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Donuts explains its premium pricing strategy

Kevin Murphy, December 17, 2013, Domain Registries

Add Donuts to the list of registries planning to use .tv-style variable pricing after their new gTLDs start to go to general availability next year.

COO Richard Tindal told DI last night that each of its upcoming registries could have “two, three, four, five, six — it varies — levels of buy-it-now pricing”.

He was referring to pricing during general availability, not any of Donuts’ special launch phases.

The actual number of registry-reserved names held for auction or future promotional purposes is likely to be quite small — often under 20 names per TLD — Tindal said.

Instead, Donuts wants to get the names it has identified as “premium” to market as quickly as possible, but with a higher annual price than the base registry fee. He said:

Let’s take .clothing, that’s coming out at the moment.

There’ll be a small — very small — number of reserved names for which we may do an auction later

The vast, vast majority of the names are first-come-first-served buy-it-now — but within Donuts TLDs, at more than one price within a TLD.

So in .clothing the standard names will be one price, then there’ll be another group of names that are premium for a higher price, and another group of names that are higher still that are premiums as well, and potentially even another group.

Tindal didn’t want to give specifics, but indicated that most premiums could carry an annual fee of under $1,000.

“Your ball-park standard name is a $10, $20, $30 name, ish, retail,” he said. “And your premium name is in the hundreds of dollars a year, typically. It varies.”

“Generally, ball-park-speaking, the vast majority of our names will be well, well under $1,000 a year,” he said.

He added that the tiers should be obvious when pre-registering names at one of Donuts’ accredited registrars.

I experimented a bit on 101domain, where the base retail price for a .clothing domain is currently $34.99 a year.

I found that used.clothing and winter.clothing, for example, both carry a $400 price tag, hot.clothing and large.clothing are $49.50 each, while vintage.clothing and designer.clothing appear to be reserved.

Those are the retail prices, of course, which include the registrar’s mark-up. While they’re for pre-registered names, I’m not expecting the GA prices to be much different.

“These are very attractively priced names, in our view, even the premium ones we think are attractive to people,” Tindal said. “We want registrars to make some margin, we want registrants to have room for the value of the name to increase as well.”

He didn’t say how many names will be in the higher pricing tiers — it will vary by gTLD.

“We believe premiums will be a small percentage of names under management,” he said.

The tiers will be the same across all of Donuts TLDs, he said, but each given TLD may only use a subset. So if there are six possible tiers, .example may only use three of them.

Donuts does not currently plan to operate a “founders program” for its gTLDs, Tindal said.

“We just want to get these names out and in the hands of users,” he said. Donuts’ market is primarily small and medium sized enterprises.

Donuts is not the first to reveal tiered pricing for new gTLD names.

Top Level Domain Holdings recently laid out a similar pricing strategy. Its Minds + Machines registrar is already taking pre-registrations on names with renewal fees ranging into many thousands of dollars per yer for premium names.

What Box and Plan Bee have also started selling pre-registrations via their registrars that indicate tiered pricing.

Prior to new gTLDs, the only notable TLD with variable pricing was Verisign’s repurposed ccTLD, .tv.

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Bing already recognizes new gTLDs (Google doesn’t)

Kevin Murphy, December 16, 2013, Domain Tech

Microsoft seems to be ahead of its rival Google when it comes to recognizing new gTLDs in their respective search engines.

Doing an advanced search for sites within specific new gTLDs on Bing is returning results today. The same cannot be said for Google, however.

Here’s an example of a search results page limited to Uniregistry’s .sexy:

The same type of search seems to work for .tattoo (Uniregistry) and .ruhr (Regiodot) but not for .uno or for any of Donuts’ many Latin-script gTLDs (which all currently redirect to donuts.co).

Sometimes the searches work with a dot, sometimes they don’t.

Searching for Donuts’ and other registries’ IDN gTLDs also seems to work in Bing, but only when you search for the A-label (eg .xn--unup4y) rather than the U-label (.游戏).

New gTLD support appears to be a work in progress at Microsoft, in other words, but the company does seem to be further along than Google, which so far doesn’t return any results for the same queries.

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Prince Charles first to get a second-level .uk name

Kevin Murphy, December 16, 2013, Domain Registries

The household of Prince Charles, the Prince of Wales, has become one of the first bodies to receive a second-level .uk domain name, Nominet announced this morning.

The name princeofwales.uk was among four delegated to organizations that have previously used third-level .gov.uk names but which are actually independent of the UK government. Nominet said:

Nominet has delegated the new second-level .uk domain names royal.uk, princeofwales.uk, supremecourt.uk and jcpc.uk to the Royal Household, the Household of the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall, the Supreme Court, and the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council respectively.

These were among 69 second-level names requested by the British government for special treatment in advance of the broader Direct.uk initiative, which is due to kick of mid-2014.

The full list of government names will be published in February, Nominet said.

Under Direct.uk, registrants of .co.uk names will get five years to decide whether they want to register the matching .uk name.

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The latest new gTLD passes and signings

Kevin Murphy, December 16, 2013, Domain Registries

Five new gTLD applications passed Extended Evaluation late Friday, while one more contract was signed.

Four of the five EE passes were dot-brands that had previously failed to provide ICANN with enough financial information to pass their Initial Evaluation.

They are: .mckinsey (McKinsey Holdings), .alcon (Alcon Laboratories), .cipriani (Hotel Cipriani), and .jcp (JCP Media).

The fifth was DotHome Ltd (Defender Security/CGR-Ecommerce) with .home, a bittersweet pass given that the .home gTLD is now unlikely to ever see the light of day due to name collision risks.

Also late Friday, another registry signed its Registry Agreement with ICANN. This time, it was Dai Nippon Printing with .dnp, a Japanese dot-brand.

The contract has not yet been published, but it seems unlikely to be ICANN’s newly proposed dot-brand contract, which is still open for public comment.

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NamesCon ticket winners selected

Kevin Murphy, December 16, 2013, Domain Services

Over the weekend we randomly selected the five winners of free tickets to the NamesCon conference.

To enter, all you had to do was leave a comment answering the question:

What’s the best way to explain the benefits of new gTLDs to somebody from outside the domain industry?

The prizes are free conference passes to NamesCon, which runs at the Tropicana hotel in Las Vegas from January 13 to 15.

The winners were picked using the random number generator at Random.org. By screen name, they are:

  1. JS
  2. Tony C
  3. Nic Steinbach
  4. Adam Strong
  5. Pat

They will be all contacted via email by DI today to arrange for ticket delivery.

Many thanks to everyone who participated. There were some interesting answers in there.

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