The average Digital Shadows client isn’t a small company, but the company reports in their latest Impersonating Domains Report an average client has 1,100 impersonating domains and subdomains detected on average per year.
According to an analysis of the Netherlands’ 50 biggest brand names, the number of .nl domain names suspected of being used or intended for use in phishing has been increasing, but monitoring and intervention appears to be suppressing visible abuse such as phishing.
Criminal activities continue to be an issue and challenge for the domain name industry, and itâs one of the main issues addressed in todayâs Q&A with Katrin Ohlmer, CEO and founder of DOTZON GmbH. Ohlmer cites it as a highlight and lowlight â a highlight because the industry is attempting to tackle domain name abuse and a lowlight with phishing, malware, botnets and pharming being threats to consumers putting the whole industry in a bad light and seemingly not interested in fixing the issue. Ohlmer also sees the growth in usage of .brand new gTLDs as another highlight while she says the whole domain industry could improve in terms of customer experience and customer-centric marketing and communications.
Domain Pulse: What were the highlights, lowlights and challenges of 2019 in the domain name industry, both for you and/or the industry in general?
A new awareness has been reached within the industry that many registries and registrars are responsible and taking actions against abuse, including the âFramework to Mitigate Abuseâ. We started to communicate our efforts better to the community and will continue these efforts in 2020.
We noticed a growing use of domain names of .brands including the likes of .audi, .dvag and .mma â all with well beyond 1,000 registered domain names. We spotted quite a number of .brand domains âin the wildâ – in print advertising, on vehicles and social media ads.
The ever-present existence of phishing, malware, botnets and pharming threats to consumers puts the whole industry in a bad light seemingly not interested in fixing this issue. The industry has to improve its communication activities within the community and to all stakeholders in 2020.
In 2020, we would like ICANN to focus again on their mission âto ensure the stable and secure operation of the Internet’s unique identifier systemsâ.
GDPR brought to our industry new challenges and burdens. GDPR and its consequences are an asset for our industry that personal data are not published anymore. Even though this negatively affects the interests of the trademark industry.
DP: What are you looking forward to in 2020?
KO: Iâm really looking forward to welcoming the ICANN community to Hamburg in Autumn and showcasing the broad use of .hamburg domain names in the city. With and ICANN meeting taking place only for the second time ever, it will be a great opportunity for the local and national Internet community to meet the ICANN community.
DP: What challenges and opportunities do you see for the year ahead?
KO: As the next round of new TLDs is still ahead of us, .brands including some of our customers have the opportunity to showcase the many usage scenarios which they have already implemented and will be implemented in 2020.
The whole industry has to increase their communication efforts about DNS Abuse to demonstrate that they take abuse seriously. Further debates are likely whether registries and registrars will mitigate abuse beyond DNS like counterfeiting, but hopefully ICANN will stay within its remits.
Further consolidation will happen between registries, registrars and vertically integrated groups. We might also see further investments from equity investment companies within the industry.
Tech trends like Artificial Intelligence, Bitcoin, Internet of Things will improve our industry â whether process-wise, with new products or communication channels.
The topic how ICANN will consider in its actions the Public Interest â not only at the Board level, but also within the wider community â will be a challenge. A first step has been made with the proposal drafted by the Board, and further activities will likely happen in 2020.
DP: How have new gTLDs fared in 2019?
KO: We observed that the diversity of TLDs being actively used across the globe is slowly but constantly increasing. Therefore we expect a steady uptake over the next few years and establishing the new gTLDs as a valid alternative to former TLDs.
A number of the new gTLDs are doing very well â they are chosen by users because they have a meaning like .realestate, .consulting and .rich, some provide local and regional identity to users like .berlin, .bzh and .nyc, and some represent the brand online like .audi, .google and .edeka. The more generic TLDs are, the less differentiation and meaning they have making it harder to develop a long-term value proposition beyond the price.
DP: What progress do you see on a new round of applications for new gTLDs in 2020?
KO: We are currently finalising the last open issues within the Subsequent Procedures PDP Working Group. I expect that the substantive progress of our ongoing work will continue in 2020, leading to a final report being sent to the GNSO Council and later to the ICANN Board for approval.
DP: What one thing would you like to see addressed or changed in the domain name industry?
KO: I tend to repeat myself: I still think the whole domain industry could improve in terms of customer experience and customer-centric marketing and communications including lower barriers to set-up a website, easing the whole domain registration process, and setting up an email account.
For decades, customers were attracted by prices. This led to many registrations with no or very limited usage. Now itâs time to encourage existing customers to use the product they bought and improve processes for new customers making it easier to bring their website with their new domain online.
Previous Q&As in this series were with:
The pressures on brands to get their new gTLDs to market are different to those with registrations that rely on paid for registrations. For brands, the pressure is to get what they want… right.
At the International Trademark Association (INTA) Annual Meeting in Barcelona, Spain, thatâs running from 20 to 24 May, there was a discussion on how to evaluate the success of brand generic top level domains. Itâs a huge even for trademark professionals with the number registered this year topping 10,644 at 17:00 pm on Sunday, 21 May.
World Trademark Review has given a detailed coverage of the meeting, including the seminar on brand gTLDs. CSC Digital Brand Servicesâ Gretchen Olive argued, according to the WTR report, âthat they should be viewed through a different prism. Crucially, she notes that â.brandsâ are just not in a rush to launch. Nor are they subject to the same pressures to do so, in a bid to recoup their investment through registration sales: âSuccess is not measured by registrations or profit, but instead the unique strategic business goals of each individual brand.ââ
âThe operators of branded online spaces, then, are marching to the beat of a different drum. One such is Accenture, with Kristen Poggensee, paralegal associate manager, joining Olive in the â.brandsâ and youâ session. Poggensee is part of a cross-company team â drawing on legal, marketing and IT â that is driving the digital strategy behind â.accentureâ, and she explained: âRight now we are not looking to just switch from â.comâ to â.accentureâ. Instead we are taking a phased approach and testing the water. This is an evolving strategy.â Central to this are continued efforts to âbuild awareness â not only within the company but also the communityâ, engage in industry and competitor analysis, and ensure that senior management remains involved in the project as this evolution continues: âYou have to keep interest levels high.â The takeaway? There may not be a big bang moment in terms of â.brandâ deployment but donât regard that as indicating failure. Brand registries are instead working at their own pace, exploring and testing different options, and rolling out only when it is strategically advantageous to do so.â
Abstract: This paper provides the first large-scale empirical evidence of the association between specific properties of internet domain names and website performance. We analyze over one million internet domain names, linking their phonological and morphological attributes to the realized demand for their associated websites. We test hypotheses related to how the names sound, how they look, their ease of recall, and the likelihood that they will be typed correctly. Continue reading Empirical Evidence for the Role of the Domain Name Itself in Website Performance by Karan Girotra & Karl T. Ulrich [INSEAD Working Paper]
Abstract: This paper provides the first large-scale empirical evidence of the association between specific properties of internet domain names and website performance. We analyze over one million internet domain names, linking their phonological and morphological attributes to the realized demand for their associated websites. We test hypotheses related to how the names sound, how they look, their ease of recall, and the likelihood that they will be typed correctly.We find that certain attributes of names are associated meaningfully and significantly with the demand realized by a website. The websites with the highest demand have names that are short, include dictionary words, avoid punctuation symbols, and use numerals. The use of phonemes associated with disgust is negatively associated with performance for most websites, but positively associated with performance for adult sites. Some of these results from the on-line world are likely to hold off line, while some are not. These findings can be used in conjunction with other criteria as part of the selection process for names.One example of the findings in the paper is:
“We find that shorter domains (measured as number of characters or syllables) perform better. This suggests that, in contrast to the literature that found recall benefits of longer names in the offline world, with respect to domain names, the increased navigational yield effect of shorter names may exceed any benefits to recall of longer names. A one standard deviation increase in the length of a domain name measured as number of characters (number of syllables) is associated with a decline in site rank of 7.34% (2.99%). Alternately, an extra character or syllable is associated with a 1-2% lower rank.”To download this INSEAD Working Paper by Karan Girotra & Karl T. Ulrich in full, see: