The Latest on GAC Advice

Yvette Miller —  October 4, 2013 — 1 Comment

ICANN is now allowing applicants for generic-termed top-level domains (TLDs) – unbranded extensions such as .MUSIC or .SHOP – to move forward if applicants are willing to sign the current Registry Agreement (RA) “as is”. But there’s a catch.

Because the RA includes a clause that prohibits generic-termed TLDs from operating as  “closed” registries – which will not sell second-level domain names to the public – only those applicants willing to operate “open” gTLDs can sign the contract as currently written. The path for “closed” generic applicants who want their gTLDs to remain closed continues to be unclear.

These are the results of the most significant resolution  passed during ICANN New gTLD Program Committee’s latest meeting on the Governmental Advisory Committee (GAC) Advice issued following the Spring ICANN conference in Beijing.  With this resolution (which you can view here, on page 5), the New gTLD Policy Committee (NGPC) lays out the following three options for applicants whose closed generic applications were specifically singled out in the GAC Advice:

  1. Applicants willing to sign the RA in its current form may do so. But given Specification 11 (the clause prohibiting generic termed TLDs from being “closed”), applicants for closed generics will likely encounter problems and difficulties during the contracting process.
  2. In this resolution, the NGPC asked the ICANN Staff to prepare a proposal for how to implement the GAC’s Advice for closed generics that plan to remain closed. Those applicants can choose to wait for that proposal before moving forward.
  3. Since there is no deadline for signing the RA or moving forward, applicants may continue to wait and see how this issue progresses or they may open up a process to negotiate their RA with ICANN.

So, closed generics willing to open up have a clear path toward delegation, whereas closed generics that wish to stay closed remain in limbo or can play the odds. The question that remains unaddressed with this latest resolution  is exactly what qualifies as “closed” versus what is “open enough” to be considered “open”.

The Huffington Post reports that “The iOS7 Design is Giving Some People Motion Sickness And Vertigo” while TechRadar reports that it’s “The little things in the new mobile OS that make the big difference” and offers “21 brilliant iOS tips and tricks.”

Where’s the .COM button?

In our office, so far, the most common observation is that the appearance is – well – different.

“It looks even more friendly, almost toy-like,” said one FairWinds Consultant when asked what she thought about the new iOS7 iPhone operating system.

Know what else is different about the new iOS7 iPhone operating system?

There’s no button for “.com” in the internet browser anymore!

Why? According to Jason Cipriani of CNET,  “During early betas of iOS and even onstage at Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference, the .com button was still present at the expense of shrinking down the spacebar. Developers often complained of accidentally hitting the shortcut key instead of the spacebar when typing a search query and thus Apple came up with this solution.”  The solution, Cipriani explains, is hidden but easy: simply press the period button until shortcuts to .com, .net, .edu and a few other top level domains appear.

iOS7 Screenshot

But is there another reason for the switch from a .com button to a top-level domain shortcut? “New gTLDs,” Phil Lodico, co-managing partners answered. “Apple seems to be signaling to its millions of users around the world that, very soon, the content they want is going to be found on other top level domains – generic ones like .SPORT, .PET or .ART as well as company-owned top level domains like .NIKE, .WALMART and .MCDONALDS.”

So even if many are slow to warm-up to the new appearance of iOS7, Apple’s wasting no time in letting users know it’s time to start warming up to new gTLDs – because no matter what how you’re accessing the Internet, they’re coming to a little screen near you very soon.

You know how your mother doesn’t understand this business about new top-level domains? Now is the time to explain it to her carefully because the web is about to get a major upgrade.

After months of delay, applicants for new generic top-level domains (gTLDs) – the text to the right of the dot in a web address – are now signing contracts in rapid succession. To date, applicants have signed registry agreements for 45 gTLDs with the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), which is overseeing this unprecedented expansion of Internet space.

All gTLDs with signed contracts are generically termed – such as .SEXY, .BIKE, .TODAY, .VENTURES. Of the 45, 10 are International Domain Names (IDNs), written in Chinese, Japanese, Arabic, and other non-Roman scripts. Legal hurdles have so far prevented most brand-named companies from signing contracts, although Google became the exception last week when it signed a contract for .EVERYONE in Japanese.

Word is out.

News stories are cropping up regularly in the traditional press.  Advertisements are appearing, too, with increasing frequency. The firm 1&1, which sells domain names, recently broadcast a commercial about “pre-registering” second-level domains – the text to the left of the dot in a web address – in the new extensions. The ad ran during Sunday and Monday night football games, and internationally – giving it a wide viewership and causing tongues to wag. (Of course, there is no guarantee pre-registrants will get the domain name they want in a new gTLD because no new gTLD has yet gone live. And when gTLDs do go live, second-level domains will be sold on a first come, first served basis.)

Thanks to the spread of the news into the mainstream, soon, a critical mass will realize the vast potential of these new extensions. Internet users will create new communities surrounding shared interests. The applicant for .TATTOO, for example, has signed its registry agreement and is moving toward launch. Lovers of body ink around the world no doubt will flock to this new gTLD to debate pressing issues such as disposable needles or reusable? Can a tattoo design be copyrighted? Or even, what’s the best way to remove a tattoo?

What about if you are a CEO?  .CEO just announced its plans to create a CEO only social network.  Lots of new examples like this on the horizon.  New opportunities and old risks.

Business owners have serious matters to think about. New gTLDs will open the door for new ways to brand and market goods and services. Any company with a trademark to protect needs to develop a forward-looking strategy to take advantage of new extensions BEFORE they launch to avoid the inevitable mad dash to stake a claim later.

The early birds, of course, will buy up the best, most intuitive second-level domain names – perhaps even names that match an existing trademark, which means starting to plan now is critical.

Savvy business owners are already preparing for this once-in-a-generation domain name explosion. Late comers will be shut out and forced to play catch-up.

Better to be a trailblazer than the clean up crew.

Recalibrating Strategies

FairWinds Partners —  September 24, 2013

Brands that were expecting International Domain Name (IDN) gTLDs to launch first, giving brands some extra time to make decisions about their Internet strategies, should sit up and take notice: it looks like English-language gTLDs may be the first to hit the Internet later this year.

Every new gTLD application began its evaluation process in the order determined by its priority draw number. 天主教, which is .CATHOLIC in Chinese characters, for example, drew the #1 slot in the priority queue. All of the applied-for IDN gTLDs – extensions that are written in non-ASCII characters or non-Roman characters – were put at the front of the line to expedite the global accessibility of online content.  But with English-character gTLD applications moving at a faster-than-expected pace, it is becoming clear that ICANN could allow them to leap frog ahead of IDNs if they are ready to launch.

Applicants Donuts and Uniregistry have already signed contracts with ICANN for these twelve extensions: .BIKE, .CAMERA, .CLOTHING, .EQUIPMENT, .ESTATE; .GURU, .HOLDINGS, .LIGHTING, .SINGLES, . TATTOO, .VENTURES; and .VOYAGE.

Since ICANN has been able to move forward quickly with these applicants, Donuts and Uniregistry are likely to launch a number of the first gTLDs in the coming months. I-Registry, which signed its contract for .ONL last week, announced that it will launch its Sunrise period on November 30.

This is a big deal for companies. English gTLDs will have a greater global impact and uptake than the more regional IDN gTLDs will have. So, with English-language gTLDs among the first to launch and among the first to make it into advertisements later this year, companies will have to launch their own updated digital strategies sooner than many had planned. If you haven’t already started thinking about how to position your brand in the new online space, start now.

Save the date! On September 18, 2013, CADNA and the Council of Better Business Bureaus (BBB) are launching the Know Your Net public awareness and education campaign to provide information and tips about traveling safely through the coming, unprecedented expansion of the Internet. Join the conversation with #KnowYourNet.

Rep. Tom Marino, R-Pa., Vice Chairman of the House Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property, and the Internet, will address the kickoff event in Washington, D.C. The National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA) and AARP will also participate in the kick-off event for brand owners and the campaign.

In the next year, approximately 1,400 new generic Top-Level Domains (gTLDs) will be available on the Internet. A gTLD is the text to the right of the dot in an Internet address, as in .COM, .EDU, and .ORG.  There are now 22 gTLDs in common use. Along with the 2,500 percent expansion of gTLDs, thousands of new websites will be created in the second-level domain space, to the left of the dot in an Internet address.

The Know Your Net kickoff event will explore the dangers and pitfalls for businesses and consumers in this vast new Internet real estate and how they can maintain the integrity of their brands and the safety of their customers online.

CADNA is honored to have Rep. Marino join the event to stress the importance of Internet safety in general but specifically because of the expansion in Top-level domain names.

The Internet is a revolutionary medium for communication and innovation, and the expected increase in gTLDs is very much in that vein. But the benefits of the Internet come at a price. As in the real world, the virtual world can be fraught with danger. Businesses and consumers need to know how to avoid exploitation by bad actors.

A major part of cybercrime involves cybersquatted websites that lure unsuspecting Internet users into a false sense of security by incorporating well-known trademarks into domain names that host Pay-Per-Click links, phishing scams, malware, or peddle counterfeit goods.

Recent studies report that cybercrime could cost the global economy as much as $500 billion annually and potentially result in the loss of 500,000 U.S. jobs alone.

Help spread the word about protecting your brand and your safety – RSVP to yvette@cadna.org.

Fashion Week, now underway in NYC, is perhaps the ultimate example of the retail industry’s proclivity for spectacle and showmanship. Even though producing just one runway show can cost over $1 million dollars, as industry expert Kate Betts explained to Marketplace’s Kai Ryssdal yesterday, the residual exposure is worth it thanks in large part to digital devices and social media.

Abigail Keats A/W 2010

Just try signing on to Facebook or Twitter over the next week without being bombarded by an Instagram photo or Vine video of a disinterested waif in a couture gown. Everyone is sharing – your contacts, fashion bloggers, gossip sites, and online versions of traditional media outlets, such as WSJ.com.

Given the natural, if not overwhelming, symbiotic relationship between digital marketing and the fashion industry, it’s not surprising that a new report by e-Marketer finds that the retail industry continues to outspend financial services, telecom and even the consumer electronic industry on digital advertising.  As was explained in eMarketer’s description of the report:

“Industry marketers report today’s brand-advertising mix is evolving fairly rapidly from standard banner units—for which investment is expected to remain flat—to richer and more dynamic units, such as video, as well as social display and hybrid formats that can integrate more tightly with traditional branding workhorses like TV and print.”

And where will these richer, more dynamic units live?

“Retailers aren’t going to be satisfied with campaigns that simply run on social media platforms and existing .com websites for long,” explains Phil Lodico of FairWinds Partners.

“Industry leaders, including some of our clients, have already moved to build entire online worlds that revolve around providing their customers with unique branded content and, in doing so, advertise in a more meaningful way.”

Lodico said companies that own and run their own .BRAND Top Level Domain (TLD) will have unbridled opportunities to engage customers creatively – building followers at a previously unknown rate. Even companies that did not apply for their .BRAND in this latest round are building out innovative campaigns on other relevant .GENERIC top-level domains – set to begin launching in the next month or so.

Investors in new TLDs appear to have seen into the future. Four applicants are vying for the .FASHION site.  I’d bet the new Chanel collection that Fashion Week will reach a new level of digital spectacle in a whole new way once this new gLTD – the meaning of which signals the ultimate retail industry – launches.

Let us know in the comments!

Most of us are pretty familiar with the concept of a hacker attacking a website – and, in fact, downloadable tools to help hackers break into a site and steal information are readily available.  But what happens when a top-level domain registry is hacked, as appears to have been the case for Google’s Palestinian domain earlier this week?

From what TechCrunch reported as of Monday morning, “…it seems that Google’s Palestinian domain was hijacked and redirected to another server altogether. How that was done, exactly, is unclear. One current theory is that Google’s top-level domain provider for the region was compromised, allowing hackers to point the domain somewhere else.”

Tuesday The Washington Post’s tech blog, The Switch, posted Google’s response: “Some users visiting google.ps have been getting redirected to a different website; Google services for the google.ps domain were not hacked. We’re in contact with the organization responsible for managing this domain name so we can help resolve the problem.”

So how do companies like Google ensure that they have a back-up in case of malicious attacks on the domain registry in a particular region or country?

Phil Lodico, Managing Partner at FairWinds, explained that “some ccTLDs present a greater risk for being hacked than others. For example, when the root servers for a ccTLD are located at an institution without top-tier security, perhaps a university, for example, the likelihood that the server will be compromised is higher.”

Lodico went on to explain that new top level domains, specifically .BRANDs, not only present an infinite number of opportunities for their owners and customers, but also offer a new level of security for brand owners and their customers. “By running a .BRAND – or moving from BRAND.country to country.BRAND (after making the appropriate arrangements per the New gTLD Applicant Guidebook) – companies can build their sites on a more robust infrastructure and ultimately a more secure platform.”

Because Google applied for and is likely to win .GOOGLE, the Internet giant could (and we would guess is likely to) redirect or relocate  geographic or regional content related to a country within the .GOOGLE space – and avoid redirects like the one experienced by google.ps earlier this week.

Google.PS