by Ken Hansen, Neustar
[A big hurdle for new top level domains is getting attention as potentially hundreds of competitors are launched concurrently in the near future. In this guest post Ken Hansen, Senior Director of Business Development at Neustar, explains that getting good distribution from domain registrars is key. Neustar Registry Services operates the global registry for .biz and .us and provides back-end registry services for .co, .tel and .travel. -Andrew]
Will new gTLDs will be successful? The answer I’ve always given is, “yes and noâ€ and, “it depends on how you define successâ€. For some gTLDs, success simply means serving the needs of a specific community or advancing a cause, while generating enough cash to support ongoing operating expenses. Applicants for gTLDs with broad mass market appeal like .web on the other hand, are likely to define success as millions of registrations. Brand owners will measure success based on incremental brand awareness, advertising return-on-investment, or market share. One measure of success, although certainly not the goal at the very beginning, is simply staying in business. Based on that criterion, not a single gTLD introduced in the past has failed.
Regardless of how success is defined, with so many new gTLDs coming to market at the same time, some will be successful and others (perhaps many others) will not. Although there will be many factors that determine which gTLDs will “succeedâ€, with the exception of brand gTLDs, for most distribution will be critical.
Like most products in the brick-and-mortar world, getting on store shelves is an essential step in building a new gTLD business. With hundreds of gTLDs coming to market, the competition between gTLDs for prime shelf space will be fierce. So how do you ensure your new gTLD will gain the distribution required?
For those seeking broad distribution of a new gTLD, instituting policies and processes that are consistent with other gTLDs is recommended. Anything “non-standardâ€, unless it adds substantial value to registrants, and therefore drives demand, will require Registrar development and create an obstacle that could result in fewer channel partners. Unless your gTLD is compelling for some other reason, make your gTLD registrar-friendly by sticking to what is familiar to them and their users.
It is also advisable to work with a registry that is already connected to a large number of registrars. With hundreds of new gTLDs coming to market, registrars may be hard pressed to find the time and resources to integrate with a registry they are not currently working with. Turning up a new gTLD with an existing registry partner is a relatively simple task for a Registrar. A registry partner that knows and works with a large number of registrars can also be very helpful in terms of making registrar introductions. Also look for registry partners with significant experience working with the distribution channels to launch new gTLD through the sunrise, land rush and first-come-first-serve phases.
Some gTLDs, particularly those targeted at narrowly defined niche markets, will find it very challenging to get broad distribution. Even if they are successful in attracting registrar partners, they may be relegated to the bottom of drop-down menus or several clicks deep on a registrar site. Some gTLD applicants, for this reason, may even prefer to work with one or a few registrars for which their gTLD is an important revenue stream. Indeed, the needs of niche gTLDs could be addressed by the emergence of new registrar channels that are focused on single gTLDs and their target markets (e.g. focused on the Music or Sports industries). Existing registrars might also deploy gTLD specific sites and marketing initiatives.
Of course, no one distribution strategy is right for all gTLDs. Many factors other than distribution will also influence whether an individual gTLD will be successful. Those factors include: market size; market maturity; growth rate; segment dependence on the Internet; number of alternative gTLDs choices; and, the number of attractive premium names in a gTLD. One thing for sure; given the number of new gTLDs expected to come to market, having a well thought out distribution strategy will be critical in determining whether or not your gTLD will be the next .co!
You can contact Ken Hansen at firstname.lastname@example.org.