matter and the global music community. Imagine if you could capture even 20 per cent of the roughly 8 million music artists around the world and charge them each $US5 to promote their music under an official .music name space. That’s $US8 million in annual revenue before you consider other potential revenue sources from targeting users with content businesses like and

So, rather than trying to be all things to all people, think very carefully about your audience before making the move. Because in this game an audience of “everyone” is a very risky move to make.

2.    Offer more than just a domain name

You are securing a domain name space. You can do so much more that just sell domains. We call it “left of the dot” thinking. What more can you offer that will build value to your namespace? How else can domain names be used? Should you retain premium names rather than sell them and look to monetise those sites by building out content? You are starting with a clean slate here. You set the rules. Be creative and create something that will bring value to your market and provide something different!

3.    Commercialise your .brand TLD

For brand holders, the benefits of securing a .brand Top-Level Domain are immediately obvious: Trust, leadership, customer engagement and improved message recall.

Think, cars.ebay or and you’re well on the way to capturing the opportunity presented by this unique change.

However, a .brand Top-Level Domain can deliver more than this. For instance, imagine eBay securing .eBay and selling a slice of that space to its audience of 94 million registered users at $US2 per vanity domain name fee. Also, with more than 600 million registered users, a username.facebook strategy of a similar nature should be an absolute no-brainer.

From a customer engagement perspective, imagine if BMW were to provide all customers with a domain name with the purchase of a new vehicle to allow access to critical information such as service scheduling and technical information. Not only would it deliver value to the customer, it would also play a role in the introduction of the customer to the BMW brand experience and lifestyle (car clubs, forums, social networking etc).

There will also be huge improvements in online security and trust. Take the bank Chase for example, it would bring clarity and security to customers with the simple message, ‘If it’s not .chase, it’s not us’. Not to mention making it easier for customers to find content online without using Google, because all they will need to remember is, for instance.

4.    Remove the language barrier

For the first time in history, new Top-Level Domains are available in non-Latin scripts and with 60% of the world’s population residing in countries where the native language is based on a script other than Latin, you could be one of the first to capitalise on this latest shift in domain name technology. Imagine what a relevant Chinese script Top-Level Domain could be worth to the thriving Chinese community?

5.    Act now

The clock is ticking on this limited opportunity. The application window for new Top-Level Domains will open on 12 January 2012 and we’ll start to see new ‘.anything’ domains in operation from late 2012. If companies and entrepreneurs miss the application window (12 January 2012 to 12 April 2012), it may be a long time before they have the same opportunity again. Get moving now to make sure you don’t miss the boat. There is less than 155 days until the application window opens and you’ll need all of that time to make sure your approach is on the money.

6.    Seek advice

The new Top-Level Domain program is not for the novice – there are few people who can run a slice of the Internet alone – so start with the idea and seek advice from an industry expert such as AusRegistry International who understands the application process, policy and technological infrastructure required to make the most of the new Top-Level Domain opportunity.

This is just the starting point.

The six tips explained above are just a starting point for a much larger analysis of your idea and associated business case.

At AusRegistry International (, we are currently working with brands, entrepreneurs and governments across the world in a full service capacity that can cover your entire new Top-Level Domain project from strategy right through to technology and launch marketing services.

For more information please visit or find out more about the new Top-Level Domain program here:

By Adrian Kinderis, Internet industry thought leader and CEO of AusRegistry International, one of the few companies in the world with the experience and technology to activate and implement new Top-Level Domains.

New TLD registry service providers are not created equal

Monday, June 27th, 2011

Adrian Kinderis, CEO of AusRegistry International, explains why choosing a registry services partner is the most important decision applicants will make.

By Adrian Kinderis

The ICANN Singapore meeting last week was all about certainty. The official approval of the new Top-Level Domain program and the delivery of an application timeline by the ICANN Board has provided the certainty we have all been eagerly waiting for.

What I can also be certain about is that potential applicants are now desperately trying to finalise their new Top-Level Domain strategies. To those applicants, I have one very important message:

Choosing a domain name registry services partner for your new Top-Level Domain is the most important decision you will make from here on in.

As such, I think it is also important for potential applicants to understand that not all registry services providers are created equal. There are several key criteria for differentiation that can help potential applicants decipher all the spin and make an informed decision.

Below is my summary of the criteria I believe are critical for your choice in registry services partner.

1) Experience – Your chosen partner must have long-term experience in developing, growing and operating a current, high volume namespace. In this game, experience counts for everything.

2) Financial Security – Financial security ensures long term viability of your provider. This means that your registry services partner will be around for as long as your TLD needs them to be.

3) Flexibility – Your solution must be built for the specific requirements of your new TLD. Flexibility from your registry services partner will ensure you aren’t restricted by technical capability.

4) Focus – Are new TLDs a primary focus of the business? They should be…

5) Diverse Expertise – Navigating the TLD minefield is no easy task. To ensure success, you’ll need a combination of dedicated industry consultants, knowledgeable technical resources and sales & marketing experts to meet ICANN’s stringent requirements. Great registry services require an equal balance of brain power and technology.

6) Commitment – Ask prospective partners how much of their own time has been invested understanding the intricate details of the Applicant Guidebook and ICANN’s processes. Have they been an advocate and influencer of the program since its inception? Are they committed to the success of this revolutionary program?

7) Price – Extremely low per domain pricing structures may seem like a good idea in theory, however  you must question the ability for that entity to manage a registry well and, importantly, support your ongoing business long-term. If your partner is hamstrung because they have over committed on pricing, you may experience some challenges long-term.

What you are looking for is a service provider that can positively cover off all these points at a consistently high level. What you want to avoid is a provider that may excel at one point to the detriment of another.

There is only six months until the 12 January 2012 application window opens and the time to act is now. I’ve provided you with all the information you need to make the right decisions about your new Top-Level Domain. There is just one more piece of information I forgot to include:

Drop my team a line one day to see how we stack up.

Big business has been using the new TLD concept for years

Friday, February 18th, 2011

The recent practice of major corporations abandoning the use of forward slashes in domain names and placing the product or service in front of their corporate domain name reinforces the business case for why we need new Top-Level Domains.

By Michael Twist

By now we’ve all had a chance to digest the concept around the new TLD program and in some cases even come up with our own amazing ideas for the next .com or a niche TLD that will make us millionaires overnight!

Well maybe some of us have…

Others are taking a far more practical approach to the exciting new changes to the Internet and how it will be adopted and used, in particular within the corporate arena. While there is still much conjecture around rights protection and trademark issues, the biggest unknown I think is how and when the new .brand TLDs will be used.

Speaking with a number of corporate clients recently it has become painfully clear that not everyone is as excited about the prospect of .brand TLDs hitting the online marketplace as I am. Whilst there is a large number of forward thinking organisations out there that can see the future ahead, the reality is that there are still a number of companies who see the whole program as a waste of time and money and will only be applying purely as a brand protection mechanism or even worse, not at all!

It’s these clients that ask me, how can a .brand do anything but hinder our marketing and strategic plans?

Well the answer to this question came to me as I was reading an industry publication over my afternoon coffee and biscuit. I saw an advertisement for a new shoe from global sporting powerhouse, Nike.
Now the product itself, although quite ingenious wasn’t what caught my eye. What caught my eye was the web address –

This got me thinking…

1.    Why did Nike choose this address as opposed to the commonly used ?
2.    Why didn’t they choose ?
3.    Is this proving a more effective way to deliver their message?
4.    Is anyone else doing this?

The first three questions are there for Nike to answer but I would guess they chose the structure to assist in message recall and easier direct type into the web browser, which all lead to a simpler and more effective way for their customers to interact with them.

I also looked at and it resolved to the page – interesting.

The third question I can answer for you very simply -“yes” other companies are doing this. Taking just five minutes on Google I found four of the biggest brands in their respective industries doing exactly the same thing:


As you can see the trend is to bring the product or service ahead of the TLD in order to enhance customer recall which leaves the .com as a superfluous suffix that is only utilized because current protocols and domain name infrastructure dictates that the address would not work without it.

How much easier would it be for customers to remember the promotions if it was simply;


If you’re having trouble noticing the difference, try saying it to yourself like you were listening to a television commercial or a radio advertisement!!

So what does this really mean?

In my humble opinion the take up time of .brand and its transition to main stream usage may not take as long as some may think. With these big brands already utilizing the product.brand way of addressing it’s clear that the exercise of merely dropping the .com at the end is the only obstacle that needs to be overcome for the .brand way of thinking to revolutionise how we navigate the Internet.

That… and a few short sighted people looking beyond a digital marketing strategy that lasts a year or two!

Michael Twist

Top-Level Domain name specialist with AusRegistry International

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.

The future looks bright for new gTLDs!

Tuesday, March 23rd, 2010

By Tony Kirsch

The ICANN Board meeting undertaken recently in Nairobi was indeed eventful and there were many vital topics on the agenda, in particular for the new gTLD program that kept many interested parties on the edges of their seats as the meeting unfolded.

Listening in remotely from Australia proved to be a great success after security concerns had sadly dampened my enthusiasm for the 24 hour flight.

One of the more controversial decisions was in regard to the Expression of Interest (EOI), a program intended to allow potential new gTLD applicants to pre-register for their desired TLD and provide ICANN and the community with invaluable information regarding likely volumes of applications.

The genesis of the EOI took place at the ICANN meeting in Seoul and many in the industry strongly believed it would solve many of the unresolved issues relating to the new gTLD program. The EOI was however withdrawn by the Board at the meeting in Nairobi on the basis that many of the issues holding up the launch of the program were close to being resolved, rendering the EOI somewhat redundant.

Although many in the internet community were quite unhappy with this decision, it was encouraging to hear such rigorous discussion by Board members and ICANN staff suggesting that many of the outstanding issues were in fact close to being resolved.

Further supporting the idea that we were rapidly approaching a Final Application Guidebook, the Board also announced a list of items to be included in version 4 of the Draft Application Guidebook including;

•    Trademark Clearinghouse
•    Uniform Rapid Suspension System (URS)
•    IDN Variants
•    IDN 3 Character Requirement

thus making substantial progress towards resolving many concerns exhibited by the internet community over recent times.

So finally after years of waiting, real progress has been made and things are now starting to look good for new gTLD applicants who have waited for the program to go ahead for quite some time. A new version of the Draft Application Guidebook is due right before the 38th ICANN meeting in Brussels, in June, and according to ICANN staff and Board comments, it is likely to be very close to the final version.

So what does this mean for everyone out there who has their mind set on applying for a new gTLD?

There are a number of steps that each applicants needs to go through and be prepared for when  the application window opens. For organisations and governments, this is the time when you need to start considering what you have to do to get your TLD and to begin the rigorous preparation and planning that will ensure that your TLD is a success.

Furthermore, there is a heavy requirement on new TLD applicants to justify their ability to technically and financially operate a TLD, those who think they can make a last minute decision about proceeding should beware.

Public statements of intent to apply for their own TLD have been given from many cities around the world as many governments seek to provide a localised location for their residents online.

Additionally, I was very excited to see that the message has reached some large corporate entities with Canon announcing last week their intention to apply for .canon as the future of their corporate online branding.

To obtain their company name or trademark as a TLD is an unprecedented opportunity for corporations around the world and a unique branding exercise with large benefits attached. I think we can expect to see many others follow the innovative trend set by the Japanese electronics powerhouse in the near future.

So, despite a little angst at not having the Expression of Interest program approved by the Board last week, the update is that there is even better news for those of us supporting new gTLDs as we rapidly approach the application period later in the year.

And as always, we’re always here to help potential applicants through this maze. Just drop us an email here.

What does it really cost to run a new gTLD?

Wednesday, August 19th, 2009

By Tony Kirsch

After visiting a number of clients around the globe over recent months, it seems that there is some confusion about the true costs of applying for, and then running a gTLD.
This is not surprising given that a lot of the press regarding the program highlights the USD 185,000 price tag to get your new TLD. However, these notifications fail to accurately inform potential applicants regarding the ‘additional’ components. In reality, getting the name is a relatively small part of the process and ICANN have set a very high bar for the components of:

a)    Organisational capability to protect Registrants from namespaces that run out of funding and leave domain name holders with nothing, and;

b)    Technical competence to ensure that the Registry functions protect Registrants and maintain ICANN’s mission of ensuring the stability and security of the DNS.

AusRegistry International fully supports ICANN’s stance on these matters, as our experience with managing TLD Registries has taught us that a robust and reliable Domain Name Registry takes a lot of effort and money. Fortunately for new TLD applicants, our experience also shows that once it’s done correctly, it is possible to build loyalty and trust from end users which ultimately enables you to build up a truly strong TLD as a long term asset.

Applying for and running a TLD is not a simple matter. However there is the potential of a large reward for those who introduce a successful TLD and those who approach the introduction of new TLDs with dedication and a responsible approach will be rewarded.

Points you may wish to consider when preparing to apply for your new TLD.

1.    Applying for your TLD may cost you more than USD 185,000.

USD185,000 covers your application fee and doesn’t cover other potential costs such as handling objections, extended evaluation fees or auctions if there are multiple groups trying to secure the same name. It’s best to be prepared to fight and make allowances in your business plan for this from the outset.

2.    You will have ongoing administration costs.

Have you considered your other costs like Data Escrow and your monthly fees to ICANN? You will require a minimum investment of at least another USD 30,000 per year and potentially more depending on the success of your namespace.

3.    You may need assistance in putting together your application.

You’re investing a lot of money in this project so it’s important to have the appropriate policies and business models in place. Don’t ignore the importance of leveraging from the skills of those with substantial industry insight. A little help will pay off in the long run and helps to avoid many of the hidden traps.

4.    You will need a Registry.

Contrary to some reports, getting the name doesn’t just start making you money. You need a reliable Registry System capable of handling the requirements of your namespace and meeting ICANN’s technical requirements. Applicants should ask of the Registry System:

•    Is it established and proven?
•    Can it handle the demand?
•    Will it provide advanced functionality to help you manage your namespace without expensive overheads?
•    Will it provide you with the ability to grow your namespace as you wish?
•    Does the Registry provide you with flexible billing models?
•    Will it pass ICANNs assessment of technical compliance?

All of these are very important factors for new TLD applicants to understand and can’t be ignored. For example, a serious Registry provider should be able to stand behind their products and services with confidence and allow the TLD applicant to focus on other key areas of the TLD such as marketing.

AusRegistry International are so confident in our Registry System, we will pay the USD 50,000 Technical Evaluation Fee to ICANN during the application phase for our clients if our Registry does not meet ICANNs requirements.

Realistic expectations when going into this type of new, entrepreneurial business is an important aspect to being successful and can only really be achieved with an understanding of all components that you are likely to face. This comes from experience.

However, don’t be scared away. Having your own TLD will provide you with an asset for a long time if you’re smart and careful about how you go about planning for your TLD Registry System and how you leverage from knowledge and experience that may be available to you.