by Michael Twist
Michael Twist is a Top-Level Domain specialist with AusRegistry International. You can read more from AusRegistry about new TLDs at www.beyondcom.info.
So, you’ve heard about ICANN’s new Top-Level Domain (TLD) Program and you’re thinking about the best way to get involved so you can gain a slice of the of the $5 billion dollar domain name industry.
You might be an entrepreneur out to make your next million, a brand looking to make a statement of leadership in the digital space, a city keen to deliver a clear digital identity online or maybe something cool I’ve never even heard of!
Regardless of your intention, what you might be missing is a real insight into the ways in which you can activate the new Top-Level Domain opportunity to introduce a business never before seen in the domain name space.
As someone who has been following the program closely for a few years now, below are five key tips that will hopefully get your brain working in overdrive:
1. Act now: The clock is ticking on this limited opportunity. The application window will open on 12 January and we’ll start to see new Top-Level Domains in operation from 2013. If companies and entrepreneurs miss the application window (12 January 2012 to 12 April 2012), it may be a long time before they have the same opportunity again.
2. Think different: This opportunity isn’t all about trying to be the next .com. The real value lies within the formation of market or vertical centric generic TLDs that will offer value to a specific target audience. Let’s take a .music TLD as an example of a generic Top-Level Domain that could be launched specifically for the music industry. Such a namespace is not intended to be a competitor to .com, however it will still hold significant value to the music industry given it will be directly tied to the subject matter as well as the global music community. The logical step regarding perceived value is the opportunity to demand a higher price per domain, driving profit up even if overall registration volumes don’t break world records.
So think very carefully about your audience, as I firmly believe that the most successful new Top-Level Domain applicants will be those that are able to identify a consumer group that is willing to pay more per domain for the privilege of an authoritative, trusted and relevant domain name. In this game, an audience of “everyoneâ€ is a very risky move to make.
3. Commercialise your .brand TLD: .brand TLDs don’t just have to be an online branding exercise to improve message recall and online efficiency. There are huge opportunities available for .brand applicants to activate the namespace and drive return on investment. Imagine eBay securing .eBay and selling a slice of that space to its audience of 94 million registered users at two dollars per vanity domain name fee? Think michaeltwist.ebay and you’ve got the basis of a solid revenue generation model.
4. No language barrier: For the first time in history, new Top-Level Domains are available in non-Latin scripts and with 60% of the world’s population residing in countries where the native language is based on a script other than Latin, you could be one of the first to capitalise on this latest shift in domain name technology. Imagine what the Chinese equivalent for .com could be worth to the thriving Chinese community?
5. Seek advice: The new Top-Level Domain program is not for the novice – there are few people who can run a slice of the Internet alone – so start with the idea and seek advice from an industry expert who understands the application process, policy and technological infrastructure required to make the most of the new Top-Level Domain opportunity.
The five tips explained above are just a starting point for a much larger analysis of your idea and associated business case.