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ANA’s response to the Beckstrom letter in full

Kevin Murphy, August 11, 2011, 15:48:24 (UTC), Domain Policy

The Association of National Advertisers has issued statements in response to ICANN president Rod Beckstrom’s admonishment of its attempt to hold up the new top-level domains program.

ANA appeared out of nowhere last week, vaguely threatening to sue ICANN unless it suspended the program, which it believes will cost brand owners billions of dollars.

But yesterday Beckstrom replied, saying the program was developed through a “multi-stakeholder” policy-making process over several years in which ANA had ample opportunity to participate.

He also pointed out that ANA appears to have made faulty assumptions about how the program is supposed to work, particularly with regards “.brand” gTLDs.

This the official response to Beckstrom’s letter from Bob Liodice, ANA’s president and CEO:

We are not surprised by ICANN’s response although disappointed that ICANN chose to defend its process and deny any doubt as to consensus. Rather, ICANN needs to respond to the real concern from the brand owner community.

There is no question that this Program will increase brand owners’ costs by billions of dollars. We should not be debating if 40 or 45 comment periods were held; instead, ICANN should be justifying its economic analysis regarding the Program against the staggering costs to brands.

ANA welcomes further discussions and an opportunity for further economic study to quantify the need for more TLDs and what it will mean for industry and other stakeholders, such as the public interest community who will face the same brand dilution concerns.

ANA general counsel Doug Wood, from the law firm Reed Smith, stated:

Now is not the time for either side to ‘dig in its heels’ much less defend the process, especially in a depressed economy. ANA has raised real concerns regarding economic losses, brand dilution and resultant privacy/cyber-security harms.

In light of our shared goals of a safe and stable global Internet, ICANN should return to the negotiating table and work with all concerned parties, including the ANA and its members, to resolve brand owners’ legitimate concerns in a manner consistent with ICANN’s consensus obligations.

These are of course concerns that have been debated to death for several years in the ICANN community, lately without ANA’s participation.

The organization submitted a couple of comments more than two years ago and then seemed to disappear from the process.

One could argue that’s very odd behavior for an apparently well-funded outfit now loudly claiming that it’s “horrified” by new gTLDs.

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Comments (18)

  1. Jim says:

    I still fail to see the upside of this ICANN proposal to any party except them.

    • Kevin Murphy says:

      It’s not too difficult.

      If registrants buy domains in new gTLDs, there will be an upside for them — they get to use a domain they want to use. Or re-sell it to somebody who does.

      And the registrars and registries will make money from selling them, so there’s obvious upside there.

      If it’s all defensive nonsense, then yes, there’s little upside.

  2. There is also job creation, innovation, and introduction of further competition being provided by the introduction.

    I reckon it is the time honored tale of big business against small business. Not a new tale.

    According to their website, The ANA has been around since 1910.
    Marketing has changed quite substantially in the time since.

    It baffles the mind to wonder what opinions and concerns are like nowadays in contrast to in 1910.

    There might have been concerns over the telegraph providing unfair competitive advantages vs. carrier pidgeons or semiphore flags, for example.

    There may have been opinions about how companies might be impacted by television advertising, or even color television. Or at the commercialization of the public global network.

    The internet has enabled shifts in how people buy things and sell things. Witness the failure of borders books or blockbuster video. New, more agile competitor embraced technology and didn’t waste time fighting change, and left them in the dust.

    But the core point is, there is a process, a well weathered process that is inclusive. At no point were they excluded from the process other than by means of not participating in the process.

    This is someone showing up after years and years of talks and inclusive community discussions and policy development where they could have constructively participated in a more engaged manner.

  3. Charles says:

    “a well weathered process that is inclusive?” Inclusive of who … a few soon to be billionaires and many soon to be unemployed small business owners.

    Any chance of my TLD development has been shot down, as has my future.

    Oh but don’t think that I don’t see the wisdom behind it all. LOL.

  4. Ed says:

    ICANN’s process has been:
    1) Hold comment period.
    2) Ignore any comments against new TLDs.
    3) Repeat 40 times because the negative opinions don’t seem to go away.
    4) Proceed with new TLDs anyway because the ICANN CEO’s salary is linked to approval of new TLDs and his tenure is ending soon, so if we don’t hurry up he won’t get all that non-profit cash in his wallet.

    • Charles says:

      The existing extensions have not come close to being fully utilized. And they could scratch all of the ccTLD’s and still have enough gTLD’s to go around. And maybe some of these dead generic extensions would come back to life.

      Of all the major aspects of the Internet that are run or controlled by this group or that group, the gang in charge of TLD’s has shown an amazing lack of ability to make sound business decisions. It wouldn’t surprise me if half of them are still in their 20’s.

  5. Scott Pinzon says:

    Like much of the ANA letter, Ed and Charles are simply wrong on the facts. (I guess Charles has never started a small business and experienced the frustration of looking for a meaningful string available under .com.) Anyone who is interested can look at all seven versions of the Applicant Guidebook, along with notes that specify what changed in response to more than 1,000 public comments, on line at http://www.icann.org/en/topics/new-gtlds/dag-en.htm .

    In the most recent example, the Governmental Advisory Committee, with membership representing over 100 governments, submitted 80 individual points they disagreed with. ICANN’s Board met with them extensively and repeatedly and reached agreement or compromise on more than 70 of the points.

    Any charge of the process being “exclusive” rings hollow, since it ignores six years of work by thousands of participants. It leaves me wondering: by what rationale does an advertising association assert that its opinion is more important than 100 governments and thousands of individuals representing almost any type of stakeholder you can imagine? Where is the ANA economic study proving that innovation ruins an economy? I have tremendous difficulty in seeing fact or a real-world rationale underlying anything they assert.

    • Kevin Murphy says:

      Thanks Scott.

      It certainly comes across as disingenuous to cast the development of the program as somehow happening behind closed doors.

  6. Charles says:

    I have both Brick and Mortar and Internet businesses on the line. Are your businesses at stake here? Is your retirement at stake here? Somehow I doubt it. No one preaches objectively unless they’re just watching from the sidelines, as you apparently are.

  7. Charles says:

    How old are you? 25? 30? Living in your mother’s basement? Join the real world.

  8. Charles says:

    Listen to yourself …

    “It certainly comes across as disingenuous to cast the development of the program as somehow happening behind closed doors.”

    … you sound like a college kid with a thesaurus in your hand. And yes, I’ve been to college. I have a degree from North Carolina State University in Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering. Either of you make it past English 101?

  9. Charles, envision that when getting that Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering degree that it took you not 4 years but 6 because two extra years got tacked on because the world claimed there were plenty of existing mechanical and aerospace engineers. Then you get a printed diploma and then other mechanical and aerospace universities decide to sue your college if they let you graduate.

  10. Charles says:

    Except for suing the college, that’s simple supply and demand, and that’s the way the world works. I was turned away from very nice jobs because I was too white and too male. But that’s life.

    If you owned a company that had 100 trailer rigs with 60 of them sitting idle in the back lot, would you be out shopping for more trailers before fully utilizing the assets that you already own?

    Is there a need for more TLD’s? Is there some demand for them that I’m not aware of? When demand is down, production is cut … not the other way around as in this case. This is not business.

  11. Charles says:

    Below is your quote regarding supply. The world has claimed that there are plenty of TLDs because THAT IS THE CASE (that’s not shouting, just emphasis).

    Tell me why we need more.

    “because the world claimed there were plenty of existing mechanical and aerospace engineers.”

    • Kevin Murphy says:

      Existing gTLDs are crappy.

      I would never have considered launching DI on a .biz instead of a .com. But .blog? I could see me doing that.

      If I had a band, would I want to promote my gigs on a .info? Probably not. But .music? Maybe.

      If I’m a startup, I can spend $10 on a convoluted .com, dropping the vowels or otherwise deliberately misspelling a common word. Or I can give a big chunk of my VC to some douchebag domainer for something a bit better. Or maybe in future I’ll be able to get a .brand gTLD instead.

      Now, there are still really good arguments to be made about whether the ICANN program has gone far enough to protect vested interests, but I think the case for increasing choice is fairly straightforward.

  12. Charles says:

    Agree to disagree. Let’s hope it works out to benefit all of us.

    Best regards
    Charles

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