Archive for October, 2012

Groundswell must continue to oppose greater internet control

Thursday, October 25th, 2012

In a special opinion piece article first published in the Sydney Morning Herald (23 Oct 2012), Adrian Kinderis, CEO of ARI Registry Services, provides his thoughts on Internet governance, ICANN and the ITU.

Earlier this month I joined federal senators, industry leaders, government advisors, stakeholder groups and concerned citizens in Canberra for Australia’s inaugural Internet Governance Forum (auIGF) to help shape the future of the internet in Australia.

On the agenda were a number of important panel discussions from cyber security to privacy and digital inclusion.

However, there was one topic above all others that captured my attention: the discussion about the International Telecommunication Union’s (ITU) move to seek greater controls over the internet.

The ITU, a United Nations agency, will hear proposals to overhaul the regulations governing the internet at the World Conference on International Telecommunications (WCIT) being held in Dubai in December.

The 11-day conference will host the rewriting of the international telecommunication regulations that govern the world’s telecommunications traffic. On the agenda is reworking the system of internet controls.

Countries such as Russia have called for restrictions over the internet where it is used to interfere in the internal affairs of a state. Opponents have claimed this represents a dramatic threat to the openness of the internet, where countries could regulate content not just within their own borders but globally.

Supporters are calling for a change from the current multi-stakeholder governance model, under the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), to a government-control model.

The ITU’s internet power grab

Although a number of governments and industry groups have voiced strong opposition to any move to give the ITU more authority over the internet, this is not guaranteed. Efforts must continue to protect the digital economy and our current internet freedoms.

In her opening address  to the auIGF, the Minister Assisting for Industry and Innovation, Senator Kate Lundy, spoke about the Australian government’s strong support of the ICANN model.

“The ITU does not need to take on the role of governing the internet. It has its own contribution to make, one which is valuable and which should not be changed,” Senator Lundy said. “We need the work that both ICANN and the ITU do. Each of these bodies should play to their own strengths and not seek to encroach on the responsibilities of others.”

Australia is not alone in taking this stance. In August, the US State Department submitted its initial proposals for the WCIT calling for a continuation of the current ICANN framework.

In May, a US bipartisan House committee resolution – H. Con. Res. 127  – argued the internet should be free of international regulation.

“Given the importance of the internet to the global economy, it is essential that the internet remain stable, secure and free from government control … The structure of internet governance has profound implications for competition and trade, democratisation, free expression and access to information … Countries have obligations to protect human rights, which are advanced by online activity as well as offline,” the House resolution said.

There’s been no shortage of people lining up to criticise the ITU over its proposals. The US Chamber of Commerce, the National Cable and Telecommunications Association, the Software and Information Industry Association and the Information Technology Industry Council, among others, have all expressed concern over the ITU’s moves.

Who can govern the Internet? ICANN

The US-based non-profit group ICANN manages the internet’s addressing system through a transparent, multi-stakeholder model.

The beauty of the current model is it promotes participation and input from end users all the way through to governments. This open, inclusive model has made the internet a successful driver of social and economic growth.
Research published by McKinsey last year on the economies of the G-8 nations found the internet contributes 3.4 per cent to GDP. It recommended public-sector leaders ought to promote broad access to the internet since usage, quality of infrastructure and online expenditure are correlated with higher growth in per capita GDP.

The lessons learnt from the McKinsey research suggest governments should support policies which encourage greater use of the internet to boost economic development – a move that is in contrast to proposals already put forth for the ITU’s December conference.

There is a threat that the ITU will bring a “closed approach” to internet governance which would exclude participation from the private sector and end users. Given its importance to the global economy, it is essential the internet remains stable, secure and free from overzealous government control.

I’m confident the groundswell of opposition will be effective in defeating the ITU’s proposals. I have faith that common sense will prevail.

Forums such as ICANN and the auIGF are crucial in advancing and promoting the transparent, bottom-up, consensus-driven internet we have today.

Let’s continue to innovate and drive progress, rather than restrict and undo all this good work.

Adrian Kinderis is CEO of ARI Registry Services, an international domain name technology infrastructure company. He joined industry experts from Google, auDA, APNIC and Internet NZ on a special panel at the auIGF to examine internet governance.

This article first appeared in the Sydney Morning Herald on Tuesday 23 October 2012.

Domain names kick goals in Grand Final marketing

Monday, October 8th, 2012

Adrian Kinderis, CEO of ARI Registry Services, says the television commercials aired during the AFL and NRL Grand Finals show Australian marketers place domain names – in particular domain names – above any other form of a call to action, including social media.

By Adrian Kinderis

During the AFL and NRL Grand Finals, we witnessed two brilliant games.

However, while most viewers grabbed a cold one during the commercial breaks, I sat glued to the box keenly watching each advertisement and analysing its content.

And it wasn’t because I’m a mad footy head from way back, there was method to my madness.

I wanted to see how advertisers in Australia use the AFL and NRL Grand Finals to engage viewers, deliver a compelling message, and most importantly generate a call to action from premium, large impact television spots.

How did the phone numbers mum and dad are familiar with stack up compared to the trusted domain name or the thing all the kids are talking about nowadays, social media?

67 ads – enough to give you square eyes

Over the two day period, my armchair research saw me glued to a total of 67 TVCs aired during both the AFL and NRL Grand Finals. 

The results showed that 32 ads (38%) used a traditional domain name as the primary call to action, compared to only eight ads (9%) that included social media.

In fact, domain names were utilised more than any other form of a call to action combined (38% vs 28%), with the remainder made up of telephone numbers (12%), apps (5%), iTunes (3%) and search (2%). It’s also worth noting that 16% of the ads shown contained multiple forms of a call to action (eg: a phone number and a domain name). See the full analysis here: Marketing insights from the 2012 AFL & NRL Grand Finals

Additionally, marketers clearly showed preference for domain names in their ads, with 70% of the domain names used directing viewers to a website.

Of the social media applications utilised during the two games, five commercials referred to a Twitter hashtag or handle while three relied on a Facebook page. Interestingly, there were no mentions of Google+, Pinterest, QR codes, YouTube, Instagram, Shazam or any other new and emerging form of social media.

Below is an overview of the overarching trends I observed:

       1. Brands heavily invested in promoting domain names as the preferred call to action
       2. Social media use was not prominent and was only used by five brands
       3. Seven advertisers chose to air three or more advertisements during the game

For further information about the results observed, take a look at the whitepaper we produced.

Why is this important?

While these results may not come as a surprise to some, it must be seen in the context of the significant surge in popularity of social media and the various tactics used by marketers to spear through the clutter and generate meaningful customer engagement.

Despite all the hype and importance of social media to modern day brand communication, domain names still remain the mainstay call to action used in broadcast advertising. This suggests that marketers still believe that the website remains a foundation of any direct response lead marketing strategy.

For me, the results seen in the AFL and NRL Grand Finals delivered a social media reality check. While we are seeing a maturing of the industry, marketers seemingly saw social media as a risk option for generating the desired audience recall.

Successful advertising is about delivering simple thought combined with a compelling and memorable reason to recall. The results of the two Grand Finals tell me that the common domain name, while not all that sexy, provides marketers with the easiest path to success. Better than a phone number, stronger than social media.

Further, my armchair weekend shows that directing customers to a website is a proven method of generating significant brand or product engagement and with each 30 second advertising slot priced between $70,000 and $100,000, the domain name delivers!

What does this mean?

It’s my proposition that – just like the Super Bowl in the United States – the AFL and NRL Grand Finals represent the premier stage for high reach, large impact television advertising in Australia. The trends identified during these matches may represent the marketing industry’s best practice for recall generation.

I am relieved to see that sanity has prevailed and some thought is actually going into the call to action. Social media is no longer the flavour-of-the-month default. Social media does have its time and place in the overall promotional mix, largely to start a conversation, should that be your intent.

Ultimately it seems the tried and tested formula of domain names acting as the gateway to digital brand engagement is a sure-fire way to audience response.
For a more in-depth analysis of the advertisements seen during the AFL and NRL Grand Finals, please see the following whitepaper produced by ARI Registry Services

By Adrian Kinderis
CEO of ARI Registry Services