Thursday, August 31, 2017

New gTLD Registry Fee Offset Proposal

This is the ICANN answer to Chairman of the Registries Stakeholder Group in regard to a proposal to offset new gTLD Registry Fees.

In simple words:
  1. Registries: "ICANN: it is too expensive for us! With all that money that you have, why don't you lower costs?"
  2. ICANN: "hey, we've been talking about this for years: where the hell were you in 2011? As for now, it is No."
The answer
Thank you for your proposal of 14 March 2017, regarding new gTLD registry fees. Your letter has been published to the ICANN correspondence page. 
We sympathize with the financial challenges that some new gTLD registry operators may be facing in the early periods of these new businesses. New gTLD Operators face a challenging task of building consumer awareness and this can and may take significant time and effort. ICANN remains committed to supporting the evolution of the robust, stable and trusted domain name marketplace, and new gTLDs are part of this evolution. ICANN recognizes the challenge you cited related to universal acceptance of TLDs, in particular IDN TLDs. ICANN has established the Universal Acceptance Steering Group to help address some of these challenges. This effort is being funded from the New gTLD program application fees. By the end of FY18 ICANN will have committed several million dollars to this effort.
We appreciate that the gTLD Registry Stakeholder Group (RySG) has developed a proposal to offset New gTLD Operator fees for ICANN’s consideration. Your proposal requests ICANN to provide a one-time credit to new gTLD registry operators of 75% of the annual fixed registry fee ($25,000 USD) using a portion of what your proposal characterizes as $96 million of projected remaining funds from the New gTLD Program applications fees. In your letter you assert a fiduciary duty on ICANN to refund the excess funds from the New gTLD program to the registry operators, to be clear, ICANN does not agree with this assertion. 
Your letter cites obstacles related to competing in the domain name market place due to the fixed registry fee structure of the New gTLD Registry Agreement. The current registry fee structure, comprising fixed and registration-based fees, was outlined in the Section 6.1 of the Base Registry Agreement and published as part of the New gTLD Applicant Guidebook (AGB). It was subject to several rounds of public comment from the wider ICANN community as part of the AGB development process, and the fee structure and amount have not changed since the ICANN Board approved the AGB in 2011
As you are aware, the 2012 round of the New gTLD Program is still underway, and a portion of the remaining funds are required for the ongoing operation of the program.
As noted in ICANN’s FY18 Operating Plan and Budget, ICANN expects to have spent approximately $214 million on the Program, including “hard-to-predict” costs incurred in FY18 and in the future3 . To date, ICANN has spent Program funds on a range of previously unforeseen expenses including the formation and coordination of the Universal Acceptance Steering Group, Emergency BackEnd Registry Operator Program operations, studies and mitigation plans relating to Name Collision, implementation of the Trademark Clearinghouse, support for the administration of ICANN Accountability Mechanisms, and legal fees and costs relating to the New gTLD Program. The remaining Program funds are intended to cover operating expenses and future unanticipated costs such as those listed above, which continue to occur on an ongoing basis. We do not yet know how much of the New gTLD Program remaining funds will be required to address future unanticipated expenses, and by when. As such, at this time, ICANN is not in a position to commit to the dispensation of any potential remaining funds from the New gTLD Program applications fees. Thank you for your thoughtful proposal and for your understanding.
Download the updated proposal from the gTLD Registries Stakeholder Group (RySG) here (PDF document).

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Can .WEB revive .WED ?

The .WED new gTLD (for Wedding) is in danger of...never, ever launching. By "launching", I mean to sell domain names. To "launch", a Registry must sell more - much more - than 100 domain names.


I wrote an article about this subject on DomainNameWire and I believe that it is a good read for any coming new gTLD applicant who wants to throw himself in the next ICANN new gTLD round.

Read my article on DomainNameWire.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

More new gTLD case studies

The ICANN just published three more case studies. The domain name extensions concerned are:
  1. The .KRED new gTLD;
  2. The .CEO new gTLD;
  3. The .手机 (xn--kput3i) IDN new gTLD.
Purpose of each proposed gTLD
This content was extracted from each new gTLD application submitted to the ICANN during the submission process: "18(a). Describe the mission/purpose of your proposed gTLD".


The .手机 new gTLD (.CELL)
Beijing RITT in this application is applying for the Chinese IDN string of .CELL only. This is not an application for .CELL (ASCII). The true IDN string will be referred to throughout this application as .CELL (Chinese IDN) for simplicity of review by ICANN. .CELL (Chinese IDN) is intended to become one of the most common and easily accessible TLDs on the internet, especially targeted to Chinese speakers. It will vastly expand options for creating domains, developing mobile applications, and giving new opportunities to those who have been unable to obtain a desired domain name in Chinese in existing TLDs. Most importantly, it provides the opportunity for the full domain name to be represented in their native language. The .CELL (Chinese IDN) TLD will help facilitate the expansion of those opportunities for Chinese-speaking Internet users. While we expect long-term growth as Internet penetration increases, we expect that awareness and early adoption will ramp up gradually and the first few years will experience a modest adoption rate. Therefore, we anticipate that we will have 30,000 domains under management (DUMs) after three years. 

The .KRED new gTLD
The mission⁄purpose of the .kred TLD is to establish a cohesive, clear, dedicated, immediately identifiable online identity, experience, and sales channel for KredTLD Pty Ltd. Kred, launched by social analytics leader PeopleBrowsr in 2011, measures influence in online communities connected by affinities. Kred values audience quality and engagement over audience size by assessing anyone’s ability to inspire action (Influence) and propensity to engage with others (Outreach). As a market leader in social media engagement and analytic services, Kred is excited to have the opportunity to take a lead in this new, expanded Internet environment as one of the first brand TLDs. The .kred TLD leverages the influential Kred brand, to enable us to offer our cutting edge technology products and services to individuals, brands, and industries in a clearer way than is currently possible. It will bring Kred’s online presence together into one clear channel of communication and experience, thus clearly distinguishing the company and its products from competitors.

The .CEO new gTLD
CEOTLD Pty Ltd. will combine PeopleBrowsr’s Kred’s influence and outreach measurement, real world rankings and other information feeds to provide comprehensive information for, by and about the CEO community and its members. The .ceo TLD enables us to offer our cutting edge technology products to individuals, brands, locations and industries in a clearer way than is currently possible. It will bring CEOTLD Pty Ltd.’s online presence together into one clear channel of communication and experience, thus clearly distinguishing the company and its products from competitors

All case studies can be checked here.

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?

Register your Trademark using an agent.