Tag Archives: DOTZON

Use of .BRANDS and Efforts To Thwart Domain Name Abuse Industry Highlights For DOTZON’s Katrin Ohlmer

Criminal activities continue to be an issue and challenge for the domain name industry, and it’s one of the main issues addressed in today’s Q&A with Katrin Ohlmer, CEO and founder of DOTZON GmbH. Ohlmer cites it as a highlight and lowlight – 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?

Katrin Ohlmer:


A new awareness has been reached within the industry that many registries and registrars are responsible and taking actions against abuse, including the “Framework to Mitigate Abuse”. 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 – all with well beyond 1,000 registered domain names. We spotted quite a number of .brand domains “in the wild” – 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 “to ensure the stable and secure operation of the Internet’s unique identifier systems”.


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: I’m 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 – whether process-wise, with new products or communication channels.

The topic how ICANN will consider in its actions the Public Interest – not only at the Board level, but also within the wider community – 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 – 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 it’s 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:

Q&A With DOTZON’s Katrin Ohlmer on Year in Review, 2019, GDPR and Future of Domain Names

In the second of our series asking industry figures and companies to comment on their highlights and lowlights of 2018, looking ahead to 2019, the EU’s GDPR as well as the future of domain names, Katrin Ohlmer, CEO and founder of DOTZON GmbH, gives her views.

DOTZON is an international management consulting dedicated to digital identities. Since 2005 they’ve worked with companies, cities and organisations for the concept, application and operation of their own top-level domains. DOTZON helps their clients protect, establish and strengthen the digital identities of brands and companies. Since 2017 they’ve published the annual Digital City Brands study and since 2018 the Digital Company Brands study.

Domain Pulse: What were the highlights, lowlights and challenges of 2018 in the domain name industry for you?

Katrin Ohlmer:

A growing interest in domain names as such, both from the business and consumer side. We’ve noticed an increased interest by various stakeholder groups on Internet Governance topics, which might lead to a shift in the Internet Governance Stakeholder Map in the next few years.

Stolen data sets, as in the cases of Marriott, LinkedIn and others do not give consumers the security they need. Also, the whole domain industry could still improve in terms of customer experience and customer-centric marketing and communications. In 2019, we would like ICANN to focus again on their mission “to ensure the stable and secure operation of the Internet’s unique identifier systems”.

For sure all the new processes around GDPR, especially the closed public WHOIS.

DP: GDPR – good, bad and/or indifferent to you and the wider industry and why?

KO: Good for me as an individual since spam is extremely limited nowadays. Indifferent for a registry operator as no personal data is available to gain insights about their customer base in order to market the TLD. Bad for trademark owners who used to be able to contact registrants easily and negotiate a solution for a domain name without going to court.

DP: What are you looking forward to in 2019?

KO: I’m looking forward to seeing new creative use cases of .BRANDS following the ones we saw in 2018 like www.doc.new by Google and www.berlin.audi or www.weare.audi.

DP: What challenges and opportunities do you see for the year ahead?

KO: The challenge for the ICANN community will be two-fold: On the one hand, we will have to agree on how to handle the GDPR topic in the future. On the other hand, we will have to finalise the last steps in the review process of the last gTLD round and collect input for improvements for a new gTLD round, where we play an active role. I’m looking forward to seeing the results for both of these activities in 2019.

DP: 2019 will mark 5 years since the first new gTLDs came online. How do you view them now?

KO: Millions of domains under the new gTLDs have been registered and hundreds of thousands of great domains are in use. This is great news! But: Although there are many attractive new top-level domains, they are still a minority in the market, whether as brand, geo or generic TLDs. The market is only slowly adapting to this wider variety. However, it can be observed that the diversity is slowly but constantly increasing. We therefore expect an uptake in the long run.

DP: Are domain names as relevant now for consumers – business, government and individuals – as they have been in the past?

KO: The awareness of domain names among consumers has certainly decreased. At the same time more and more businesses go online and need a website. We therefore see a continuing demand in domains, which we can foster by delivering easy-to-use products whose features meet demands.

The first in this Q&A series was with EURid, manager of the .eu top level domain, and is available here.

If you’d like to participate in this Domain Pulse series with industry figures, please contact David Goldstein at Domain Pulse by email to david[at]goldsteinreport.com.

Domain Registrations Face An Uncertain Future But Opportunities Are There: Domain Pulse Panel

Domain name registrations are in a state of flux around the world. While registrations in the more than 1,200 new generic Top Level Domains (gTLDs) continue to grow strongly, registrations in the legacy gTLDs such as .com are declining and among country code Top Level Domains (ccTLDs) registrations are growing very slowly. And the trend is only likely to continue.

These are the findings of research conducted by CENTR and presented by Patrick Myles, CENTR Data Analyst, on day one of the Domain Pulse conference in Vienna last Thursday 16 February, attended by around 300 people. Domain Pulse is the annual conference of the registries for the German-speaking countries – Austria (.at), Switzerland (.ch) and Germany (.de).

Among European ccTLDs, the focus of CENTR’s research, Myles noted how growth rates (not registrations) have been declining for several years with an apparent stabilisation in the last few years.

So is it possible to arrest this decline in TLDs apart from the new gTLDs, and even in the new gTLDs will their growth rates come to a halt sometime soon?

In a following panel session, Michiel Henneke from SIDN that the .nl registry is particularly worried. In a country with 17 million people and 5.7 million registrations, and now the .amsterdam new gTLD, they have to focus on a probable saturation and face a future of low, if any, growth in .nl. The Netherlands also has less of a profile, Henneke said, than Amsterdam, making the city new gTLD appealing in international markets.

Even the rise of new gTLDs poses something of a threat to ccTLDs. Henneke noted that a few major Dutch companies have established their own TLDs and others, along with some regions, are interested in future applications. This could easily result in a decline in registrations in other areas as major brands often have hundreds, if not thousands, of registrations and small business may find a regional gTLD more appealing.

Even SIDN’s own research shows a worrying trend. Usage of websites is increasing but Google and Facebook are taking out an ever larger piece of the pie and it’s ambiguous as to whether young people are interested in domains.

But there is a bright spot – whenever EURid conducts a promotional campaign, .nl registrations rise!

Looking to the future, Henneke said “diversification not an option for every ccTLD as they’re answerable to government bodies. But SIDN has been experimenting with opportunities in similar areas. “DNS is required for e-billing so SIDN became a co-creator of a DNS billing service in the Netherlands, but there are few other markets that are as attractive when it comes to revenue as domain names and the e-billing service is just a small part of revenue. We’ve also taken over an e-identity company with 12 million users, so we believe this will be a significant contributor to future revenue.”

For Toby Hall, CEO of MMX who operates 26 new gTLDs, they have a focus on China where there are huge opportunities. But this is an opportunity that many ccTLDs don’t have. In a number of cultures where there’s an entrepreneurial spirit and energy that could have a positive outcome for all in the industry. Hall has found that the younger generation are wanting to use TLDs for other reasons than simply for a website or email, and that kids often relate to email as something in school.

“For the long term integrity of any domain name it has to resonate and have something of value,” Hall said. “We should be wanting to encourage new ways of thinking for new gTLDs”

For .berlin, they have had their own experiences. In a bid to stimulate registration growth in the early days, they gave away or sold cheaply around 90,000 domains in the early days, but they didn’t gain anything long term as many of these didn’t renew. Three years on from the launch of General Availability, registrations have now stabilised and are gradually increasing, now sitting at 59,000. These days the registry has even increased their registration fee with no detrimental impact on registrations.

Even MMX has had their own learning experiences. In the early days MMX set up a registrar to sell the registry’s own domains but they found this was “a wrong turn” as it created tension when doing deals with key registrars, and it was expensive. “It doesn’t make sense to create a distribution channel one will be competing with.”

Katrin Ohlmer, CEO of Dotzon, said it’s “not about the number of registrations but the usage and addressing the right target group. One of the main tasks for registries is to get message across is that a domain name is useful for a number of reasons, not just web and email.”

For .berlin which Ohlmer has been involved in from the start, 50% to 60% of .berlin domains are in active use.

On the threat to ccTLDs. Ohlmer observed that Audi has been setting up domain names for each of its dealers in Germany. Ohlmer also believes that with usage by brands, awareness of new gTLDs will increase and result in more registrations.

To drive registrations, Ohlmer wants to see it made easier for people to use their domains.

“For kids, it’s more about how easy is it to use for websites. If getting a website was as easy as getting a Facebook page, many more would have their own website and domain name,” she said.

“We need to change a lot of the language associate with domain names to appeal to a wider audience,” said Hall.