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ICANN comms chief quits

Kevin Murphy, September 4, 2012, 23:07:22 (UTC), Domain Policy

ICANN vice president of communications Barbara Ann Clay has resigned, DI has learned.

Clay was appointed to the role in 2010 under Rod Beckstrom, and the fact that she is leaving now, while the CEO role is in transition, will come as little surprise to ICANN watchers.

As head of comms, Clay presided over a new gTLD outreach program that managed to result in 1,930 applications but which was criticized by some for not focusing enough on the developing world.

A generally low-profile executive, the only time DI has had cause to mention Clay’s name was when she complained to the government of Senegal about a crappy hotel.

She’s the second senior executive with responsibility over the new gTLD program — the third if you include Beckstrom — to leave ICANN since Reveal Day.

Program director Michael Salazar resigned in June at about the same time digital archery was getting killed off.

Clay’s last day on the job is believed to be September 14.

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Comments (7)

  1. Scott Pinzon says:

    Yes, ICANN’s Marketing department did get criticized for not focusing enough on the developing world during the new gTLD “communications period” in the second half of 2011.

    I wonder how many of the critics know that during that time, we ran a large and expensive Google ad words campaign in 137 countries, emphasizing those the World Bank ranked as lowest income? The campaign was geo-targeted via IP address, so you would not see those ads unless you were actually IN those developing countries (or getting lucky with Tor). Anyone who searched on domain-related terms would have been presented with the ads. Click-through was the usual low percentage associated with such ads, but since we racked up millions of impressions per month, even a small percentage of response is significant in raw numbers.

    In addition to Rod’s so-called World Tour, there were dozens of other live events, many in developing economies. For example, Ann-Rachel and Brad White explained new gTLDs for three hours at Highway Africa, an event which had 200 African reporters attending from all across the continent. The campaign was far from perfect, but there was more good being done than the average observer knows.

    In the end, I think there were two greater chilling effects on new gTLDs for the developing world: 1) Who cares about domain endings when only 5 to 10% of the populace can even access the Internet, as in some developing regions? 2) If you applied to ICANN’s assistance program for financial aid in acquiring a gTLD and your application was not considered needy enough, you were kicked out of the new gTLD program entirely. That’s a pretty daunting “welcome” if you’ve just learned of ICANN.

    I’m chiming in because this is probably the last time that communications period will come up. Lots of fresh issues overshadow it.

    • rafik says:

      Dear Scott,
      I asked many times about the communication program in developing countries and I made comment in your report abut never received answer, I also made comment during Costa Rica session about the staff implementation of applicant support
      let’s debunk some myths:

      – Adwords and facebook ads are cheap but also ineffective if you want to make a real campaign toward applicants who have to build strong case for application . what was done is lazy job of wannabe “social media” experts. that reminds me, “targeting CMO”, that is yet another ignorance of developing countries context and yet another confirmation the US culture dominating ICANN till now. did you dare to make only adwords campaign in US and no any kind of decent event? I guess the response is no.

      – The JAS WG reiterated many time about the need of strong communication to the board and ICANN staff but nothing serious and substantive was done. a level of humility should push for self-criticism and fair evaluation not just keeping to be in denial about the failure to communicate in time and long time prior to the launch of the program to guarantee fairness all over the world
      – you forgot to say that Rod didn’t make any visit to Africa (I think the only region which didn’t receive his holy visit)and it had the lowest number of new gTLD program “events”. Moreover, Anne-Rachel made presentations in session in few events and there was no a real ICANN event about new gTLD program. she usually attend those conferences, it is hard to say that is part of communication plan, what you state is misleading. she did her job and more but ICANN as always chose the cheapest and lazy way in Africa.
      – 5% and 10% of “populace”? choose better wording next time and ICANN has a public interest mission and need to serve everybody. I guess that you want to keep the statu quo?
      – the campaign is not just far from perfect, it is bad and mishandled.

      • Scott Pinzon says:

        Rafik, our mutual positions are more in alignment than you know. My point was not “our communications were great!” My point was, “We did more than the alleged ‘nothing.'”

        I disagreed with many of the decisions made over my head, including bringing in the over-priced Burston + Marstellar; that alone delayed us during three or four weeks of negotiation, when we had already run a public RFP and identified an agency that fit better. I believe a disproportionate amount of funds went to keeping Rod and his entourage on the road for 10 weeks. I disagreed with the omission of radio ads in Latin America; and the fact that many of the new gTLD ads appeared only in English.

        I could go on, but I’ll stop here and simply conclude, my holding an alternate vision for communications contributed to why I am not an ICANN employee today. I feel hopeful we’ll see better, more truly global work under the new CEO, Fadi.

    • Jean Guillon says:

      Hello Scott,
      I suggest you also post anything related to new gTLDs to the LinkedIn group dedicated to “New generic Top-Level Domains” on LinkedIn. All subscribers opted-in : they are brands, as well as journalists, applicants, new gTLD services providers.

      When you post your link, it is then sent to them by email.

      Regards,

      Jean.

  2. John Smith says:

    Adwords?

    Really???

  3. Ash says:

    Even an ICANN Board Member referred to it as “A broken new gTLD communications plan”

    http://dakar42.icann.org/meetings/dakar2011/transcript-board-meeting-28oct11-en.pdf

    Not exactly a ringing endorsement.

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