Friday, August 18, 2017

Are new gTLDs profitable?

A Registry to operate its own Registrar (or a Registrar to operate its own Registry) is a good solution to lower down the price to maintain a domain name and the reason for this is simple: tech costs are split and most of the money stays in...
Who's who
It is even better when the Registry owns its own Backend Registry and its Registrar.

In simple words: a Registry makes more money when the money paid to mandatory service providers are the same people.

The example that I like to give here is based on Afilias: a Backend Registry provider, also applicant (Registry) for five of the six existing colors. Afilias is not a Registrar.

What when registration volumes drop?
Since 2016, Jovenet Consulting tracked weekly, then monthly, domain name registration volumes from various groups and industries and this post will focus on new gTLDs that have the name of a color.

There are six of them and one is a Trademark so we won't pay much attention to it since it does not sell domain names to end users:
  1. .RED (€11/year)
  2. .BLUE (€11/year)
  3. .PINK (€11/year)
  4. .BLACK (€31/year)
  5. .GREEN (€54/year)
  6. .ORANGE (a dotBrand new gTLD = no price)
(there's .GOLD too but does it count as a color?)

I went to retail registrar Uniregistry and extracted prices that you can see above. The first three are acceptable prices but I find .BLACK and .GREEN quite expensive and since Uniregistry is a cheap Registrar, you can easily expect that these domain names will probably cost much more at other service providers.

When looking at the new gTLD report entitled "New gTLDs related to COLORS", you will note that almost ALL registration volumes continue to drop starting January 2017 and if you look at May 2017, something strange even happens.

So: profitable?
Does it mean that such extensions are not profitable? I don't think so.

I heard a story which said that "red" was a special color in some countries in Asia and this was the reason why ".red" domain names were so successful...until May 2017 apparently. I won't count .GREEN here because this TLD was acquired lately by Afilias and you will note that registration figures are quite different from the first four TLDs.

The .RED new gTLD is now below the 50,000 registrations so it does not pay ICANN the $0.25 fee per domain anymore. Even if the curve is dramatically going down, it still has 48,000 domains with a probable majority being paid by Registrants. Since Afilias is Registry and Backend Registry for its TLDs, it pays the minimum to maintain its own domain names: below $5 per year? Less than $1 maybe?

Let's imagine that these 48,000 domains are paid by Registrars at the price of less than $10. It still means quite a lot of money for the Registry in the end. A lot less for .PINK and .BLACK.

What about "strategy"?
In 2016, and during a period of 7 months, the .RED Registry had between 308,000 and 318,000 domains on the market. I have no idea how nor why these numbers were so high but I believe that the only question to have today is: "was it worth it?"

If it takes so much domains to end up with so few: it is still 48,000 domain names on the market. Let's assume that these domains are paid, and hopefully renewed, I consider that such strategy is a good one because all Registries want to have 48,000 domains names renewed on the market. Should Afilias have adopted the same strategy for it other "colored TLDs"? The question remains.

Monday, August 7, 2017

How to choose the right "new" domain?

One could think that this post is going to be about why it is better to choose a new domain name instead of a ".com". Actually it is not because we like ".com" domain names at Jovenet Consulting: they are very useful to be used as redirections.

This article is about the factors that one should consider when selecting the right domain name for a new business (because you often need a new domain name for a new business). Of course, thinking about buying a new domain or a ".com" matters; but there are other factors to consider...
Years ago things were different
Years ago, one extension launched, not hundreds at the same time so choosing was easier and made a new extension very attractive (I remember trying hard to register ".asia" an ".eu" domain names). There are now so many domain name extensions that one does not necessary have the time to search for all of them and would be tempted to think: "hey...why bother searching when everybody knows what a ".com" is". This is a problem for new gTLDs: still, people don't necessary know that they exist...but for those who do, there a certain factors to consider prior to buying.

Which other factors to consider?
I sometimes help trademarks to look for the right domain names and also buy some for myself from time to time so there are things that I do prior to registering a new domain name

Singular VS Plural
I am always very careful with singular and plural versions of the same domain name extension: I would not buy one and not the other or just would not use one of these unless it is absolutely necessary. I believe that a good example can be the ".photo" and ".photos" new gTLDs: I would buy the two of them...but not only.

I created a list of these new gTLDs which exist in two versions: Singular and Plural. If I a pay a lot of attention to check that list prior to suggesting a client to buy a domain name, I am also very cautious with similarity. When considering to buy a domain name related to photography, one should know that the ".photography" new gTLD also exists. With new gTLDs, similar domain name extensions can cause to choose the wrong domain name very easily.

Similarity
Similar domain name extensions are to me the worst trap that one can fall into. Some domain names can be very similar due to the extension ("first level domain" for the geeks). For example, if a domain name ending in ".new" will probably not have the same content as the same domain name in ".news" (ie: www.whatever.new and www.whatever.news), confusion could be total for two similar websites: one ending in ".photo" and the other ending in ".photography", same for ".build, ".builders" and ".construction" or ".taxi" and ".cab".

I often update my list of similar new gTLDs because it is to me the number one tool to use to avoid choosing the wrong domain name extension when searching for a name.

There is another factor to consider in similarity: if it is rather unlikely that the plural version of an extension will exist, it is more likely that...the .BRAND extension of a generic TLD will exist. I mean that a Trademark might have applied for a new domain name extension that a third party will not be able to register: it is the case for .AUDI and .AUDIO domain names. The .AUDI new gTLD is a Trademark and available for registration to the AUDI Trademark...only. Another example: ".CITI" and ".CITY"

".com"
The ".com" domain name is also to consider when looking for a domain name because the risk remains high to start a communication when a third party already uses the same ".com" domain. When not available, I'd just suggest to consider changing name and not waste time trying to negotiate with an existing owner who wants to sell a ".com" at a high price. New gTLDs offer more precision today and I consider that ".com" can start to be used as redirections. When creating the name of a project, a trademark or a company, the domain name should be part of that search and not come second.

Actually, confusion now also exists with ".com": did you know that there is a .CAM and a .BOM new gTLD?

Monday, July 24, 2017

Which Registry will succeed in...

...selling domain names in supermarkets?
When it comes to paying in a supermarket, you're often offered to buy that “little thing more”: chewing-gums, sweets, alcohol, but it is now also possible to buy “online things” such as Apple and Google music: why not offer domain names too?


Domains names are no BtoC consumer products
Let’s be serious: can you imagine a Registry pushing a Registrar to “do the job”, trying to offer domain names in supermarkets? This just would not work for several reasons:
  • Approaching a supermarket chain is a tough job that requires time and the job of a Registrar is to sell domain names and offer services dedicated to domain names;
  • What about marketing and packaging: who pays? Certainly not the supermarket chain! Which Registrar has the capacity to pay for all this but one which has a close link to a supermarket chain?
  • What about pricing? Is a Registrar ready to drop its price or accept to earn money in year two, when the domain name is renewed?
  • What about support...
A blog offered with a domain name is BtoC
Many people want to have their blog: to post their holidays’ photos or just to write the story of their life but they won’t necessary search for this on Internet because it is so difficult to understand and there is so much info to provide, it can even become technical!

The truth is that very few people know what a domain name is so you can imagine when it comes to talking about a “Registrar” :-)

Added to more services, a supermarket has the capacity to address end users and evangelize the process of registering a domain name a complete different way, make things more simple and go straight to the point: deliver what is offered on the packaging and nothing more that what the price says. It does not work the same online when you can offer “options”, simply by clicking on a button. The more clicks...

A supermarket also has the capacity to offer “trust” in the purchase: the seller is already an authority, can Registrars says the same: nationwide?

Why not add the email to this package?
Another truth is that very few people know that an email can be different from gMail or Hotmail so offering the option to personalize an email with a domain name seriously adds to the quality of the offer.

Let’s be honest, what looks nicer: jguillon@hotmail.com or jean@guillon.email ? What about this one for "Jovenet Consulting": www.jovenetconsulting.com or www.jovenet.consulting ?

Added to the domain name, a personalized email is typically what Google and many other Registrars are trying to achieve in their offers but a supermarket could demonstrate that it is even a better place to bring consumers to buy such products: it is faster and does not require to read it all.

So what is the solution then?
I studied various possibilities but I strongly believe that the best approach is with a Registry which operates its own Registrar. The reason for this? A better price and reduced costs to take care of all operations with a limited number of subsidiaries. Note that I will not explain about “a better price”.

A Registrar with the capacity to offer a complete solution and a dedicated path for such consumers:
  1. The Blog (without ever mentioning the word “hosting”);
  2. The Domain name;
  3. The Email;
  4. One yearly payment.
A coupon, such as the one offered to buy music, will offer:
  • To pay for year one;
  • A 3 lines explanation of what the consumer buys;
  • A short URL where to:
    • Create the domain name which will activate and point to the Blog;
    • Create the email;
    • Explain and point to the interface to Blog;
    • Renew the domain name (renewing should be explained on the coupon).
The entire process should fit in one single page.

Who can do that?
Come on: don’t you see?
;-)


*BtoC stands for “Business to Consumer”, different from BtoB which stands for “Business to Business”

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

New gTLDs: how they incite innovation

We thought new gTLDs would bring innovation to the world of domain names, but has it been the case? Clearly not...and this for two reasons:
  1. It took too long for many projects to be validated by the ICANN and launched;
  2. It cost too much Registries to wait and money dedicated to innovation went to...you know...when you have to pay your staff while waiting, etc...                     :-)
We also thought that innovation would be sudden but it appears that it is taking longer.


Is innovation coming now?

Clearly yes.

I see new kind of projects coming which did not exist because of the non existence of new gTLDs. All use and/or focus on new domain names:
  • Tools to operate large portfolios of domain names with a minimum number of clicks: some Trademarks now want to find a use for all of these new domains they have to secure*;
  • Tools dedicated to the meaning of specific TLDs (.email - .club - ...);
  • Directories dedicated to specific domain name extensions: the interesting thing about new gTLDs is that some extensions now clearly mean something and help identify the content of a website directly when reading the domain name;
  • Search engines for specific TLD meanings: why not search an info about a Contractor in a search engine dedicated to ".contractors" domain names?
  • "Gain sharing" focussing on specific TLDs: a method to help Registries Registrants generate an income from a specific domain name extension;
  • Mad scientists projects**.
Some registries are still having a hard time to make their project profitable but this is what is driving creativity today. There are failures with, for example, attempts to flood the market creating new domain names with no content; but little by little, we see that registries are not necessary - as we imagined it - the one to deliver creativity: registrants and entrepreneurs are now the one to take the lead. 

Rebranding is innovation
According to Verisign, it appears that ".com" was originally created to represent the “commercial” intent of a website so now there is a ".search" domain name extension, does it mean that it is time for Google to change its extension to perfectly match with what it is really doing?
What about The Time: isn't it time to change to a ".news" or ".press" to clearly express what it is about, or does it have to stick to that old speech about ".com" domain names and SEO?
Some Trademarks are showing initiatives:
By the way, what sounds best here: "innovation is branding" or "branding is innovation"? Don't both sound good thank to new gTLDs?

We are interested in talking about your new gTLD innovation, contact us if interested. 

* conceived by Jovenet Consulting
** some are clearly imagined at Jovenet Consulting ;-)

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Sad day for new gTLDs or...wrong move?

McDonald's is withdrawing its new gTLD applications. For whatever reason, someone at McDonald's took the decision to terminate the two applications for its domain names ending in ".mcdonalds" and ".mcd".


What the notice says
  • McDonald's Corporation, in its function as the Registry Operator has represented to ICANN that it does not sell, distribute or transfer control or use of any registrations in the .mcdonalds TLD to third parties.
  • Transitioning operation of the TLD is not necessary to protect the public interest.
  • .mcdonalds qualifies as a .Brand TLD.
  • Only one domain name is registered in the .mcdonalds TLD and it is mandated by the Registry Agreement (nic.mcdonalds).

McDonald's is good at Marketing
One thing that is for sure is that McDonald's is good at Marketing: they have been able to sell Hamburgers to French and make them addicted. They've also been able to have millions of American to eat their Hamburgers using "Bread", "Cheese" and "French fries". No doubt: they are excellent at selling hamburgers ;-)

With so many people working on the best ways to market its products, the giant seems have taken the decision to capitalize on using country code Top-Level domains (such as ".fr" for example)* instead of its own domain name extension.

*Oh...and ".com" too.

$40,000 a year to operate...so why?
There are such offers to operate a TLD and this includes the prohibitive ICANN fee of $25,000 a year so...when you're McDonald's: why would you withdraw your application when you don't know about the future? It is even possible that these fee will lower - for .BRAND new gTLD applicants - in the future round of the ICANN new gTLD program: isn't this another good reason to keep a .BRAND new gTLD?

"What if"
What if Papa John's, Jack in the Box, Arby's, Dairy Queen, Little Caesars, Big Fernand (and its "hamburg├ęs"), Carl's Jr./Hardee's, Chipotle, Sonic Drive-In, Domino's, KFC, Panera Bread, Pizza Hut, Chick-fil-A, Dunkin' Donuts, Taco Bell, Wendy's, Burger King, Subway or Starbucks submit an application in the next round and decide to create one domain name per restaurant opened or city covered? That could add a lot of visibility for these restaurants and make a difference when it comes to entering "hamburger" on Google (or Bing).

I am not even trying to contact McDonald's to understand such move but as a marketer myself, let's just say that if there are more, or as many, .BRAND new gTLD applications in the next round of the ICANN new gTLD program, I will consider that this choice was...not a good one: it is to me far to early for a Trademark like McDonald's to withdraw its new gTLD applications.

Friday, June 30, 2017

.SEARCH new gTLD coming...from Google

Charleston Road Registry, the legal entity belonging to Google in charge to create/launch its TLDs, has three extensions coming to the market:
  1. The .SEARCH new gTLD;
  2. .MAP
  3. .PHD
(Amazon also applied for .MAP and .SEARCH but applications were withdrawn in the end).


Google is about "search": isn't it?
This domain name extension comes late in the ICANN new gTLD program and there is a reason for this but what matters is what use is Google to have of ".search" domain names.

What the application says
Extracted from the application submitted to the ICANN:
The mission of the proposed gTLD, .search, is to provide a domain name space that makes it easier for Internet users to locate and make use of the search functionality of their choice. The proposed gTLD will open possibilities for new, more convenient ways for Internet users to navigate to the services they like and use.
Most of the time, the purpose of the extension is explained in question 18 A from the application ("Describe the mission/purpose of your proposed gTLD") but it is in the following question (18 B) of that Google explains in one line how ".search" domains will be used:
The goal of the proposed gTLD is to provide a space dedicated to Internet search offerings, and to make it easier for users to access the search functionality of their choice. The proposed gTLD will signal to the general population of Internet users that .search websites are indeed websites that offer search functionality, and adhere to basic technical standards.
Shoot in the feet?
When you are the number one search engine worldwide, do you want to offer a tool to incite others to start building search engines? I seriously doubt it and maybe this sentences extracted from the application gives more info about the real use ".search" registrants will be able to have of their domain name:
Charleston Road Registry plans to develop and publish eligibility criteria for all registrants in the proposed gTLD and will work with its registrars to execute the eligibility verification process. This process will imbue additional meaning to all second-level domains in the gTLD and enhance the gTLD’s reputation by establishing an authoritative community of websites that offer search functionality. When Internet users visit a website in the proposed gTLD environment, they will be able to reliably expect services relevant to the proposed gTLD.
Will this be a restriction? It is a little unclear to me but
Innovation
Again, some sentences are unclear but innovation seems to be around the corner:
The .search gTLD will provide a new mechanism whereby websites with search functionality can enact second-level domains that offer search-related services. This signification is not currently available in the gTLD space.

...it provides a simple technical standard describing how users and other software can interact with search functionality within the TLD.

Even more importantly, a consistent query interface across all search websites in the TLD makes it easier for third-party developers to create new and innovative services that will allow users to interact with search functionality in new and creative ways.
Trademarks
Charleston Road Registry will also develop policies to limit registrations within the domain to the names that registrants commonly use in trade related to their provision of search-related services, possibly including restricting registrations to exact matches of trademarks.
Technical requirements
Here we are, it appears that registering a ".search" domain name will not be as simple as registering a ".club":
Charleston Road Registry will implement a validation service to verify compliance with these technical requirements.
Check 18.b.iv. Registration Policies from the application "TECHNICAL REQUIREMENTS FOR REGISTRATION WITHIN THE .SEARCH GTLD" for details.

Interesting too:
Supplying Google account information will be optional for registrants.
I understand from this sentence that it will be possible to connect a ".search" domain names to Google' services.

(My) conclusion
I am a fan of Google's products and I use them everyday. I like this last idea to be able to supply my Google account information to a ".search" domain name because it will probably help one develop his business: few know much about coding so if connecting a Google account to a ".search" domain can save time developing a search engine, it adds credibility to this Registry's project. I don't think Google is selling ".search" domains for money and even if the application does not say it explicitly, the ".search" Registry looks like it is a restricted one so I expect content to be found on ".search" websites...not to be crap. A candidate to the Verified Top-Level Domains (vTLD) Consortium maybe?

Google.search coming? Probably...but I don't expect Google.com to change to Google.search :-)

Register your Trademark using an agent.