By Tony Kirsch
ARI Registry Services’ Tony Kirsch explains how new Top-Level Domain applicants can utilise the time they have now to plan for the launch of their new namespace.
Now that the dust has settled from the intense period of preparing and submitting your new Top-Level Domain (TLD) application(s), it’s probably time to sit back and relax whilst the reviews take place, right?
This couldn’t be further from the truth.
There is an enormous amount of work to be done in order to meet ICANN’s stringent requirements. My conversations in the last few weeks have made it apparent that TLD applicants (in particular brand owners) have a distinct lack of resources and expertise required to accomplish this.
To an extent, I can imagine that applicants may be a little jaded with this process and the ever flexible ICANN timelines, preferring to take a ‘let’s just wait and see’ type approach.
However, when we consider that the ultimate return on investment in the TLD rests solely in the ability of the organisation to execute a strategy that has a myriad of ‘whole of business’ components, preparation will be the differentiator between those that deliver and those that seek to leverage this opportunity to really add value to the bottom line.
My application is in, that’s all I have to do right?
Before answering, perhaps you may wish to take a look at the following (non-exhaustive) list of things you will need to consider:
– How many policies are you mandated by ICANN to have in order to operate your TLD?
– What internal operational procedures will you require?
– How will you launch your TLD technically?
– How will you interact with dispute resolution providers, trademark repositories and other necessary third parties?
– How do you ensure cross-functional strategic planning for this asset?
– How does your TLD impact your existing digital assets?
– How will you ensure compliance with ICANN’s ongoing contractual requirements?
– Will your TLD easily blend in with your current technical architecture?
– What impact will your TLD have to your current brand?
– What components of the ICANN contract should you be watching out for?
In fact, this is just a fraction of the considerations that impact an organisation with a new TLD.
You’d be well justified if you were reading this list and feeling a little nervous – especially if your organisation isn’t the fastest company in the world when it comes to multi-disciplinary decision making.
But our TLD is only going to be used by us, doesn’t that make it easier?
Whilst most organisations have applied for their .brand TLD as a closed operation, where they alone are able to register domains, there are still numerous ICANN requirements that are mandatory for all TLD owners.
Although .brand TLDs may not necessarily have to justify revenue from domain sales like other TLDs, the complexity lies more in the impact that it will have to your existing legal, technical, marketing and branding frameworks. New ‘revenue generating’ TLDs (e.g. .london or .music) are simply new businesses, fighting for a piece of the domain name industry and are somewhat easier to plan for as they are predominantly starting with a blank canvas.
In fact, given the often complex maze of cross-functional requirements and compliance considerations, competing for invaluable resources and attention from the necessary stakeholders, .brand TLDs will almost certainly be significantly more difficult to launch and generate return from.
At the end of the day, it’s up to you and no-one else
The facts are the facts.
You’ve made the investment and unless you’re planning on removing your application you might as well put some time and effort into it to make it a success.
At a point in time (that will come around faster than you’re expecting), your organisation is going to start hearing noises about your application going through its final stages of ICANN’s review and next thing you know it will be time to get moving.
However, there is still an opportunity to use the spare time you have now wisely to adequately prepare and make sure you’re moving in the right direction.
One thing I’m sure of it that history will certainly paint those that failed to plan as those who planned to fail.
What you can do today to prepare
The most important consideration for applicants is to not sweep this information under the carpet and instead promptly start on a process of education and planning to ensure that you’re ready. The first step I recommend to anyone is to simply engage with your trusted industry expert advisor and have a short discussion on what the process is that they recommend.
For example, we run half day workshops to give an overview of the requirements which we have found to be quite beneficial as it helps to demystify and give structure to what can appear to be an enormous and unachievable task.
A good advisor should be able to comfortably describe the process they will take you through and highlight a path that should create the most efficient outcomes for your organisation and ensure that you’re engaging the necessary stakeholders at each and every juncture. This to me is the key, as experience dictates that decisions made in isolation, rather than a cross-organisational approach, are almost certainly short lived and fraught with danger.
By Tony Kirsch
Senior Manager – International Business
ARI Registry Services
Tony Kirsch is widely recognised as an industry expert within the new TLD program and is employed by ARI Registry Services, an International Domain Name Infrastructure Services organisation based in Melbourne, Australia.
Tony has advised some of the world’s largest firms and Governments on their new TLDs and his in- depth understanding of the program’s intricacies is widely sought after in order to assist the creation of companywide processes and strategies.