Posts Tagged ‘Registry services’

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

Monday, 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.

The favoured new TLD registrar payment model

Wednesday, February 6th, 2013

By Chris Wright

This week, Thomas Barrett – the President of US based registrar EnCirca – published a timely article about how the registrar cash flow model could collapse with the imminent release of hundreds of new Top-Level Domains (TLD).

I would like to thank Thomas for raising this important issue and for encouraging all new TLD applicants to discuss this topic with their back-end registry provider.

Thomas is correct; the process new TLD registries choose to interact with registrars will have a major impact on the success of their businesses.

Building upon what Thomas has written, I would like to take this opportunity to provide insights from a back-end registry operator’s view and offer an explanation for why I think the post bill pay model is favoured amongst registrars and should be supported by registries.

While Thomas briefly touched on this point, I would like to expand upon it and clarify a few issues.

The post bill pay model

ARI Registry Services has spent considerable time developing effective payment processes between registries and registrars. Following considerable consultation, the post bill pay model was constructed in conjunction with some of the largest registrars around the world.

We support the post bill pay model because it is actually significantly simpler and most registrars like it. In summary, this model essentially means registrars receive an invoice from the registry operator for all billable transactions following the end of a billing period. There are no accounts and no need for funds to be transferred outside of these invoices, which significantly helps to reduce the financial risk and strain on registrars.

It’s worth noting that it can be important to make a distinction between transactions that can be reversed and transaction’s that cannot. To make it simple for everyone, ARI Registry Services does not bill registry operators for transactions that are still reversible. We will wait until these transactions become non-reversible before we issue any invoices to registry operators. We offer similar functionality to our registry operators with respect to registrar billing so that they also have the choice to do this.

Benefits of the post bill pay model

As Thomas outlined in his article, there are a number of questions new TLD applicants should be asking their back-end registry provider. I completely agree with Thomas and offer the following responses to provide clarity on the benefits of the post bill pay model:

1) Is there an “accreditation” fee charged by the Registry?

As a back-end registry provider, we don’t charge any accreditation fee.

In fact, we take this one step further. All established registrars that can demonstrate experience in integrating with registries of a similar structure to us do not need to perform technical accreditation processes with us. Furthermore, we strongly advise our registry clients against charging accreditation fees as this is an unnecessary barrier to entry for registrars and ultimately impacts the commercial success of the TLD.

2) How much does the Registry require as an initial deposit and for replenishments?

Deposits, account maintenance and funds for replenishments are abolished under the post pay billing model. We don’t see any need for these.

The benefit of the post pay billing model is that there is no need to have account balances in the registry and we can simply track the transactions and invoice the registrars.

3) How does the Registry communicate the existing balance to Registrars? 

When you move to the post pay model, all you need to do is provide a web interface that allows registry operators and registrars alike access to the billable transactions that have occurred in the current invoice cycle. Sending a daily summary of transaction totals is the preferred way to proactively inform registrars of what they have spent.

4) Is there an auto-renewal policy for non-renewed domains?

Thomas seems to suggest that registrars don’t like auto-renewal because they basically provide credits to registrants or credits to the TLD.

This is easily addressed by delaying raising a transaction for this renewal until the end of the auto-renew grace period. Alternatively we can use the post pay model and the principle of not charging for non-reversible transactions. These solutions effectively eliminate this issue so you can still support an auto-renew service without the registrar having to carry the financial risk.

5) What are the bank fees to fund your registry account?

This is eliminated under the post pay bill model because there are no bank accounts and deposits to be tracked.

6) What payment options does the Registry accept for funds?

In our post bill pay model (as a back-end registry operator), we don’t enforce any mandatory payment options. It’s relatively straightforward; we send the invoicing data to the registry operator, who in turn will load the information into their accounting systems and generate an invoice for registrars. Registry operators are free to accept payment via any of the standard commercial invoicing payment options, or indeed any other method they desire. 

7) Does the Registry have its own account for each Registrar or does the back-end provider provide a single account for each registrar for all of the TLDs the back-end provider manages?

This issue becomes a lot less of a problem under the post bill pay model because we do not require money to be deposited, and thus tied up.

Each registrar will get a separate invoice from each commercial entity (registry operator) they deal with (TLD or collection of TLDs).

8) Does the Registry provider emergency credit if funds run low?

Again, because there are no funds associated with the post bill pay model, this issue is eliminated.

Risk for registry operators

As can be seen in our responses above, the post bill pay model addresses all of the questions Thomas has raised. However, while reducing the financial burden to registrars, it does potentially expose the registry operator to more risk.

We argue that new TLD registry operators should be prepared to accept this risk given that it will make their TLD more appealing to registrars. Ultimately, if you don’t have any registrars, you won’t be able to sell your domain names.

Further, these risks are manageable and can be addressed. For example, you can conduct credit checks on registrars, ask potentially problematic or risky registrars to put money into escrow or offer a bond, track the amount of debt a registrar is accumulating, or ultimately completely cut off the registrar from the registry if bills are not paid.

There are a number of strategies available to reduce this risk to registry operators.

Promotions

A further benefit of the post bill pay model is that it offers the most flexible platform for registries and registrars to implement promotional offers, discounts, credits for marketing and other commercial pricing strategies.

Essentially, each registry operator can apply their own discounting or promotional strategy as credits towards invoices, without requiring back-end registry operators to manage these. This means registry operators do not have to rely on their registry services provider to custom build promotions into their registry system, or pay expensive development costs.

Impact on new TLD applicants

I strongly recommend all new TLD applicants to consider the post bill pay model for their registrar payment process.

As described above, this model reduces the cash flow burden for registrars, makes your TLD more appealing to them and allows each registry operator to negotiate their own terms with each registrar.

Remember, registrars will be a crucial element in the success of many new TLDs. The barriers to entry will be a key  parameter reviewed by registrars when making decisions about which TLDs to integrate with first and a post bill payment model will go a long way to reducing these barriers.

If your back-end registry provider does not offer a post bill payment model, it may not be too late to switch.

By Chris Wright
Chief Technology Officer
ARI Registry Services

ARI Registry Services responds to Roland LaPlante

Thursday, October 27th, 2011

By Adrian Kinderis

Contrary to claims made by Afilias CMO Roland LaPlante (CircleID – 21 October 2011), current generic Top-Level Domain (gTLDs) Registries have no real technical or commercial advantage at operating a new Top-Level Domain (TLD) because existing gTLDs are currently only required to comply with a small subset of the requirements of the new TLD program.

Mr LaPlante argues that potential applicants should question Registry providers about which gTLDs they currently support because he suggests that “ICANN-contracted gTLDs operate under more stringent — and public — requirements than other TLDs.”

This statement is fundamentally wrong.

The new TLD program is setting a precedent within the industry for the best practice performance, operation and policy requirements of a generic TLD namespace that is governed by ICANN. Through the Applicant Guidebook, ICANN has created a completely new approach to operating a generic TLD and it contains multiple requirements that do not exist within current gTLDs. These additions include:

•    Rights Protection Mechanisms – Trademark Clearinghouse & Uniform Rapid Suspension System (URS)
•    Mandatory abuse measures
•    Policy establishment requirements
•    Stricter eligibility (considering community based TLDs)
•    Government and law enforcement recommendations

To put it simply, current gTLDs have little in common with new TLDs.

Furthermore, Mr LaPlante’s attack on country code Top-Level Domains (ccTLDs) is weak and without basis. Talk to auDA (the .au regulator), InternetNZ (the .nz regulator) and Nominet (.uk regulator), and I am sure they would be appalled to hear the view that their TLDs were managed with less stringent public policy development frameworks than existing gTLDs.

In fact, some restricted policy ccTLDs already incorporate features of the new TLD program that gTLDs such as .com, .info or .net currently fail to address. For instance, most viable ccTLDs already have strict rights protection and abuse measures in place. They also have a strong emphasis on stakeholder involvement and operate under increased scrutiny by governments and law enforcement.

The reality is that many ccTLDs perform the same role as gTLDs, except they do this within the confines of many more restrictions and policies, such as those found in the new TLD program. It is false to claim that gTLDs operate under more stringent requirements simply because they have a contract with ICANN and publish monthly reports about their registry operation.

Regardless of existing credentials or experience, the point is that new TLDs come with a set of requirements that currently don’t exist in any namespace and many of these are still yet to be fleshed out by ICANN (take the Trademark Clearing House for example).

It’s important to remember that one of ICANN’s primary goals in developing the new TLD program was to find a way to facilitate entry for new Registry operators entering the market. ICANN is attempting to introduce competition and they have done so in such a way that potential applicants do not even need to partner with a Registry Services Provider, let alone a gTLD provider in order to operate a new TLD Registry. While existing Registry Operators will deliver a superior solution (usually at a cost benefit) to those entities that do not wish to perform the technical function themselves, this choice is left with the applicant. ICANN will not give applicants any extra points for choosing an existing provider, despite what the propaganda might say.

It is true that not all TLD Registry Services Providers are created equal. There are good providers and there are ordinary providers. Each has different qualities and credentials. Unfortunately, operating an existing gTLD Registry is not one that holds relevance to the success or failure of your new TLD.

The fact of the matter is no one has ever operated a new TLD and we are all new to this world.

What you need to ask your provider is not their experience with existing gTLD registries, but their understanding of the program, its new requirements, the Applicant Guidebook and how they will technically support your specific requirements.

Clearly some providers don’t seem to understand that it will be a new world, which to me suggests that perhaps they don’t understand the program as much as they would have you believe.

By Adrian Kinderis, CEO of ARI Registry Services

An ITU cut and paste job for new TLDs could cost $150k

Tuesday, July 12th, 2011

By Chris Wright

It was with great interest that I read a recent announcement about a plan by the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) to publish template answers on a wiki for the 22 questions relating to registry technical operations contained within ICANN’s new Top-Level Domain Applicant Guidebook.

As someone who has spent the best part of six years following the development of the program (witnessing first-hand each evolution of the Applicant Guidebook) my first thought was one of bemusement – How can a generic solution taken “off the shelf” accurately demonstrate whether an applicant is capable of understanding the technical requirements for setting up and operating a new Top-Level Domain?

Quite frankly, it can’t.

The application process for new Top-Level Domains (TLD) has been carefully designed by ICANN to thoroughly examine whether an applicant has performed the required research to adequately understand what it means to own and operate a vital piece of Internet infrastructure. Operating a TLD is a huge responsibility that should not be taken lightly. The application process has been created in its current format to determine this.

For the applicant, the risk of landing in Extended Evaluation, ICANN’s special audit system for applications that require further attention, is far too great to be toying with a one size fits all approach. In an attempt to save money, applicants will instead be at risk of losing at least $150,000 should their application fail the evaluation criteria set by ICANN.

While consultants working closely with the ITU are correct in stating that applicants do not have to be currently operating Domain Name Registry Systems, they still must identify the technical solution that supports the specific Registry requirements of the application in question. The financial and organisational descriptions must do the same.

The solution proposed by the ITU becomes even more unrealistic when you consider the following:

 • Registry technical operations must identify the intended registry system specifications such as: domain name lifecycle, servers, software, infrastructure, data centres, bandwidth providers, policies & procedures etc. Those who know will agree that this is impossible to do generically.

• Any Registry Services provider worth a pinch of salt is offering the ‘technical operations’ component of the application free of charge with their back-end registry services solution. One has to question whether the approach suggested by the ITU is one that delivers a significant increase in risk without actually delivering any tangible cost reduction?

• This is not a turnkey solution. Applicants will still be required to provide answers to non technical and financial sections, answers which need to be consistent with the information provided in the technical sections of the application, so those who consider the ITU’s approach will struggle to establish consistency throughout all sections of the application.

• Without having properly researched, designed and finally settled on a technical solution, whether that be to outsource to industry experts, or build in-house, Applicants will not have the ability to identify information for other areas of the application such as Registry set up and operational costs that will be critical to the successful development of sound and accurate financials. Further, how will applicants be able to demonstrate to ICANN that the technical specifications provided can be delivered on?

From my perspective, taking answers from another entity (whose content has no relation to any registry system (real or proposed)) clearly demonstrates two things: 1) You are proficient with the cut and paste function of your keyboard and; 2) You clearly lack the understanding necessary to manage a critical piece of Internet infrastructure such as a new Top-Level Domain.

As any high school student can tell you, cutting and pasting answers from a wiki is prone to failure. Although the ITU claim that only ‘approved contributors’ will be able to edit the information, it is unclear how someone would be granted ‘approved contributor’ status. With the highly competitive nature of the TLD process, Applicants should be aware that the accuracy of the information contained within the template has the potential to be highly dubious and potentially even prone to subtle sabotage. I have no doubt that ICANN’s evaluators will be on the lookout for these responses, just like any good teacher would do.

The message to prospective applicants here is simple: If you show disrespect to the evaluators and don’t give the technical criteria of your application the attention it truly deserves, then why should they take your application seriously.

I am left with two equally horrifying questions: 1). Is this simply an attempt by the ITU to devalue and undermine the entire new TLD application process (and therefore ICANN)? 2). Does anyone at the ITU truly understand the goals of the application process and what it is intended to do?

Were the ITU’s ambitions truly altruistic, they would spend their efforts providing capability advice and skills to the community. This approach would be useful and would not water down the quality of submissions to ICANN, as this solution almost certainly will.

Finally, this blog does not set out to be self-serving. Yes, there is a level of confidence that comes with choosing a back-end registry provider that is established and experienced. However, ICANN has ensured that anyone who can fulfil the technical requirements will be awarded a TLD Registry. So, the point I am making is that the process of fulfilling the technical requirements of a new TLD Registry involves more than a simple cut and paste. It requires communicating a level of understanding that a new TLD is a piece of mission critical infrastructure and that there are enormous responsibilities that come with this.

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.

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.