Worldwide companies set to enter web domain business
Web domains are about to be shaken up. Soon the well-known Top Level Domains (TLDs) such as .com or .org will have to make room for .unicef or .canon.
ICANN, the international governing body of internet domains, recently announced that it will permit the launch of up to 1,000 new TLDs with applications open to any company looking to bring their brand more prominently into the internet structure.
“In the past, .com has succeeded as being the most successful brand in the world. It’s like the Coca Cola of domain names. It’s now possible to get your own brand at that domain level. For a lot of companies it’s a very attractive place to have your name,” said Ben Crawford, CEO of DotBrand Solutions. DotBrand Solutions, a London technology consultancy company, recently launched its offices in Dubai to offer its services to regional companies looking to register their company with a TLD extension.
Companies are free to choose any TLD in any language that would suit their company or brand, opening up a whole range of new domain categories. “It could be something that brings people together such as .mothers. It could be an industry such as .insurance. It could be brand values such as .free or .fun. There are many things a brand can do with it. From talking to prominent players, there are companies that are planning to do all three,” said Crawford.
Companies that look to register will benefit from owning a single online location which will unite their content, making it easy for consumers and search engines to identify their official presence. Owning a domain name also allows higher online security by providing an online ecosystem which prevents phishing, traffic diversion, cybersquatting and brand abuse.
Another reason companies are showing interest in owning a TLD is to maintain their economic edge. “.com and .net started in 1985 but the rush happened in 1999. Some of the companies that are applying are not competing in names, but they want to have a competitive edge,” said Crawford. “They will open more in the future but industry estimates say that it will be five years until the next round of people is able to apply,” he added.
According to DotBrands Solutions, 54 percent of clients surveyed this year said they would look to acquire their TLDs as an opportunity to move their businesses forward. According to Crawford, the lion’s share of this interest is in the US, Germany and Japan. However, it is difficult to judge now how many clients are looking to launch their own TLD as most companies that have shown interest are keeping their plans confidential. Brands that have publicly confirmed their intentions include 20th Century Fox, Unicef, Hitachi, Canon, Deloitte, HSBC, IBM and HP.
ICANN will open an application window from January 12 until April 12, 2012 and during that window any company can apply for any TLD they want in any language. ICANN will then decide among applicants who will get to use the domains. DotBrand Solutions, which has offices in London, New York and now Dubai, helps companies to navigate the ICANN approval process.
“Over six years ICANN has developed a 350-page policy document which explains what you have to do to manage a top level domain. By taking a domain name you will be running part of the infrastructure of the internet so there are very high technical requirements in the policy,” Crawford said. Their recent venture into Dubai has been on the back of demand and potential they see from this region.
“Business on the internet and net marketing are also increasing. Corporations in the Middle East spend on advertising has increased from $120 million to $170 million from 2009 to 2010. This shows the interest that corporations are taking being online in the Middle East,” said Mohammad Alammouri of DotBrand Solutions.
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