One year in: Lessons from .luxury

Published on July 6th, 2015

Tony KirschBy Tony Kirsch
6 July 2015

An excerpt of this interview first appeared in the Domain Name Association’s (DNA) ‘State of the Domains’ Report, Edition 3 – June 2015. Access the full report on the DNA’s website.

The experiences of applying for and operating a new Top-Level Domain (TLD) are as diverse as they are complex. Each TLD takes its own unique path and faces individual challenges as well as those shared by the wider domain name industry.

I spoke with some of the industry’s most prominent TLD experts – and those TLD operators who are new to the industry – about their key lessons learnt from the first 12 months of operation. Today’s interview features Monica Kirchner of .luxury.

What have been some of the highlights of the process so far?

Monica Kirchner, CEO of .luxury: Thus far, my most rewarding experience has been getting .luxury launched, after what was a long and dynamic process.  I am also really excited about some of the positive feedback we are getting for .luxury as a unique platform for the luxury industry online.  Our success in generating industry and business PR has enabled us to engage in a number of meaningful opportunities and begin the necessary process of education around the new TLD program.  The constant message we hear is how poised the luxury industry is for online innovation.  We are going to be a part of that.

Monica Kirchner

What was one of the key challenges you faced and how did you overcome this?

Monica: Our primary challenge is really building awareness for and helping define the value proposition of our new TLD. We’ve spent a lot of time going to luxury industry conferences, trying to learn what brand concerns and issues exist, and then have been working to further refine our messaging, ancillary service offerings and education materials to help people think through the migration process and potential benefit of joining our platform online. In this process we have engaged experts in a number of areas – including digital strategy, luxury marketing and intellectual property protection.

Was there an experience that reaffirmed your strategy or decisions?

Monica: Early on, when you are doing something really new, you are always looking for signs of validation.  Fortunately, we’ve had some really good feedback – first with regard to the real need within the luxury industry for a more trusted, focused space for luxury brands and consumers to interact; next with regard to our strategic decisions around premium pricing; and lastly around where we’ve decided to put our initial marketing emphasis – on meticulously working to build our brand presence and in focusing on building awareness through PR.

If you could go back and tell yourself something before you got into this process, what would it be?

Monica: Be patient, be adaptable, be innovative, be fearless, and find a well-defined market niche – then be clear on the value proposition you plan to bring it. With that clarity, and some real passion and entrepreneurial spirit, you are going to be about as well equipped as you can be to embark on this exciting journey of reshaping the online world as we know it.

What Registrars should consider in a vendor partnership

Published on July 3rd, 2015

Brendon MitchellBy Brendon Mitchell

More and more, business and web users are on the lookout for complementary products and services to support their online assets, and in most cases it makes sense to start their search at the same organisation from which they bought their domain name.

In the days of increased competition and a plethora of technical solutions, Registrars find themselves operating in a market where white-labelled products and services represent fast an efficient opportunities to bring new products and services to market.

This is an effective way to increase revenues without the need for in-house product development, outsourced resourcing or operational support.

The environment Registrars now operate in is moving swiftly towards a traditional wholesaler, retailer model. You have the shelf-space, the audience and the brand and you need quality products and strong partnerships to drive your business further with maximum return and minimal risk.

However, your choice in vendor could be the difference between success and failure.

Here are four key tips for building a strong vendor relationship based on our experience as a provider of services to the Registrar channel.

1. A good and relevant product

The simplest and perhaps most important factor is to select products that are interesting and relevant to your customers. Look for a vendor that fits with your existing customer requirements and would be considered a valuable and complementary product or service.

Think about ease of take up when considering the products you have access to. For example, what’s the easiest way to increase your average ticket price by a few dollars for every domain name sold?

Regardless of whether you decide to white-label or resell the service, it’s important you partner with a reputable provider that has the credibility and a track-record of success with other Registrars.

For instance, niche vendors with specific expertise in a particular area are obviously more credible in that field than those with a general service. In this scenario, make sure you research and understand the history of this niche and seek out any relevant client experiences that can give you further insight.

2. Commercial terms that make sense

Pricing and margins will remain an important factor of any vendor relationship. You need to ensure that your chosen vendor is able to sell the product to you at a price that allows you to apply the appropriate margin ;to cover not only your the cost of delivery, but also your risk in delivering that product to your customer base.

It’s a simple fact that the initial costs for integration, development and launch may not be recouped for a period of time. Ask your vendor whether they are willing to adjust their pricing to reflect this fact, or if they would consider rethinking their pricing strategy throughout launch so that you can both benefit from the product’s success in the long term.

A vendor that demonstrates an interest in supporting you in the short term shows that they are in it for the long haul and while we’re all in it to make a dollar, a little flexibility goes a long way when you’re introducing a new product or service.

3. Significant experience in go-to-market strategy

Does your chosen new vendor have significant experience in launching a product to market and ensuring successful implementation? Consider vendors like suppliers: you’re providing them with ‘shelf space’ and you need to be able to incentivise and be incentivised to sell their product through to your customers.

Make sure you have a deep understanding of how your vendor is going to support you in selling their product. Do they have a strategy for and experience in co-operative marketing, sales rebates, sales team training, collateral and product support?

If the answer is no, then you’re only appointing a service provider. Look elsewhere for the support you will need to ensure joint success.

4. Flexibility and product development

In business, compromise is essential to ensure both parties benefit from the arrangement. Every business is different and their customers are different too.

Introducing a product that is not tailored to the requirements of your customer base could potentially result in failure and loss of customer loyalty.

Ask your chosen vendor if they are willing to build a product that is right for your customers and your position in market, and see how they respond to this request. If they’re willing to alter their standard offering or work with you to construct the right product configuration, that’s one less thing you need to do at the front end.

Choosing your vendors

When choosing your vendors, ask the hard questions. Test their ability to be flexible and their desire to find solutions that suit both parties and ultimately, benefit the customer.

Ensure that you have all of the information you need before joining forces with any new party, to put your business in the best position for success.

DiscoveryDNS – Wholesale DNS Services for Registrars

ARI Registry Services has developed a premium managed DNS service designed to address the challenges and risks presented by today’s dynamic online environment.

Sold exclusively through the Registrar channel, the DiscoveryDNS service can be specifically tailored to the demands of a Registrars’ technical, operational or commercial environment. Our objective is to provide an enterprise-ready DNS service to Registrars that has the potential to generate revenue and reduce operational risk from the provision of DNS services.

If you’re interested in having a chat about how our unique approach to DNS service provision could benefit you, drop me a line.

By Brendon Mitchell
Account Manager, ARI Registry Services

An open letter to all new TLD operators

Published on June 17th, 2015

Tony KirschBy Tony Kirsch
17 June 2015

Dear TLD operators,

As many of you will know from my previous posts, I’m pretty passionate about our new TLD industry and genuinely believe we are all working towards a goal that will provide something truly special for future generations to embrace.

However, speaking candidly (as is the Australian way), I think we’d all agree that there is much to do to get new TLDs into the mainstream in a timely manner. And as new TLD applicants, we all have a responsibility to work together to ensure the success of our industry for years to come.

Based upon this view and after 12 months of contemplation and some assistance and support from a few industry leaders, we’ve just launched a webinar for all TLD applicants.

Thus, the TLD Operator Webinar is now scheduled for June 30 and information is available at www.tldoperator.help for those that would like to register or understand more about this initiative.

Since our soft launch last week, we’ve had over 200 applicants register for the webinar and plenty of comments of support from the industry which really demonstrates appetite for this on a global level. With about two weeks to go until the webinar, we’re hoping we can double this number and provide useful information to a large sector of the new TLD applicant base.

The TLD Operator Webinar is designed to provide all new TLD applicants with an opportunity to share their experiences and learn from each other – away from the confines of the typical ICANN discussions on policy and so on. Put simply, it is about TLD Operators helping other TLD Operators learn how to maximise the return on your investment and make your mark on the future of the Internet– whether you’re a generic, geographic or brand TLD.

The webinar is free, lasts only 60 minutes and will provide attendees with unique insight from other TLD Operators based on what has and hasn’t worked for them so far.

I am extremely excited by the quality of speakers we’ve been able to assemble, including

• Donuts (Largest portfolio TLD applicant)
• Monash University (World’s first .brand)
• .club (Highly successful generic TLD)
• .berlin & .sydney (Leading city TLDs)
• .sucks (High profile TLD in the news)

The TLD Operator Webinar is open to all applicants only (and/or nominated advisors) and will not be a forum for industry sales or promotion in any way. I should also reiterate as per recent media reports, that this initiative is not a formal community group in any way, simply an attempt to utilise a webinar for the benefit of all new TLDs.

I welcome you to join us for the TLD Operator Webinar and look forward to sharing some unique insights at this pivotal time in our industry.

Kind Regards

Tony Kirsch
Head of Global Consulting
ARI Registry Services

How to maximise registrations through effective Registrar relationships

Published on June 9th, 2015

RyanBakerBy Ryan Baker

There are some surefire ways to get channel engagement and drive registrations, but doing what everyone else is doing is not going to cut it in the world of new TLDs.

Successful Registrar engagement requires an investment of time far in advance of what some Registry Operators appear to be expecting, both in terms of ongoing relationship management as well as continually providing tools which make it easier for Registrars to sell your extension over other TLDs.

There are a number of methods that we use to help drive registrations including:

– PR and media activities,
– pre- and post-launch ambassador programs, and
– Registrar co-marketing programs.

In addition, providing collateral or examples of real-world TLD usage to Registrars can simplify their task of reaching out to their client base and converting them to registrations. Examples may include providing case studies of fully developed digital brands based on key domains within your TLD or highlighting relevant media which discusses the benefits of the TLD program generally and your TLD specifically.

Today I would like to expand on ambassador programs which are one area that is typically underutilised by the majority of TLD operators. In addition, I will outline the amount of effort required to deeply engage Registrars which is often misunderstood by those just entering the TLD industry.

Getting the word out

While the sleeping giant of .brand TLDs will eventually catapault new gTLDs to the forefront of global awareness, in the first instance the best way to bring the power of a brand to the attention of your potential registrants is through an effective TLD ambassador program.

At ARI, our strategy has been to engage with high-profile ambassadors prior to and after launch of our clients’ TLDs, providing a boost to marketing activities and a way to kick-start registrations by showcasing some big names already on board.

One of the strongest forms of marketing is third party endorsement and when it comes to promoting TLDs, the easiest way to achieve this is through an ambassador program. For example, when .sydney launched into General Availability, iconic Sydney landmarks such as the Sydney Harbour Bridge (www.bridgeclimb.sydney) and the famous Luna Park amusement park (www.lunapark.sydney) were already part of the .sydney community. The benefit of an effective ambassador program is that prominent businesses are immediately seen to be adopting your extension and demonstrating use. But there is another significant benefit to the Registrar channel if used correctly. A successful ambassador program provides an invaluable resource to your Registrars – making their task of promoting your TLD that much easier and keeping you top-of-mind above your competitors. A Registrar with effective products is much more likely to be a Registrar incentivised to sell your domains.

Keeping Registrars engaged

The balance of power has shifted somewhat with the introduction of so many new gTLDs. Registrars and resellers now have more products to put on their shelves and getting your product placed in the front window can prove difficult.

While it is important to have the broadest range of Registrars accredited to sell your product so no sales are lost, with so much competition for a Registrar’s eye it is often important to prioritise and find the Registrars who are most willing to work with your extension. Identifying Registrars whose existing customer base has a synergy with your target market is an easy choice, as is looking for Registrars who are receptive to your ongoing marketing efforts and focusing on making their job of selling as easy as possible.

To be clear, it’s important to treat all Registrars equally in terms of access to information, but you certainly don’t have to focus your efforts equally in terms of ongoing relationship management.

Cultivating strong working relationships with those Registrars who show they are willing to promote your TLDs and from whom you get the best results will ensure you get best bang for marketing buck.

Managing a Registrar channel is also an exceptionally time consuming process and spending five minutes on the phone daily with 35 Registrars versus deeply engaging with several Registrars who are helping you gain registrations is an easy choice. The reality is that there isn’t enough time in the day to develop the tools you will require and to engage all Registrars in the use of those tools, as well as engaging with your most successful Registrants. Prioritising your efforts is key.

Avoid the balancing act

While the process seems simple – supplying Registrars with the tools they need to sell, then building on success stories to provide additional sales tools and incentive for Registrars, and awareness for the market – the reality is that it’s a complex one.

It takes an innovative marketing plan and a real and continued effort to maintain and build upon Registrar relationships, as well as finding and promoting early adopters.

For many Registry Operators, especially those without a large portfolio of TLDs to manage, balancing these two functions in addition to all the other aspects of running a TLD can be overwhelming. Trying to divide resources and manage both alone could mean not realising the full potential of either strategy.

In these instances, Registry Operators may wish to consider splitting their efforts with a trusted partner: a partner who can help them build these Registrar relationships and allow them to really focus on finding and promoting innovative usage within their TLD.

At ARI, we have years of experience managing the day to day activities of building and maintaining Registrar relationships. There is a lot that goes into this process – whether it’s picking up the phone to make sure you remain top-of-mind, to giving your channel regular updates on your marketing and public relations efforts so they have all the tools they need to promote your TLD.

Many Registrars have trouble determining ‘which horse to back’ in a race whose entrants are multiplying by the day. Building relationships with Registrars, providing dedicated attention when one is showing particular interest or enthusiasm and supplying them with resources to make their job easier all take a necessary time and effort commitment, but it’s not one that every Registry Operator has the capacity to handle in-house.

When it comes to making the most of your relationship with resellers and registrars, an experienced partner means you have one less thing to worry about. Change is coming, but it can be a tricky road to navigate alone.

Lessons from .build one year after launch: Q&A with CEO and Founder George Minardos

Published on April 28th, 2015

Tony KirschBy Tony Kirsch
28 April 2015

The .build domain namespace opened in General Availability in April 2014, as a domain name designed specifically for the online needs of the building industry and beyond. As the appointed technical provider for .build, ARI Registry Services powered the launch and continued technical operations for this global domain name.

A year into the life of the namespace, ARI Registry Services’ Head of Global Consulting Tony Kirsch caught up with George Minardos, CEO of .build to talk about his insights to date, what he’s learnt about the domain name industry, and a look at where he thinks it is heading.

Question (Tony Kirsch): Hi George and thanks for the chance to chat about the journey of .build. To start, let’s talk about your general experience in the first year of the TLD. What have been some of the highlights?

George Minardos, CEO of .build: The first year has been a combination of block and tackling of the basics of a new business while pushing for innovation in an exploding field.

We came to the market ready to integrate into what we thought was a standardised process, but then learned that this wasn’t the case.  The changes that the new Registries and the New gTLD Program itself introduced, required the industry to create and adopt new systems and best practices. One of the most fulfilling milestones of our first year was to see the state of the industry gradually change over time in the direction we had predicted and promoted.  It was quite a year to watch individual registrars go from not offering our name or any others, to hundreds of registrars and resellers offering our complete product including premium names and different price levels.

Q: You established a number of partnerships with leading industry bodies. Why did you decide on this strategy?

George: I see .build as an opportunity for the entire building world.   My vision is to create a namespace that actually helps an entire industry improve.  Builders understand the importance of their real world reputation and identity and are beginning to understand the importance of their online identity. We realised that this isn’t actually that hard of a story to tell, especially if we could show a few great case studies: the story would then propagate and tell itself.

We partnered early on with the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC) and American Subcontractors Association (ASA), two of the largest associations in the commercial construction industry. We have also been working very closely with The Blue Book Network, a 100 year-old company with deep ties and services in the commercial construction industry.  These leading organizations represent hundreds of thousands of members. By getting them to effectively use, endorse, and adopt those domains, it is creating a broader awareness within the industry.  More to the point, each group understands the need to innovate and constantly offer their customers value.

IMG_0049

George Minardos and co-founder Tom Brackey with the Bluebook Network team at the Las Vegas Con Expo show

Q: What feedback have you received from your customers?

George: I spoke to a guy who was trying to buy a three-character domain that was selling for about $250 at the Registrar. He thought it was a bit expensive, compared with the general notion of what a domain costs, so I suggested he look up his desired name on a domain investing site and compare the prices. All the equivalent domains in other TLDs were worth thousands of dollars. And all of a sudden I heard the gears shifting on the other end of the phone and he was like ‘this is cheap; I’ve got to grab it now!’ He registered his domain name for the complete 10 year period!

I think there’s an opportunity to reset the consumer’s notion of value.  When you put a good domain name in terms of like-for-like, the whole notion of what’s good value can change.

There was a company called Saco that bought a .build in Landrush, and I actually went out and met with them because I was curious as to why they bought a .build. I sat down with the two founders of the company. They said there were 15 other Saco construction companies on the web and they saw .build as an opportunity to get the best name that was available to them and stand out from the crowd.

For them it was a no-brainer. They developed a website and did some pretty innovative things like setting up different Twitter accounts for each of their projects, where the Project Managers were posting updates and photos and they were uploading automatically into a feed on their website. I think they had that up in less than a day with a website builder.

We’ve set up a new page on our site – www.greatsites.build – to show some examples like this that are great representations of what people are doing with .build domains in so many areas.

Q: What else have you learned about the scope of .build over the past year?

George: When you start any business you wonder if you’ll have customers. Imagine opening a restaurant and wondering if people will fill the tables. We knew we’d have customers but it’s been really great to see how diverse they are.  There are a broad number of other types of people interested in the name ‘build’. We’re seeing tech and start-up companies, innovators and DIY-ers – many people just putting their next big idea on .build.

Something else that’s really interesting is that from a consumer side, we’ve found many times that the consumer is price-insensitive. We’ve offered some specials through marketing programs and often people don’t care to save $10, $20, or $50. They want to go to the easiest place to buy their domains, and if they’ve had an account with a registrar for 15 years then the discount to them is irrelevant. It’s easier for them to just log in and buy the domain full price at a place they know and trust. What I have learned in that regard is that the pricing model of the domain industry where there is no Manufactured Suggested Retail Price does work, but it isn’t one that I would have conceived of.

Sponsoring the Annual AGC Conference in Puerto Rico March 2015

Sponsoring the Annual AGC Conference in Puerto Rico March 2015

Q: How have you dealt with the competition in the market from other TLDs?

George: I’ve always said that a good domain name and therefore, a good TLD ultimately, is a name that means something to the person that buys it but also to the person that buys the good or service it offers. In short, a good domain is one you remember.

I think all the industry TLDs are good and they’re all needed, but I personally believe .build is the best for a number of reasons. It’s the shortest and it also is broader than any of the more specific TLDs like .engineer or .construction. I think competitively, it stands on its own without any kind of differentiation needed. If somebody thinks that their company name and ‘.contractors’ is better, then that is the one they should be buying. There are also peripheral TLDs like .property that are related, but they’re distinct. I think that standing back objectively, .build is a different TLD entirely because it is more universally understood than any of the competitors.

Q: Finally, what will be the main challenges and areas of focus for Year Two of .build?

George: General Awareness to the New gTLD Program was and still is very thin. This is partly related to the lack of technical integration but it is also a marketing and messaging issue. You have the challenge not only of how to sell the product, but also in getting the message out there that the product is even for sale.

I think that’s going to continue to be the potential challenge – or opportunity, depending on how you look at it. There are organisations like the DNA and ICANN that are working to push the word out further. We’re just going to continue to reach out in targeted ways that we find cost effective to increase the awareness of what new TLDs and .build in particular can do to improve a business’ online identity. We need to ensure the awareness increases and good stories keep getting told enough to raise all boats in this tide, so that the whole program becomes more successful.

Will the fast-approaching deadline for .brands catch many by surprise?

Published on April 20th, 2015

Tony KirschBy Corey Grant
21 April 2015

29 July 2015 is a big day for .brands. It’s the date when all ICANN Registry Agreements (RA) must be signed.

Once the RA is signed, the fees to ICANN and your Registry Services Provider kick in.

As certain as you can be that ICANN will begin sending invoices, you can also expect to receive increased scrutiny internally. Questions are inevitable.

People will want answers; what is the plan for this thing? How does it fit into our long term corporate goals? Do marketing have a plan to use the TLD in the upcoming launch of our new product?

Signing the RA by 29 July shouldn’t be your next step. Working backwards, by July you need a plan for the TLD. The plan might be to leave the TLD in a state where it can be used at short notice if needed, or it might be to establish a promotional site to support an upcoming campaign.

Either way, you need to develop a plan that enables you to address those inevitable questions, set expectations and manage internal stakeholders.

What .brands need to know

The addition of Specification 13 to the RA was a win for .brand applicants, recognising their unique status as brands. This also bought some time for those .brand applicants who were in no rush to proceed, with ICANN providing a nine month extension to the deadline when eligible .brand applicants must sign their RA.

By now, if you’re responsible for a .brand TLD you could be forgiven for putting things off for as long as possible in the hope that the whole process of taking control of the TLD becomes clearer and easier.

The good news is that it looks like ICANN isn’t going to alter the process of signing your RA and then getting delegated. At ARI Registry Services, we’ve helped many clients go through the process and it is all pretty easy now.

The not-so-easy part is explaining to the rest of your organisation how you will use your .brand TLD. This brings us back to that comfortable cruise into 29 July 2015.

How do you create a TLD plan?

You need to rally all of your senior stakeholders and workshop your options.

Bringing this group together not only helps you access a broad range of ideas and risks, but you also get buy-in from stakeholders right from the start. However, don’t under-estimate the challenge of organising this workshop.

You’ll need an executive level sponsor to buy into the workshop concept – after all, you’re taking a large number of senior personnel and locking them in a room for multiple days. Then you’ll need to convince each stakeholder to block out their calendar and attend.

If you weren’t already the internal evangelist for this .brand TLD, you need to become one right now. The future of your brand is digital and your .brand TLD is the future of your digital brand. It is a major investment for your organisation. It is also a new concept for almost everyone in your organisation and it’s difficult for them to get their heads around the scope of the impact and the opportunity.

Chicken and egg

Which comes first? It’s tough to spend time and resources on something when most people in your organisation don’t see the opportunity. But to gain buy-in, you need to start down the path of nailing down the strategy and having a plan you can refer to.

The good news is that the benefits of having a .brand TLD – like increased messaging recall and customer engagement, freedom of domain name choice, digital brand authority and trademark protection – make a compelling story when applied to your brand. .

More than 40 percent of the Fortune 100 applied for a .brand TLD, and those brands without a TLD will be at distinct disadvantage in their digital marketing strategy very soon.

Is a workshop and the resulting plan all you need to do to launch your .brand TLD? Unfortunately not, you’ll eventually need a full strategy, project plan, policy framework, risk assessment, budget, and resources to launch and operate the TLD. But for now, the workshop is the next step.

My advice to .brand operators is to get moving now and have a plan – or at least a path to create a plan – by the July deadline.

3 Reasons To Ditch Your Free DNS Service

Published on April 17th, 2015

By Brendon Mitchell

As the introduction of new gTLDs continue to capture the attention of the global internet audience, Registrars have never been in a stronger position to attract and retain their next generation of loyal customers – and domain name sales should be the beginning of the story.

Our research suggests that the rising impact of DNS related security threats, combined with the requirement for businesses to improve their online performance is resulting in an increased demand for premium DNS services. So while domain name sales remain your major focus; a shift in your DNS operations from a free to a paid DNS service could be a simple strategy to drive your average sales price higher.

Here’s three reasons why now’s the time to ditch that free DNS service in favour of a product that can support your business long term.

3_reasons_to_ditch_your_free_DNS_service

So if you’re thinking that now might be the right time to time to cull your free DNS service, drop me a line to discuss how DiscoveryDNS can deliver the technical, product and commercial expertise to drive your DNS revenues further.

Brendon Mitchell is a DNS Account Manager with ARI Registry Services. He consults with Registrars globally on the opportunity presented by premium DNS services. Follow Brendon on Twitter or contact him via LinkedIn to arrange a discussion on how DiscoveryDNS can help you manage risk and increase revenue.

3 steps for managing ICANN Registry compliance

Published on April 14th, 2015

Tony KirschBy Corey Grant
14 April 2015

If you are like the majority of Registry Operators we have spoken to, you may now be thinking that compliance with your new gTLD Registry Agreement is much more difficult than first envisaged – especially if you are one of the lucky operators which have been chosen for ICANN’s latest round of registry audits!

You may also be surprised at the number of questions and requests that you need to respond to.

The good news is that you are not alone, and I’m pleased to share some of our lessons here, in the hope that it may assist others.

What to expect from ICANN Compliance

When the first new gTLDs were launched, ICANN indicated that compliance with the Registry Agreement would be handled in a reactive and consultative manner.

The reality is that, since the first TLD was delegated ( شبكة. which translates to .shabaka, or ‘web’ in Arabic), ICANN’s Compliance department has been significantly ramping up efforts to proactively enforce Registry Agreements. In fact, responses from Registry Operators can be sought from the time the Registry Agreement is signed, and in some cases before TLDs are even live.

Making compliance management even harder for applicants are the shifting sands on which requirements are being developed, especially given that some are still being finalised.

It had been broadly expected that the parameters for compliance were two-fold:

a. ICANN Compliance Notices to be issued to Registry Operators when clear issues were identified; and
b. Formal (random) audits, to occur as part of a three year audit plan.

Extra compliance requirements

In addition to the above, we are seeing ICANN issue Inquiries, which seemingly amount to Notices without clear explanation.

ICANN has to date issued these Inquiries under a very broad range of topics to almost all current Registry Operators, and these ostensibly informal Notices must be acted upon by the Registry Operator lest ICANN escalate the Inquiry into a Notice.

This third area of contact by ICANN has significantly broadened the ability of ICANN compliance to contact Registry Operators. As a result we are seeing some concerning real world examples of compliance issues such as:

• Receiving compliance Notices before Registry Operators had reached a point in the launch process where names could be registered; and

• Receiving Notices because marketing material didn’t exactly match TLD startup information, without consideration for the differing audiences for this information; and

• In one case that we’ve been involved with, issuing Notices based on incorrectly auto-generated error messages, causing Registry Operators to scramble to understand potential breach situations that didn’t exist.

As concerning and time consuming as managing notices, audits and inquiries can be, experience shows us that preparation and knowledge is the key to minimising their impact on daily operations.

How to manage ICANN compliance

Effective and comprehensive TLD policies + clear understanding of the requirements/industry + comprehensive processes + knowledgeable resources = COMPLIANCE

The solution isn’t a simple one, given that it requires such a broad understanding of Registry Operator practices and the new gTLD regulatory framework, but for ARI Registry Services’ clients we provide the people and resources to ensure compliance via a three step process.

1. Proactive ongoing management of daily tasks
Managing the ongoing ICANN obligations such as Add Grace Period Limit Policy implementation, Zone File Access management, ICANN monthly reports, reserved name compliance management, etc.

2. Industry Engagement
Monitoring and active lobbying in the compliance space in the best interests of Registry Operators, as well as ensuring a comprehensive understanding of the requirements and best ways of resolving known and potential issues for a wide variety of operating parameters.

3. ICANN Response
Once inquiries or notices are received, or in preparation for a known audit, ARI Registry Services’ compliance staff have the accumulated knowledge and technical record keeping behind them to adequately respond in a timely fashion, minimizing the impact on Registry Operators.

Compliance with the Registry Agreement is a time consuming and complex affair. It’s also an unforgiving exercise too; you only get once chance to get it right or otherwise you face the very real consequence of an ICANN breach notice. This is the reason why many of our clients have signed up for our Operational Services program.

ARI Registry Services is the only one-stop-shop that simplifies your technical operations, advocates for your commercial interests and removes the complexities of operating within the ICANN ecosystem.

By safeguarding their TLD asset and outsourcing the burden of compliance to ARI Registry Services, our clients can concentrate on their core business operations safe in the knowledge that they’re working with a proven and trusted partner.

Corey Grant is a Senior Industry Consultant with the ARI Registry Services consulting team.

 

com.google April Fools’ is no laughing matter: what .google could mean for other .brands

Published on April 2nd, 2015

Tony KirschBy Tony Kirsch
2 April 2015

When April Fools’ Day rolls around each year, Google is generally one of the front runners for jokes – often making headlines for its quirky gimmicks. This year was no exception.

Yesterday, Google launched its first domain name under the recently delegated .google Top-Level Domain (TLD), a massive milestone for all .brand TLD owners. Google is encouraging millions of people around the world to visit: www.com.google.

The page offers a ‘flipped’ view of Google search – as if perhaps, you were inside Google itself looking outwards.

com.googleWhen promoting the stunt, Google openly promoted it as a product of new gTLDs and specifically its .google Top-Level Domain. Could it be perhaps, that Google is giving users a taste of what’s to come – a view from the inside of Google’s own corner of the Internet? The move from renting a small piece of .com to now hosting its search engine under on its own Top-Level Domain should not be understated in its significance.

The move attracted a lot of attention as many noted the use of .google and praised Google for its creativity.

There’s been much speculation about how Google will use its new gTLD assets – from the .google brand TLD to the likes of .app which Google famously acquired for $25 million earlier this year.

The fact that Google chose to use its .google TLD for this stunt could suggest a wider strategy starting to come into play. Based on its track record, the company’s April Fools’ efforts were always going to garner a lot of media attention, and they have been quite overt in linking this domain to new gTLDs.

trevor long tweetandrew bennett tweet

Hopefully, com.google is the ‘soft-launch’ of a larger .google strategy that will begin to roll out as Google continues to raise awareness of the namespace.

So what does this mean for other .brands? It’s no secret that in the world of tech, where Google goes, people follow. If Google starts to activate .google more broadly with as much creativity and innovation as com.google, it will provide a great example for other .brands on how to use a brand TLD to realise its full potential.

Some brands are already making waves with their TLD strategies. We’re very proud to be partnering with the likes of Monash University (.monash, the first .brand TLD to go live) and the Australian Cancer Research Foundation (.cancerresearch), which were both reported by CSC to be performing well in search and even have pages appearing in the Alexa 1M Ranking.

Our TLD consulting team is working with .brands to simplify their launch process and maximise business success. We’ll be watching closely to see what example Google sets as more .google sites start to emerge.