Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

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 .com.au 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 .com.au domain names in their ads, with 70% of the domain names used directing viewers to a com.au 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

Community support required for alternative Trademark Clearinghouse solution

Wednesday, September 26th, 2012

By Chris Wright

It’s time for the community to demonstrate its resolve to see ICANN implement a successful and effective Trademark Clearinghouse (TMCH).

Let’s be clear here. The current ICANN implementation model and approach is flawed and needs attention.

Following more than three months of consultation and negotiation, today I’m pleased to be able to present the domain name and trademark protection industries with an alternative solution for the operation of ICANN’s Trademark Clearinghouse for the new Top-Level Domain (TLD) program.

ARI Registry Services – working in consultation with Neustar, Verisign and Demand Media – have developed three white papers for public review and comment.

The white papers outline concerns with ICANN’s current TMCH proposal and provide an alternative model that addresses those concerns whilst meeting all the requirements outlined in the Applicant Guidebook and those further stipulated by ICANN.

The white papers can be downloaded here:

1. TMCH – Issues with the ICANN Proposed Model
2. TMCH – Proposed Claims Model
3. TMCH – Proposed Sunrise Model

I urge you to please read these documents and express your support.

We need your support

The approach outlined in the white papers above offer significant advantages for both trademark owners and new TLD registries. It is our concern that ICANN is simply stubbornly sticking with its original proposal for the TMCH, even in the face of justified consistent criticism from the community.

We are now seeking action from the community on two fronts:

• Public feedback on the documents, especially from rights holders, to help us further refine the solution to meet the
needs of all; and
• Support for this alternative proposal to demonstrate to ICANN that there is a consensus for change.

I encourage everyone involved or interested in the new TLD program to review the white papers and voice your opinion on the matter to ICANN. We anticipate ICANN will publish these documents on their website in the near future to facilitate community discussion. You can express your support by communicating with ICANN through public comments, and through your relevant constituencies and stakeholder groups. There will also be significant opportunity to give feedback to ICANN during the upcoming ICANN meeting in Toronto where there are two sessions on the agenda dedicated to the TMCH.

Why is the Trademark Clearinghouse important?

The TMCH is a crucial element of the new TLD program and it will impact everyone involved in the registration and operation of new TLD domain names. We can’t afford to get this wrong.

The TMCH is a central database of verified trademark holders designed to provide enhanced rights protection mechanisms for the registration of domain names.

Put simply, the aim of the TMCH is to minimise burdens on trademark owners by allowing them to deposit their trademark data with one centralised source, rather than with each new TLD registry. The idea is for new TLD registries to cross-check domain name registrations with the centralised data from the Clearinghouse.

What’s wrong with ICANN’s TMCH proposal?

There has been considerable opposition to ICANN’s proposal for the TMCH because it is too complex and burdensome in the way it achieves the objectives.

As described in the white papers above, there are significant privacy and security concerns with ICANN’s current model. There are also disadvantages in ICANN’s model which prevent registries using trademark data during sunrise periods to, for example, restrict eligibility to certain classes of rights holders.

The white papers outline how ICANN can improve its model to implement a more efficient and effective system.

This cannot be a case of “we have already gone so far and don’t want to change”. The current approach is broken and requires review.

With your help we can help ICANN see reason here and consider the alternatives.

Let’s get mobilized and address this important issue.

By Chris Wright
Chief Technology Officer at ARI Registry Services

Setting the GAC up to succeed

Wednesday, September 5th, 2012

By Yasmin Omer

Yasmin_OmerYasmin Omer, ARI Registry Service’s Policy and Industry Affairs Officer, explains why ICANN should offer the Governmental Advisory Committee an extra meeting in January  to avoid further delays in the new Top-Level Domain program.

ICANN’s Governmental Advisory Committee (GAC) – the special stakeholder group responsible for providing government advice to ICANN on issues of public policy – has an important role to play in the remaining evaluation and delegation phases of the new Top-Level Domain (TLD) program.

For some applicants, the future of their new TLD projects may rest on the decisions of the 50 or so national government representatives that are active members of the GAC.

So, it is understandable that any suggestion to provide the GAC with an extra meeting to assist them in making decisions that could be fatal to the delegation of a new TLD could be met with contempt. 

However, I believe most applicants will recognise that the success of the GAC, the new TLD program and therefore applicants is one and the same.

So, why is it important for ICANN to offer the GAC an extra meeting?

The risk of delay

To put it simply, the GAC require sufficient time to complete their part of the new TLD puzzle and there are serious implications for everyone involved if they don’t.

In developing the program, ICANN built specific requirements into the process to enable members of the GAC to comment on and provide official Advice about specific applications they have concerns with.

This process comprises of: 1) A GAC Early Warning which is a notice identifying an application as potentially problematic thereby allowing the applicant to withdraw and recoup a higher percentage of the application fee; and 2) GAC Advice to the ICANN Board indicating that it is the consensus of the GAC that a particular application should not proceed which almost certainly means an application will not be approved by ICANN.

Whilst an Early Warning can be filed by any individual GAC member, GAC Advice requires general agreement amongst the GAC’s membership in the absence of any formal objection. Face-to-face meetings of the GAC are therefore critical in facilitating such agreement.

It’s important to remember that this is a mandatory process. No new TLDs can be delegated until the GAC provide their Advice.

As it currently stands, the GAC are scheduled to meet twice during the evaluation phase to review, collaborate and consider their potential Advice on the 1924 new TLD applications. These meetings are timed to coincide with the ICANN meetings in Toronto (October 2012) and Beijing (April 2013).

ICANN’s tentative roadmap released last month indicates GAC Early Warnings are expected in November 2012 following ICANN Toronto, and GAC Advice is expected in late April 2013 following ICANN Beijing.

With Initial Evaluation scheduled to finish in May 2013, results published in June 2013 and the first delegations to start in August 2013, there is little room to maneuver should a delay occur within the process.

This is particularly concerning as any holdup related to GAC Advice could blowout the roadmap and create another embarrassing delay at a critical juncture.

However, there is a rather simple solution.

Offer for a January GAC meeting

ICANN must offer an extra meeting to the GAC in January 2013 to allow sufficient time for members to consult with their respective governments and ensure their Advice is delivered by April 2013.

It’s simple. Applicants want ICANN to rollout the program without any further delays and ICANN has the ability to help achieve this objective by offering the GAC an extra meeting.

ICANN needs to do the right thing by the GAC because it’s highly unlikely that GAC members would have critically reviewed the 1,924 new TLD applications in consultation with key stakeholders by next month, in time for Toronto. Therefore, the Beijing meeting in April 2013 will be the first opportunity for the GAC to discuss concerns raised and agree on the provision of GAC Advice.

Restricting the discussion and agreement on GAC Advice to one meeting is inconsistent with the GAC representative’s roles; they do not operate autonomously, they need adequate time to consult with their respective governments. It is an unrealistic objective for GAC representatives that places unreasonable pressure on them.

I think a reality check is in order because government processes involve red tape, bureaucracy and multi-layered approval procedures. Further, the success of the GAC intersessional meeting held prior to the ICANN Singapore meeting last year sets a precedent for this request.

The hosting of an extra GAC meeting will give ICANN an opportunity to demonstrate it is responsive to applicant’s needs and provide greater confidence in ICANN’s ability to maintain their proposed roadmap – something all new TLD applicants will appreciate.

Whilst ICANN’s efforts in developing GAC specific processes into the new TLD program are to be commended, the current meeting schedule does not allow for collaboration in the provision of GAC Advice on new TLDs – a process that is meant to be inherently collaborative.

The last thing anyone involved in the new TLD program wants is further delays.

It is for these reasons that I urge ICANN to offer the GAC an extra meeting in January 2013 to ensure that sufficient time has been allocated to provide GAC Advice.

Not only will the GAC thank you for this, new TLD applicants will too.

By Yasmin Omer
Policy and Industry Affairs Officer at ARI Registry Services

Using your new TLD spare time wisely

Wednesday, August 8th, 2012

By Tony Kirsch

ARI Registry Services’ Tony Kirsch explains how new Top-Level Domain applicants can utilise the time they have now to plan for the launch of their new namespace.

Now that the dust has settled from the intense period of preparing and submitting your new Top-Level Domain (TLD) application(s), it’s probably time to sit back and relax whilst the reviews take place, right?

This couldn’t be further from the truth.

There is an enormous amount of work to be done in order to meet ICANN’s stringent requirements. My conversations in the last few weeks have made it apparent that TLD applicants (in particular brand owners) have a distinct lack of resources and expertise required to accomplish this.

To an extent, I can imagine that applicants may be a little jaded with this process and the ever flexible ICANN timelines, preferring to take a ‘let’s just wait and see’ type approach.

However, when we consider that the ultimate return on investment in the TLD rests solely in the ability of the organisation to execute a strategy that has a myriad of ‘whole of business’ components, preparation will be the differentiator between those that deliver and those that seek to leverage this opportunity to really add value to the bottom line.

My application is in, that’s all I have to do right?

Before answering, perhaps you may wish to take a look at the following (non-exhaustive) list of things you will need to consider:

          – How many policies are you mandated by ICANN to have in order to operate your TLD?

          – What internal operational procedures will you require?

          – How will you launch your TLD technically?

          – How will you interact with dispute resolution providers, trademark repositories and other necessary third parties?

          – How do you ensure cross-functional strategic planning for this asset?

          – How does your TLD impact your existing digital assets?

          – How will you ensure compliance with ICANN’s ongoing contractual requirements?

          – Will your TLD easily blend in with your current technical architecture?

          – What impact will your TLD have to your current brand?

          – What components of the ICANN contract should you be watching out for?

In fact, this is just a fraction of the considerations that impact an organisation with a new TLD.
 
You’d be well justified if you were reading this list and feeling a little nervous – especially if your organisation isn’t the fastest company in the world when it comes to multi-disciplinary decision making.

But our TLD is only going to be used by us, doesn’t that make it easier?

Whilst most organisations have applied for their .brand TLD as a closed operation, where they alone are able to register domains, there are still numerous ICANN requirements that are mandatory for all TLD owners. 

Although .brand TLDs may not necessarily have to justify revenue from domain sales like other TLDs, the complexity lies more in the impact that it will have to your existing legal, technical, marketing and branding frameworks. New ‘revenue generating’ TLDs (e.g.  .london or .music) are simply new businesses, fighting for a piece of the domain name industry and are somewhat easier to plan for as they are predominantly starting with a blank canvas.

In fact, given the often complex maze of cross-functional requirements and compliance considerations, competing for invaluable resources and attention from the necessary stakeholders, .brand TLDs will almost certainly be significantly more difficult to launch and generate return from.

At the end of the day, it’s up to you and no-one else

The facts are the facts.

You’ve made the investment and unless you’re planning on removing your application you might as well put some time and effort into it to make it a success.

At a point in time (that will come around faster than you’re expecting), your organisation is going to start hearing noises about your application going through its final stages of ICANN’s review and next thing you know it will be time to get moving.

However, there is still an opportunity to use the spare time you have now wisely to adequately prepare and make sure you’re moving in the right direction.
One thing I’m sure of it that history will certainly paint those that failed to plan as those who planned to fail.

What you can do today to prepare

The most important consideration for applicants is to not sweep this information under the carpet and instead promptly start on a process of education and planning to ensure that you’re ready. The first step I recommend to anyone is to simply engage with your trusted industry expert advisor and have a short discussion on what the process is that they recommend.

For example, we run half day workshops to give an overview of the requirements which we have found to be quite beneficial as it helps to demystify and give structure to what can appear to be an enormous and unachievable task.

A good advisor should be able to comfortably describe the process they will take you through and highlight a path that should create the most efficient outcomes for your organisation and ensure that you’re engaging the necessary stakeholders at each and every juncture. This to me is the key, as experience dictates that decisions made in isolation, rather than a cross-organisational approach, are almost certainly short lived and fraught with danger.

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.

ICANN proceeds with batching… for now

Friday, June 8th, 2012

By Adrian Kinderis

Yesterday, ICANN released a statement to confirm its intention to evaluate new Top-Level Domain applicants in batches using the proposed timestamp system (digital archery) to determine the batches.

Whilst this is not the result I was hoping for, I was not surprised by this move.

In the past week ARI Registry Services has sent two letters to the ICANN Board and their staff expressing our concern about the current batching and digital archery systems. Several other stakeholders within the community have done the same.

Whilst ICANN must be commended for hitting their deadlines and sticking to the timeline, we still don’t believe that the notion of batching is necessary and we will continue to press these concerns with ICANN. This is a position that has gathered much support within the community during the past week.

With the batching system now open, ARI Registry Services will participate and support our clients through this difficult process. However, we hope that ICANN is still committed to communication and consultation with the community and that they are open to receiving constructive feedback – even if it means reassessing the need to proceed with batching.

It is understandable that ICANN feels a certain amount of pressure now to hit its deadlines and deliver what it has promised, especially after the TAS issue in April. However, a stubborn and inflexible approach – without due respect for the ramifications on applicants – will only further disgruntle an already frustrated audience.

So my message to ICANN is quite simple; 1) Continue to consult with the community and seek feedback and constructive criticism about the batching system; 2) Continually work on the operational efficiencies and evaluate the need for the digital archery and batching process; 3) Consider eliminating the batching process if operational efficiencies are identified between now and when the results are published.

Whilst the digital archery window is now open and applicants will have to participate, it does not mean ICANN needs to implement the results it produces. ICANN must be nimble and adaptable with this program. We still maintain our position that batching is not required and hope ICANN is able to re-evaluate its position.

I thank the community for their support and encourage all stakeholders to express their concerns to ICANN about this issue.

Our letter (6 June 2012) to ICANN can be viewed here.

By Adrian Kinderis
CEO, ARI Registry Services

ICANN TAS Window Closes – What’s next for Applicants?

Thursday, May 31st, 2012

By Tony Kirsch

It’s official.

After more than six grueling years of work for ICANN and the wider community, the new Top-Level Domain (TLD) application process finally closed a few hours ago.

ICANN’s Chief Operating Officer later advised the community in a release that just over 1900 applications had been submitted in the TAS with one hour remaining before the system closed (final numbers will be released on reveal day). This number of applicants falls within most industry estimates and shows significant demand as expected from across the globe.

However, it’s far from finished, with many months of review and public comment likely to dominate industry discussions and push our humble domain name industry further into prominence with the global media.

While the close of the application window marks a significant milestone, it’s now time to look forward to the next hurdles applicants will need to contend with. In particular, the ever important ‘Batching’ or ‘Digital Archery’ component to the program seems to be the next topic of interest for TLD applicants as they vie for the rights to be evaluated before others.

Only moments after the application window closed, ICANN published two fact sheets (What to Expect Next and New gTLDs: Trending Topics) to provide further details on the timing of critical milestones applicants will be working towards over the next few months. The fact sheets followed a brief update to the timeline ICANN published the day before.
 
Based on these materials, below is a summary of the key dates ICANN is targeting with the new timeline:

30 May 2012     Application window closes

8 June 2012       Batching process begins

13 June 2012     Reveal Day, Application comment period begins & Formal objection period begins

28 June 2012     Batching process ends

11 July 2012       Batching results announced

12 July 2012       Initial evaluation begins

12 August 2012  Application comment period ends

Dec 12/Jan 13     Results of initial evaluation published (We assume this is only for the first batch)

Dec 12/Jan 13     Pre-delegation, extended evaluation & string contention processes begin (We assume this is only for the first batch)

Early 2013            Uncontested strings in the first batch that pass the evaluation process will be ready to go live and enter the root in early 2013

This latest update from ICANN provides valuable information that will allow applicants to plan for the next important milestones within the program. While I welcome this update and any additional representation of progress from ICANN, there are still areas of uncertainty that require urgent clarification. 

For instance, ICANN has yet to provide specific details about how the digital archery and batching process will work even though we are only a week out from the start of the process. Other question marks on the seemingly minimal progress made to date with the vital Trademark Clearinghouse and the Uniform Rapid Suspension components of the program still remain, and are sure to be hot topics within the community.

On behalf of our new TLD applicants, ARI Registry Services is sending a team of senior domain name industry experts to the ICANN Prague meeting from June 24-29, seeking to gather more clarity around these and other points of uncertainty within the program and timeline on behalf of our many customers across the globe.

Despite these topics that are yet to be clear, I think it’s worth taking a moment to at least celebrate today’s achievement.

Now for the next phase…

By Tony Kirsch
Senior Manager – International Business Development
ARI Registry Services

Munich’s new domains conference reveals urgency to act now

Wednesday, September 28th, 2011

By Michael Twist

Whoever said there wasn’t enough room in Munich this time of year for anything but the mighty Oktoberfest clearly underestimated the draw of the new Top-Level Domain Program and the interest within Europe.

The NewDomains.org conference held in Munich over the past two days confirmed three important insights for me; one: there is a large audience of brands and entrepreneurs who still have little awareness about the new Top-Level Domain program; two: those that are aware of the program and would like to participate are seriously behind schedule in preparing their application and strategy to submit to ICANN during the application window from 12 January to 12 April 2012.

The third insight was the excitement generated from our announcement regarding AusRegistry International’s appointment to operate the registry for the .jewelers new Top-Level Domain. Having spent a great deal of time on this project, it was very rewarding to be able to share the news at the NewDomains.org conference and I was pleased with the positive feedback I received from many of the attendees.

As with most conferences within the domain name industry, the usual suspects attended; the registries, the registrars, the ‘ICANN crew’ and the plethora of industry experts and consultants. However, I’m happy to report there is genuine interest from the European community about the upcoming Internet revolution and they came out with great interest for the first new Top-Level Domain conference in Europe.

While the crowd was not made up of a lot of potential applicants (as a lot of the exhibitors would have liked), there was a very noticeable presence from the intellectual property and trademark community eager to find out about the program and its implications to their corporate clients.

The two day agenda ran very smoothly and kudos should be given to United Domains who were in charge as it was truly run with German efficiency. There was also a good ICANN contingent with the presence of ICANN Chairman Dr Stephen Crocker, ICANN’s Senior VP of the new TLD program Kurt Pritz, as well as the very knowledgeable Olof Nordling, ICANN’s Director of Service Relations.

Although there were few answers to the unresolved detail of the Applicant Guidebook, it was good to see the questions asked of ICANN and a necessary cohesion with the questions being asked.

One important topic that was addressed came from Kurt Pritz’s presentation and side discussion about how ICANN intends to process the applications it receives during the application window. This is a critical issue for applicants because ICANN has previously said it may process the applications in batches, meaning that some applicants may have their applications sitting idle while others could be delegated are ready to go live.

Although Mr Pritz confirmed that ICANN is yet to come to a firm conclusion on how it will process applications, he did say they may be batched in groups of around 500 and that these may be prioritised based on the objective of the application.

I for one support this approach and believe priority and preferential treatment should be given to applicants who have business plans that demonstrate they will use their string immediately.

Other important topics discussed included:

•    Financial Letter of Credit – how much and when?
•    How exactly will the initial evaluation tackle string similarity and other concerns?
•    Community – how and who?
•    The TAS – what does it look like and when will we see it?

Although the ICANN community does not have any solid answers to these questions just yet, we hope to have these addressed soon as we edge closer to the opening of the application window in January.

All in all it was great to see a good turnout and genuine interest. However, it is also fair to say that it is concerning how far behind the eight ball a lot of the attendees are and it begs the question: Will they make it in time?

My advice to those sitting on the sidelines is: You must get moving now or miss the boat! There are only 105 days until the application window opens and you will need all that time to get your new Top-Level Domain application and strategy ready.

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

ICANN names June start date in new TLD timeline

Friday, April 1st, 2011

By Tony Kirsch

ICANN’s meeting in San Francisco revealed a continued commitment from the ICANN Board to push forward with the new generic Top-Level Domain program.

For many of us that have been involved in this program for a number of years, this was a positive result and provided confidence to many within the industry that the Board was capable of standing up to an increasingly powerful voice from the Governmental Advisory Committee which has been threatening to add further delay to this program.

As noted in ICANN’s press release last week, the Board has announced that it will commit to making a decision on the Applicant Guidebook on June 20 at the Singapore meeting and given the enormous community and ICANN staff effort to continually refine this program, I personally see that there is very little chance that the guidebook will not be approved at this meeting.

In what could arguably be the most compelling and audacious piece of public communication yet about the program, ICANN acknowledged that its commitment to a timeline would be viewed with skepticism.

“We’ve had other timelines before, but not one that the community and the Board feels is so achievable as this one,” said ICANN’s Chairman of the Board of Directors, Peter Dengate Thrush. “Most of the hard issues are on the table or behind us.”

I, for one, support the Chairman on this position.

The reality is that this program will not have perfect outcomes for every stakeholder and like any other controversial innovation, political decision or personal achievements; sometimes there comes a point where one must simply take an educated plunge and deal with the consequences as they become apparent. We can’t spend the rest of our lives failing to act because we were planning for every possible outcome, life just doesn’t work like that.

What I can tell you from my last two to three years of travelling around the world educating governments, businesses and entrepreneurs on this program is that the innovation that will stem from new TLDs is immeasurable. I am constantly in awe of the ideas that I’m hearing and very rarely leave a meeting where I haven’t heard of a completely new way in which a potential applicant intends to use their new TLD.

For those that haven’t been across the recent announcements, ICANN has outlined the following dates as key milestones on the road to approving the applicant guidebook:

25 March 2011 – Governmental Advisory Committee feedback on the San Francisco consultation due to be provided to ICANN for consideration.

15 April 2011 – ICANN will publish the relevant edited extracts of the final applicant guidebook for 30 days of public comment.

20 May 2011 – ICANN’s final consultation with the GAC.

30 May 2011 – ICANN will publish the final applicant guidebook.

20 June 2011 – The ICANN Board of Directors will meet on the first day of ICANN’s Singapore meeting to approve the Guidebook which could potentially (note – potentially in ICANN terms has a little elasticity) have the following impacts;

October 2011 – Application window for new TLDs to open.

December 2011 – Application window for new TLDs to close.

Also important in this timeline is the new TLD communications plan, which will help to create global awareness about the new TLD program; however as of writing this, a date for its commencement has yet to be decided.

Overall, the release of this timeline by the ICANN Board clearly demonstrates their resolve to see the program implemented as soon as possible. But perhaps more importantly, the timeline is an excellent result for potential applicants as it finally provides some clarity from which some solid planning and progress can occur.

My message to prospective new TLD applicants: There is a lot to get ready in a relatively short time frame…now is the time to start really working on your new TLD plans!

Tony Kirsch, Top-Level Domain name specialist with AusRegistry International

Big business has been using the new TLD concept for years

Friday, February 18th, 2011

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

By Michael Twist

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

Well maybe some of us have…

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

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

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

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

This got me thinking…

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

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

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

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

•    software.intel.com
•    podcast.bmw.com
•    ebookstore.sony.com
•    store.apple.com

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

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

•    software.intel
•    podcast.bmw
•    ebookstore.sony
•    store.apple

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

So what does this really mean?

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

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

Michael Twist

Top-Level Domain name specialist with AusRegistry International

Another big step forward for new TLDs

Saturday, December 11th, 2010

By Adrian Kinderis

So after the initial reaction and “over-reaction” by some folks in the audience, I have been thinking about the implications of the ICANN resolution on new gTLDs at its Board meeting in Cartagena, Colombia.

In short, the resolution and subsequent comments by the chair, Peter Dengate-Thrush have shown that there is positive momentum with respect to the program overall. “We have reached a turning point in the new gTLD program” he said.

I believe we have.

The new gTLD resolution indicates that much of the work has been completed and explicitly states those areas of the AGB that are left for further discussion. This is a massive step forward as many of these issues could be argued indefinitely with very little change (as we have seen!). Clear direction was required and provided.

Issues around Trademark Protection are considered locked away. Good news.

Root Scaling. Done.

Economic Studies and potential impacts. Review complete.

What remains now are a few narrow topics to resolve. This won’t be an easy task as they are quite prickly, especially those around morality and public order (Recommendation 6), however the resolution has also paved the way in which they will be addressed. Staff have been instructed to continue their work with vigour and the Government Advisory Committee (GAC) will meet with the ICANN Board in February 2011, prior to the March ICANN Meeting in San Francisco, with the clear intention of having EVERYTHING locked away for a launch at this meeting. Once again, this is good news.

The only concern I have is that I am not sure I am completely comfortable with the ICANN Board and GAC meeting behind closed doors. Hopefully their results will be transparent and comments allowed, however we’ll have to wait and see.

Finally, the impact to timelines has not been addressed nor, potentially, calculated. ICANN recently asked staff to prepare for a May 2011 launch, but no comment or adjustment to this has been made to date. It was not referenced in the resolution. It is my hope that the timelines won’t be impacted by today’s resolutions, however I will work with the AusRegistry International team to draw up a few potential scenarios and get them posted here as soon as I can. The biggest factor is ICANN’s obligation to conduct a 4 month global communication campaign before the Application window can be opened. In my opinion, this can be started prior to final sign off of the Applicant Guidebook, especially as we now have many parts of the guidebook locked away. Regardless, AusRegistry International will use any delays to get in front of more clients, enhance our offering and prepare the applications. We have much to do in hopefully, too little time!

I will leave Cartagena a little battle weary. There have been many long hours spent at the meetings and many long nights socialising and enjoying this vibrant city.

I may be tired, but I am happy with the progress made here… I haven’t been able to say that walking away from an ICANN meeting for a while.