The Association of National Advertisers and related groups are currently telling ICANN and anyone who will listen that big brands don’t want new top-level domains.
But many of the ANA’s members, including members of its board, are understood to be currently talking to domain consultants and registries about applying for their own .brand gTLDs.
Assuming that the ANA is not lying, and that its members don’t want .brands, what on earth are these companies going to say in their applications next year?
If they are thinking about applying purely defensively (and I use that word loosely), truly believing that new gTLDs are useless, how will they answer the all-important Question 18(b)?
How do you expect that your proposed gTLD will benefit registrants, Internet users, and others?
The question, which was added to the Applicant Guidebook this year at the request of the Governmental Advisory Committee, is not scored, but is expected to be answered.
The answers will be published, and they will also be used in ICANN’s future reviews of the program.
The ANA is already on-record stating “there are no material or obvious benefits”, so an answer to 18(b) from one of its members that states anything other than: “We don’t think it will benefit anyone.” is going to look like a horrible lie.
And lying isn’t allowed. It’s in the Guidebook’s terms and conditions:
Applicant warrants that the statements and representations contained in the application (including any documents submitted and oral statements made and confirmed in writing in connection with the application) are true and accurate and complete in all material respects
Any company that lies in its application runs the risk of losing its whole $185,000 application fee and having its application rejected.
Okay, I admit, I’m being a bit cheeky here – I don’t really think anyone will be rejected for using a bit of colorful marketing BS in their applications. I doubt the evaluators will even notice.
I am perhaps suggesting that the ANA’s outrage today may not fully reflect the diversity of opinions among its board and general membership.
Either way, it’s going to be fascinating to read the applications filed by ANA members, and to compare their words to the positions they’re allowing ANA management to put forth on their behalf today.