How will ICANN measure the success of its new top-level domains program, and how many defensive registrations is too many?
These questions are now firmly on the ICANN agenda, following the publication of 37 draft recommendations for how to measure the success or otherwise of new gTLDs.
The advice of the Consumer Trust Working Group, published last night and now open for public comment, is a must-read for anyone interested in the emerging new gTLD market.
The recommendations describe myriad ways ICANN could benchmark the performance of new gTLDs three years from now, to fulfill its promise to the US Department of Commerce to study the effect of the program on consumer choice and competition.
While it’s a broad document covering a lot of bases, I’m going to be disappointingly predictable here and immediately zero in on the headline wedge issue that I think will get most tongues wagging over the coming weeks and months:
The working group decided to recommend that, as a measure of success, domain name registrations in new gTLDs should be no more than 15% defensive* three years after launch.
Defensive in this case would mean they were registered during the mandatory Sunrise period.
The idea is that consumer choice can be demonstrated by lots of registrations in new gTLDs, but that defensive registrations should not count toward that goal.
The 15%-Sunrise baseline number was chosen fairly arbitrarily – other suggestions were 20% and 12% – and is designed to spur community discussion. It’s not final.
Still it’s interesting.
It implies that if a registry has 15,000 Sunrise registrations, it needs to sell another 85,000 domains in three years to be seen as having made a successful contribution to consumer choice.
By way of an example, if it were to be retroactively applied to .xxx, the most recent gTLD to launch, ICM Registry would have to get its total registrations up to 533,000 by the end of 2014.
Is 15% too low? Too high? Is it even a useful metric? ICANN wants to know.
Whatever the ultimate number turns out to be, it’s going to be handy for plugging into spreadsheets – something opponents of new gTLDs will find very useful when they try to make the case that ICANN endorses a certain dollar value of trademark extortion.
Because many registries will also accept defensive registrations after Sunrise, two more metrics are proposed.
The group recommends that domains in new gTLDs that redirect to identical domains in legacy TLDs – strongly implying a defensive registration – should be no more than 15% after three years.
It also recommends that ICANN should carry out a survey to see how many registrants own matching second-level domains in legacy TLDs, and that this should also be lower than 15%.
I’ve only outlined three of the working group’s recommendations here. Many of the other 34 are also interesting and will be much-debated as the new gTLD program continues.
This is vitally important stuff for the future of new gTLDs, and applicants would be well advised to have a good read — to see what might be expected of them in future — before finalizing their applications.
* It should be noted that the recommendation as published confusingly reads “Post-Sunrise registrations > 15% of total registrations”, which I think is a typo. The > operator implies that non-defensive registrations only need to be over 15% of total registrations, which I’m certain is not what the working group intended to say.
(UPDATE: this typo has now been corrected).
Afilias is offering $5,000 for the best idea about what to do with a new generic top-level domain.
The company has kicked off a competition today designed to stimulate interest in ICANN’s new gTLD program.
It said in a press release this evening:
With this contest, Afilias is looking for unique new TLD ideas, whether that domain is a “dot Brand” (for a company) or a “dot Niche” (for a concept or community) or a “dot City” domain. The goal is to discover ideas for “right of the dot” domains that cannot be done today with any of the existing domains, like .com or .net.
Basically, you send in your best new gTLD idea – not just a string, but an innovative way to use it – and you stand a chance of winning prizes of $5,000, $3,000 or $1,500.
According to the press release, I’ve agreed to be on the judging panel, apparently as the latest stage of my ongoing campaign of utterly shameless self-promotion.
The other judges are former ICANN president Paul Twomey, Matthew Quint of the Center on Global Brand Leadership and David Rogers of BRITE, both at Columbia Business School, as well as Afilias’ CTO and CMO, Ram Mohan and Roland LaPlante.
I’m not sure what to expect, but it strikes me that if you have a halfway decent idea for a new gTLD – and you don’t actually plan to apply for it – you may not have much to lose by entering.
Afilias is accepting submissions until October 17, just two weeks from now, and the winners will be announced October 24.
Congratulations to Jim Davies, you’ve just won a free conference pass for newdomains.org worth $1,000 for entering the latest DomainIncite competition.
That’s a second Australia-based winner, by the looks of things, after Michael’s win on Monday. I hope you guys can both afford the airfare.
Competition Day Three
I have two final tickets to give away.
To reiterate, they’re Full Conference passes for the newdomains.org conference in Munich, Germany, on September 26 and 27. Flights, hotels and Oktoberfest not included. Details here.
If you want a pass, just leave a comment here before 2359 UTC Sunday August 14, saying why you think you should get one. Make something up.
I’ll use Random.org again to pick the two lucky winners and announce the names on Monday.
All winners will be contacted by somebody from the conference organizer, United-Domains, next week.
UPDATE: Proving just how random Random.org is, the winning order it selected was 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. The winners are TAG and Daniel. I’ll be in touch.
Congratulations to “Michael”, you’ve just won a free conference pass for newdomains.org worth $1,000 just for leaving a comment on DomainIncite.
Random.org’s random number sequence generator selected the winning order of comments earlier today, and Michael came top of the list.
His winning answer to the question of “What new gTLD(s) do you think will be successful, and why?” was:
If success is defined by the value it offers the Internet community and not by the number of registrations then I think that a cause based TLD like .Eco or .HIV will be the most successful as they will revolutionize the way we interest with charities online and show our support, ushering in a new era.
I’ve hooked the winner up with conference organizer United-Domains.
And now on to…
Competition Day Two
To be in with a chance at winning the second Full Conference pass to newdomains.org, simply:
1) Follow me on Twitter (if you’re not already doing so).
2) Send a tweet mentioning @domainincite and including the hashtag #conferencecompo
Tweets must be sent by 2359 UTC, Tuesday August 9. I’ll announce the randomly-selected winner here on Wednesday.
Again, the prize does not include transportation or accommodation, but it does include a certain amount of food and drink, along with access to all the panels and exhibits.
The show runs September 26-27 in Munich, Germany.
These Full Conference passes are currently selling for €699 ($1,000) each, so if you’re currently wondering whether or not to attend, a free ticket may help make your mind up.
I have four free passes for the upcoming newdomains.org conference, a total value of $4,000, which I will be giving away to lucky DomainIncite readers over the coming week.
The conference, the first in Europe to focus purely on the opportunities and challenges in ICANN’s new generic top-level domains program, is due to run September 26-27 in Munich, Germany.
The organizer, United-Domains, has generously offered to give four free “Full Conference” passes to DI readers. These are currently selling for €699 ($1,000) each.
The passes include full access to the panels (which will all be conducted in English) and the exhibits, as well as dinner, lunches and ample networking opportunities.
The prizes do not include transport to or accommodation in Munich. The passes also do not include the social event at the Oktoberfest beer festival scheduled for the second night.
See the newdomains.org site for ticket details.
I’ve agreed to participate in two of the conference panel discussions, but don’t let that put you off.
Competition Day One
There will be four random draws conducted over the coming week, with one ticket for each winner.
To be in with a chance to win the first pass, simply leave a comment on this post answering the following questions:
1) Which new gTLD(s) do you think will be successful?
You can define “successful” in any way you want. I will use the random number sequence generator at Random.org to select the winning order of comments, so there’s no “correct” or “best” answer.
It doesn’t have to be an already-announced gTLD bid. Any string(s) you think will be successful as a gTLD is acceptable. If you want to plug your own application, that’s okay too.
But anybody who answers “1) .com, 2) because it’s king” will be automatically disqualified.
The closing time for entries is 1159 UTC, Sunday August 7, judged by the time-stamp on the comment. The winner will be announced here on Monday. One entry per person.
Make sure to leave your comment using a genuine email address, as that is the method I’ll use to hook the winner up with the conference organizers.
The draw will be completely fair, so no asking for favors. In true ICANN spirit, if I suspect “gaming” is going on I reserve the right to unilaterally change the rules.
Okay, let’s see how this goes…