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The New TLD Registry Example to Follow

Jean Guillon

With lessons learnt from the first Round, what does a new applicant need to know to prepare for the coming Round? Which example should he follow to increase his chances of success?

I have had the chance to read about new domain names sales figure expectations, prior to the launching of Round one of the ICANN new gTLD program. Comments that I read and feed-backs that I have today are: "our expectations are the one we wrote on the paper and we are happy with them".
Well… not only I can tell you that this is wrong but I seriously doubt that a new Registry can be happy with less than 10,000 registrations. Read this if you have a doubt.

Some figures

Numbers are what that counts. There are two pages that I check almost daily, they list domain name registrations per new Registry (also called "TLD" for "Top-Level Domain" or again "new domain name extension"). If you do not already know TLDWatch and nTLDStats, these are the direct links to the most recent registration figures.

Sales Volumes are important

I previously read that sales volumes are not so important. Well, not to my understanding (but in very specific cases).

A new gTLD consultancy agency or a Back-end Registry provider can make a new gTLD customer happy explaining him how wonderful it might be to create an identity for his specific group or industry. But what happens when this is done and when just a few individuals register domain names? What happens when the cost of maintaining the Registry becomes too high? You need to transform your TLD project into a sales machine or be extremely well funded to be able to last, launching a TLD: is this your case?

Selling domain names is important not only because it generates cash to maintain the Registry (technically, teams, communication...), but it helps spread the message around that your new domain names are available to your community. The more you sell, the more end users learn that you exist… the more e-mails are sent with "your" domain name extension in the end, the better for your promotion.

How do you expect end-users to know about a domain name extension with 1,500 registrations? Press Releases? Forget it. If the .CLUB Registry is a good example to follow, here is why.

The .CLUB example to follow

Many new gTLD applicants had some good ideas but none of them knew that they would be so many to have these exactly same ideas so how did .CLUB proceed to appear as different, compared to other Registries?

Zones files – An analysis of the .com and .org zone files for occurrences of the word "club" made it possible to estimate the potential of the Registry.

Understanding of the global nature of the word "club" – "Club" is widely used and recognized, even in other languages. This must have been an important reason for the choice of .CLUB: you use the word "club" in English, in French, and in Spanish… When you check for similar strings which have the same meaning in multiple languages, consider applying in round two of the ICANN new gTLD program because there are many left!

Analysis of the verticals that the word would be likely to appeal to – Existing clubs, sports clubs, fan clubs, school clubs, etc…

Basic understanding of what makes a good domain name – Short (the .CLUB new gTLD is a four letter words), memorable (when 50 Cent launches its Fan Club, there is a reason why it chose a .CLUB: http://50inda.club/), and meaningful (a club… is a club).

Right pricing – Pricing was important, especially in such a TLD crowded marketplace. Did the Registry expect so many applicants to submit their applications? Did they know that applicants such as Famous Four Media, Minds + Machines, Donuts and Afilias would enter the game with so important budgets so that they would need to keep their cash for one TLD only instead of dozens?

A Small team – When I launched the .EU Registry, it required a lot of people just for support because end-users called the Registry directly to ensure about the best way to grab their domain name. The first Round of the ICANN new gTLD program was very different from that: with so many TLDs launching, the choice of a small team was right because end-users now call their Registrar direct.

If there is no method to guarantee the success of a TLD, there is one to increase its chances of success and I would start with the most important one: don't talk too loud or if you do, ensure that you have the best Community endorsement and future Registrants already waiting to buy.

By Jean Guillon, New generic Top-Level Domains' specialist
Related topics: Registry Services, New TLDs
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