Why CRIDO”s Attempt To Derail New gTLDs Is Doomed To Fail

In his latest posting on the Minds+Machines blog, Antony Van Couvering looks at the advertising and marketing industry””s opposition to new gTLDs.

This opposition, largely coming from the US is notable for several reasons. One is that the industry has been nigh on silent for the five plus years that new gTLDs have been discussed. Secondly, a number of organisations came out guns ablaze complaining about the process, demanding it be stopped. Third is, somewhat embarrassingly, at least one of the organisations seemed to forget they had already made a submission on the process, largely negating their ability to say “we only just realised this was happening.” This claim would be somewhat embarrassing for organisations with so many resources.

So now we have CRIDO. It is an organisation announced on 11 November with 87 major national and international business associations and companies who joined forces with the ANA (Association of National Advertisers) to form the Coalition for Responsible Internet Domain Oversight (CRIDO) to oppose the rollout of ICANN””s top-level domain expansion programme.

Van Couvering notes that “the ANA and CRIDO may control 99% of the money, but they have about one per cent of the facts. Facts may not matter that much when you””re running a FUD (fear, uncertainty, and doubt) campaign, but for completeness”” sake it is worth pointing out that the figures being presented by the ANA and CRIDO have as tenuous a relationship with reality as Somalia does with law and order.

“As Jeff Ernst of Forrester Research points out in a recent article, the ANA claims that new gTLDs will cost their members ””billions of dollars”” without once providing any verifiable basis for this claim.

“Minds + Machines, by contrast, put together a study, ””What Cost New gTLD Trademark Infringements to Brands?”” that is easily replicable by anyone. Completely fact-based, relying on publicly available data, our study shows that infringements are correlated very highly with volume, and that if new gTLDs increase the number of names in the market by 15%, there would be an additional 316 UDRP filings per year, or an average of ten cents cost per trademark. If the domain name market grew more (which indicates greater public benefit), there would undoubtedly be more UDRPs, but the costs would remain very low.

“GoDaddy has also done a study, which concludes that UDRPs have gone up in volume due as much to the ease of filing as to any increase in cybersquatting:

Although there is little doubt that the ongoing practice of cybersquatting factors into the tide of arbitration cases, the ease of filing, along with more vigilance on the part of IP holders, undoubtedly influenced the measurable increase in cases.

“In addition ICANN has hired numerous economists, who all reach the same conclusion: yes, there will be costs to brands, and even though the public benefits are not yet clear, there are some obvious benefits that can be predicted. In general (the economists say) competition is in general a good thing, and there is certainly no compelling case to be made that the introduction of new gTLDs will cause harms that will outweigh the public good.”

Van Couvering notes “it appears that there is no appetite in Congress for hearings on this subject, even leaving aside the questions of whether the U.S. can or should act unilaterally.”

There is also not universal support for CRIDO and their outlandish views. Van Couvering uncovered a comment on an AdAge article by Thom Kennon, SVP and Director of Strategy at Y&R who wrote:

“Shame on the ANA for taking such a misinformed and myopic view of one of the most significant changes in how brands and consumers find each other since the birth of the commercial Web.

“Although none of us have any idea of the broad, deep implications of this re-architecting of the interwebs, it doesn””t take much of a creative bent to see the powerful opportunities this will likely afford every brand — and organization, and industry and even cities, states and towns.

“Unlike the ANA — whose argument here seems to be nothing more than a repetitive loop of ””ICANN””s wrong, it doesn””t add up…””- some of us are working to explore what this change might offer for the future of the brands and businesses we represent.

“As the ANA (and sadly any of its members who take this Luddite advice) sit on the sidelines, some of us are exploring how the early brand movers — in the right category with the right architectural strategy — can reap huge, long-term rewards and competitive advantage from leading instead of lagging.

“Here””s some better advice: every single brand manager, marketing strategist, technologist, content developer and CMO should start spending some serious time understanding what these changes can and will bring to how the ””human web”” is evolving. Be smart, nimble and opportunistic and be ready to steal the march from those who chose to worry and wait.”

Van Couvering does not believe the ANA and CRIDO will succeed. He says “the ANA and CRIDO, using the same arguments, but in a louder voice, are not going to succeed in overturning a hard-fought consensus that has involved all the significant interests in the space. The arguments have been taken seriously, been given years of hearings, have resulted in numerous changes to the gTLD program to accommodate the concerns that they raise, additional protections have been put in place, and the finally the program passed on a vote by the ICANN Board. Governments, businesses, intellectual property owners, ISPs, civil society, everyone participated.”