Search results for "verisign"
Marketing programs help .com get top billing, but other registrars can play this game too.
New top level domain names represent a growth opportunity for domain name registrars, many of which have seen domain registrations plateauing over the past year.
That’s why 1&1 spent $50 million promoting new top level domain pre-registrations and other registrars have prominently featured new TLDs on their home pages.
Over the past week or two I’ve noticed something interesting, though. Verisign’s .com and .net domains have been pushed heavily on registrar websites, often usurping promotions for new TLDs.
Consider 1&1, which has gone all in on new TLDs:
99 cents .com and .net domains are front and center. There’s a promotion for .email, but there’s no longer a general promotion for new TLD pre-registrations anywhere near the top of the page (not even on the slider).
And here’s GoDaddy’s home page today:
.Com, .net, .org, and .co are all featured. .Club is also on there a little bit below.
This sort of promotion isn’t free.
Sure, .com is typically going to be featured high up on a registrar page. But Verisign also kicks in bonuses for registrars to market .com domain names.
This is nothing new — it’s been going on for years prior to the launch of new TLDs, and it’s not limited to Verisign. Yet it sure seems like Verisign’s placement is improving lately.
A common program will offer rebates to registrars if they grow their .com/.net registration numbers. They can also earn marketing dollars for marketing campaigns targeting new and existing customers, which is what a lot of the on-site promotion is about.
Registrars get additional bonuses if they include “Powered by Verisign” when they show .com and .net (notice the inclusion on the 1&1 home page). At least one of the marketing programs requires .com and .net to be within the top three in the search results or drop down box, at least for people visiting the site from the campaign Verisign is backing.
Verisign will also chip in to broader marketing initiatives. That’s why I saw this ad during a Major League Baseball broadcast last year:
Whereas before that ad would have just said GoDaddy.com, this time the .Com is separated and includes a “Powered by Verisign” logo.
Verisign’s fat wallet and the popularity of its TLDs give it a leg up on getting its domains pushed at registrars. But this sort of opportunity is open to all.
.Co has been heavily featured on GoDaddy.com for years, and famously appeared in three of GoDaddy’s Super Bowl commercials.
.Club apparently understands the value of this, too.
Registrars will promote whatever makes them the most money. These promotion
kickbacksrebates and marketing programs merely change the equation for what makes a registrar the most money.
This idea isn’t an invention of the domain industry. Registrars are retailers and retailers have long played this game. How do you think those Cheetos got selected for the end cap at the grocery store?
Universe of registered domain names slowing ticking upward.
Verisign has resumed publishing its Domain Name Industry Brief, a report it used to publish quarterly.
The company reports (pdf) that there were 271 million domain names registered as of December 31 across all top level domain names. That’s a 1.9% increase over the previous quarter and 7.3% for the year.
This number includes free .tk domain names. The Tokelau country code domain name is the most-registered ccTLD on the internet.
As always, Verisign took time to push its PR messaging in the report. (That’s the point, after all!)
One of those messages it has been pushing lately is that there are plenty of .com domain names still available.
Technically, that’s right. There are over 10 to the 98th (1 followed by 98 zeros) second level domains available under .com. Only 112 million of them are registered. 8 zeros vs. 98.
Of course most of those available domains are crappy.
For example, Verisign points out that only half of the possible 1.8 million four letter .com domains are registered. Yet that number includes domains with numbers and hyphens, so it includes losers such as z5-r.com. If you just include four letter domain names the universe shrinks to under a half million possibilities.
Here’s a chart showing availability by domain length:
Verisign points out that NTIA announcement has nothing to do with .com, but at least one analyst has downgraded the stock due to uncertainty.
Verisign issued a press release this morning reminding investors that Friday’s big news about the U.S. government transitioning internet responsibilities does not affect its lucrative contract to run the .com domain name registry.
Verisign shares were down about 6% in the first few minutes of trading today.
Last Friday National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) announced its intent to relinquish control of the functions under the IANA contract. This includes managing the root zone, a role in which Verisign plays a part.
But Verisign doesn’t get paid for playing its role in root zone management. While it was able to use its role with the root zone to apply a bit of pressure in the new TLD process, that didn’t amount to much.
Verisign’s contracts to run .com and .net are not directly affected by the NTIA’s announcement. However, at least one analyst warns that changes could affect Verisign’s ability to renew its contract in the future.
The U.S. government plays a role in the .com contract, and it’s possible that the U.S. government could bow out of it connection to awarding the .com contract in the future. But remember, it was the U.S. government that played the heavy last time the contract was renewed. ICANN agreed to annual price increases and the government later nixed them.
Given Verisign’s lucrative role in running .com, I suppose any news like this can be considered bad news. The status quo is good for Verisign.
Verisign adds to patent war chest.
The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has granted Verisign patent number 8,656,209 for “Recovery of a Failed Registry”.
Verisign describes the system as one that “enables a registry recovery service to retrieve zone files from a target registry, archive the zone files, publish the zone files to a managed DNS server, reconcile ownership of the zone files, and publish the zone files to a provisioning DNS server. The registry recovery service may also implement a WHOIS server for the zone and ownership information and may also implement zone specific features particular to the target registry’s TLD.”
It will be interesting to see what actually happens when some new TLD registries fail. Most will likely be absorbed by their existing back-end registry providers.
Verisign has told investors that it plans to begin “monetizing” its intellectual property. So far it hasn’t disclosed how it plans to do this.
A defense of .com’s staying power and bad news for IDN.com investors.
On its investor conference call yesterday afternoon, Verisign CEO James Bidzos explained why he isn’t afraid of new top level domain names. Also, in a blow to IDN.com investors, the company said it will take a longer for them to hit the market than many are hoping for.
New TLDs? We’re not afraid of those!
Despite Verisign’s never-ending tactics to delay new top level domain names, Bidzos told an analyst that he’s not really worried about how new TLDs will affect the .com base and he explained how .com will remain king. Here’s his explanation:
So for example, you may have seen that the U.K. paper, dailymail.co.uk, a very typical English configuration for a web address, using a company dot U.K. configuration. So dailymail.co.uk purchased dailymail.com. They said that they purchased it because they wanted something that was more global that would allow them to get more traffic, especially in the U.S. They paid GBP 1 million for it. They bought it from The Charleston Daily Mail of Charleston, West Virginia, a 100-year-old Pulitzer Prize winning newspaper, who after they got their roughly $1.6 million for that domain name, were free to go out and buy whatever they wanted. Then they chose to go out and buy charlestondailymail.com. If they bought it for retail, they probably paid about $10 for it. So I think .com is very much the preferred, established reliable name. I don’t know what’s going to happen in the future with the TLDs. I’m sure some of them will do well, they’ll build some community. But I guess I can give you one data point. If we look at — look back, this is not the first time this has happened. There have been some new TLDs before, and one of them that I think actually is a good idea of what success what might look like, a good example would be .co. And I’m sure a lot of you are familiar with it. .co is a short name, it’s just 2 letters. It’s a meaningful name, it’s linked to company. They went live in July of 2010. They had a very robust marketing partner, they partnered with Go Daddy, the largest registrar. They did 3 Super Bowl ads. They did, I thought, a very good job of marketing. They did partner with Go Daddy on 3 Super Bowl commercials. They have a substantial marketing budget. They had no gTLD competition when they came out. And they’re not ICANN-regulated because they’re operating under contract from the ccTLD .co for Colombia.
So their history was that when they went live in July of 2010, they registered 100,000 domains in the first 10 minutes that they were live. Less than a year later, in June of 2011, they had reached 1 million domains. During that same period, by the way, that 11-month period, .com registered about 7 million. Just under 2 years later, by April of 2013, they had gone from 1 million to 1.5 million, so they added 500,000 domains during those 2 years. During that period, .com added 13.2 million. And then from April of 2013 until December 31 of last year, they added another 90,000 names, they closed the year at 1.59 million. .com added another 3.5 million during that time. I think they’ve done a great job with .co. I think they’ve been successful there. They ended the year at 1.59 million domains. Their growth has slowed a bit, obviously. But in Q3, we added 1.55 million names, that’s the entire size of the .co zone. We added that in one quarter. We typically have 5x the size of their zone in gross adds in a quarter. So I think with somewhere in the neighborhood of, I don’t know, 400 or 500 gTLDs that are non-brand that’ll be distributed, it’s going to be a little bit more crowded. They’re obviously more specialized and different. I’m not sure where that’s going to end up, but I do know that we have at least one data point, so I think we’ve coexisted well and done well with .co, and I’m sure we will with the other gTLDs. And I’m sure there’ll be a lot of excitement as they roll out over the course of 2014. But we — what we described as impacting our zone in the first quarter is what we see, some registrar behavior and also some economic headwinds that we’re seeing in Asia.
The last sentence refers to the fact that Verisign saw slowing zone growth in January. It is blaming this on international markets as well as registrars not pushing discounted .com domains as much and instead focusing on pushing bundles.
But perhaps the fact that registrars are pushing new TLDs instead of .com is also hurting .com?
True, most registrars still serve up .com number one, but GoDaddy’s home page is pushing customers to new TLDs, not .com.
Sorry IDN investors, you’re going to have to wait.
I have bad news for those IDN investors patiently waiting for .com transliterations. You’re collateral damage.
Here’s the deal. Verisign has been invited to contracting for 12 of 14 names. Pat Kane, SVP of Naming and Directory Services, said it’s going to take a while to get through the negotiating process.
Part of this is because it’s trying to do something novel by offering domains to the existing .com owner. But it also has to do with name collisions, which is one of the FUD topics Verisign is using to try to slow new TLDs.
Given Verisign’s testy relations with ICANN right now, its efforts to delay new TLDs overall (despite apparently not being worried about them) and its additional asks for the contract, I suspect it’s going to be quite some time before the IDN transliterations see the light of day.
One final note from the conference call. James Bidzos said the company continues to work on its plan to monetize intellectual property. But his timeline and update is the same it has always has been: we’re progressing, he’s not going to say how soon it will happen (other than not right now) and the plan is still under wraps.