Archive for July, 2011

Top 5 tips for new Top-Level Domain applicants

Thursday, July 28th, 2011

By Michael Twist

So, you’ve heard about ICANN’s new Top-Level Domain (TLD) Program and you’re thinking about the best way to get involved so you can gain a slice of the of the $5 billion dollar domain name industry.

You might be an entrepreneur out to make your next million, a brand looking to make a statement of leadership in the digital space, a city keen to deliver a clear digital identity online or maybe something cool I’ve never even heard of!

Regardless of your intention, what you might be missing is a real insight into the ways in which you can activate the new Top-Level Domain opportunity to introduce a business never before seen in the domain name space.

As someone who has been following the program closely for a few years now, below are five key tips that will hopefully get your brain working in overdrive:

1. Act now: The clock is ticking on this limited opportunity. The application window will open on 12 January and we’ll start to see new Top-Level Domains in operation from 2013. 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 176 days until the application window opens and you’ll need all of that time to make sure your approach is on the money.

2. Think different: This opportunity isn’t all about trying to be the next .com. The real value lies within the formation of market or vertical centric generic TLDs that will offer value to a specific target audience. Let’s take a .music TLD as an example of a generic Top-Level Domain that could be launched specifically for the music industry. Such a namespace is not intended to be a competitor to .com, however it will still hold significant value to the music industry given it will be directly tied to the subject matter as well as the global music community. The logical step regarding perceived value is the opportunity to demand a higher price per domain, driving profit up even if overall registration volumes don’t break world records.

So think very carefully about your audience, as I firmly believe that the most successful new Top-Level Domain applicants will be those that are able to identify a consumer group that is willing to pay more per domain for the privilege of an authoritative, trusted and relevant domain name. In this game, an audience of “everyone” is a very risky move to make.

3. Commercialise your .brand TLD: .brand TLDs don’t just have to be an online branding exercise to improve message recall and online efficiency. There are huge opportunities available for .brand applicants to activate the namespace and drive return on investment. Imagine eBay securing .eBay and selling a slice of that space to its audience of 94 million registered users at two dollars per vanity domain name fee? Think michaeltwist.ebay and you’ve got the basis of a solid revenue generation model.

4. No 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 the Chinese equivalent for .com could be worth to the thriving Chinese community?

5. 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 who understands the application process, policy and technological infrastructure required to make the most of the new Top-Level Domain opportunity.

The five 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.

Please feel free to drop me a line if you’re after some advice on how you can make the most of this revolutionary opportunity. Also, be sure to read a blog we wrote last month explaining why 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.

For more information please visit www.ausregistry.com or find out more about the new Top-Level Domain program here: www.BeyondDotCom.info

By Michael Twist, Top-Level Domain specialist with AusRegistry International

An ITU cut and paste job for new TLDs could cost $150k

Tuesday, July 12th, 2011

By Chris Wright

It was with great interest that I read a recent announcement about a plan by the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) to publish template answers on a wiki for the 22 questions relating to registry technical operations contained within ICANN’s new Top-Level Domain Applicant Guidebook.

As someone who has spent the best part of six years following the development of the program (witnessing first-hand each evolution of the Applicant Guidebook) my first thought was one of bemusement – How can a generic solution taken “off the shelf” accurately demonstrate whether an applicant is capable of understanding the technical requirements for setting up and operating a new Top-Level Domain?

Quite frankly, it can’t.

The application process for new Top-Level Domains (TLD) has been carefully designed by ICANN to thoroughly examine whether an applicant has performed the required research to adequately understand what it means to own and operate a vital piece of Internet infrastructure. Operating a TLD is a huge responsibility that should not be taken lightly. The application process has been created in its current format to determine this.

For the applicant, the risk of landing in Extended Evaluation, ICANN’s special audit system for applications that require further attention, is far too great to be toying with a one size fits all approach. In an attempt to save money, applicants will instead be at risk of losing at least $150,000 should their application fail the evaluation criteria set by ICANN.

While consultants working closely with the ITU are correct in stating that applicants do not have to be currently operating Domain Name Registry Systems, they still must identify the technical solution that supports the specific Registry requirements of the application in question. The financial and organisational descriptions must do the same.

The solution proposed by the ITU becomes even more unrealistic when you consider the following:

 • Registry technical operations must identify the intended registry system specifications such as: domain name lifecycle, servers, software, infrastructure, data centres, bandwidth providers, policies & procedures etc. Those who know will agree that this is impossible to do generically.

• Any Registry Services provider worth a pinch of salt is offering the ‘technical operations’ component of the application free of charge with their back-end registry services solution. One has to question whether the approach suggested by the ITU is one that delivers a significant increase in risk without actually delivering any tangible cost reduction?

• This is not a turnkey solution. Applicants will still be required to provide answers to non technical and financial sections, answers which need to be consistent with the information provided in the technical sections of the application, so those who consider the ITU’s approach will struggle to establish consistency throughout all sections of the application.

• Without having properly researched, designed and finally settled on a technical solution, whether that be to outsource to industry experts, or build in-house, Applicants will not have the ability to identify information for other areas of the application such as Registry set up and operational costs that will be critical to the successful development of sound and accurate financials. Further, how will applicants be able to demonstrate to ICANN that the technical specifications provided can be delivered on?

From my perspective, taking answers from another entity (whose content has no relation to any registry system (real or proposed)) clearly demonstrates two things: 1) You are proficient with the cut and paste function of your keyboard and; 2) You clearly lack the understanding necessary to manage a critical piece of Internet infrastructure such as a new Top-Level Domain.

As any high school student can tell you, cutting and pasting answers from a wiki is prone to failure. Although the ITU claim that only ‘approved contributors’ will be able to edit the information, it is unclear how someone would be granted ‘approved contributor’ status. With the highly competitive nature of the TLD process, Applicants should be aware that the accuracy of the information contained within the template has the potential to be highly dubious and potentially even prone to subtle sabotage. I have no doubt that ICANN’s evaluators will be on the lookout for these responses, just like any good teacher would do.

The message to prospective applicants here is simple: If you show disrespect to the evaluators and don’t give the technical criteria of your application the attention it truly deserves, then why should they take your application seriously.

I am left with two equally horrifying questions: 1). Is this simply an attempt by the ITU to devalue and undermine the entire new TLD application process (and therefore ICANN)? 2). Does anyone at the ITU truly understand the goals of the application process and what it is intended to do?

Were the ITU’s ambitions truly altruistic, they would spend their efforts providing capability advice and skills to the community. This approach would be useful and would not water down the quality of submissions to ICANN, as this solution almost certainly will.

Finally, this blog does not set out to be self-serving. Yes, there is a level of confidence that comes with choosing a back-end registry provider that is established and experienced. However, ICANN has ensured that anyone who can fulfil the technical requirements will be awarded a TLD Registry. So, the point I am making is that the process of fulfilling the technical requirements of a new TLD Registry involves more than a simple cut and paste. It requires communicating a level of understanding that a new TLD is a piece of mission critical infrastructure and that there are enormous responsibilities that come with this.

The game plan for new Top-Level Domains

Friday, July 1st, 2011

By Tony Kirsch

I was in Singapore last week to witness the ICANN Board officially approve the biggest change to the Internet in its history.

In an historic ‘special meeting’ held on Monday 20 June, the ICANN Board voted overwhelmingly to approve the new Top-Level Domain (TLD) program and open applications in January 2012. Yes, that’s right a touch over six months away.

With the program now officially approved and a clear timeline set for launch, there is a new sense of urgency to finalise your new TLD strategy and prepare yourself for this revolutionary shift. The pace of the game might have been a little slow up until now, but I have no doubt that there will be a mad rush to the finish line with six months until the application window opens.

After years of waiting in the locker room, it’s now game on!

The game plan

There is literally a marketplace of hundreds of new TLD applicants now scrambling to finalise their strategies. We know this because we are working with the world’s leading organisations, entrepreneurs and governments to help them implement their new TLDs.

It’s important that potential applicants understand now is the time to move. There is easily six months’ worth of work to complete to get a new TLD application ready for the 12 January 2012 opening window.

You do not want to leave this to the last minute.

Your game plan for maximising this unique opportunity needs to take account of the limited time available in the pre and post application timeline. The time to act is now.

The Timeline

Below is a breakdown of the ICANN launch timeline:

• 20 June 2011: ICANN’s global communications period begins
• 12 January 2012: Application window opens
• 12 April 2012: Application window closes

The New TLD marketplace

I can’t stress how important it is for potential applicants to look to the future. Once new TLDs are ready to go live, applicants will face fierce competition with the marketplace for Top-Level Domains set to increase dramatically. Given this, a strong business, sales and marketing plan will be a critical element of any new TLD’s success.

Similarly for .brand TLDs, your expenditure should be coupled with some initiatives to really reap the rewards of your innovative thinking, not just leave it on the shelf in some defensive manner.

While the industry has been focused on the approval of the program, we at AusRegistry International have been looking to the future. We want to ensure that our clients are able to create services that are successful not only in a technological sense, but in a highly competitive environment too. This is why we have formed strategic alliances with leading service providers from their respective fields, including the world’s leading marketing authority, Jeffrey Hayzlett, and leading domain name industry advisory firm, Crowell & Moring. The expert knowledge from these alliances will perfectly complement our world class domain name registry service offering and we’re proud to be working with these organisations at such a critical time in our industry.

The April 2012 deadline is now looming and AusRegistry International is perfectly placed to handle the entire new Top-Level Domain application process.

Please feel free to contact me for a confidential discussion about your new TLD strategy.