Domain Pulse 2015: New gTLDs Can Be Beneficial in Search, But Content Remains the Key

At the Domain Pulse conference in Berlin last month, Martin Scholz gave a presentation on how new gTLDs can be advantageous for business.Scholz, from Searchmetrics who specialise in SEO content marketing analysis, explained how there can be advantages for registrants using new gTLDs. While using a good .com or ccTLD domain is likely to be the best option for a brand owner to get a high search ranking, not everyone is able to get one.So a small business might find that they can get a more targeted .london or .berlin domain that will be advantageous. Searchmetrics, Scholz said, had found there are advantages with a .berlin domain for local Berlin businesses. They found .berlin domains rank higher than .de domains in local search results for searches relating to the German capital.The example Scholz gave was that if a business has well a performing domain, like, the example he used, then there is not really a need to move the domain to a gTLD. But not everyone has a well-performing domain so for some it may be on their list to work on their domain anyway. And if so, they can think about getting a ‘better’ domain that is more suited for their business – if it’s located in Berlin, it may – but it doesn’t have to – be an option to choose a .berlin domain.User behaviour will also play a part. On a simplified level one could say: the more internet users click on a link, the higher a website ranks. Of course, there are other metrics like bounce rate and time-on-site that have a huge influence. So generally, if internet users start thinking, as in the example used by Scholz, that a .berlin domain is more relevant for them than a .de domain and they click on it more often, and they stay on the website and interact with the content, then this will affect the ranking by search engines such as Google and Bing.But Scholz concluded, the main focus of webmasters should not be the kind of TLD they use, but rather have relevant content for their users.More information on happenings at Domain Pulse are in the DENIC new release below:Organizer DENIC welcomes Peter Schaar, MP Christian Flisek and experts of the industry to topical Internet policy debates
Is there any way in the age of web 2.0 to avoid digital disgrace and to safely protect one’s reputation? Have large commercial online services like Google and Facebook become so powerful that regulation is necessary and useful? Is it possible? How can users gain control of their online communication infrastructure? Which opportunities offer new approaches like transparent algorithms, open standards or interoperability? Must governments step in and protect the general public against the monopolists in the net? What measures could be applied and how realistic is their enforceability? Did the launch of new Internet address endings, like .hamburg, .bio or .bmw, actually initiate a “revolution” of the web as promised by their operators? Did they meet the users’ expectations?Under the motto “Net-in-motion”, the twelfth specialist conference Domain pulse, which was held in Berlin on 26 and 27 February, provided interesting statements, forecasts and answers to these and other highly topical issues. More than 350 visitors listened to the lectures and international-expert panel discussions that have made the largest annual congress about topics and trends of the Internet domain sector an established meeting of the industry in the German-speaking territory. The two-day event is staged annually in turns by the registries managing the country code Top Level domains of Austria (, of Switzerland and Liechtenstein (SWITCH), and by DENIC, the operator of the German country code TLD .de, who is hosting this year’s conference.Control loss and control attempts in the digital ageAt the start of the conference on 26 February, keynote speaker Prof. Dr. Bernhard Pörksen from Tübingen University, one of the most renowned communication experts internationally, explained the basic principles of reputation management. With numerous witty case examples, he vividly demonstrated how the reputation of private individuals, companies or political entities can be “steered” in no time today. He strongly recommends everybody – individuals as well as companies or institutions – to have a media strategy for the digital age. “Today’s interactive media provide unprecedented possibilities for scandalization. Somebody feeling like taking umbrage already is sufficient – the only other thing this person needs is an audience,” warned Pörksen, and closed with some action recommendations for all of us.Digital heavyweights and society: Regulation or laissez-faire?A hot verbal battle on the topic “Digital heavyweights and society: Regulation or laissez-faire?” fought Peter Schaar, former Federal German Commissioner for Data Protection and Freedom of Information, and Thomas Knüwer, founder of the digital consultancy kpunktnull, and made their statements how to deal with the extensive power of today’s international Internet enterprises like Google and Facebook, whose monopolist status creates totality instead of plurality. The experts agreed that the lock-in effects resulting from the non-interoperability of the social networks, strengthened the position of the monopolists even further. They did not agree, however, how to assess this phenomenon.Knüwer considers the current discussion that generally suspects all Internet companies of hoarding data for unlawful purposes as exaggerated. From the users’ point of view, so his opinion, a multitude of social networks is not useful because they do not allow cross-network communication. For him, the Big Brother question must rather be asked in relation with public institutions, who attempt to legitimate blanket data retention with their crime prevention or short pre-crime approach.Peter Schaar, in contrast, sees an urgent need for government regulation, given the oppressive dominance of the Internet monopolists, who acquire competitors on a large scale and extract user data from various services to combine and personalize them in detail. In his opinion, the legislator has to ensure user autonomy for certain services by making algorithms more transparent and standards more open. Moreover, the current competition and cartel law must be enhanced. A new definition of monopoles taking into consideration both the user’s side as well as the impacts of search machines and social networks on the advertising market is overdue.Criticized in the discussion also was the rather unsatisfactory approach from the political side in Germany. Different from other countries like the USA, there were hardly any politicians in Germany with a clear opinion on Internet matters. Neither was there a real discussion about the digital society we would like to have in the future. Apparently, German politicians were unable to properly handle the topic and competence-building measures, also for creating greater awareness of the wider public, the order of the day, so the opinion of the panelist.
Internet Governance: The cards are being reshuffled – Pitfalls and desiresAlso the second day of the Domain pulse was dedicated to Internet policy. One of the central topics was the general climate in the context of Internet Governance: What is left of the NETmundial conference of 2014 in Brazil, in which (multi-)stakeholders from all fields including politics, economy, technical community and civil society have been involved? Which issues should be followed up? What about the NETmundial Initiative (NMI), which is strongly driven by the World Economic Forum? Is it a useful follow-up platform of the NETmundial? Does it compete with the Internet Governance Forum (IGF), as some rumours say? And what about the IGF? Is the extension of the mandate by the UNO safely wrapped up? How stable is the institution? What will a multistakeholder organization without the be like “shadow of the state”? A situation awaiting us when the transition of the stewardship function of basicInternet resources currently held by the USA, the so-called IANA transition, takes place as planned in September 2015. Do we need a controlling entity outside of ICANN? Can we learn from the principle of the separation of power in modern democracies and transfer it to the IANA succession?In a high-caliber panel discussion, Professor Wolfgang Kleinwächter, member of the ICANN Board, Thomas Schneider, Chair of ICANN’s Governmental Advisory Committee (GAC), Christoph Steck, Director Public Policy for Telefónica as a representative of the private sector at the NETmundial Initiative, Thomas Rickert of the Association of the German Internet Economy, eco, and DENIC-CEO Jörg Schweiger tried to assign protagonists, roles, affiliations and connections.The tenor of the forum: By the NETmundial conference, the various stakeholder groups had proven that consensus could be achieved through the multistakeholder approach at eye level to adopt a joint declaration. It must be clear, however, that the declaration merely was an agreement on common basic values providing a solid foundation for solutions that should be developed jointly on an international level.It was emphasized that the NETmundial Initiative expressly characterized itself as not being a parallel organization of the economy that wanted to exploit the – compared to intergovernmental agreements non-binding – multistakeholder approach for its own benefit. NMI at present rather should be considered a beta version. In an open consultation process, it wanted to obtain the opinions of the various communities and saw itself as a binding element between the different initiatives. Given the fact that the UN mandate of the Internet Governance Forum currently did not provide any decision-making power, the questions and problems related to the future management of the Internet resources and their services and applications identified at the IGF had to be addressed and promoted at other levels with a focus on implementation.Digital agendas for Germany and Europe – a critical assessment of the status quoIn the next discussion round “The Old World’s answer to the New World’s IT challenge: Digital agendas for Germany and Europe – a critical assessment of the status quo”, German and European Internet politicians met with Volker Tripp from Digitale Gesellschaft e.V., an advocate of civil society who represents their criticisms. On the panel were Christian Flisek, spokesman for the SPD parliamentary group in the NSA Committee of Inquiry and member of the Committee of the German Bundestag on the Digital Agenda, as well as Sabine Verheyen, Member of the European Parliament for the German party CDU and deputy member of the Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection.Flisek defended the Digital Agenda of the German Government. Even though much attacked by the general public, he called it a successful step in the right direction; for the first time the focus was on cross-sectional topics. Also the distribution of responsibility across three ministries (BMI, BMWi and BMVI) was valued positively by him. Despite all criticism, it created a stimulating competition for reasonable results. From the point of view of the Committee of Inquiry, however, a strong need for improvement was identified with regard to fundamental right protection by use of technology. He requested a permanent monitoring to be institutionally established, which should include a reformation of the existing parliamentary control entities.Sabine Verheyen pointed out that the European approach to the digital internal market was directed first of all to economic cooperation, which was due to the transfer of competences to the European Union. National sovereignty for issues relevant to the society as a whole made it difficult to address such topics in the European context. The aim behind all the efforts was to pool the interests of the member states and enhance harmonization. Tripp complained that up to the present positive incentives had come only from the legal side, and stated the ECJ ruling about the right to be forgotten as an example.Flisek criticized that the Code Law often tried to assume the role of a quasi-substitute lawmaker with the aim to more or less level out the interests of platforms against democratically legitimized rules. The complete existing legislation being territorially restricted, companies operating in the global context consistently faced jurisdiction conflicts, he pointed out. Thus, internationally agreed rules for the use of the Internet were urgently required. However, this must not mean giving up national regulatory competence. Moreover, European standards should be raised at least to the transatlantic context.Volker Tripp advocated more self-confidence in supporting the European fundamental right position. He criticized the decisions of the German government, which, he said, often seemed to be based on fear and diffuse anxieties. He is missing a culture of options and possibilities. In his opinion, the WLAN duty of care, generally denounced as the gateway for anonymous Internet crime, should be abolished; one year later, a survey should investigate if and to what extent the related concerns had been justified.Generally, the question arose, so Sabine Verheyen, which solution was better, regulation or negotiation, and mentioned the example of the transfer of air passenger data, a topic of highly controversial public debate. However, one had to be aware that finding consensus was very difficult and one could not pretend the German understanding of fundamental rights to be the non plus ultra.Tripp countered that everybody could make the rules of a service provider the decisive criterion for their choice. The rules of a sovereign state, in contrast, had to be observed, if you liked them or not. So there really should be made a distinction between companies and governments collecting data.All panelists agreed that German governmental authorities should strongly increase their presence on the international stage of Internet policy.Other topics on the congress agenda included the new Internet address endings launched one year ago, their establishment in the market and to what degree have they met expectations – in particular with regard to search engine relevance. Further discussed were the security of telematic systems, mobile end devices and critical infrastructures as well as the types of disputes between domain holders and brand owners arriving from brand and copyright violations.Domain pulse on the InternetYou will find the complete program of the specialist congress and all information about the protagonists involved on the event website About one week after the event, we will also make available live recordings as a retrospective of the event. The next Domain pulse will be held in Lausanne in Switzerland on 1 and 2 February 2016.