More Global Advertisers Awake From a Deep Slumber

The World Federation of Advertisers (WFA) and the Association of Canadian Advertisers (ACA) have added their names to the growing list of advertising associations to voice disapproval at ICANN’s proposal for new generic Top Level Domains.Arising from their deep slumber, seemingly oblivious to over five years of negotiations, the WFA have written to ICANN to express “deep concerns and strong reservations held by the global marketer community” that this decision will lead to significant legal and financial risks for brands in relation to the protection of domain names and monitoring of domain name abuse.Still rubbing their bleary eyes, WFA, who has around 60 of the biggest global marketers and 60 National Advertiser Associations on five continents as members, believes that the changes are likely to introduce confusion in the marketplace, increase the likelihood of “cybersquatting” and lead to trademark disputes. Brands could be forced to engage in costly defensive registrations of domain names in order to protect their trademarks and intellectual property, requiring significant diversions of internal resources on top of the costs already associated with buying gTLDs.In its letter, likely to be soon published on the ICANN website and currently available on the WFA website, WFA calls on ICANN to abandon its plan in its current form.”ICANN’s decision flies in the face of their own impact assessments, which highlight the potential dangers and massive costs that unlimited domain names could incur. Worse, it could lead to significant confusion among consumers and expose them to abuse by fraudulent operators,” said Stephan Loerke, WFA Managing Director.The sentiment was echoed by Alain Heureux, President of the Brussels-based Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB Europe): “Allowing limitless domain endings opens the door to huge registration costs and significant potential damage to both publishers and advertisers. This decision jeopardizes both our brands’ integrity and the safety of consumers.”Also joining the queue in awaking from the five year deep slumber was the ACA. Not letting facts get in the way of a good story, the ACA says that a worst-case scenario would be the hijacking of a reputable brand name by a “criminal element” said Bob Reaume, the ACA’s vice-president of policy and research according to a report in Canada’s Marketing Magazine.”Virtually unlimited damage could ensue if criminals own sites with trustworthy domain names that appeal to children or the elderly or other vulnerable groups in society,” Reaume told Marketing Magazine, who obviously has not read the applicant guidebook.According to the report, Reaume considers an ideal outcome for the ACA would be for ICANN to postpone the start of the new gTLD programme. But one must ask Reaume what has ICANN been doing for the last five or more years.Reaume then suggests, in what would be comical if he was not being serious, “we’re merely asking to be consulted on this.”