You Can Forget .Com--Here Come 1300 Others
What will the Internet look like when the 22 domains we're used to--.Com, .Gov--are joined by nearly 1,300 others, both .Brands (eg, .Marriott, .BMW) and .Generics (.Autos, .Legal)? At the second annual Beyond the Dot at the Newseum, FairWinds Partners hosted a full-day event to broaden the discussion around gTLDs. We snapped CEO Nao Matsukata flanked by FairWinds VP of policy and external relations Michelle Sara King and VP of communications Yvette Miller.
gTLDs were set up so everyone could own a piece "of the real estate of the Internet," says Akram Atallah, president of the global domains division of ICANN, the company in charge of Internet naming. That includes introducing domain names in alphabets like Cyrillic and Chinese. ICANN expected 500 applications for new gTLDs (at around $200k a pop); instead, it received more than 1,900. It "pretty much turned ICANN on its head," Akram says. The process started in 2011 and Akram thinks that outcomes for the first wave of applications could be finished within 2016, barring any contentions that move to outside courts. There are no plans yet to open a second round of applications.
Marriott International's application was just approved by ICANN after being submitted in 2012 and working aggressively for the past 10 months to get it launched, announced VP Judy Frey (second from left, with Ogilvy Washington's Kathy Baird, Dominion Enterprises' Jim Schrand, Fuller Digital Strategy's Andrea Fuller, and American and GW prof Christie Susko). Some people might think 10 months is a long time, Judy says, but it's a lot of work, and you "definitely, definitely, need your legal counsel." This year will be spent testing the waters, including deciding what to do with the .Com pages as work on the .Marriott pages begins, and measuring ROI (this process is really costly, she says). Why make the move? To (1) protect the brand, (2) be a pioneer, possibly gaining a competitive edge, and (3) drive brand awareness.
Another new gTLD is .CancerResearch, launching in less than two weeks, says ARI Registry Services' Tony Kirsch. ARI, which does back-end domain name support for companies including IBM, wanted to "create a digital brand for the global ending of cancer." The site will have categories such as Lung., Brain., and Fundraising. to the left of the dot, and bring together those impacted or concerned with top scientists.
This is the Internet, so there's some controversy: the overdue need for a proactive system of verifying and validating the credentials of domains like .Bank, .Pharmacy and .Lawyer so users can trust the new system (discussed on a panel with FTC counsel Laureen Kapin). Or ICANN's transition from a US-governed body to one with an international multi-stakeholder board. NFTC president Bill Reinsch (above with FairWinds' Amalia Feld) has doubts about the US' decision to transition out: We need to recognize that a number of powerful countries around the world would like to see the Internet fragmented or taxed. Counsel to the Delegation of the EU to the US Andrea Glorioso says that a delay or shutdown of the IANA transition would harm the goodwill NTIA built. ARI's Donna Austin, an ICANN GNSO Council member, expressed concern about accountability talks before any transition.