.CLUB Domains will today release 9,200 previously reserved .club names into the channel at premium prices.
The registry is also offering free T-shirts to the first 500 people to purchase a premium name for $59.99 and more, personalized with said name.
While the names will become available at 1500 UTC today, the full list is not expected to be published until midnight UTC at landrush.club
CMO Jeff Sass gave the following list of examples of names to be released: watches.club, vino.club, ocean.club, elite.club, driving.club, comicbook.club, Chinese.club and gambling.club.
A thousand of the names are three-character strings.
The first-year prices are suggest at between $100 and $10,000 at the retail level, Sass said.
All premium names renew at standard-name pricing, he said.
The T-shirt offer requires the user to tweet using promotional hashtags and expires December 31.
The Chinese government has granted licenses to operate in the country to its first tranche of new gTLDs — .vip, .club and .xyz.
The agreements mean that Chinese registrars will be able to give their Chinese customers the ability to actually use their domains for web sites.
It also means the companies will be obliged to censor domains the government does not like, but only those domains registered via Chinese registrars.
The Ministry of Industry and Information Technology announced the licenses, given to the Chinese subsidiaries of Minds + Machines, .CLUB Domains and XYZ.com respectively, today.
M+M CEO Toby Hall told DI that it’s “a great moment of support for Chinese registrars”, giving them a “very clear signal about which TLDs they can focus on”.
XYZ.com said in a blog post that some of its Chinese registrars (its biggest channel) are planning on offering discounts to celebrate the approval.
It’s always been possible for Chinese people to register new gTLD domains via Chinese registrars — it’s estimated that 42% of the 27 million new gTLD domains in existence today are Chinese-owned.
However, Chinese citizens need a government license if they want to launch a web site, and the government only issues licenses for domains in approved TLDs.
In addition to .cn and China-based gTLDs, which were the first to be given the nod, Verisign was approved earlier this year for .com.
Hall said that while .vip has been popular with Chinese domainers, the MIIT license means it can start to tap the small business market there too.
Obtaining the license means that the three registries, which are all based in the US or Europe, will have to comply with Chinese regulations when it comes to Chinese customers.
That basically means the Chinese government gets to censor pretty much anything it doesn’t like, up to and including sites that “spread rumors”.
Hall said that there’s no chance of this censorship bleeding out to affect non-Chinese customers.
M+M, along with XYZ and .CLUB, are using Chinese registry gateway ZDNS to act as a proxy between their own back-ends (Nominet for .vip, Neustar for .club and CentralNic for .xyz) and Chinese registrars.
“All of our Chinese web sites go through ZDNS, so only web sites going through ZDNS would be affected,” Hall said, referring to the censorship rules.
Hall added that he was “not aware” of there being a blocklist of politically sensitive strings that Chinese customers are not allowed to register.
The .xyz gTLD at the weekend became the first new gTLD to pass the two million domains mark, as it experiences ridiculously fast growth.
Its zone file has grown by 274,315 domains in the last seven days, hitting 2,092,346 yesterday.
It added 130,000 names on Saturday alone.
That’s the kind of growth more usually associated with .com, and pre-2012 new TLD launch periods.
It’s reasonable to assume that the majority of these names are being registered for investment purposes. It seems Chinese registrars processed much of the spike.
But XYZ.com isn’t the only registry that saw a big spike over the weekend.
.CLUB Domains’ .club added almost 44,000 names to its zone between Saturday and Monday. Its usual daily add rate is around the 1,000 mark.
This week’s NamesCon conference here in Las Vegas, which ended yesterday, offered several new domain registries the chance to talk about their efforts past and future to market new gTLDs.
One theme to emerge was how registries need to work with each other and with their registrar channel partners to raise awareness of alternatives to .com.
Donuts VP Dan Schindler said during a Tuesday keynote that the company plans to ramp up its marketing in 2015.
“There’s still a tremendous amount of work to be done by all the beneficiaries in this process,” he said, saying that Donuts intends to carry out a “broad education and awareness program over course of 2015 and beyond”.
He said the company is pursuing co-marketing efforts with some of its registrar partners at trade shows and such and “possibly including television”.
Schindler also spoke out against paid placement — where registries pay popular registrars for prominent shelf space — “not because we’re cheap”, but because Donuts doesn’t believe it offers registrants the best choice of relevant TLDs.
Here’s a photo of Schindler talking, offered for no other reason than it just cost me £6 to upload from my phone. Note the juxtaposition of a) the extensive Verisign .com/.net sponsorship, b) the Donuts “Not Com Revolution” messaging, and c) my thumb.
Uniregistry CEO Frank Schilling said in his keynote an hour later that he expected “more marketplace collaboration… where it is in our best interest to collaborate” on new gTLD promotion.
But he offered a somewhat dissenting tone with regards what he called the “dog and pony shows” of marketing new gTLDs.
Saying the company is “bootstrapping” some of its strings, he said big marketing spends now would lead to Uniregistry needing to raise its prices in two to three years to cover today’s costs.
Instead, he pointed to efforts such as its decision to release most of .click’s available names for a flat, cheap registration fee at launch, which he said should get names into the hands of users more quickly.
Contrarily, .CLUB Domains CEO Colin Campbell boasted during a brief pre-auction address on Tuesday of his company’s $2.2 million marketing spend for 2014, which he said would increase to $3.5 million in 2015.
Another recurring theme emerging from the conference (and from every other new gTLD event I’ve ever been to) was, as Schindler put it, that “use begets use”. The more high-profile sites a gTLD gets, the more likely it is to gain mindshare and sell more domains.
DotStrategy, the .buzz registry, is to be the beneficiary of such customer marketing.
Howard Lefkowitz, CEO of travel site operator One Degree World (which revealed it paid $100,000 for vegas.club earlier this week) revealed during NamesCon that some of his company’s city-related .buzz domains, such as sydney.buzz, are to feature for two weeks on the US TV game show Wheel Of Fortune as prize sponsors.
Will we see a bump in .buzz sales as a result? The gTLD currently has fewer than 8,500 names in its zone file, so if the TV time bears fruit it should be fairly easy to spot.
Virat Kohli, a famous Indian cricketer, is .CLUB Domains’ latest star anchor tenant.
He’s launching his first ever official web site, at viratkohli.club, today.
No, I’ve never heard of him either, but he’s been called the “second most marketable athlete in the world” after Lewis Hamilton by SportsPro, a UK sports marketing business-to-business magazine.
The 26-year-old has captained the Indian national side and holds various records in the world of cricket.
Just yesterday, he became “the first batsman to score 1000 ODI runs in a calendar year for four years in a row”, which is probably very impressive if you know what it means.
He has almost 4.5 million Twitter followers and over 18 million Facebook “likes”, which means his links to his new site, should he choose to post any, will reach a wide audience in nations where cricket is popular.
His adoption of .club, which seems to be a result of a deal with .CLUB, follows the launch of 50 Cent’s 50inda.club. Singer Demi Lovato also has a .club for her official site, apparently purchased of her own volition.