Singapore telecommunications firm StarHub will become the fifth company to publicly reveal plans for a “dot-brand” generic top-level domain.
The company, which offers broadband internet, cable TV and mobile telephony and has annual revenue of about $2 billion, is set to announce tomorrow that it will apply to ICANN for .starhub.
It’s the first confirmed dot-brand applicant since ICANN opened the application window January 12. It’s also the first since Neustar announced its own plans last June.
StarHub plans to use the gTLD to enable domain names such as tv.starhub and broadband.starhub.
ARI Registry Services has the contract to run its registry back-end and Melbourne IT Digital Brand Services is its application consultant.
Oliver Chong, assistant vice president of brand and marketing communications at StarHub, said:
We believe the ‘.starhub’ Top-Level Domain will deliver clear marketing and advertising benefits to StarHub, such as improved online brand recall and a more intuitive consumer experience with easy to remember domain names such as ‘mobile.starhub’. We also anticipate potential Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) benefits by operating a more targeted and relevant naming system that is clearly matched with our website content.
Registry services provider Neustar also wants .neustar, but its announcement was a little self-serving so I’m not sure that it “counts”.
We’re also aware of some other likely candidates, such as IBM and Unicef, but most companies are playing their cards pretty close to their chests.
ARI CEO Adrian Kinderis said he hopes the announcement of .starhub will “open the floodgates” for other Asian companies to apply for their own new dot-brand gTLDs.
While it’s a significant revelation – at least likely to drive StarHub’s competitors into action if they’re not already – similar predictions were made when Canon announced its dot-brand bid almost two years ago.
Many registry operators are already predicting as many as 1,000 dot-brand applicants.
I’m not ready to predict a slew of similar announcements just yet, but a confirmed dot-brand bidder will certainly do no harm to registries currently trying to persuade clients to sign on the dotted line.
ICANN has really ramped up the social marketing of its new generic top-level domain program for the last few weeks, and today it started plugging new gTLDs with some Twitter advertising.
It’s bought some “Promoted Tweets”, which means some Twitter users will see a designated ICANN tweet even if they don’t already follow ICANN.
Here’s an example captured by @andrewhennigan.
The Promoted Tweets ad service is bid-based and priced on a cost-per-engagement basis, so advertisers only pay when they get a reply, retweet, follow, etc. Reportedly, there’s a $15,000 minimum commitment.
Judging by Twitter noise today, I’m guessing that today ICANN is promoting its new gTLDs Twitter chat, which is happening at 1600 UTC tomorrow with the hashtag #newgtlds.
ARI Registry Services says it signed up 21 new generic top-level domain clients in the first week after ICANN opened the program earlier this month.
The majority were dot-brand applicants, ARI said in a press release today. It has found that dot-brands represent about 60% of all the companies expressing interest in a new gTLD.
They all signed contracts between January 12, when ICANN starting taking applications, and January 19, the registry services provider said.
A spokesperson said that ARI expects to name some of its clients “in a matter of weeks”, but it’s not clear whether this will happen before March 29 – the deadline for making your first down-payment with ICANN – when it would be of most marketing use.
In the absence of this specific positive reinforcement of its message, the company today tried some FUD instead.
CEO Adrian Kinderis is quoted:
We have clients that are still undecided about whether they should apply. They have been put off by the negativity that has been surrounding the program. There have been delays and speculation. There is also a misguided perception amongst some that they can wait until the next round to secure their brand or generic category name. My message to those clients is that there is no certainty about when there will be another round. Potential applicants need to understand that if they take a ‘wait and see’ approach, they may miss out all together.
I’m not keen on this kind of fear-based marketing, but Kinderis has a point: the timing of the second-round is currently uncertain. Based on current evidence, I think an optimistic view is 2015.
I cover the subject in some depth on DomainIncite PRO (which you simply must subscribe to, otherwise your house will burn down with all of your cats inside… oh, look, I’m doing it now.)
One of the good things about Twitter is that there’s no Whois (yet), which makes it fertile ground for pseudonymous humor.
Here are the five bogus domain humor tweeters I find amusing.
No, before you ask, none of these are me. I’ve only written one thing under a fake identity since I launched DI.
Bob tweets in-character as a “heightened” version of ICANN CEO Rod Beckstrom.
He’s basically a globe-trotting narcissist hippy with delusions of grandeur and an obsessive penchant for taking panoramic iPhone photos of himself shaking hands with world leaders.
His avatar, inexplicably, is Sam Rockwell as Zaphod Beeblebrox.
This account, which usually offers a satirical view of ICANN proceedings, typically peaks during its thrice-yearly public meetings.
Whoever is responsible for this account has clearly been around ICANN for a while – s/he goes to the meetings, reads the web site, and knows what’s coming before it happens.
This one’s for the geeks. Imagine everyone’s favorite Kazakhstani roving reporter, but he’s a DNS administrator.
That’s pretty much it really.
This account was only created in the last few days. I’d hazard a guess that it has links to the adult entertainment industry, due to the obvious anti-.xxx sentiment on display.
The premise, of course, is that new gTLDs are basically a massive shakedown. Shows promise.
(I’ll note that the first time I heard of .sucks back in 2000 when it was floated by then-chair of ICANN Esther Dyson, ironically now one of the new gTLD program’s highest-profile critics.)
This one is slightly different for two reasons: 1) I know who it is. 2) He/she has not tweeted much funny stuff lately.
I follow it in the hope that this might change one day.
Verisign plans to apply to ICANN for about 12 new generic top-level domains, according to the executive in charge of registry services.
“We intend to do about 12. Most of those will be transliterations of .com,” senior vice president Pat Kane said on the company’s fourth-quarter earnings call yesterday.
This does not mark a significant change of strategy – the company has been open about its intention to apply for internationalized domain name variants of .com for over a year – but I believe it’s the first time it’s put a number on it.
It will be interesting to see which gTLDs – if any – Verisign will go for which are not .com IDNs.
My view is that it would make more sense for the company to apply for potentially high-volume .com competitors, such as .web or .blog. It has the capacity, the channel and the cash.
Smaller niche gTLDs may not be worth the distraction and risk, and would be better suited to dedicated registries that can concentrate on more focused marketing.
In any event, we’re going to see some major consolidation in the new gTLD space four or five years from now, and Verisign could well vacuum up cash-making registries at that time.
CEO Jim Bidzos also said on the call that Verisign has been retained to provide the registry for “several” dot-brand applications, but that it will not see any material revenue until 2013.
The major event for 2012, he noted, is the renewal of the .com Registry Agreement with ICANN, which expires at the end of November.
Verisign is already “engaging” with ICANN on this, Bidzos said.
This contract will be posted for public comment and sent to the US Department of Commerce for approval.
I’m expecting controversy, particularly if the contract continues to allow Verisign to increase prices.
It’s going to be harder for Verisign to argue that it needs the extra cash to invest in its infrastructure if it’s also leveraging that infrastructure to win lucrative dot-brand contracts.