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PIR chief: registries should stop stressing about volume

Kevin Murphy, September 11, 2018, Domain Registries

Public Interest Registry has announced some sweeping changes to how it markets .org and its other TLDs, with interim CEO Jay Daley telling DI that there’s too much focus on volumes in the industry today.

PIR is scrapping is volume discount programs after the current batch of incentives expires at the end of the year.

These are the programs that offer rebates to registrars if they hit certain performance targets, all based around newly created domains.

“They particularly favor large registrars, and we don’t think that’s appropriate going forward,” Daley told DI yesterday.

He said that when PIR removed some developed markets from its geographically-targeted discount programs, it saw creates go down but revenue improve.

He suggested that some registries have too much focus on volumes as a benchmark of success, failing to take account of important factors such as renews and abuse rates.

Part of the problem is that success is often measured (by folk including yours truly) by domains under management, rather than TLD health or revenue-per-domain.

“How many people are simply trying to get their numbers up without worrying about the underlying revenue, or taking a very low underlying revenue in order to get their numbers up?” Daley said.

“We’re not in any way somebody who is trying to get our numbers up at all costs, certainly not,” he said.

Another marketing program getting a makeover is pay-per-placement, where PIR would pay for prominent positions in the TLD drop-down menu of registrars storefronts.

These relationships have been based purely on new creates, Daley said, with appropriate “clawback” provisions when registrations turn out to be predominantly abusive.

In future, PIR intends to take a “longer-term, hygiene oriented view” of how its marketing money is used, making better use of data, he said.

“We need to be looking more at the quality of the registrations we get, the level of technical abuse generated by those registrations, looking at the renewal rates that come from those registrations,” he said.

PIR has a new four-strong channel services team that will be leading these changes.

“We are a public interest organization and need to take a public interest view on everything we do,” Daley said. “We need to be looking at our promotions for more than just commercial reasons, we need to be looking at public interest reasons as well.”

Daley, who ran New Zealand’s .nz registry from 2009 until this January, said that the big changes he is overseeing do not reflect an attempt to put his stamp on PIR and take over the CEO office on a permanent basis.

He does not want to run a registry and does not want to relocate to PIR’s headquarters in Virginia, he said.

“I’ve been a registry CEO for nine years,” he said. “I’ve done this and it’s time for me to look at other things.”

He also sits on PIR’s board of directors.

Uniregistry not happy about Donuts-Tucows deal

Kevin Murphy, August 5, 2013, Domain Registries

Uniregistry would never have withdrawn its applications for .media and .marketing if it had known that Tucows would later take money from Donuts to also withdraw, according to CEO Frank Schilling.

Schilling told DI tonight that Uniregistry had pulled out of both new gTLD contention sets after having made a deal with Tucows, the details of which he was unable to explain due to a non-disclosure agreement.

But he said that the deal would never have happened if he’d known the eventual outcome.

“Tucows left us under the impression that they were going to win this and had I known that they would fold in a subsequent private auction I would not have done this,” he said.

Tucows withdrew its bids for .media and .marketing weeks after Uniregistry, after making its own deal with Donuts, which is now the sole remaining applicant for the two strings.

As reported earlier today, Tucows and Donuts settled the two contention sets with a “cut and choose” arrangement, where Tucows named the price at which it was willing to withdraw and Donuts could choose to buy its withdrawals or sell its own withdrawals for the same price.

Donuts characterized the deal as a kind of private auction.

Uniregistry is on record as saying it doesn’t like the idea of private auctions, which it believes may fall foul of US antitrust law.

Donuts says Tucows deal “just another type of private auction”

Kevin Murphy, August 5, 2013, Domain Registries

Donuts has confirmed that it paid Tucows for the rights to the .media and .marketing new gTLDs, but says it was actually “just another type of private auction”.

The existence of a deal for the two strings emerged in a tongue-in-cheek Tucows video on Friday.

I blogged over the weekend that it was the first example I was aware of of Donuts settling a contention set outside of the private auction process it helped kick-start with Innovative Auctions.

But in a statement sent to DI today, Donuts characterized the Tucows deal as auction-like, saying:

Contention was resolved privately between the two applicants by a “cut and choose” method, whereby Tucows named a price at which it would withdraw its applications, and Donuts would decide either to “buy” or “sell” the position as sole remaining applicant.

Donuts elected to pay Tucows its stated price, and Donuts will continue as the sole applicant and exclusive operator for both TLDs, with no joint venture or revenue sharing agreement with any party.

Donuts remains strongly committed to private auctions as the preferred method of resolving contention for its applications and this was just another type of private auction.

Spoof video reveals Donuts paid Tucows for two gTLDs

Kevin Murphy, August 3, 2013, Domain Registries

This has to be the strangest way to announce a new gTLD partnership to date.

Judging by a spoof video uploaded to YouTube yesterday, Tucows withdrew its applications for the .media and .marketing new gTLDs after receiving a pay-off from rival applicant Donuts.

Presented as “the hotly contested .media and .marketing gTLD bout” between Tucows CEO Elliot Noss and Donuts co-founder Jon Nevett, the video humorously documents the negotiation process.

If you don’t have four minutes to spare, or if awkward office-based spoof videos make you want to beat yourself to death with a bright red stapler, here’s the money shot:

Noss v Nevett

While I’ve not yet received confirmation that the video is based on true events (it’s Saturday), the facts all fit.

Tucows withdrew both its .media and .marketing applications around July 26, according to the DI PRO new gTLD timeline, giving Donuts a clear run at delegation.

Uniregistry was the only other applicant in both contention sets, but withdrew its applications for .media and .marketing July 19 and June 21 respectively.

There’s nothing in the video to suggest that Uniregistry made a similar deal, but it seems likely.

It’s the first example I’m aware of of Donuts settling a contention set outside of the private auction process.

Two more new gTLD bids dropped

Uniregistry and LʹOréal, two of the highest profile new gTLD applicants, both withdrew applications today.

Uniregistry has pulled out of the .marketing race, leaving it a two-way battle between Tucows and Donuts. It’s the first application withdrawn by the company, which has applied for 54 gTLDs.

Its .marketing bid was due to get its Initial Evaluation results today. By withdrawing before this happens, the company gets a much bigger refund from ICANN.

LʹOréal, meanwhile, has withdrawn is fourth dot-brand, .maybelline, which is due its IE results next week. The company has 10 applications, a mixture of brands and closed generics, outstanding.

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