Archive for the ‘ARI Registry Services’ Category

Managed DNS an opportunity for the savvy Registrar

Friday, March 6th, 2015

Brendon MitchellBy Brendon Mitchell

We now live in a world where the achievement of over 500 new gTLD delegations is only overshadowed by the significance of over 4.5 million domain name registrations.

While there may have been the odd challenge along the way, it seems that the world we once knew is no longer. Namespaces are launching like clockwork, and the Registrar channel is beginning to harness the power of endless choice within their customer base; things are finally starting to become a little more stable and the next stage of our industry’s evolution is becoming all the more exciting.

So what’s next?

While a large portion of the team here at ARI has been focused on cracking the new gTLD puzzle, others (including me) have been working tirelessly to ensure our Registrar partners are provided with access to quality products to drive value and additional revenues from within their customer base.

Now is the right time for Registrars to start forming their long-term product strategies post-gTLD integration. To support this movement, we’ve focused our attention on addressing what we believe is a significant gap in the product portfolio of Registrars. It’s the missing link in the chain: Managed Anycast DNS.

While it’s a tried and tested quantity, the Managed DNS opportunity is now ripe for the picking and it’s time to jump on board. Here’s why:

1). Times are changing: Your customers are becoming more concerned with online security and performance than they ever have before. For many, the basic DNS hosting that is coupled with domain name registration leaves their organisation significantly exposed to the threats of the online world. They are actively looking for ways to ensure their online presence is protected and enhanced redundancy, coupled with improved resolution time from a premium Managed DNS service could provide the peace of mind they’re seeking.

2). Demand: Our analysis of .com and .net data suggests that over 1.7 million zones are currently delegated to the nameservers of independent DNS providers who are not the Registrar of record. Importantly, the trend for outsourced DNS services is increasing. Independently managed zones increased by 16.5% from November 2013 through to November 2014.

There is clearly demand for Managed DNS. The question is, will you be the one to serve your customers, or will it be a competitor?

3). Revenue: As in most cases, demand certainly results with an increase in revenue. The same analysis conducted by the ARI team (and summarised in this infographic) suggests that the Anycast DNS opportunity is worth an estimated $44 million per annum to the global Registrar channel. That’s right, $44 million per annum from .com and .net registrants alone. As we know, this opportunity is churning away from Registrars and into the pockets of independent DNS hosting providers at your detriment.

How will you secure your slice of the lucrative DNS pie?

Solution

DiscoveryDNS by ARI Registry Services can help you tap into the lucrative Managed DNS market to offer your customers enterprise ready DNS services from one of the industry’s most recognised service providers.

Our team of experts is focused on simplifying your technical operations to ensure you can focus on what matters most – adding to your bottom line.

Remember, online business starts with the Registrar. You have the relationships and marketing power and we have the experience. Leverage that to your advantage.

To learn more about how a DiscoveryDNS solution delivered by ARI Registry Services could support the growth of your business, drop me an email at brendon.mitchell@ariservices.com.

By Brendon Mitchell

.cancerresearch – Can a new TLD beat a global disease?

Wednesday, February 4th, 2015

Tony KirschBy Tony Kirsch

I wish cancer research didn’t exist.

Imagine a world without cancer, where a cure existed to eradicate this disease.

Today, the best way for us to achieve this is through cancer research, and extremely bold goals like this require game-changing innovation.

Fittingly, the .cancerresearch Top Level Domain will launch on World Cancer Day (February 4) and use this fantastic new digital platform to show that cancer, its treatments and its cures, are not beyond us. You can see the promotional campaign at theone.cancerresearch – and express your support.

The .cancerresearch Top Level Domain is unique and something I’m extremely proud to be involved with. Like many people around the world, cancer has had devastating impact on my family and I’m extremely passionate about the potential that .cancerresearch represents.

It is the first Top Level Domain in the world to be launched with a network of websites that provide reliable and trusted information to the global community. And, as the name suggests, its sole purpose is to find a cure for cancer through research.

From today, the internet-using public can type domains such as home.cancerresearch and news.cancerresearch into the URL bar to find information that helps people affected by cancer, and also provides information on world-class cancer research that is aiming to beat this disease.

In addition, the launch will include a series of sites such as lung.cancerresearch or breast.cancerresearch which will provide detailed information related to these specific diseases.

The information is free and available to everyone across the world – and its intention is to build awareness and education around cancer itself and the amazing progress that has been made in relation to its cure, and to provide hope for those who are ever affected by this horrible disease.

How did we get here?

ARI Registry Services has been working alongside the applicant (the Australian Cancer Research Foundation), since the idea was first conceived in 2011. In addition to writing the application during the ICANN application period and being the backend technical partner, we’ve been intimately involved in the development of the strategy and a range of implementation and policy elements. Personally, I’m extremely proud of this project, and it’s a wonderful achievement for our organisation, the TLD industry as a whole, the Australian Cancer Research Foundation and a significant opportunity for the Not-for-Profit sector.

In designing the strategy, ARI and ACRF wanted to achieve a method by which we could promote the amazing work being done by the researchers that dedicate their lives to finding cures for cancer. Additionally, we wanted to find a way to provide reliable information – and importantly, hope – to the global community.

During the strategy development, it was apparent that demand existed for this type of information through sources such as Wikipedia, but we wanted to link the TLD strategy to a higher purpose; something that could genuinely disrupt the status quo, something that is necessary to beat a disease that has impacted the lives of so many.

With over a billion websites in existence today, there is already so much content available online, and as a result, internet users are really looking for beacons of relevant, targeted information from sources they can trust.

The .cancerresearch Top Level Domain provided the platform to design a solution that utilises a unique series of websites which will increase awareness and visibility of cancer research. These sites will facilitate communication and spread the message that, through the support of the cancer research community, we can all work together to help beat cancer.

At ARI Registry Services, we really believe the internet-using public will embrace the simplicity of visiting the series of .cancerresearch sites, such as home.cancerresearch, news.cancerresearch, and even donate.cancerresearch, for those who would like to contribute towards the fight.

After all, simplicity and relevant navigation is really what new TLDs are all about.

Industry Perspective

The industry has made significant inroads since the first delegation in late 2013. Yet despite having delegated almost 500 TLDs, and over 4 million domains registered to date, there is still a long way to go before we can confidently say we have achieved end-user awareness and buy-in.

What the industry is really waiting for is a great marketing campaign by one of the more prominent .brand applicants and frankly, I think that one of the bigger players such as Google have a responsibility to help the program by taking the lead on this.

The reality is that most others are taking a wait-and-see approach – but I strongly believe that in addition to our ultimate vision of curing cancer, .cancerresearch can truly help other TLD applicants by providing a real-world example of how a TLD can be implemented, launched, and used. Ultimately we want this to help all new TLD applicants, in particular those that have applied for a .brand and are struggling with the internal appetite for launching their TLD.

I wish cancer research didn’t exist. I wish we didn’t need it. But we do.

And through engagement with the .cancerresearch experience, we can all help to make big inroads into changing people’s lives.

To get involved, please visit theone.cancerresearch and see the wonderful marketing campaign that has been developed by M&C Saatchi in collaboration with ACRF and ARI Registry Services, or feel free to contact me directly at tony.kirsch@ariservices.com if you’d like to know more about the process of developing the TLD strategy and launch plans.

Tony Kirsch
Head of Global Consulting
ARI Registry Services

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 annualreport.axa and rapportannuel.axa 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. annualreport.axa for English, rapportannuel.axa 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 annualreport.axa 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.

AXAdomain

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

Registration numbers not the only success measure for new TLDs

Wednesday, March 19th, 2014

Adrian KinderisBy Adrian Kinderis

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

Since the delegation of شبكة. back in October, we’ve seen all sorts of TLDs launched – from brands like .monash to generics like .build.

There has been intense scrutiny within our industry on the zone file registration numbers of these delegated TLDs to measure whether or not they are successful.

To be fair, this is not a surprise. We’ve been conditioned by past generic TLD launches to focus on registration numbers. Whether it was .mobi, .travel, .info or.co, all previous TLDs have been measured on registration volume – and more worryingly against the benchmark of .com.

Despite being the new TLD program, many in our industry are still persisting with their old TLD ways of thinking.

How will these same people measure the success of .brands and .geos? Remember, it’s a whole new ball game which requires a different way of thinking because the goal posts have moved.

Early numbers mean nothing

The fact that .guru has 40,000 domain name registrations and .graphics only has 4000 means nothing. It’s like comparing apples and oranges.

Outlandish claims like those seen by .CLUB Domains CEO Colin Campbell that .club will overtake .guru in week one are symptomatic of our industry’s naive focus on raw numbers over qualitative results.

Even my own marketing team is guilty of getting caught up in the hype of zone file number reporting. I had to remind them via Twitter recently that there are many ways of determining a top performing new TLD.

The fact of the matter is, raw numbers mean nothing and a focus on use, engagement, purpose and sustainable revenues are far better measures of success.

What is success?

New TLD operators should be judged on their whole-of-business operational performance to take account of stakeholder engagement, customer satisfaction, strategy planning and financial modeling.

Don’t get me wrong, domain name registration numbers matter. It’s just that you can’t determine the success or failure of a new TLD by comparing it to other TLDs. You can only judge a TLD against its intended purpose and strategy.

Think about .brand TLDs for a second. Registration numbers mean nothing and their entire model is based on how their TLD is integrated into the organisation’s digital strategy. Geographics and IDNs also have a very different proposition than traditional generics.

In attempting to measure success, I’d suggest onlookers focus on:

1. Use: Is the namespace being used in a meaningful way and is there evidence of usage and development with the domain names? Are registrants building businesses and content within the namespace?
2. Sustainable revenues: Who is registering domain names and what is the prospect for renewals? Will the TLD retain registrations or do registrants see it as a fad?
3. Trust: Will end users come to trust the namespace and the content hosted within it? Are these registrants helping to establish trust in the namespace?
4. Purpose: What’s the mission and purpose of the namespace (question 18) and are the registration numbers and content living up to these aspirations?
5. Audience: Is the registry operator targeting a clearly defined audience? Is that audience responsive to the product being offered?

Ask yourself, in the first month of general availability for a generic TLD, would you rather have 10,000 parked domain names registered by domainers with little likelihood of long-term renewal, or would you opt for 100 domain name registrations by major global brands in your target audience who use your namespace to host their entire website?

A strategy reliant on defensive registrations and parked domains is doomed to fail – and is completely ignorant of the new market dynamics within the industry.

In any case, it’s still far too early to accurately measure the long-term viability of any new TLD. But a focus away from registration numbers and an emphasis on use and purpose would be more appropriate.

TLDs like شبكة. haven’t even started their marketing and awareness campaigns yet and the impact of name collisions is holding back many operators from fully implementing their strategic plan to deliver their mission and purpose.

Remember, the game has changed and so have the goal posts.

By Adrian Kinderis
CEO, 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.

Facebook lags as domain names and Twitter dominate Super Bowl 2013 ads

Friday, February 8th, 2013

By Adrian Kinderis

Adrian KinderisAdrian Kinderis, CEO of ARI Registry Services, says Super Bowl 2013 showed a brand’s domain name and Twitter handles were the dominant call to actions for the world’s leading advertisers – a fact that bodes well for the introduction of .brand Top-Level Domains in traditional advertising mediums

There is no surprise that marketers, advertisers and consumers pay close attention to Super Bowl ads. A Super Bowl campaign provides a brand with the opportunity to shine like no other event in the world, entertaining millions through the discipline of insightful, creative advertising.

Last year one trend in particular caught my attention – the common call to action used by advertisers to drive a response from consumers. My brilliant team of data crunchers found 49% of Super Bowl 2012 ads directed viewers to a corporate website address – above all other social media channels such as Facebook (11%) and Twitter (9%).

So when Super Bowl Sunday came around this year, I was intrigued to see what my team’s analysis would yield. Would domain names still remain dominant despite the growing popularity of social media?

Interestingly, out of the 73 ads that aired this year, domain names prevailed again as the preferred call to action used by advertisers, with 40% of ads containing a traditional web address. On the social media front, it was Twitter that dominated the playing field with 34% of ads featuring a Twitter handle or hashtag – a monumental jump of more than 300% from last year. In contrast, Facebook remained ‘on the bench’ with only 11% of mentions in Super Bowl commercials and Google+ was clearly stuck in the locker room with not a single mention.

With 108.4 million viewers, Super Bowl 2013 was one of the highest rating programs in the US, making the advertising slots some of the most valuable in the world. Reports suggest advertisers spent up to a record $3.8 million for each 30-second slot, with GoDaddy, Samsung, Audi, Century 21, Hyundai and Fiat amongst the many regular players.

For $3.8 million I’m guessing advertisers were hoping for a strong return on investment – and with so much riding on the success of each ad, the call to action driving the advertising message is clearly vitally important. The fact that domain names were the most popular call to action for two years running proves that advertisers prefer to drive an audience to a website for a purer, controlled brand experience.

The reality is that social media does not present the same level of certainty as a website. Despite –the impressive growth this year of Twitter mentions, this was normally in conjunction with another call to action such as a domain name. For example, Disney and Fiat featured both website addresses and Twitter handles (one to drive a brand experience, the other to create a conversation). Super Bowl ad veteran GoDaddy advertised with just their domain name last year, but added Twitter as an additional call to action this year. This is an interesting move from an organization whose business is the sale of domain names. I’d suggest this addresses a requirement to create brand engagement at times when a domain name purchase isn’t on the cards.

Intriguingly, only 19% of ads featured a Twitter handle or hashtag as the only call to action – compared to 25% for domain names. Hyundai and Century 21 were the biggest domain name fanatics, advertising with their website addresses only in both Super Bowl 2012 and 2013, while we found a Twitter devotee in Audi, who used Twitter as their sole call to action for both years.  The case was even bleaker for Facebook, with only 4% of ads featuring Facebook as the sole call to action (Pepsi was a lone ranger here). In fact, Samsung went so far as to drop their Facebook call to action from their 2012 ads in favour of Twitter this year – perhaps a recognition of the channel’s ability to attract online conversations around the world’s biggest events, be it sport, politics or a natural disaster.

For now, it’s clear that brands still see websites as their core digital asset – the quarterbacks of a brand’s digital strategy you might say. 

What trends will we see in future ads?

Despite the increasing trend for brands integrating their content through social media channels, my prediction is that websites, driven by intuitive and easy to recall website addresses will continue to remain the primary point of brand engagement for many of the world’s leading brands. Websites provide a level of control, interaction and measurability that social media just cannot match when considering brand experience, product immersion or direct response.

To support this, many global brands have invested in their their own branded slice of the Internet to allow for greater levels of engagement between their online content and their target audiences. And they are only just around the corner…

The new Top-Level Domain program

The global regulator of domain names, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), is getting ready to roll out its new Top-Level Domain program later this year. The program will see those that applied move beyond the traditional .com to .brand in a dramatic shift that will introduce a new platform for innovation, increased simplicity and recall for the domain name landscape.

Moving from samsung.com to .samsung for example, this unique slice of Internet real estate will change the way consumers around the world navigate to find online content, as well as reducing the reliance upon unwieldy forward slashes (/) to create an online call to action.

A .brand Top-Level Domain will allow trust, leadership, customer engagement and improved message recall to shine through by providing a direct connection between the customer and the brand experience – creating your very own branded ‘walled garden’. This will deliver the same control and measurability seen in traditional domain names, but it will provide new avenues for creativity, freedom and simplicity.

What impact will this have on Super Bowl ads in the future?

For those brands who have applied, a new Top-Level Domain will have a unique differentiator within the online space at their disposal – an asset that creates memorable, succinct domain name structures that will increase customer response and engagement from traditional advertising activity.

I suspect next year’s Super Bowl advertisers will be closely watching the new Top-Level Domain program and investigating the possibility of including a .brand Top-Level Domain when it’s their time to shine on the global scale. Dell, Toyota, and Samsung all advertised this year and all applied for a new Top-Level Domain. Their chance to innovate is just around the corner.

Just imagine seeing ads driving viewers to visit rav4.toyota, achieve.dell or galaxy.samsung in next year’s Super Bowl? Seems just little bit more compelling than “follow us on Twitter”.

By Adrian Kinderis
CEO, ARI Registry Services

Brussels mandate: Community-developed TMCH gains ascendancy

Wednesday, November 7th, 2012

By Chris Wright

ICANN has tentatively agreed to proceed with the community-developed Trademark Clearinghouse (TMCH) model following two days of discussions at a specially organised informal meeting in Brussels last week.

I believe this is an important breakthrough for the intellectual property, registry and registrar communities as it provides the best harmony between technical implementation and best practice trademark protection policy.

While it is yet to be ratified, the decision to support the processes described in the community TMCH model paves the way for discussions to now focus on how to technically implement this model.

The extraordinary and somewhat unprecedented level of collaboration and negotiation from all parties involved in the TMCH discussions over the past four months warrants congratulation, as does the leadership of ICANN CEO Fadi Chehadé who has been instrumental in facilitating this agreement.

The Brussels TMCH mandate

Just weeks after holding productive workshops at ICANN 45 in Toronto, representatives from the intellectual property and business constituencies, registries, registrars and senior ICANN representatives gathered again in Brussels on 1 and 2 November to negotiate a solution to the stalemate over exactly how the TMCH should be implemented.

The aim of the meeting was to discuss issues related to the implementation of the TMCH as it is described in the Guidebook. This excluded all policy related issues regarding rights protection mechanisms outside of what has already been agreed upon in the Guidebook.

At the top of the agenda were talks to find agreement about which TMCH model best serves the interests of stakeholders – the original ICANN model or the recently published alternative community-developed model.

Concerns have been raised about the feasibility of the original ICANN model. I, and a number of other registries and registrars, have been vocal opponents of ICANN’s original TMCH model because we believe it is too complex and burdensome in the way it achieves its objectives.

In September, we released three whitepapers which described the flaws associated with ICANN’s model and offered an overview of why the community-developed implementation model would achieve the same objectives without these burdens.

After many hours of deliberation, agreement was formed to support the community-developed model and proceed with discussions about how to technically implement it.

The next step

The decision to move forward with the community-developed model means we are now one (big) step closer to building a fully functional TMCH in time for the first delegation of new Top-Level Domains (TLD) which is set to occur in 2013.

This should come as welcome news to all new TLD applicants.

As agreed in Brussels last week, the next step in this process will be a meeting in Los Angeles on 15 and 16 of November to finalise the technical details of the implementation of the TMCH. These details have been missing from all previous discussions because of the lack of certainty about which model would be utilised.

Now that there is agreement on the implementation as described in the community-developed model, we can proceed with discussions about the nitty-gritty technical details involving the integration between registries, registrars and the clearinghouse provider.

Following the Los Angeles meeting, work will begin on writing the TMCH implementation specifications. ICANN will then finalise contractual agreements with the TMCH provider in anticipation of go-live shortly thereafter.

This is a remarkable turnaround in events considering the entire new TLD program was at risk if a workable solution could not be found. There is now light at the end of the tunnel and this is credit to the extensive collaboration that has been seen throughout the development of the TMCH.

Congratulations to everyone involved and well done. We are nearly there.

By Chris Wright
Chief Technology Officer at ARI Registry Services

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.

TAS reopens & ICANN provides more clarity for new TLD applicants

Wednesday, May 23rd, 2012

By Tony Kirsch

Following more than a month of delays with the TAS interruption in the new Top-Level Domain program, this week has seen ICANN take some positive steps to restore confidence in the program and we can now see a glimmer of light at the end of a long tunnel.

It all started when ICANN CEO Rod Beckstrom broke the news yesterday that the TAS had reopened early and the issues behind the notorious “glitch” had been resolved.

The early reopening of the TAS – which was scheduled to open later that day at 19:00 UTC 22 May 2012 – demonstrates that ICANN understands the need to progress forward with the program as quickly as possible.

In another show of confidence, ICANN held a Twitter chat session this morning (19:30 UTC 22 May 2012) during which CEO Rod Beckstrom and his staff answered questions about the new TLD program and the issues with the TAS.

The key topics of discussion focused on when ICANN plans to host its reveal day, when the Digital Archery application batching system will open, and when the batches will be confirmed.

Below is a summary of key insights gained from the discussion:

• Digital Archery is scheduled to open before reveal day, remain open for approximately three weeks, and close after reveal day. ICANN will publish batches after the reveal day and after the digital archery process is complete
• An update on the new timeline will be published within four business days and will include the targeted reveal date (due by 29 May 2012).
• ICANN confirmed it is targeting to hold reveal date before the ICANN Prague meeting scheduled for 24 to 29 June 2012.

A transcript of the ICANN Twitter chat session can be found here.

All in all, this week has been one of progress for applicants in the new TLD program and we have gained some insight that has been sorely missing in recent times. From the information gleaned in the Twitter chat, we can now guess that:

• Digital Archery will commence mid June – possibly in the week commencing 18 June
• ICANN’s  reveal day could occur by the end of the week commencing 18 June
• Digital Archery will possibly close in the first week of July

We’ll have a much better idea of these milestone dates in the next few days as ICANN has committed to providing an update on the new timeline by 29 May 2012.

After weeks of uncertainty, it is pleasing to see ICANN making progress in the right direction.

By Tony Kirsch
Senior Manager – International Business Development

Google’s Matt Cutts responds to our opinion piece

Thursday, March 15th, 2012

By Adrian Kinderis

Today, Matt Cutts, an engineer in the search quality team at Google, published a response to my article on the impact new Top-Level Domains might have on the search results produced by Google and other search engines.

Mr Cutts wrote:

I read a post by someone offering new top-level domain (TLDs). They made this claim: “Will a new TLD web address automatically be favoured by Google over a .com equivalent? Quite simply, yes it will.” Sorry, but that’s just not true, and as an engineer in the search quality team at Google, I feel the need to debunk this misconception. Google has a lot of experience in returning relevant web pages, regardless of the top-level domain (TLD). Google will attempt to rank new TLDs appropriately, but I don’t expect a new TLD to get any kind of initial preference over .com, and I wouldn’t bet on that happening in the long-term either. If you want to register an entirely new TLD for other reasons, that’s your choice, but you shouldn’t register a TLD in the mistaken belief that you’ll get some sort of boost in search engine rankings.

In response, I would like to thank Matt Cutts for contributing to the debate on this important topic.  I welcome the discussion as the aim of my opinion piece was to get people talking and I encourage a healthy and vigorous conversation on this topic.

I will be the first to admit there were some controversial statements included in the article to spark discussion and raise awareness of the overall debate on how new Top-Level Domains will be treated by Google.

One point that concerns me though is that some people may form a view of my opinion without reading the entire article. It is therefore important to highlight that Matt has commented on one sentence within a 1200 word article where the intention was that the article is read and reviewed in the context of every point and argument put forward, rather than simply one sentence in isolation.

For instance, if you read my article, you will note that I discuss how search engines like Google handle information contained to the right of the dot. I also explain the impact of domain name bias and I sought the views of three industry experts. To conclude the article, I specifically address the importance of creating a relevant TLD that is a signpost for good, trusted and authoritative content – something that Matt identified as being important.

If someone was going to pull out one quote from my article, I think it should be my conclusion:

“It’s here I remind marketers that buying a new TLD isn’t just about buying a key word to the right of the dot – it is about buying an entire slice of the internet. So whilst a new TLD provides clear Google ranking benefits and domain name bias, a first class content strategy to underpin a new TLD will help even more. Define a target market, create credible content for your new TLD community and the Google results will follow.”

This is my personal opinion and I stand by it. Ultimately, we’ll all have to wait and see what policies will be adopted by certain TLDs and how TLD owners will build value and relevant content into their namespaces. Only then will we be able to accurately judge the true impact.

I appreciate the views of Matt and other industry experts. As far as I’m aware, this is the first written statement from Google on this topic and follows a brief web chat by Matt last year. I urge Google and Matt to further expand upon this discussion as the new TLD program develops.

Adrian Kinderis, CEO of ARI Registry Services