Should you consider a generic top level domain?

Companies can now apply to form and operate a new gTLD registry — for a price

Chief information officers understand the importance of domain name registrations in maintaining the integrity of their organisation’s brand. Now a study estimates the .au domain contributed $475 million to the Australian economy in 2011 and created more than 4300 full-time jobs.

AusRegistry and auDA commissioned Deloitte Access Economics for the report, Economic and Statistical Analysis of the .au Domain Range. Among the findings: 2.3 million .au domains in 2011 and almost 60,000 new .au domains registered each month. Some 80 per cent of registered .au domain names in Australia have been registered in major cities but, compared against the number of businesses by region, for example, the density of domain names is highest for businesses in remote Australia.

auDA manages the domain name system in Australia and AusRegistry is the registry operator.

auDA chief executive officer, Chris Disspain, said although the administrator had long understood the value the .au domain provides to the economy, the actual dollar figures came as a surprise.

“It’s the first time we have done a formal analysis of its contribution to the economy,” he said.

The report pulls in data from several sources, including ABS data from the Census and it’s publication Information and Communications Technology Australia, 2006-2007 (ABS 2008).

“In an ideal world there would be no assumptions, but this isn’t an ideal world so we had to ensure the assumptions we made were well tested,” Disspain said.

Generic top level domains (gTLDs)

The Deloitte report also looks at future trends in domain registration, including the introduction of new generic top level domains. What are generic top level domains? They are new domains set to expand the current 22 top level domains – such as .com, .gov and .net — and can include almost any word or name, as well as non-Latin language scripts.

Under the new scheme, established entities worldwide can apply to form and operate a new gTLD registry — for a price.

The report identifies sectors such as entertainment and financial service brands as most likely to apply for the new gTLDs. Disspain said an organisation’s decision to register a new gTLD will ultimately come down to its marketing strategy.

“They have to ask: ‘Is our marketing strategy sufficient?’ If you can build a strong marketing strategy, it starts to make sense on a brand level,” he said.

“Why would you want to do it? Let’s take Qantas as an example – it already has the and domains. Should they register .qantas? It means they have to run the registry so there are additional resources involved. Then again, an organisation might be considering it for internal use.”

An enterprise may also consider registration as a defensive strategy to protect their brand. At $US185,000 for registration, however, and an annual fee of $US25,000, it must be balanced against the chances of another organisation registering for the domain.

“It’s a risk assessment to some extent,” Disspain said.

“If your brand is also a generic word, it’s entirely possible the organisation might register [that word as a] top level domain. The classic example is ‘Apple’ although organisations would also have actions open to them through trademark protections.

“It is not perfect, but there are protections built in.”

The application window for top level generic domains is open until 29 March.

According to the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, ICANN, the application process is so far running smoothly. So for 25 entities have successfully registered via the online TLD Application System. Each applicant can apply for up to 50 new generic top level domains.

“I can state firmly that a week into the process, the application system for the new domain names is functioning just as it should,” ICANN’s president and chief executive officer, Rod Beckstrom said.

ICANN will publish a list of the applications in May. The organisation expects the applications to be finalised by mid-November 2012.

Follow Georgina Swan on Twitter: @swandives

Follow CIO Australia on Twitter: @CIO_Australia

Follow Georgina Swan on Google+