Archive for the ‘Geographic TLDs’ Category

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

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: info@ausregistry.com.

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

A DeLorean, 88 Miles an Hour and a Fully-Charged Flux Capacitor…

Monday, July 12th, 2010

By Tony Kirsch

For a brief moment last week, I thought my days spent dreaming of hover-boards, flying cars and Biff’s elusive Sports Almanac were finally over. From reports circulating online, we had finally reached “Back to the Future Day”.

Those movie buffs out there will know exactly what I’m referring to. It’s the day Doc Brown and Marty McFly pumped their DeLorean up to 88 miles per hour and flew into the future in search of, well I’m not quite sure what… But it was cool whatever it was.

BTTF

Being a guy that has long held a vision of cruising down to my local store decked out in a fluoro hat, self-drying bomber jacket and electric Nikes, it quickly came to me that Back to the Future day was, in fact, October 21, 2015. Great Scott! They had me going there for a second…

But it got me thinking. What would the Domain Name world look like if that crazy cat Doc Brown swung past in his DeLorean, with a fully-charged flux capacitor and a return ticket to October 21st 2015?

Well, you’ll never believe it…I put in a call to into an old Science camp buddy and he was able to get onto the Doc, pull him out of retirement and convince him to fire up the DeLorean, one last time, all for the greater good of the Domain Name industry.

Although I’ve kept a little secret or two to myself (like next week’s lottery numbers), below is a brief insight into what 2015 looks like for the industry:

• The new gTLD program has well and truly taken hold. Following the approval of the final version of the Applicant Guidebook at ICANN 39 in Cartegena, the 45 day registration period in early 2011 drew a massive 865 applications, including a range of generics, corporate, brand and geographic TLDs.

• 526 of those applications made it through to approval and launched. The auction process for generic TLDs created a word-wide buzz with the highlight being the 12 parties that entered into a bidding war for .web, which achieved a whopping $53 million price tag. The total revenue from the auction process was a staggering $437 million. Though much of this windfall was used to support a range of development initiatives around the globe, eyebrows were certainly raised when ICANN decided to purchase their own Airbus A380 (affectionately known as The Flying Starfish). This was deemed to be a cheaper option than sending their 430 staff to each meeting on commercial airlines, and it also solved the problem that it was becoming increasingly difficult to get to ICANN meetings as ICANN themselves had booked out all the flights. This problem came to a head at the October 2012 meeting in Vladivostok, where staff outnumbered participants.

• The kerfuffle about vertical integration is long forgotten. The Board finally lost patience with the GNSO in late 2010 and decided to allow full, unfettered integration between Registries and Registrars. Dozens of registries are creating and retailing generic TLDs with a range of innovative business models and with no detectable harm whatsoever to consumers. On the contrary, consumers and businesses now have a whole world of choice about how they construct their online identities. The massive increase in contracted parties however rendered the GNSO even more unwieldy and dysfunctional, and has led to yet another restructuring, which is taking some years to work out.

• In 2015 the definition of success for a namespace is no longer based purely on registration numbers. Registries have adopted “left of the dot” thinking to create portals that bind tribes of people together from across the globe. A focus on utility seems to have won over the more simplistic measure of volume.

• Those organisations that chose to utilise the full potential of ‘dot Brand’ TLDs and have built a strategy for implementation are reaping the benefits of leading the pack. Many industry watchers were aghast to discover that Facebook had chosen to pass up the opportunity, especially when they saw MySpace reinvent itself under the .myspace TLD, attracting more than 7 million registrants in their first 18 months of operation.

• The search market is no longer as all-powerful as it is back in 2010. The creation of ‘dot Brand’ TLDS has finally pulled users away from the clutter of search engines and back to direct navigation in its traditional and intuitive form. Marketers around the world are enjoying unheard of rates of recall and message efficiency.

• .xxx is still yet to see the light of day, despite being approved by the ICANN Board in late 2010, much to the delight of most of the adult entertainment industry. Meanwhile .sex and .porn are proving successful, even though a number of governments have blocked access to them.

• Linguistic communities across the world have followed the example of .cat and now hold a firm slice of the internet, while IDN TLDs have also been particularly successful. The Chinese language versions of .com and .org are both now well-established, with over 40 million registered names between them, happily co-existing in both Simplified and Traditional scripts. The .china IDN ccTLDs have helped to consign .cn to now almost complete irrelevancy.

• Also on the IDN front, the new IDNA2012 protocol included a number of new scripts and characters including Wing Dings and Vulcan that have caused great excitement in certain sectors of the ‘technical’ community. The inclusion of a number of additional punctuation marks as valid IDN characters also saw Yahoo! finally secure their domain name, including the exclamation mark.

• Many smaller and especially newer ccTLDs have struggled to maintain their relevance in the new Domain Name landscape having missed the window of opportunity to establish themselves before the release of the new gTLDs.

• Interestingly, the future of .tv is now in question, with the last inhabitants of the islands of Tuvalu moving to their new homes in Australia and New Zealand in late 2014 as the rising ocean engulfs the remaining dry land, and the United Nations considers what to do with a country that physically no longer exists.

But what of .com, I hear you ask? Well it’s still around and going strong, but has seen a steady decline in new registration volumes since the new gTLD program launched. A study released in late 2014 highlighted an increasing percentage of .com domains that were simply redirecting to new gTLDs.

And finally, AusRegistry International has continued to create the benchmark for ICANN meeting marketing with their wildly successful campaign involving personalised ‘TLD hover-boards’, unveiled at the March 2015 conference in Nuuk, Greenland.

So there we are, a little insight into what our world will look like when the real Back to the Future Day swings around in a little over 5 years time. While there was no reference to flying cars or talking microwaves, my time with the Doc opened my eyes to the exciting future of an industry that is driving innovation in the world’s largest media channel. I for one can’t wait to be a part of it.

Oh and according to page 286 of Gray’s Sports Almanac, 2010 is the year of Cadel Evans who finally holds on through the mountain stages to claim his first Tour de France.

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.

City TLDs: First things first

Friday, February 12th, 2010

By Maggie Whitnall

More and more geographic locations or cities are seeing merit in new gTLDs – and it’s not just the leading cities of the world who are applying. So far, a combination of 34 continents (Africa -.africa), regions (Venetia – .vtn), countries (Scotland – .sco), territories (Yorkshire- .yks), provinces (Leon – .lli), states (Bavaria – .bayern) and cities (London – .london) have announced their intention to bid when ICANN opens its applications. And why wouldn’t they given their unique position of being able to apply for a stake in internet history and an opportunity to invest in the future of its people, its culture and the prospect of developing a true global presence  – and let’s not forget the potential to generate a significant revenue stream if they so desire.

Many applicants are putting up websites trying to create a sense of pride and community support.
However, recently we’ve noticed a trend emerging with regard to City TLDs where prospective applicants are spending time and money setting up businesses and marketing the City TLD to gather support, whilst neglecting to previously obtain the necessary approval from the relevant government authority. A giant oversight one would assume given this approval is a strict ICANN requirement.

Significant amounts of money are being spent to market these new City TLDs, so, boldly publicising your intentions in the hopes that other prospective applicants will be scared off or that governments have no alternative but to back your application is a brave move indeed.

ICANN have invested substantial effort into ensuring the comments of the Governmental Advisory Committee (GAC) are reflected into the application process for new gTLDs and without the support or approval from the relevant government authority, the application will not pass through the evaluation procedures.

This week the Greenspun Corporation of Las Vegas, who own and operate the website vegas.com, found themselves dealing with this situation (article), having found out only two weeks ago that another entity, Dot Vegas Inc had been in discussions with the Las Vegas City Council for the past six months regarding support for the dotVegas TLD. To add insult to injury, the matter was voted on at its most recent council meeting and whilst the Greenspun Corporation protested that the council should have sought outside bids, Las Vegas City Council went ahead and voted in favour of Dot Vegas Inc, providing them with support for their bid to ICANN. (Something about an early bird and a worm comes to mind here).

Meanwhile, the heavily publicised City TLD applicant and long-time new TLD proponent, dotBERLIN GmbH & Co. KG, are still none the wiser as to whether the City of Berlin will support their bid. With another recent applicant, Unite Berlin, competing for the same Government approval, this must also be a worrying time for both companies who have already invested a substantial amount of time and money into their campaigns.

So, some timely words of advice for potential applicants from AusRegistry International who have spent the last year or so working with a variety of Governments around the world.

Draw up a strong business case for your City TLD then present it to the relevant government authorities ASAP. It’s important that Governments are given ample time to consider a proposal and allowed to follow their correct procedures and protocols. Whatever the case, time is the most important consideration, so don’t get caught up in the detail as much as taking direct and positive action with the stakeholders and getting that all important stamp of approval.

See the details of our geoTLD program here.

Geographical TLDs: Your Place Online

Thursday, December 10th, 2009

By Maggie Whitnall

The popularity of geographical TLDs, often referred to as ‘cityTLDs’ or ‘geoTLDs’, certainly appears to be gaining momentum. Various countries and territories have announced their intentions to bid for their own TLD when ICANN’s application period opens in mid 2010.

So what makes a geographical TLD such an attractive proposition?

For some cities such as Paris, New York and Sydney, any opportunity to further market their brand to a captive international audience, to get their city online, seems an obvious choice. However, in the instance where countries and territories are not as notable on the world stage, is the value proposition still the same?

It would seem that geographical locations are voting in the affirmative, with an overwhelming yes. AusRegistry International’s sessions to familiarise local and international governments and respective city councils with ICANN’s new gTLD program, have been met with much interest and enthusiasm. Many cities have already decided to apply for a TLD, whilst others are building business cases to investigate the opportunity further.

So what will the new ‘geo’ landscape look like if the majority of geographical TLD applications are approved?

It is likely that we will see a mix of business models that allow for a combination of ‘closed’, ‘restricted’ and ‘open’ namespaces.

In a ‘closed’ namespace governments may look to maintain the utility for internal purposes, promoting individual departments and their related services whilst having complete control over a long term asset. Of course, this namespace has a number of limitations including reducing potential revenues as well as forgoing the sizable branding and marketing opportunities.

For some the decision to involve community and to develop an authoritative environment which will promote local culture, its people and support local business may involve opening up the namespace to eligible parties whilst maintaining control through strict eligibility policy. This ‘restricted’ namespace would be likely to increase the potential for ongoing revenue through the sale of domains to eligible parties and create more awareness for the city generally speaking.

The opportunity to auction premium generic and specific domain names such as ‘holidays.sydney’, ‘realestate.london’ or ‘hotels.tokyo’ is a potentially lucrative one. Whilst a ‘restricted’ namespace may also choose to auction its premium names an ‘open’ namespace may choose not to impose strict policy or eligibility requirements on who can register names therefore enticing a larger audience and ultimately growing a larger namespace.

If a country or territory required further confirmation that the investment into TLD technology is a valuable undertaking it is difficult to ignore recent statistics which estimate there are over 1.73 billion internet users in the world today  a number that is ever increasing. With the introduction of new gTLDs and Internationalised Domain names (IDNs), the face of the internet is set to change and it will be the cities and regions that recognise the need for differentiation and promotion that will embrace emerging technologies and invest in the future development of its people.

It is worthy to note here that from a protection perspective, the Governmental Advisory Committee (GAC), a body of Government officials that assist in the ICANN decision making process, recommended that any geographical TLD applications must be supported by the relevant Government body in order to provide adequate controls against misuse. Consequently, strict restrictions on who can actually apply for a geographical TLD are now mandated by ICANN and have been introduced into the application process.

Whilst the new gTLD program timeframes are yet to be finalised by ICANN, there is increasing industry consensus that the application period is likely to be opened in mid 2010. Given the level of detail each application requires and the intricacies of managing a new public asset such as this, officials and representatives contemplating applying for a geographical TLD are strongly advised to begin their initial enquiry now. Time to get the ball rolling!

For more details on the AusRegistry International ‘geoTLD’ program, please click here.

To view a list of countries and cities who have already announced their intention to apply for a geographic TLD please see: www.citytld.com

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.