Tag Archives: Association of National Advertisers

ANA Wails Against New gTLDs. Again. With Advice For Brand Owners.

Association of National Advertisers logoOne of America’s leading representative groups for advertisers, the Association of National Advertisers, has railed against the introduction of new gTLDs since it woke up, belatedly, to the fact that they were coming.

Now they have published a blog posting on their website of the potential impacts new gTLDs may have on trademark holders and advertising, written by their general counsel’s office at Reed Smith LLP.

The “report” by Report by Brad R. Newberg says that the introduction of new gTLDs “has caused a great deal of (pragmatic and reasonable) consternation among brand owners who were worried that the new gTLD program would lead to rampant cybersquatting. Future posts will have more about that, but this post asks the question: Putting aside cybersquatters, domainers (those who speculate in domain names for profit), and in-house counsel at brandowners, when it comes to the public at large, if a TLD launches in a forest and no one is there to hear it, will it make a sound?”

Newberg notes “ICANN’s purported reason for launching the new TLD program was to open up domain names in non-Latin characters (through new TLDs in Arabic, Chinese, etc.), foster competition, increase consumer choice, and offer alternatives to individuals and businesses who might have been shut out of their preferred .com name. However, the actual launch of these TLDs has seen practically no advertising, resulting in a collective yawn from the general public—most of whom are blissfully unaware that any new TLDs exist.  In fact, given the registration numbers, it is hard to imagine that most of the already-launched TLDs will still be around in two years.  None has failed so far, but it is possible that the first TLD to close its doors will start a domino effect.”

One would have to question whether Newberg gets out much, as online there has been quite a lot of advertising, and in cities like Berlin and London, for example, their city gTLDs have been promoted widely. But yes, at least some, probably not most as Newberg writes, of the new gTLDs will fail in the next couple of years.

“According to the statistics,” Newberg also writes, “approximately 1.8 million domain names have been registered across those 200 domains, for an extremely low average of 9,000 domain names per gTLD.  But those numbers are misleading as the actual number of registrations is far lower.  Many gTLD registries have taken to reserve names in dummy registrations either to sell them later for premium prices or to pump up their numbers, or they have given domain names away for free just to make the gTLD seem popular.  For example, the #1 gTLD registry right now is .XYZ with a staggering 25 percent of all registrations (almost 450,000).  However, only a small fraction of those domains have been paid for by actual end-users or even domainers investing in the name—some have stated that .XYZ appears to have a goal of getting to a million registrations whether those registrations are paid for or not.  Even where the numbers have not been artificially inflated by the registries, many of the domain names were bought early by domainers hoping to flip the name for profit.  When one looks at the actual number of end-user registrants—importantly, they are the registrants likely to actually renew registrations when they come due (typically in a year)—it is hard to imagine the total actual number being outside the mid six-figures.”

The success of gTLDs may depend on large brands Newberg notes. Newberg considers “a profitability threshold well above 10,000 names.  It is possible that many of the gTLDs will do their best to stick around for a year after launching general availability, see what their renewal figures are, and then close shop if the numbers do not meet whatever threshold they have set for themselves.  Ironically, their survival might depend on the success of the .BRAND TLDs, almost none of which has launched yet.  The large brands that have applied for TLDs have the money to market their new TLDs if they so choose and make their new TLDs a key part of their marketing strategy.  If they do, and if the public latches on, perhaps that will fuel interest in the non-brand gTLDs.  If not, the whole system could fail and few will have the stomach to apply for more gTLDs when the second round comes around.” Which is a pretty fair point.

Brand protection is also an issue that brand owners need to be aware of across the new gTLDs, just like they should be vigilant about across existing gTLDs and ccTLDs. Newberg writes about three options for brand owners, these being “1) paying approximately $3,000 for a block across the gTLDs run by the registry ‘Donuts,’ since Donuts operates a significant number of TLDs and $3,000 is less than what it typically costs to go through a Uniform Domain-Name Dispute-Resolution Policy (UDRP) proceeding; 2) putting important marks on the Trademark Clearinghouse List (TMCH), and responding to the TMCH notices when a threat arises and monitoring for cybersquatting and typosquatting as usual; and, 3) registering domain names for important marks during the Sunrise period for gTLDs associated with a company’s particular industries.”

Overall there are some good points. But it’s worth noting the ANA has been hostile towards the introduction of new gTLDs. And they’re a US organisation and while they represent multinational brands in the US, they don’t seem to be well aware of the domain name industry outside of the US. Such as that there are 248 ccTLDs that already exist and brand owners should be dealing with the ccTLDs in much the same way as they deal with the gTLDs.

To read the ANA blog post in full, go to:

US Advertising Body Rants Again Against Coming New gTLDs

They ignored the planning for the introduction of new gTLDs for years. But the Association of National Advertisers has been shaken from its torpor in the last year or so, constantly complaining and saying the end of the world will be nigh if more gTLDs are introduced.The latest complaint from the US-based organisation that represents some of the globe’s largest advertisers jumps on the back of a Verisign report and a letter from PayPal to ICANN saying new gTLDs are not ready to be implemented.The Verisign report outlined a number of areas of “work that is currently not done, and should be completed before any new gTLDs can be deployed in a safe and secure manner.”And the PayPal letter also highlights “significant security issues [that] related to delegating gTLDs that are currently in wide use as de facto, private TLDs as identified by the ICANN Security and Stability Advisory Committee.”The ANA complaint refers to ICANN moving “relentlessly forward toward the April 23rd launch date, while ignoring the concerns voiced by those within and outside ICANN’s own operations.”The ANA complains that “ultimately, ICANN’s premature launch of gTLDs will yield cybersquatting and phishing, among many other cybercrime threats that jeopardise brand and consumer protections. Adequate steps have not been taken to protect Internet users, and we are headed toward uncharted waters with major danger to consumers, brandholders, and the Internet itself. The only prudent action for ICANN now is to delay this arbitrary domain name roll-out until it has fixed these very serious problems.”It is hard to take the ANA complaints seriously given they almost totally ignored participating in the years of planning that went into the introduction of new gTLDs. And when they finally awoke to their introduction, the ANA had to be reminded they had actually made one submission in the process. I guess one is better than none.

ANA Calls For gTLD Public Comment Period Extension

With the number of applications for new generic Top Level Domains exceeding most expectations, the Association of National Advertisers has written to ICANN asking for an extension of the public comment window.Whether this is another stalling tactic or a legitimate request is unknown, as the ANA has been vociferous in opposing the introduction of new gTLDs since they realised their introduction was close to a fait accompli.The ANA say that due to the large number of applications, they are asking ICANN for more time to review the numerous policy and technical issues that have come to light since the 1,930 applications were first revealed.For over five years the ANA ignored the policy making process that ICANN conducted where all interested parties could comment. And when approval for the applicant guidebook was nigh, the ANA began a campaign to oppose their introduction, largely because they feared their members would be forced to register many more domains to protect themselves against cybersquatters.”The number of applications ICANN received exceeded even their most optimistic projections,” said Bob Liodice, ANA’s President and CEO. “A 60-day comment window may have been sufficient for 500 applications, but with nearly 2,000, we believe more time is needed for the public at large to understand fully what the implications of these new TLDs will be.””Public comments play an important role in ICANN’s multistakeholder, deliberative process,” Liodice continued. “Affording interested parties the ability to evaluate these critically important applications is necessary to preserve and protect the efficient operating of the TLD system going forward. Due to the complex nature of many of the applications, 60 days may not be enough time to craft a coherent comment on them.”The ANA note there is precedence for extending the comment period. ICANN’s Governmental Advisory Committee (GAC) recently extended the comment period for its Early Warning period they note. And the ANA sees no reason why this same policy cannot be extended to the public comment period on new gTLDs.

US Govt Cancels RFP For ICANN’s IANA Contract

The US Commerce Department’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) has cancelled the Request For Proposal (RFP) into the role of the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA), that being the key technical functions supporting the Domain Name System, because they received no proposals that met the requirements requested by the global community.In their announcement, while noting no proposals met requirements, the NTIA does not say if they received any bids, even from ICANN. ICANN’s CEO and president, Rod Beckstrom, also refused to comment on if ICANN had submitted a bid at their meeting currently underway in Costa Rica.The Department says they intend to reissue the RFP at a future date to be determined so that the requirements of the global internet community can be served.There are some that believe the announcement sends a wake-up call to ICANN that they need to get their house in order. And in particular criticisms have come from those groups that ignored the top level domain consultation process that was ongoing for over five years. These groups such as the Association of National Advertisers (ANA) are now using any available method to lobby the US government to stop the TLD process. And if this means getting their two cents worth of lobbying on unrelated issues to discredit ICANN, then so be it.”This RFP cancellation, announced as ICANN convenes its March 11 – 16, 2012 meeting in Costa Rica, can only be seen as a clear message to ICANN that it must seriously address concerns by NTIA and multiple global stakeholders. These include federal policymakers, the ANA, Internet security experts, the Coalition for Responsible Internet Domain Oversight (CRIDO) and other stakeholders that have criticized ICANN’s expansion of the domain name system with hundreds, perhaps even thousands, of new generic top-level domains,” said Douglas J. Wood, General Counsel to the ANA, and a partner with Reed Smith LLP.However despite the lobbying and browbeating of those such as the ANA, “one of the key sticking points is the NTIA’s demand that the IANA contractor – ICANN – must document that all new gTLD delegations are in ‘the global public interest,” reported Domain Incite.”This demand is a way to prevent another controversy such as the approval of .xxx a year ago, which the Governmental Advisory Committee objected to on the grounds that it was not the ‘the global public interest.'””Coupled with newly strengthened Applicant Guidebook powers for the GAC to object to new gTLD application,” Domain Incite continued, “the IANA language could be described as ‘if the GAC objects, you must reject.'””NTIA’s cancellation is even more telling because ICANN changed its conflict of interest policy subsequent to Thrush’s departure and the issuance of the RFP. Many people believe the changes ICANN made to its conflict of interest policy were entirely inadequate in addressing NTIA’s legitimate concerns,” Wood went on to say in a statement. “With sixteen directors accountable through no independent oversight, their powers are unrestrained and, as recent decisions illustrate, ignore what the stakeholders want or, more importantly, need.”For now, the NTIA has reached an agreement with ICANN to continue performing the IANA functions until 30 September 2012.

Brands Owners Expected To Defy US-Based Trade Associations And Apply For TLDs

ICANN is to begin accepting applications for new generic Top Level Domains from tomorrow (12 January) with indications being that there will be somewhere between 1000 and 1500 applications during the three month application window.Defying attempts by largely US-based advertising and marketing organisations such as the Association of National Advertisers to stop or delay the programme, both Melbourne IT and ARI Registry Services (formerly AusRegistry International) have said they expect around two-thirds of applications to be from brand names.”Big brands from around the world have already engaged with Melbourne IT Digital Brand Services to help them apply for more than 100 new TLDs,” said Theo Hnarakis, Melbourne IT CEO and Managing Director.”Big name companies in the financial sector, plus the retail and consumer goods industries have shown the most interest in applying so far, and roughly a quarter of the companies we are assisting are members of the Fortune Global 500. Applicants working with Melbourne IT also include members of the U.S. Association of National Advertisers. We expect more brands to follow now the application window has opened and the program’s final application deadline of April 12 looms nearer,” Hnarakis said.Entrepreneurs seeking to profit from generic terms like .shop or .hotel are expected to make up around 30 per cent of applications while the remaining ten per cent will come from governments and other groups wanting to represent their city or region online with a geographic TLD like .sydney, .paris or .tokyo.”Analysis of more than 400 clients we’ve engaged with globally over the past year shows technology and finance companies in Asia Pacific and the US lead the pack,” said Adrian Kinderis, CEO of ARI Registry Services.Strongest interest has come from businesses in the Asia Pacific region (52%), followed by the United States (29%), Europe (10%), Middle East (7%) and Africa (2%).”The first round of new domains will be dominated by technology brands (20%), as the IT industry recognises the huge opportunity to innovate. This will be closely followed by banks and other financial service providers (11%) who are jumping at the opportunity for the increased online security and trust that comes with a .brand domain,” Kinderis said.Demand for new TLDs is likely to driven in part due to the difficulty in obtaining desirable domain names for new businesses and brands.”It takes about an average of 50 attempts until you actually secure a domain name that might exist because so many of them have already been registered,” Hnarakis told Sky News.”Now’s the perfect time for brands to consider a new Top-Level Domain as part of their long-term digital marketing strategy,” said Kinderis.Speculating on the results, Kinderis said the attractive sales and marketing benefits of new TLDs has likely appealed to the IT, finance and retail industries as a way to differentiate themselves -especially important in light of the economic downturn.”A .brand new Top-Level Domain will deliver improved trust, leadership, customer engagement and message recall by providing a direct connection between the customer and the brand experience online. The rapid growth of e-commerce and online retail also complements the move to a .brand domain name. For example, in the near future we may see short, relevant and memorable domain names such as iphone.apple, creditcards, .hsbc and shoes.nike.”However, both Kinderis and Hnarakis warn that potential applicants need to act quickly if they want to reap these benefits as it is unlikely there will be another round of applications for at least two or three years.

ICANN Critics Complain Over New gTLDs to Senate, But Little Any Can Do

Some of the critics of ICANN’s plan to introduce new generic Top Level Domains vented at the organisation’s plans at a US Senate hearing Thursday, but there is little any of the hearing participants can do to stop.The introduction of new gTLDs received cautious support from the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation with the committee’s opening statement saying:
If ICANN is determined to move forward, it should do so slowly and cautiously. The potential for fraud, consumer confusion, and cybersquatting is massive and argues for a phased in implementation. Scaling back the initial round of new top level domains introduced in 2013 may be a prudent approach. Companies, non-profit organizations, and others are rightly concerned that this new landscape will require them to spend money to protect their online identity. It’s my hope that we can phase this expansion in over time and not be regretful after the fact that it was done too hastily. That said, there are exciting new possibilities out there.But participants lined up to give ICANN a whack without much success. One exchange reported by Ad Age between Sen. Amy Klobuchar, and ICANN Senior VP-Stakeholder Relations Kurt Pritz went:
“I’m hopeful you will listen to these concerns,” said Ms. Klobuchar. “Will you listen to these concerns as we go forward?””I certainly will,” Mr. Pritz replied.Another critic, Dan Jaffe, exec VP-government relations for the Association of National Advertisers, wants ICANN to delay commencing accepting applications for gTLDs in January saying “there is not a consensus. There is nothing sacrosanct about this January 12 date.” The ANA continued with its claims that creating hundreds of new generic TLDs will burden businesses of all sizes, forcing them to defensively purchase numerous domains with different iterations of their brand names reported Ad Age, something supported by Angela Williams, general counsel for the YMCA of the USA who said the YMCA “can’t afford to keep trying to do this to protect our brand.” But Williams is a stooge for the part of the intellectual property lobby that is vociferously opposing the introduction of new gTLDs, and as Kieren McCarthy recently pointed out, the YMCA has never been involved in ICANN’s activities until the Dakar meeting in October this year.In his testimony to the committee according to Ad Age, Kurt Pritz said “studies indicate that corporations and other parties will not need to defensively register as many domains as they think, because many of the new TLDs will not be large enough to attract cybersquatters and ‘typosquatters.’ He also pointed to trademark protections built into the expansion strategy. But his reassurances did not seem to move the opponents.””Now is the time for launching the program,” Pritz went on to say reported PC World. “It is the proceed of well-thought-out, thoroughly debated polices that are designed to benefit the billions of Internet users through increased competition, choice and innovation.”The new domains will create competition in the domain-name market and will mitigate the market power of the current TLDs, including .com, he said.Meanwhile the inaugural ICANN chair Esther Dyson continued her opposition to ICANN’s plans saying “this is an economic creation” as she contrasted the programme with how companies like Twitter and Amazon built value into top-level domains. “What I would like to see is real innovation. … For that, you don’t need a new TLD.”

Q. What Unites Esther Dyson And YMCA? A. Opposition To New gTLDs

A representative of the Young Men’s Christian Association of the United States of America (YMCA) and Esther Dyson will appear before the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation a full committee hearing on ICANN’s expansion of top level domains today (Thursday).Others who will be appearing include ICANN’s Kurt Pritz, Fiona Alexander from the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), Dan Jaffe from the Association of National Advertisers and the Coalition for Responsible Internet Domain Oversight.While it is predictable that Jaffe will rant against the introduction of new gTLDs, it is to be hoped the committee will ask why the organisation has only belatedly come to the party in opposing new gTLDs.The proposal for new gTLDs has been around since the mid-2000s and the ANA has even submitted comments on the proposal around 2008. Something Robert Liodice, the organisation’s president and CEO, forgot when writing his ill-informed letter to ICANN’s CEO and president in August 2011. Embarrassingly for the ANA and Liodice, Beckstrom refuted many of the issues noted in their letter and outlined how comments including the ANA’s had been taken into account when formulating new gTLD policy.Esther Dyson is an oddity. She was ICANN’s inaugural chair and has become a vocal opponent of new gTLDs, in an article she wrote for the Project Syndicate in August that new gTLDs do not “actually create any new value.””The value is in people’s heads – in the meanings of the words and the brand associations – not in the expanded namespace. In fact, the new approach carves up the namespace: the value formerly associated with Apple could now be divided into Apple.computers, apple.phone, ipod.apple, and so on.”Dyson believes “this sounds confusing [and] that is because it is.”Possibly, on the face of it, strangest appearance will be from Angela Williams, the General Counsel of the YMCA in the US. Kieren McCarthy on his dotNXT blog has dug a little deeper. McCarthy notes that the reason they are appearing is solely because of the intellectual property lobby.”The YMCA turned up for the first time at an ICANN meeting at the most recent meeting in Dakar just over a month ago,” wrote McCarthy. “Incredibly its representative, Michael Carson, immediately became the person in charge of both communication and membership for the newly formed Not-for-Profit Operational Concerns Constituency (NPOC).””Michael’s sudden elevation is thanks to the NPOC’s chair, Debra Hughes. Debra represents the Red Cross but is viewed by some in the ICANN constituency she represents – the non-commercial stakeholders group – as a Trojan Horse for intellectual property interests.”

American Association of National Advertisers Huff And Puff Over New gTLDs

They might have been asleep through ICANN’s extensive consultation process over the introduction of new generic Top Level Domains, but the Association of National Advertisers, an American association representing more than 400 companies, is stamping their feet trying to drum up some support for their belated opposition to new generic Top Level Domains (gTLDs).The ANA has called for ICANN to conduct a systematic review” of its ethics policies according to a Bloomberg report.In a letter not yet published on the ICANN website, nor on the ANA website, the ANA says the failure of ICANN to close “numerous loopholes” in its conflict-of-interest policy “would raise the most profound questions as to the ability of ICANN to represent the public interest,” says Robert Liodice, president of the Association of National Advertisers, in his 2 October letter to the ICANN CEO and president Rod Beckstrom.According to the Bloomberg report, the letter was also sent to officials at the White House and U.S. Commerce Department, as well as members of the U.S. Senate and House.The letter appears to be a belated attempt for the ANA to make up for their lack of participation, made up of one submission, to the new gTLD consultation process. Possibly even an attempt to save face with some of their member organisations.The letter is undoubtedly a way for the ANA to save face after being embarrassed by having minimal input into the new gTLD consultation process. The ANA’s Liodice made several claims in a letter to ICANN dated 4 August that in response Beckstrom noted were “either incorrect or problematic in several respects. Perhaps the most severe mischaracterizations concern the ICANN process.”The ANA even appear to have embarrassingly forgotten, a point that Beckstrom reminded them of, they submitted a number of suggestions in December 2008 that ICANN either wholly or largely incorporated.Despite the latest posturing from the ANA, it will be interesting to see how many of their members apply for new gTLDs. At least one of their members, Canon, have said they will be applying for their own gTLD so it is apparent not all members support their views.Previous correspondence with ICANN appears on the ICANN website, and the abovementioned letter should also appear shortly, at www.icann.org/en/correspondence.The Bloomberg report is available at www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-10-03/internet-overseer-should-review-ethics-policy-ad-group-says-1-.html.