Saturday, August 10, 2019

The .BEST Registry: One Year After

The .BEST new gTLD registry was acquired one year ago exactly. I interviewed his CEO Cyril Fremont for an update about two important aspects of the project: adoption of “.best” domain names by the public, and THE.BEST : a new kind of social network offering its members a “.best” domain name, and to be paid for their reviews.


The Interview:
(This article was first published on LinkedIn)

Jean Guillon: Hello Cyril, we had this interview in November 2018, 3 months after the .BEST Registry was acquired by yourself, and I wanted to follow-up with you on the global project. It will now be one year so, how are things doing today?

Cyril Fremont: Hi Jean, and thanks for the invitation. Well, a lot has happened since and, like it often happens when delivering innovation, we’ve had a lot of good surprises, learnt new things, but the most important is that we have executed the .BEST Registry’s plan for this first year.

Jean Guillon: On innovation and new services, I kept an eye on your development and noticed that many Brand Protection companies are now offering the new Brands.Best protection service for their clients to secure their Trademark(s) on the entire .BEST domain name extension: how strings (second level domains) can be secured on the .BEST database?

Cyril Fremont: Well, since 1st June 2019 and following the INTA 2019 in Boston, we are now offering a comprehensive .BEST protection service for brands and Trademark holders who want to block any .BEST domain name containing their Trademark from a possible registration. It is really important for us to allow and give +6 months to brands, to protect their Trademark before the official launch of THE.BEST social network.

Clearly, THE.BEST social network is an amazing marketing and advertising opportunity for brands but also a serious threat to Trademarks. Cyber squatting is already a nightmare on existing centralized social networks so the question is not “when”, but “how much” cyber squatting can happen for a single brand within THE.BEST social network if they don’t secure their domain name(s); not to mention that our social network will also affect the reputation of all major brands revealing the user’s satisfaction score of any product or service.

Jean Guillon: You recently announced a standard price drop with an offer to renew “.best“ domain names at the best price. I registered for a certain number of domain names and I will certainly benefit from this new renewal pricing but you will find my question very straight forward: how do you earn money?

Cyril Fremont: Well, we have actually 3 different channel revenues : go.best (the registry), brands.best (the brand protection program) and the.best (the social network).

On the registry side (go.best), like all TLDs, we sell domain names the standard way through our network of accredited registrars and we also sell premium names directly to big brands. We registered a huge number of amazing premium sales over the last few months.

The key with our “.best” premium names is that we don’t just sell a domain name: we sell a business plan with a target ROI to our end-users.

“Best” is part of the most typed keyword in google searches. Millions of daily searches are related to the best. This is why we are so successful selling premium domain names ending in “.best”.

The string “Best” is such a strong asset that we don’t sell names: we sell brand equity!

So, on the brand side, we also offer a subscription protection service to block any possible Trademark cyber squatting. This new brand protection service really is a critical mission: it’s not just a business for us as we want to avoid recreating a cyber squatting nightmare at the public launch of our social network the way it happened with the .TK for instance. Our last channel is THE.BEST social network. We already start generating advertising revenues on THE.BEST social media early adopters. We also offer a satisfaction monitoring service and a review sponsoring service to brands which should become our mainstream revenue for the coming years. Facebook has announced that they were doing +120$ per user in the USA on advertising in 2018. We still target an audience of 100M .BEST users on THE.BEST social network.

Globally, (go.best + brands.best + the.best) over the last 12 months, we have reached break-even!

On the registry side, we have executed our .BEST plan to be up to 20K live domains on the 1st year anniversary of the .BEST acquisition, and we are proud about that.

We pay very much attention to what we spend and focus on what matters. But in the next few months and following our price change on 5th August, we will now invest a lot in Marketing.

Right now, the Brands.best protection service is what matters for us but the next big thing FY2020 is THE.BEST social network, please note this.

Jean Guillon: What’s that thing about “Decentralized platforms” that you keep referring to? I understand that it deals with THE.BEST social network to launch anytime soon but it is still a little unclear to me. As a future user of THE.BEST social network, what difference will it make for me?

Cyril Fremont: We are all aware about the problems related to data privacy and the use some social networks have of our personal details. A decentralized platform will allow us to ensure that the respect of your private information will correspond to what the law says in your country of residence. Furthermore, it’s not just about data ownership, it’s also about data responsibility. Coz if you are the owner of your data, then you are also responsible of then, the same way you are for a domain name.

Jean Guillon: Let’s talk about numbers now, shall we?

Cyril Fremont: well Jean, you follow us on Twitter and you probably noticed that we Tweet a lot about our registration figures: we had as an objective to develop “.best” domain names and to meet with adoption. When we acquired the extension, there were - if I remember well - something around 2,500 domain names created. We now deliver an average of 1,000 more domain names per week and we now have more than 23,000 domains registered. This is good but believe me...this is nothing compared to where we are going!

As I like to say, we are not even “day 1”. Scaling the unscalable is THE.BEST game.

Jean Guillon: Ok, so when is Day 1?

Day 1 will be the launch of THE.BEST social network!

Jean Guillon: I noticed your two YouTube channels, there is one for THE.BEST (which has not launched yet) and another for the Registry. This is something that registries don’t usually do and that they often drop once the TLD has launched: I kind of like the story telling but what happens when the TLD has launched?

Cyril Fremont: Yes, service providers tend to launch many communication tools thinking that they will contribute to their visibility. It is usually true at the beginning but then they often just leave it as it is and forget about it, not wondering about the bad effect it can have on their image then.

I am still not happy with what we have done on the video side. We can do more and we will do more.

The subject of domain names is not an exciting one for all social media users, but we are innovators with our Registry and we think that our story is a good one to tell.

Plus on THE.BEST social network, we will start a process of interviewing with all “Best” players of all major industries.

We also want to make history here and become an example to follow the way the .CLUB registry did.

For me the .CLUB is also a good example to follow. I like the string, they have an innovative marketing, start to have a strong user adoption and a great usage of their TLD, not to mention that they have a smart team that helps also for execution.

Jean Guillon: Talking about other TLDs, there was a deal signed with the AFNIC, the .FR Registry: can you tell me more about it? I understood that new registrants of a “.fr” domain name will be offered the same ending in “.best”?

Cyril Fremont: Yes, this is what the deal is about : a “.best” domain name will be registered for free for one year for each new “.fr” registration. The .FR had +600k new registrations last year so the potential for us is important in France and we already had the support of all major French registrars such as OVH, Gandi, NETIM, NameBay, Hosteur, ...

It’s historic and once again, we are the first to have made a such co-marketing partnership between a new gTLD and and a cctld (country code). I would even say that it’s not the last one, because other partnerships are coming and will be announced.

The idea here is also to prepare the launch of THE.BEST social network as every registered “.best” domain (free or not) will be able to be directly linked to THE.BEST social network beginning 2020. Usage = Value, that will be our difference.

Jean Guillon: Well, thank you Cyril for this interview. Can you remind me when THE.BEST Social Network is launching again and are there any other surprises coming?

Cyril Fremont: THE.BEST social network is coming FY2020. The next big surprise is that we have also decided to open the usage of THE.BEST social network to other TLDs, but that’s another story and I give you “rendez-vous” next year for that part. So, stay tuned, THE.BEST is yet to come!

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