Posts Tagged ‘brands’

The World Cup of new Top-Level Domains

Friday, June 13th, 2014

RyanBakerBy Tony Kirsch

In celebration of O Jogo Bonito (the beautiful game), we thought it was timely to do a World Cup themed wrap-up this week and showcase the new Top-Level Domains (TLD) of the football world.

Let’s start with which countries are winning in the World Cup of new TLDs.

While Brazil might be favourites for the FIFA World Cup, the United States smashed the field with the most number of new TLD applications (883 or 46% all applications).

Now that new TLDs have launched, where are the most registrations coming from? Again, the United States leads the way with 275,602 domain names (or 25.8% of the 1.1 million combined names). This is followed by Germany (12.5%), the United Kingdom (6.8%), Cayman Islands (4.6%) and Canada (3.8%).

What about .football? While .soccer (four applicants) and .football (two applicants) are stuck in contention sets, we did see .futbol (Spanish for Football) enter its first day of general availability yesterday with 1,628 registrations.

We can’t forget to mention World Cup cities too. Brazil’s famous Rio de Janeiro had their .rio city TLD delegated on 22 May. Rio will host the final World Cup match on 13 July and let’s hope we see some .rio domain names live in time for this match.

The 2018 World Cup will be held in Russia and we’ll no doubt see the world’s major brands using their new TLDs by then. Eight new TLDs were applied for from Russia, with two for their capital city, .moscow and their IDN .москва.

I can’t wait until I’ll be able to navigate the Internet intuitively by browsing to websites such as WorldCup.moscow, or Football.nike and Campaign.sony. I predict that in four years time we’ll look back at this moment as the dawn of the modern Internet and vaguely remember a web without new TLDs.

By Tony Kirsch
Head of Global Consulting
ARI Registry Services

Still think .brands might be a waste of time? Google doesn’t!

Wednesday, May 7th, 2014

RyanBakerBy Ryan Baker

Like many, I’ve been watching the rollout of the first 150+ new Top-Level Domains (TLD) with interest.

The new Top-Level Domain (TLD) program was designed from the outset to enhance competition and foster innovation.

It was a great result for the wider industry to see approximately one-third of the applications received by ICANN submitted by some of the world’s largest companies seeking to own and operate their own .brand TLD.

Even with organisations such as Apple, Citibank and IBM applying for their respective TLDs, scepticism remained on the potential for .brands to succeed.

Where would the utility come from? How would customers embrace such a change? How would large organisations be able to incorporate this into their marketing mix?

Finally perhaps most ominous, what will it mean for search and will there be any advantages for .brand applicants?

While it’s still very early in the process, a few trailblazing true innovators have given us some preliminary answers and the news is extremely positive.

Evidence of real success

French insurance giant AXA recently launched their .axa TLD to the world and offer the best evidence to date that .brand TLDs have a definite future in the digital marketing landscape.

Less than two weeks after registering annualreport.axa and rapportannuel.axa in their .brand TLD, AXA now appear on the first page of Google search results. When searching for “axa annual report”, the .axa domain is the third result in English and “axa annuel rapport” appears in the fourth position for French searches.

Beyond just Google, Bing shows the result at number two and Yahoo at number eight.

This is a truly impressive result given the number of applicable web properties for this topic and the short amount of time the domain has existed. Yes, this has a lot to do with the relevance of the content – as it has been and will continue to be.

However, the domain is clearly reinforcing some level of credibility here and despite being new, hasn’t negatively impacted the rankings of the page.

The AXA annual report example also illustrates other key benefits of .brand TLD ownership. Using differing language versions of the same domain, they have been able to provide customised content for differing user bases.

With these included, the list of tangible benefits .brand TLD operators can realise immediately from their new asset are compelling:

1. Control

Being completely in control of domain name allocation within their TLD. No more competition for domain names in the open market, as well as the ability to define intuitive parameters for users to find content (eg. annualreport.axa for English, rapportannuel.axa for French).

2. SEO

Globally applicable search benefits. While the sample size is admittedly small, the reality that Google, Bing and Yahoo are actively embracing .brand TLDs for their authenticity and showing strong search results has the potential to be a huge boon to brands and end users.

3. Messaging

Guaranteed authenticity for messaging from the channel. Customers can rest easy knowing with 100% certainty that the content on annualreport.axa is sanctioned by AXA, since no one outside the corporation can register an .axa domain name. Keep in mind that it’s entirely possible for bad actors to register domains in competing TLDs with the aim of confusing end users, and a .brand is a new and extremely strong tool to combat this confusion.

AXAdomain

AXA’s .brand strategy actively combats bad actors.

While we’ve already seen three new .brand applicants sign registry agreements (.sharp and Google’s .gmail and .youtube) this month, the last several months have seen 256 total TLDs delegated, with only a handful (five total, or less that 2%) being .brands.

This is in addition to the world’s first .brand TLD, .monash for the Australian University and the recently signed .bmw and .samsung TLDs which are soon to join the digital landscape.

All in all, it’s really positive news for those innovators that took the plunge by applying in 2012.

So why wait?

There is no denying that ICANN has made the path through contracting and delegation complicated with various hoops to jump through.

The good news for .brand applicants is that there is help available should they require it. The upside is that the carrot is very real and very attainable.

Delegating and realising the benefits of a .brand TLD as soon as possible should be the goal of every brand marketer worth their salt, as .brand applicants push to delegate their TLDs and non-applicants clamour to apply to ICANN in the second round.

By Ryan Baker
Domain Name Industry Consultant
ARI Registry Services

Search is not the solution, it is the problem

Thursday, September 19th, 2013

By Adrian Kinderis

Adrian KinderisIn a special feature article first published by Marketing Magazine, Adrian Kinderis, CEO of ARI Registry Services, investigates recent trends in advertisers directing their customers to conduct search-based queries to find their products or services.

By Adrian Kinderis
Tuesday 27 August 2013

I’m a businessman, but I’m also a consumer, and I’ve become increasingly frustrated with advertisers sending me to search engines to go looking online for their product or service as their call to action.

I often find myself distracted by the other search results (you never know what you’ll find!) when conducting these searches. Other times, I’m insulted that they expect me, the customer, to go searching for them, the advertiser.

But what baffles me the most – from my business perspective – is the exorbitant costs expended by advertisers to drive customers on a hunt to find them in such a competitive landscape, especially when they can be directed to the exact destination in one click.

My findings have illustrated that search is not the solution to advertisers’ reaching their customers and driving conversions; search is the problem.

What we know about search

Recent studies indicate the growing dependence on search engines, revealing that 91 percent of us use search engines online, and 59 percent rely on search engines.

While there’s no denying the increasing use of search engines globally, the emerging trend from marketers to use search as their call to action in place of direct web addresses has become more and more prevalent in above the line marketing. Open the newspaper or turn on your television and you’ll find it’s not uncommon to see the term, ‘search <product name/campaign>’ in advertising.

But is the tail wagging the dog? Do marketers believe their customers aren’t savvy enough to navigate the Internet using domain names, or are they just encouraging us to become slaves to the search bar?

No certainty

Above the line marketing has reached new lows if advertisers believe consumers are more likely to search for keywords like “Colorado Serious” to find out more about a four-wheel drive. When I typed that in, I discovered that there was a serious virus in Colorado infecting locals! Similarly with an Audi ad I recently saw; when I typed “Audi A3” into my search bar, Audi wasn’t the top-ranking search result.

Further, what happens when your immediate advertising campaign finishes? You do not own that search keyword and unless you plan on paying for it well into the future, any residual engagement you create through your campaign will be lost – potentially to a competitor. You must continually invest in your keyword to own it and that can be financially draining overtime.

In spite of the stats that drive marketers to believe search is where it’s at for customer conversion, there is no certainty that for all the money spent on search engine rankings – in addition to the ad production and placement – that the promise of being the top-ranking search result is achieved.

Competitive environment

Granted, advertising in any format is a competitive landscape, but do marketers believe that keyword searches are a more effective means of driving their audience to their campaign?

Search is a highly competitive environment and recent court cases have ruled that competitors are permitted to purchase your keywords.

Clever competitors may even try to artificially inflate your cost per click (CPC) price by under bidding you and forcing you to pay more for each click. CPC is not a set fee, it’s volatile and an advertiser pays above immediately what an under bidder pays.

Lack of control

The crux of the problem I have with advertisers using search as a call to action is that not only is it expensive, but the outcome can be fallible due to the fact that search results are controlled by a third party and can be influenced by anyone else to your detriment.

Even worse, there is no control over what may appear next to your brand in your keyword search terms. What if a major breaking news story occurs on the same day as your campaign and the story involves terms that match your keywords? The consequences of negative stories being tied to your brand could be disastrous. Like Colorado Serious… four-wheel drive, anyone?

Not efficient

Search engines have made us lazy. Many of us have become slaves to the search bar and its auto-fill convenience. Have you ever googled Google rather than typing the domain name into the web address bar?

Search should help us find content, not replace the web address bar as an online navigation aid. Often, typing a domain name into an address bar will be far quicker than the multiple steps required to search for a website.

However shameful it is, using search engines to navigate the Internet is a reality for many. I believe some advertisers have attributed this to be a user preference, rather than recognising this point as a wider Internet navigation problem.

In my eyes, search is an unnecessary two-step process. Why should Internet users search for advertisers to only end up at their corporate website or microsite anyway? Search can only introduce unnecessary risk to the equation.

100% visibility on poor performance

Because the data indicates the vast majority of Internet users rely on search, marketers see search engines as a channel with which their audience is familiar and regularly use to navigate the Internet.

However, just because their website analytics reports show most of their traffic originates from Google doesn’t mean it should be promoted as the preferred way to navigate to your website. With ROI as the major focus of digital marketing, are marketers simply trying to justify their budget because the data is available? Isn’t that just spotlighting poor performance?

Bring back the slash

Marketers went a little crazy with the use of slash extensions on their domain names in advertising, but there are clever ways to use them. For example, featuring the entire url, including the http://www. is often not the best way to encourage memory recall or positive brand association in advertising, and the same can be said for using domain name-slash something-slash something. Treating your audience as savvy consumers is one thing, but don’t make it difficult for them to remember who you are and what you’re selling.

With the introduction of the new Top-Level Domain Program into the marketplace, a new world of options will be available to marketers. Not only will it support the expansion of the Internet, it offers customers a more memorable, direct solution to finding your product/service/campaign, and will allow greater conversion. Imagine directing your customers to holden.car/colorado, or even better, colorado.holden? All the benefits of web analytics and customer recall, minus the expensive keywords and competitive landscape.

Marketers are adding to the wider web navigation problem by not raising greater awareness and education among their audience about their corporate online mainstay – their website and domain name. Remember, you own your domain name and all the traffic and IP rights associated to it. This is in contrast to search terms, where you are building equity into an asset you will never truly own.

It all boils down to the basic marketing principles of message recall, brand recognition and trust. Control the message and send your customers straight to your website via a domain name. No detours required.

Not only are websites and domain names far cheaper to set up and maintain, they’re yours to own forever and cannot be influenced by your competitors.

By Adrian Kinderis
CEO, ARI Registry Services

Opportunity missed. Hilton checks-out of new domains boom

Friday, January 25th, 2013

By Adrian Kinderis

Adrian KinderisAdrian Kinderis, CEO of ARI Registry Services, explains why Hilton Hotels’ decision to withdraw their .hilton new Top-Level Domain application is an opportunity for success wasted

American author Mark Twain once wrote: “I was seldom able to see an opportunity until it had ceased to be one.”

Last month we learned that Hilton Hotels & Resorts joined six other new Top-Level Domain applicants in withdrawing their application and exiting the program.

I was disappointed when I first heard the news. My initial thoughts were centred on the enormous potential .hilton offered the company and the innovative business opportunities they were now abandoning.

Just imagine the ease of content access Hilton could have delivered their guests through associating their products, locations and services with .hilton. Instead of Googling to find the nearest Hilton Hotel in a city (which I commonly do), guests could simply type newyork.hilton for example to find everything they need. Not only would this deliver improved trust, customer engagement and message recall with consumers, it would allow Hilton to localise and tailor their messages to suit guests’ needs.

I asked myself, what circumstances could force Hilton into giving up on these benefits?

Some brands may have made decisions to apply for a new TLD based on fears about brand protection. Perhaps Hilton applied simply to prevent someone else owning .hilton?

I can understand why some applicants have withdrawn from the program, be it due to competition or GAC Early Warnings. However, none of these reasons apply to Hilton.

The truth is we don’t know why Hilton withdrew their application because neither Hilton nor their representatives have offered an official explanation for the decision.

It is my proposition that Hilton lacked two crucial elements in their new TLD plans and that these were the reasons for their withdrawal: Expert support and intestinal fortitude.

Expert support

I find it odd that a lot of new TLD applicants hit submit on their application in early 2012 and naively thought the revenue and rewards of their hard labour would somehow magically start rolling through the door.

This couldn’t be further from the truth.

There is an enormous amount of work to be done in order to transform your application into a fully operational component of your business.

Unfortunately, it seems likely to me that Hilton fell into this trap. They may have lacked the expert support needed to help them through ICANN’s complicated processes and the authoritative guidance on how to build a successful TLD. Ultimately, they probably just needed someone to hold their hand.

My team and I have taken on this role with our own clients. While we are polishing our backend registry systems in preparation to launch new TLDs, we are also spending a significant amount of time consulting with our clients and helping them develop an operational strategy capable of delivering them the revenue and rewards they so eagerly seek.

Essentially, what we’re trying to do is help our clients and other new TLD applicants stand up robust and successful businesses. Simple, right?

This involves tedious planning sessions and workshops to produce assets to execute a winning business plan. To do this, you’ll need TLD policies, procedures for dispute resolution, integration with registrars and other third parties, technology support, operational guides and a host of other requirements. The reason we know this is because we have done this many times before for other TLDs.

However, it’s understandable if the prospect of getting all of these elements in place scared the living daylights out of Hilton. They’re leaders in operating hotels and resorts. Launching and operating a TLD is about as foreign as it gets.

They needed an expert they could rely on for support.

Intestinal fortitude

While getting the right advice is important, I’ve also been telling folks from day one that you’ve got to have intestinal fortitude if you want to be a leader – especially in the new TLD game.

By its very nature, everyone participating in the new TLD program is breaking new ground in an attempt to achieve greatness.  This is where leaders and innovators separate themselves from followers. It takes guts!

I suspect Hilton lost confidence and didn’t have the courage, determination and chutzpah to see it through. It’s a shame really because they were sitting on a gem of a TLD that had enormous potential, particularly given the online nature of the travel industry.

My team and I are working hard for our clients to give them every confidence in achieving success. We do this by reducing the burden on our clients by providing the expertise they need at this crucial stage in a TLDs development. We will stand side-by-side with them and face every challenge together.

Opportunity realised

With the right advice and support from a trusted partner, combined with the intestinal fortitude capable of withstanding ICANN’s ever flexible timelines, applicants should be set to achieve every success in this program.

The unfortunate reality for Hilton was that they were in an enviable position compared to many others. They just didn’t know it. I wish they had given me a call before making the decision to withdraw.

Clearly, there is significant interest and demand in the program and the benefits are there to be seen.

It’s true; one of my clients could come to me next week and ask to withdraw from the program. However, my team and I are prepared to get our hands dirty and work hard for every one of our clients to ensure they have the opportunity to realise success.

By Adrian Kinderis
CEO of ARI Registry Services

New Top-Level Domains, not Facebook, the future for online brands

Friday, September 30th, 2011

By Adrian Kinderis

Adrian Kinderis, CEO of AusRegistry International, explains why brand owners should ‘dislike’ the idea of a heavy Facebook presence and instead should consider creating their own new Top-Level Domain for their brand.

It was with great shock, horror and a little amusement that I read a recent news report about Facebook’s ambitious plan to eliminate the need for standalone company websites and instead have companies adopt dedicated microsites within Facebook as their primary online presence.

Stephen Haines, commercial director of Facebook’s UK operation, told a technology and marketing conference in London that the power of Facebook may see major companies no longer bother with their own websites.

According to CNET, Mr Haines said many more Facebook users click a company’s “like” button than have visited the company’s website. For example, he said Starbucks received 21.1 million likes compared to only 1.8 million site visits per month.

These are impressive figures for Facebook. However, it’s important to remember that success in the online space is determined by a combination of high volume exposure and a deep brand or product engagement that can only be delivered within the walls of a corporate website.

Why Facebook websites may be a bad sell

Facebook is a ground breaking application that has revolutionised society. However, it’s just an application and should be used as such. There are many opportunities for brands to leverage Facebook as part of their online presence, but this should not mean the centralisation of all digital activities within the Facebook site.

A Facebook-only approach would:

•    Dilute the brand’s identity with Facebook’s identity
•    Place the brand at the mercy of facebook.com’s performance. There are no Service Level Agreements nor repercussions should the facebook.com website go down – which it has done on a number of occasions
•    Reduce the target audience to only Facebook users (there are more than two billion Internet users worldwide, and only 700 million Facebook users). You can’t get the full Facebook experience unless you are a Facebook member
•    Limit the scope of digital campaigns to the restrictions of the Facebook platform
•    Pose potential risks due to Facebook’s policies (Facebook’s privacy policies are under increasing scrutiny from a number of national governments)
•    Place your customers or clients at risk to potential online security threats that are out of your control (such as the recent Facebook privacy data risk identified by Symantec)
•    Marry the brand with Facebook (for better or for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health)

Why have facebook.com/brand when you can have product.brand

A revolution taking place within the domain name industry will revolutionise the way end users navigate the Internet, providing global brands with the foundation they need to build the digital strategy of the future.

ICANN’s new Top-Level Domain (TLD) program will allow for new Internet extensions to be introduced and we’ll see brands such as Apple and Toyota move from their current .com addresses to .apple and .toyota. It won’t be long until we see advertisements directing consumers to ipad2.apple or prius.toyota for an engaging experience built solely on targeted, specific content.

With applications opening on 12 January 2012, we’ll start to see .brand domains in operation from early 2013.

So what does this mean for you? Building a digital strategy around a .brand Top-Level Domain will ensure all online traffic is directed to a content environment that delivers a deeper and more influential experience to those customers who recall your message. What’s more, it’s done so in an environment that you control.

Benefits will include:

•    Increased global brand visibility
•    Intuitive Internet navigation (product.brand, service.brand, campaign.brand)
•    Better brand and domain name protection (customers can trust that your .brand represents your company)
•    Deeper customer engagement and increased long-term brand loyalty
•    Search Engine Marketing/Optimization cost reductions (there is a whole blog post on the implications for search).

At one end of the spectrum, we have the “walled garden” of Facebook. Their website, their control their audience. At the other a new innovative way of having complete and utter control of your web presence by owning and operating your own slice of Internet real-estate. Facebook and other social network platforms provide powerful features that should make them important components of any digital strategy. No major brand however, should be considering the loss of control that is inherent in any strategy that places Facebook as the foundation of their online presence. The new Top-Level Domain program provides a unique opportunity for major brands to reinvent themselves in the online space, enabling them to leverage all of the benefits of the web, including but by no means limited to those offered on the Facebook platform.

By Adrian Kinderis, new Top-Level Domain name expert and Internet industry thought leader

The original article can be read here on iStrategy.

$5 billion reasons you should know about new Top-Level Domains

Thursday, August 11th, 2011

Adrian Kinderis, CEO of AusRegistry International, explains how entrepreneurs and brands can get a slice of the $5 billion domain name industry through the new Top-Level Domain program.

By Adrian Kinderis

In January next year a revolution is set to usher in the most expansive and fundamental change to the Internet in its history. The new Top-Level Domain Program, administered by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), will see web addresses move beyond the traditional .com to .anything in a dramatic shift that will introduce a new platform for creativity and major new revenue streams for online investment.

For those not aware, the program will allow brands, entrepreneurs and governments to apply for their own version of .com – moving from pepsi.com to .pepsi for example – and secure a unique slice of Internet real-estate that will dramatically change the way Internet users around the world navigate to find content online. For more information, here is a video of an interview I did with Bloomberg Television about the program.

So, now that I’ve got you interested, you’re probably thinking about the best way you can gain a slice of the $5 billion dollar domain name industry. You might be an entrepreneur out to make your next million or a brand looking to make a statement of leadership in the digital space.

Here are my top six tips on how you can take advantage of this billion dollar opportunity and own a trusted, regulated slice of Internet ‘real estate’:

1.    Don’t try to be the next .com

The biggest revenue-making opportunity under the new Top-Level Domain Program lies within the formation of generic word Top-Level Domains. Rather than trying to become the next .com, entrepreneurs should look to create boutique name spaces, turning over lower registration volumes, but at higher margins – the online equivalent of running an exclusive VIP country club.

Take .music, which would be created as a targeted name space specifically for the music industry. Such a name space is probably never going be a competitor to .com, however it will hold significant value to the music industry given it will be directly tied to the subject matter and the global music community. Imagine if you could capture even 20 per cent of the roughly 8 million music artists around the world and charge them each $US5 to promote their music under an official .music name space. That’s $US8 million in annual revenue before you consider other potential revenue sources from targeting users with content businesses like concerts.music and reviews.music.

So, rather than trying to be all things to all people, think very carefully about your audience before making the move. Because in this game an audience of “everyone” is a very risky move to make.

2.    Offer more than just a domain name

You are securing a domain name space. You can do so much more that just sell domains. We call it “left of the dot” thinking. What more can you offer that will build value to your namespace? How else can domain names be used? Should you retain premium names rather than sell them and look to monetise those sites by building out content? You are starting with a clean slate here. You set the rules. Be creative and create something that will bring value to your market and provide something different!

3.    Commercialise your .brand TLD

For brand holders, the benefits of securing a .brand Top-Level Domain are immediately obvious: Trust, leadership, customer engagement and improved message recall.

Think creditcards.hsbc, cars.ebay or justdoit.nike and you’re well on the way to capturing the opportunity presented by this unique change.

However, a .brand Top-Level Domain can deliver more than this. For instance, imagine eBay securing .eBay and selling a slice of that space to its audience of 94 million registered users at $US2 per vanity domain name fee. Also, with more than 600 million registered users, a username.facebook strategy of a similar nature should be an absolute no-brainer.

From a customer engagement perspective, imagine if BMW were to provide all customers with a john.smith.bmw domain name with the purchase of a new vehicle to allow access to critical information such as service scheduling and technical information. Not only would it deliver value to the customer, it would also play a role in the introduction of the customer to the BMW brand experience and lifestyle (car clubs, forums, social networking etc).

There will also be huge improvements in online security and trust. Take the bank Chase for example, it would bring clarity and security to customers with the simple message, ‘If it’s not .chase, it’s not us’. Not to mention making it easier for customers to find content online without using Google, because all they will need to remember is investments.chase, for instance.

4.    Remove the language barrier

For the first time in history, new Top-Level Domains are available in non-Latin scripts and with 60% of the world’s population residing in countries where the native language is based on a script other than Latin, you could be one of the first to capitalise on this latest shift in domain name technology. Imagine what a relevant Chinese script Top-Level Domain could be worth to the thriving Chinese community?

5.    Act now

The clock is ticking on this limited opportunity. The application window for new Top-Level Domains will open on 12 January 2012 and we’ll start to see new ‘.anything’ domains in operation from late 2012. If companies and entrepreneurs miss the application window (12 January 2012 to 12 April 2012), it may be a long time before they have the same opportunity again. Get moving now to make sure you don’t miss the boat. There is less than 155 days until the application window opens and you’ll need all of that time to make sure your approach is on the money.

6.    Seek advice

The new Top-Level Domain program is not for the novice – there are few people who can run a slice of the Internet alone – so start with the idea and seek advice from an industry expert such as AusRegistry International who understands the application process, policy and technological infrastructure required to make the most of the new Top-Level Domain opportunity.

This is just the starting point.

The six tips explained above are just a starting point for a much larger analysis of your idea and associated business case.

At AusRegistry International (www.ausregistry.com), we are currently working with brands, entrepreneurs and governments across the world in a full service capacity that can cover your entire new Top-Level Domain project from strategy right through to technology and launch marketing services.

For more information please visit www.ausregistry.com or find out more about the new Top-Level Domain program here: www.BeyondDotCom.info

By Adrian Kinderis, Internet industry thought leader and CEO of AusRegistry International, one of the few companies in the world with the experience and technology to activate and implement new Top-Level Domains.