One of the touted benefits of the introduction of new generic Top Level Domains (gTLDs) has been that it could give online consumers greater confidence that who they are dealing with online is actually who they are.And the financial industry is one area. The introduction of a .BANK has the potential to give consumers greater confidence they are dealing with a legitimate financial company. However discussions within the banking industry for their own gTLD appear to be going nowhere for a variety of reasons.But the pharmaceutical industry appears to have grasped the potential with FairWinds Partners announcing they are working with the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy (NABP) to submit an application for a .PHARMACY gTLD to “make a vast improvement in the way patients search for prescription drugs online.””This is a community-based application submitted on behalf of the pharmacy community, including independent community pharmacies, chain drug stores, Internet pharmacies, schools and colleges of pharmacy, pharmaceutical manufacturers, and wholesale distributors of prescription medications, for the benefit of the health care community and patients worldwide,” say FairWinds on their gTLD Strategy blog. “The goal of .PHARMACY is to provide those individuals – pharmacists, doctors, nurses, caregivers, patients, and others – a secure space in which to search for information about or purchase prescription drugs online without having to worry about cybercrime or receiving counterfeit drugs.””Currently, online pharmacies rely on the Verified Internet Pharmacy Practice SitesCM (VIPPS®) accreditation program, to demonstrate to Internet users that they are safe and legitimate sites. VIPPS-accredited pharmacies are identified by the VIPPS seal that is displayed on their sites. While the authentic VIPPS seal links to the NABP website, the problem is, illegal online drug peddlers can, and do, simply copy the VIPPS logo and paste it on their sites to dupe unwitting consumers.”By contrast, by operating .PHARMACY as a restricted registry, NABP can properly vet each and every .PHARMACY site to ensure that it truly is legitimate, and can take enforcement action against any that do not meet its standards. It will also rely on LegitScript to verify, monitor, and enforce against rogue sites. These efforts, when combined with a public awareness campaign, can go a long way in protecting Internet users from the dangers posed by illegal online drug sellers and harmful counterfeit drugs.”
The number of registered applicants for ICANN’s online TLD Application System (TAS) reached 556 on 23 March, an increase of 227 in four days!And now there are only three days to go until those wishing to apply for a TLD need to register in the TAS. However as ICANN makes clear, this does not necessarily (and will not) represent the total number of applications since each registrant can apply for up to 50 new TLDs.Predictions of 1500 applications for TLDs are looking quite reasonable. However information to back this up is scarce with most brand owners playing their cards close to their chests. But one company, the consultant FairWinds Partners said that their clients are applying for 2.72 TLDs each.As FairWinds note on their blog, if their average of 2.72 TLDs per applicant was the average for applications, then there will be well over 1500 applications.”Some clients are applying for more than 10,” note FairWinds, “while some are applying for just one. These clients are all, for the most part, large companies with major, well-known brands. Some are applying for only ‘dot brand’ gTLDs that correspond to their major business, product, or service names, while others are pursuing generic or category terms as gTLDs. Some are applying for both. We are by no means saying that more gTLDs are better – at this point, until new gTLDs have become an established feature of the domain name space, we cannot know what the ‘right’ number of new gTLDs for any given business or other applicant to pursue is. For some, one application makes perfect sense, while others will likely benefit from applying for more.”
The Coalition Against Domain Name Abuse (CADNA) and its sister organisation FairWinds Partners are taking a dual approach to dealing with new gTLDs.CADNA has asked ICANN to give more consideration to brand owners and announce a second application period for new gTLD applications as they consider brand owners to have their backs against the wall.”One of the biggest responses we have heard from brands is that they feel as if their backs are up against a wall,” explained CADNA President Josh Bourne. “The fact that ICANN has only offered one opportunity to apply for new gTLDs has created a sense of chaos among brands, who feel as though ICANN is forcing them into making a ‘now or never’ decision that could impact both them and their consumers. Knowing that they will have the opportunity to apply again after having the chance to see if new gTLDs become valuable will go a long way toward relieving that anxiety.”CADNA has been very critical of the new gTLD process, but unlike the advertising and marketing associations that have belatedly banded together to form the Coalition for Responsible Internet Domain Oversight (CRIDO), they at least accept new gTLDs are coming, but want to strengthen protections for brand owners.CADNA says that “while it does not oppose fostering innovation and improving competition on the internet via an expanded domain name space, CADNA recognises that one of the major sources of dissatisfaction and apprehension among brand owners is the fact that they feel that, in a sense, they are being held hostage.”With this acceptance of the inevitability of new gTLDs, CADNA’s sister organisation FairWinds Partners have formed a consultancy to advise brand owners on the opportunities and challenges they present.FairWinds will be offering advice for brands on every aspect of the new gTLD programme beyond just the complex process of applying for and managing a new gTLD. Their philosophy is that a comprehensive consultative process, paired with the creation of key deliverables, will give brand owners the greatest chance of extracting value from new domains.