Donuts dropped a bit of a bombshell on the domain name industry Thursday by announcing they were taking on the domain name registry business of Afilias, making it one of the largest providers of backend registry services for hundreds of ccTLDs, legacy gTLDs and new gTLDs.
A lot has changed in the 30 years since .au was delegated to Australia and became the country’s online. For Australians it was a time when a reforming Labor government was opening up the country to the world. For others it was when Crocodile Dundee was released and opened up Australia to the world’s eyes!
Since then a lot has changed, including in the domain name world. Back then organisations were only entitled to one domain name, there was no domain name aftermarket and the number of registrations were in the low thousands.
Today there are over three million .au domain names registered and it’s considered one of the safer Top Level Domains.
“Our annual surveys consistently identify the .au domain namespace as the most trusted in Australia,” AusRegistry CEO Adrian Kinderis said.
“From small businesses and bloggers to multi-million dollar companies such as Vegemite, Bonds, Akubra and Holden, if you want to succeed online in Australia a domain name ending in .au will tick the right boxes; trust, security and popularity.
Mr Kinderis said while it’s important to acknowledge the hard work across the industry that got us to this position, we must also address the critical question of competition in an increasingly crowded market where disruption is the new business paradigm. What of the next 30-years?
“You don’t chalk up 30-years of success without being nimble and responsive to your changing environment,” he said.
“Innovative changes such as the introduction of one-to-five year terms and direct .au registrations give Australians a greater opportunity to get online by registering domain names like www.yourname.au or www.businessname.au.
“This is not the finishing line, and it is vital that we protect this national asset and recognise the investment made in the .au domain namespace over the 30-year course, while positioning for success for the next 30 years and beyond.
“The .au domain namespace is indeed worth celebrating, so congratulations to each and every online Australian who chooses to represent themselves and their businesses online with a .au domain name.”
With internet security becoming an ever growing threat and ever more important issue, the latest issue of the quarterly Behind the Dot: State of the .au Domain [pdf] from AusRegistry examines these issues with a focus on .au (Australia).The publication includes a few articles by yours truly on Protecting Australia’s Internet with DNSSEC and interviews with Dr Jason Smith, Technical Director at CERT Australia on Responding to a cyber incident and an interview with Robert Schischka, Technical Manager at nic.at about nic.at’s experiences implementing DNSSEC.There are also articles on an update on .au registration numbers, malware, global domain hijacking incidents being a menace to major brands, protecting your domain from cyber threats, predictions for the .au namespace for 2016 and government and policy.Writing on the AusRegistry website, Adrian Kinderis, CEO of AusRegistry says:
A significant tool for protecting our country’s online ecosystem has been the implementation of DNS Security Extensions, otherwise known as DNSSEC. In this edition, we’ve examined DNSSEC in detail to outline how it works and who should consider implementing it.Online security is not however, an issue solely for Registries. Major brands and individuals alike can and should take essential steps to ensure their data, assets and reputations are protected from online attacks. This edition of Behind the Dot contains a close look at some of the major global brands that have been threatened by hijackers; as well as some of the risks to individual domain name registrants and some tactics for addressing them.We’ve also called upon some of Australia’s leading security experts for their tips and insights on staying safe online. CERT Australia Technical Director, Dr Jason Smith gives us his views on cyber security issues affecting critical infrastructure, while Bruce Matthews, Cyber Security Manager at the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) provides an overview of the Australian Internet Security Initiative. Finally, Robert Schischka of nic.at, the Registry for the Austrian country code Top-Level Domain, offers an international perspective on DNSSEC.In addition, we’re delighted to have the contribution of a number of our .au Registrars in this edition, to give their predictions for the year ahead in .au and the domain name industry abroad. We look forward to continuing this inclusion of Registrars in future editions and encourage your input.
Adrian Kinderis, who co-founded AusRegistry and ARI Registry Services and now a Vice President at Neustar has called on the domain name industry to âgrow upâ according to a report on Domain Incite.
Speaking in front of an audience that included registries, registrars and investors at this weekâs NamesCon, Kinderis called for âthe industry to kick out the handful of bad actors that ruin its reputation, and to quit the âbullshit bickeringâ about which TLDs are best.â
âFor far too long this industry has turned a blind eye to the less than scrupulous activities,â he said, âand these activities have plagued this industry. Bad actors have tarnished the perception of this industry.â
âThis may have been acceptable when it was a few insiders first grasping at a fledgling product in the early nineties butâ¦ we are now front and center of the internet,â he said.
âThese practices of a few bad actors have led to the frustration of consumers. We have not served the best interests of our consumers at all times,â he said. âThis has to change.â
The IANA transition, from US government oversight to a multistakeholder oversight, is likely to take place on 30 September according to an AFP report.
ICANN CEO and President Fadi ChehadÃ© told AFP the transition plan being prepared since early 2014 will be delivered to the US government in February, and that it could take place on September 30 — a year later than originally planned.
If the US government approves the plan, “then the contract between ICANN and the US government which is set to naturally expire on September 30 will just expire,” Chehade said in an interview Wednesday in Washington.
Chehade said the private non-profit ICANN is effectively a “traffic cop” that ensures the Internet address system functions, and that the US government’s role has been merely to ensure that it follows correct procedures.
“In all the years we’ve done that (the US government) has never said we did not follow the process,” he said.
“People have aggrandized the role of the US government in what we do. But the change is actually minimal. It’s important symbolically because the US was really a steward for the Internet, but for day-to-day accountability, it is minimal.”
With over 420 new gTLDs being launched in 2014, and about double that to come in the current round, it was timely for the European Domain Centre blog to ask ten leading experts “what’s in the DNA of a successful gTLD?”To help them on their way Christopher Hofman asked the following additional questions:
- Do successful new gTLDs share common traits ?
- Is there a way to spot the success of future launches in the registration stats?
- Why does .link get 50.000 registrations, when .direct only has 4.000 ?
- What is it about the success of .club or .guru that other registries might have missed?
The experts asked were
- Michele Neylon (Blacknight Solutions) who said the “key will be the content not the actual domains
- Andy Churley (Famous Four Media) who questioned the success of .club whose domains have wholesaled for below $10
- Jeff Sass (.CLUB Domains) who said “the greatest challenges every Registry faces are the ones of awareness and clutter” and “that in 2015 we’ll see stronger registry marketing efforts”
- Joseph Peterson (Branding Consultant and Domain Investor) who echoed several others saying “success depends on perspective” and that “what truly counts is someone’s goal”. Peterson also thinks that “if .MOBILE were to proceed without restrictions, it might overtake .MOBI a decade from now. Words are simply more natural. So I’d anticipate poor results for truncated nTLDs such as .REST, .PHYSIO, .ONL, and .ARCHI. Indeed, .RESTAURANT has already eclipsed .REST.”
- Pinky Brand who thinks relationships, trust and planning ahead are all key
- Adrian Kinderis (ARI Registry Services) says one has to question the importance of numbers and that “while registrars and domainers care little about .brands, they will transform the way we use the Internet. And clearly, a mere count of the names registered under these TLDs will reveal little about the success of these namespaces”
- Joe Alagna (101domain.com) gave six keys to a successful new gTLD:
1. let markets operate without too much interference.
2. foster trust amongst all stakeholders.
3. keep prices and rules simple and easy to understand.
4. follow established protocols.
5. are predictable and transparent.
6. promote aggressively while respecting their sales channels.
- Ken Hansen (co.com) said keyword gTLDs, location gTLDs, passion and marketing are all key
- Morgan Linton (Linton Investments) said “the team behind the registry and the string itself” are key
- Rubens Kohl (nic.br) believes the key there must be relevance building for a new gTLD to be successful.
To read the full article and complete responses, go to:
The prospect of a second round of applications for new gTLDs is on the agenda for ICANN, with discussions likely to take place at an upcoming board meeting, possibly as early as September.
“The board will soon start discussing the possibility of opening a second round of applications for new gTLDs, said ICANN board member and auDA CEO Chris Disspain at the Australian Internet Governance Forum Wednesday in a discussion on new gTLDs focussing on the upcoming .melbourne.
The earliest possibility for discussions is an ICANN board retreat, scheduled for early to mid-September.
The conference was preceded by the announcement of the winners of the Australia and New Zealand Internet Awards (ANZIA), a collaboration between auDA and InternetNZ, that recognise organisations, businesses and individuals who excel in delivering accessible, innovative, informative and secure resources to a diverse and wide community on the Internet.
“The concept of the ANZIAs came from discussions between Keith Davidson (the then CEO of InternetNZ) and me over several glasses of red wine,” said Disspain. “We wanted to be able to reward those organisations, individuals and businesses we had seen develop incredible online resources, for the benefit of all Australians and New Zealanders. The Internet is a place where everyone is able to exchange ideas and communicate, on a level playing field. The ANZIAs are a way to acknowledge the world-class initiatives that are created, in both of our countries.”
There were winners in six different categories:
- Diversity: Cultural Infusion
- Innovation: ARTS:LIVE – The Song Room
- Information: Policy Online (APO)
- Access & Digital Skills: Get Up To Speed Program – The Training Collective
- Security & Online Safety: RealMe – New Zealand Department of Internal Affairs
- The Leonie Dunbar Memorial Award for Community Websites: Apollo Bay Community Website Inc
A full list of winners and those highly commended is available at www.internetawards.org.au
The upcoming launch of the .melbourne gTLD was also the focus though of one session. Questions were raised about the cost, due to the $50 wholesale premium being charged to registrars. But ARI Registry Services CEO Adrian Kinderis, who will provide registry services, justified the cost for three reasons – respect for the Australian country code .au, preventing cybersquatting and that it’s expensive to run a TLD, so with less names, costs have to be higher to pay the bills.
Kinderis also believes that the use of a city gTLD such as .melbourne will also help internet users find their desired destination.
If you’re searching for Melbourne, the results for .melbourne will be ranked higher, Kinderis believes. The same with brands. Searching for a brand will rank websites using the brand gTLD higher than other sites.
But for registrants using domains in more generic TLDs, Kinderis believes they will in the main not be ranked highly in search results.
Like many, I’ve been watching the rollout of the first 150+ new Top-Level Domains (TLD) with interest.Since the delegation of شبكة. back in October, we’ve seen all sorts of TLDs launched – from brands like .monash to generics like .build.There has been intense scrutiny within our industry on the zone file registration numbers of these delegated TLDs to measure whether or not they are successful.To be fair, this is not a surprise. We’ve been conditioned by past generic TLD launches to focus on registration numbers. Whether it was .mobi, .travel, .info or.co, all previous TLDs have been measured on registration volume – and more worryingly against the benchmark of .com.Despite being the new TLD program, many in our industry are still persisting with their old TLD ways of thinking.How will these same people measure the success of .brands and .geos? Remember, it’s a whole new ball game which requires a different way of thinking because the goal posts have moved.Early numbers mean nothingThe fact that .guru has 40,000 domain name registrations and .graphics only has 4000 means nothing. It’s like comparing apples and oranges.Outlandish claims like those seen by .CLUB Domains CEO Colin Campbell that .club will overtake .guru in week one are symptomatic of our industry’s naive focus on raw numbers over qualitative results.Even my own marketing team is guilty of getting caught up in the hype of zone file number reporting. I had to remind them via Twitter recently that there are many ways of determining a top performing new TLD.The fact of the matter is, raw numbers mean nothing and a focus on use, engagement, purpose and sustainable revenues are far better measures of success.What is success?New TLD operators should be judged on their whole-of-business operational performance to take account of stakeholder engagement, customer satisfaction, strategy planning and financial modeling.Don’t get me wrong, domain name registration numbers matter. It’s just that you can’t determine the success or failure of a new TLD by comparing it to other TLDs. You can only judge a TLD against its intended purpose and strategy.Think about .brand TLDs for a second. Registration numbers mean nothing and their entire model is based on how their TLD is integrated into the organisation’s digital strategy. Geographics and IDNs also have a very different proposition than traditional generics.In attempting to measure success, I’d suggest onlookers focus on:1. Use: Is the namespace being used in a meaningful way and is there evidence of usage and development with the domain names? Are registrants building businesses and content within the namespace?
2. Sustainable revenues: Who is registering domain names and what is the prospect for renewals? Will the TLD retain registrations or do registrants see it as a fad?
3. Trust: Will end users come to trust the namespace and the content hosted within it? Are these registrants helping to establish trust in the namespace?
4. Purpose: What’s the mission and purpose of the namespace (question 18) and are the registration numbers and content living up to these aspirations?
5. Audience: Is the registry operator targeting a clearly defined audience? Is that audience responsive to the product being offered?Ask yourself, in the first month of general availability for a generic TLD, would you rather have 10,000 parked domain names registered by domainers with little likelihood of long-term renewal, or would you opt for 100 domain name registrations by major global brands in your target audience who use your namespace to host their entire website?A strategy reliant on defensive registrations and parked domains is doomed to fail – and is completely ignorant of the new market dynamics within the industry.In any case, it’s still far too early to accurately measure the long-term viability of any new TLD. But a focus away from registration numbers and an emphasis on use and purpose would be more appropriate.TLDs like شبكة. haven’t even started their marketing and awareness campaigns yet and the impact of name collisions is holding back many operators from fully implementing their strategic plan to deliver their mission and purpose.Remember, the game has changed and so have the goal posts.This article by Adrian Kinderis, CEO, ARI Registry Services, was sourced with permission from:
A new domain name industry association is set to launch later this month with the goal of representing the entire domain name industry, positioning itself as an advocate for the commercial interests of maximising the value of all domain names.The new body is to be called the Domain Name Association and the momentum has come for the organisation with the launch of new generic top level domains on the horizon. The DNA is assuming a mandate to educate internet users about the benefits of new gTLDs with the intent of building trust, exchanging ideas, educating and raising awareness of domain related issues.”For too long the domain name industry has relied on ICANN to defend our commercial interests, even though this is not ICANN’s responsibility,” said Adrian Kinderis, Chair of the Interim Board of the Domain Name Association. “The formation of the Domain Name Association reflects a maturation of our industry in the corporate sphere and presents a united front in the promotion of domain names as the primary tool for users to navigate the internet.”I strongly encourage everyone involved in the industry to join the Domain Name Association and contribute to our collective growth.”Founding members include ARI Registry Services, Demand Media, Donuts, FairWinds Partners, Go Daddy, Google, Momentous and United TLD while another 50 firms have expressed an interest in getting involved.Along with Kinderis as chair of the DNA’s interim board, who is also CEO of ARI Registry Services, other members of the interim board are Jeff Eckhaus of Demand Media, Statton Hammock of United TLD, Job Lawrence of Google, Jon Nevett of Donuts, Elizabeth Sweezey of FairWinds Partners and Richard Merdinger of Go Daddy.Membership in the DNA is open to organizations involved in all aspects of managing domain names, including domain name registries, registrars, resellers and registry service providers.The DNA has a website — thedna.org and also maintains an education site at whatdomain.org.
Adrian Kinderis, CEO of ARI Registry Services, says Super Bowl 2013 showed a brandâs domain name and Twitter handles were the dominant call to actions for the worldâs leading advertisers â a fact that bodes well for the introduction of .brand Top-Level Domains in traditional advertising mediums
There is no surprise that marketers, advertisers and consumers pay close attention to Super Bowl ads. A Super Bowl campaign provides a brand with the opportunity to shine like no other event in the world, entertaining millions through the discipline of insightful, creative advertising.
Last year one trend in particular caught my attention â the common call to action used by advertisers to drive a response from consumers. My brilliant team of data crunchers found 49% of Super Bowl 2012 ads directed viewers to a corporate website address â above all other social media channels such as Facebook (11%) and Twitter (9%).
So when Super Bowl Sunday came around this year, I was intrigued to see what my teamâs analysis would yield. Would domain names still remain dominant despite the growing popularity of social media?
Interestingly, out of the 73 ads that aired this year, domain names prevailed again as the preferred call to action used by advertisers, with 40% of ads containing a traditional web address. On the social media front, it was Twitter that dominated the playing field with 34% of ads featuring a Twitter handle or hashtag â a monumental jump of more than 300% from last year. In contrast, Facebook remained âon the benchâ with only 11% of mentions in Super Bowl commercials and Google+ was clearly stuck in the locker room with not a single mention.
With 108.4 million viewers, Super Bowl 2013 was one of the highest rating programs in the US, making the advertising slots some of the most valuable in the world. Reports suggest advertisers spent up to a record $3.8 million for each 30-second slot, with GoDaddy, Samsung, Audi, Century 21, Hyundai and Fiat amongst the many regular players.
For $3.8 million Iâm guessing advertisers were hoping for a strong return on investment â and with so much riding on the success of each ad, the call to action driving the advertising message is clearly vitally important. The fact that domain names were the most popular call to action for two years running proves that advertisers prefer to drive an audience to a website for a purer, controlled brand experience.
The reality is that social media does not present the same level of certainty as a website. Despite âthe impressive growth this year of Twitter mentions, this was normally in conjunction with another call to action such as a domain name. For example, Disney and Fiat featured both website addresses and Twitter handles (one to drive a brand experience, the other to create a conversation). Super Bowl ad veteran GoDaddy advertised with just their domain name last year, but added Twitter as an additional call to action this year. This is an interesting move from an organization whose business is the sale of domain names. Iâd suggest this addresses a requirement to create brand engagement at times when a domain name purchase isnât on the cards.
Intriguingly, only 19% of ads featured a Twitter handle or hashtag as the only call to action â compared to 25% for domain names. Hyundai and Century 21 were the biggest domain name fanatics, advertising with their website addresses only in both Super Bowl 2012 and 2013, while we found a Twitter devotee in Audi, who used Twitter as their sole call to action for both years.Â The case was even bleaker for Facebook, with only 4% of ads featuring Facebook as the sole call to action (Pepsi was a lone ranger here). In fact, Samsung went so far as to drop their Facebook call to action from their 2012 ads in favour of Twitter this year â perhaps a recognition of the channelâs ability to attract online conversations around the worldâs biggest events, be it sport, politics or a natural disaster.
For now, itâs clear that brands still see websites as their core digital asset â the quarterbacks of a brandâs digital strategy you might say.
What trends will we see in future ads?
Despite the increasing trend for brands integrating their content through social media channels, my prediction is that websites, driven by intuitive and easy to recall website addresses will continue to remain the primary point of brand engagement for many of the worldâs leading brands. Websites provide a level of control, interaction and measurability that social media just cannot match when considering brand experience, product immersion or direct response.
To support this, many global brands have invested in their their own branded slice of the Internet to allow for greater levels of engagement between their online content and their target audiences. And they are only just around the cornerâ¦
The new Top-Level Domain program
The global regulator of domain names, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), is getting ready to roll out its new Top-Level Domain program later this year. The program will see those that applied move beyond the traditional .com to .brand in a dramatic shift that will introduce a new platform for innovation, increased simplicity and recall for the domain name landscape.
Moving from samsung.com to .samsung for example, this unique slice of Internet real estate will change the way consumers around the world navigate to find online content, as well as reducing the reliance upon unwieldy forward slashes (/) to create an online call to action.
A .brand Top-Level Domain will allow trust, leadership, customer engagement and improved message recall to shine through by providing a direct connection between the customer and the brand experience â creating your very own branded âwalled gardenâ. This will deliver the same control and measurability seen in traditional domain names, but it will provide new avenues for creativity, freedom and simplicity.
What impact will this have on Super Bowl ads in the future?
For those brands who have applied, a new Top-Level Domain will have a unique differentiator within the online space at their disposal â an asset that creates memorable, succinct domain name structures that will increase customer response and engagement from traditional advertising activity.
I suspect next yearâs Super Bowl advertisers will be closely watching the new Top-Level Domain program and investigating the possibility of including a .brand Top-Level Domain when itâs their time to shine on the global scale. Dell, Toyota, and Samsung all advertised this year and all applied for a new Top-Level Domain. Their chance to innovate is just around the corner.
Just imagine seeing ads driving viewers to visit rav4.toyota, achieve.dell or galaxy.samsung in next yearâs Super Bowl? Seems just little bit more compelling than âfollow us on Twitterâ.
This article by Adrian Kinderis, CEO of ARI Registry Services, was sourced with permission from:
Adrian Kinderis, CEO of ARI Registry Services, explains why Hilton Hotels’ decision to withdraw their .hilton new Top-Level Domain application is an opportunity for success wastedAmerican author Mark Twain once wrote: “I was seldom able to see an opportunity until it had ceased to be one.”Last month we learned that Hilton Hotels & Resorts joined six other new Top-Level Domain applicants in withdrawing their application and exiting the program.I was disappointed when I first heard the news. My initial thoughts were centred on the enormous potential .hilton offered the company and the innovative business opportunities they were now abandoning.Just imagine the ease of content access Hilton could have delivered their guests through associating their products, locations and services with .hilton. Instead of Googling to find the nearest Hilton Hotel in a city (which I commonly do), guests could simply type newyork.hilton for example to find everything they need. Not only would this deliver improved trust, customer engagement and message recall with consumers, it would allow Hilton to localise and tailor their messages to suit guests’ needs.I asked myself, what circumstances could force Hilton into giving up on these benefits?Some brands may have made decisions to apply for a new TLD based on fears about brand protection. Perhaps Hilton applied simply to prevent someone else owning .hilton?I can understand why some applicants have withdrawn from the program, be it due to competition or GAC Early Warnings. However, none of these reasons apply to Hilton.The truth is we don’t know why Hilton withdrew their application because neither Hilton nor their representatives have offered an official explanation for the decision.It is my proposition that Hilton lacked two crucial elements in their new TLD plans and that these were the reasons for their withdrawal: Expert support and intestinal fortitude.Expert supportI find it odd that a lot of new TLD applicants hit submit on their application in early 2012 and naively thought the revenue and rewards of their hard labour would somehow magically start rolling through the door.This couldn’t be further from the truth.There is an enormous amount of work to be done in order to transform your application into a fully operational component of your business.Unfortunately, it seems likely to me that Hilton fell into this trap. They may have lacked the expert support needed to help them through ICANN’s complicated processes and the authoritative guidance on how to build a successful TLD. Ultimately, they probably just needed someone to hold their hand.My team and I have taken on this role with our own clients. While we are polishing our backend registry systems in preparation to launch new TLDs, we are also spending a significant amount of time consulting with our clients and helping them develop an operational strategy capable of delivering them the revenue and rewards they so eagerly seek.Essentially, what we’re trying to do is help our clients and other new TLD applicants stand up robust and successful businesses. Simple, right?This involves tedious planning sessions and workshops to produce assets to execute a winning business plan. To do this, you’ll need TLD policies, procedures for dispute resolution, integration with registrars and other third parties, technology support, operational guides and a host of other requirements. The reason we know this is because we have done this many times before for other TLDs.However, it’s understandable if the prospect of getting all of these elements in place scared the living daylights out of Hilton. They’re leaders in operating hotels and resorts. Launching and operating a TLD is about as foreign as it gets.They needed an expert they could rely on for support.Intestinal fortitudeWhile getting the right advice is important, I’ve also been telling folks from day one that you’ve got to have intestinal fortitude if you want to be a leader – especially in the new TLD game.By its very nature, everyone participating in the new TLD program is breaking new ground in an attempt to achieve greatness. This is where leaders and innovators separate themselves from followers. It takes guts!I suspect Hilton lost confidence and didn’t have the courage, determination and chutzpah to see it through. It’s a shame really because they were sitting on a gem of a TLD that had enormous potential, particularly given the online nature of the travel industry.My team and I are working hard for our clients to give them every confidence in achieving success. We do this by reducing the burden on our clients by providing the expertise they need at this crucial stage in a TLDs development. We will stand side-by-side with them and face every challenge together.Opportunity realisedWith the right advice and support from a trusted partner, combined with the intestinal fortitude capable of withstanding ICANN’s ever flexible timelines, applicants should be set to achieve every success in this program.The unfortunate reality for Hilton was that they were in an enviable position compared to many others. They just didn’t know it. I wish they had given me a call before making the decision to withdraw.Clearly, there is significant interest and demand in the program and the benefits are there to be seen.It’s true; one of my clients could come to me next week and ask to withdraw from the program. However, my team and I are prepared to get our hands dirty and work hard for every one of our clients to ensure they have the opportunity to realise success.This article by Adrian Kinderis, CEO of ARI Registry Services, was sourced with permission from www.ariservices.com/blog/opportunity-missed-hilton-checks-out-of-new-domains-boom/