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Who Will Give Birth to the gTLD's First Billion-Dollar Domain Baby?

Naseem Javed

When all you have is a hammer, everything appears to be a nail. The generic Top-Level Domains (gTLDs) are not just about trademark filing and battle posturing or cyber-squatting. They are about the potential to create unusual global intellectual properties offering multiple opportunities for rapid image expansion and — most importantly — the achievement of market domination via name identity.

The ICANN gTLDs are also not just about mass domain name registrations. Rather, they are about massive customer acquisition and the creation of intricate layers of customer access. Most of the current debate is focused on the grind of one of the single key aspects, while ignoring all the other interlaced facets — what's missing is the reflective shine and brilliance of the idea.

An interdisciplinary approach to all gTLD matters is a must. Early cinema provides a good example: It incorporated dozens of diverse and seemingly unrelated issues, which led to the eruption of a full-fledged industry.

The integrated approach to gTLD is the fastest way to get the boardroom's attention. Otherwise, the discussion can become splintered, with fragments of ideas scattered in separate departments — from technology to legal to domain name registration to webmasters.

If we place the entire gTLD process in a hierarchy forming a pyramid, the base would consist of all the big picture concepts and specific ideas. The middle part would be where all the procedures of application, funding, financial modeling and legally guided long-term application processes reside. On the very pointed top of the pyramid would be the proposed name, with full consensus and analysis. Without its absolute winning certainty, the entire exercise would simply be futile, and the pyramid would collapse.

The Association for the Advancement of Relationship Marketing/Relationship Management, or AARM, is presenting an ongoing webinar series to tackle some of these issues. Internet Business Law Services, or IBLS, is releasing a series of webinars on the various gTLD opportunities for a legal audience.

There are also conferences like .Nxt, scheduled for Aug. 24-26 in San Francisco, and The Munich Conference on new TLDs, set for September 26-27. As the race intensifies, the demand for high- value content delivered with global cyber-branding speed will spur the hot topics.

Senior executives must learn to tackle the unusual questions of today. How do you make bold and intelligent arguments in the boardroom and ask for a million dollars to create a billion-dollar money tree? How much real powers can a gTLD yield on global name identity expansion? What special skills are needed to steer this new vehicle toward market domination? How do you play the new game for marketing management on mass customer acquisition models based on a new type of naming architecture? What surprise challenges will cascade into marketing, branding and trademark areas on global name identity issues? What are your options if your current name identity is incompatible with ICANN procedures?

Once the new gTLD game is properly understood, it will certainly allow the creation of "billion dollar domain babies," with superpower naming ideas becoming billion-dollar intellectual properties for their holders. This will be an amazing game to play and to watch.

The legal firms and image-branding agencies seeking new gTLD clients have three tasks: how to identify their top clients and offer them world-class recommendations with full confidence to play this game; how to create back-up and supportive plans to capture special name identities for targeted markets; and lastly, how to attract new clients by providing leadership on exclusive options for generic and destination brands.

By Naseem Javed, Expert: Global Naming Complexities, Corporate Nomenclature, Image & Branding – He is the founder of ABC Namebank, author of 'Domination: The GTLD Name Game', syndicated columnist, keynote speaker and specialist on global naming complexities. Visit Page
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Creation Of City gTLD I-Ecosystems Via Multiple Stakeholers With Distinct Skills/Resources Ray Marshall  –  Aug 08, 2011 9:31 AM PDT

Naseem,

Your blog touches on many of the same concepts mentioned in an article titled, "Adaptability: The New Competitive Advantage", which appeared in the Harvard Business Review, July-August 2011 edition. 

One of the key passages of this article is a reference to a memo from Stephen Elop, Nokia's CEO, to his staff which stated the following, "Our competitors aren't taking our market share with devices; they are taking our market share with an entire ecosystem." Following this passage, the author states, "Through broader signal detection, parallel innovation, superior flexibility, and rapid mobilization, multicompany systems can enhance the adaptiveness of individual companies." As you may have guessed, these points pertain to the success of Apple's i-phone and it's impact on Nokia's business model.

From my perspective, such strategies will usher in new i-ecosystems via new gTLDs, in particular City TLDs.  For example, multiple cities will apply for their own gTLD.  They will use the services of a company to operate that gTLD.  They will use their marketing infrastructure and financial resources to create awareness of their gTLD.  They may even enter into arrangements with companies to provide social, e-mail, webdesign, and webhosting services along with future state services.  In essence, the convergence of multiple stakeholders with distinct skills and resources will lead to the rapid deployment of new city gTLD i-ecosystems.

Of course, not everyone shares this vision.  Some believe the only i-ecosystem that currently exists, and will continue to exist, is .COM.  I would argue that several other i-ecosystems already exist outside .COM.  For instance, while travelling to Vienna, my family and I noticed that most of the domains advertised on the sides of buildings, vehicles, and brochures are in the ".AT" ccTLD.  During our 5-day stay in Vienna, I could count the number of .COM domains on one hand.  My family is now visiting another city and already we've noticed the same type of adoption.  I will mention the name of this city and the third via subsequent comments to this blog once we've complete our trips to these cities.

Given our observations to date, I think it's very likely that City TLDs will enjoy the same success as ccTLDs, especially if Cities adopt the multi-stakeholder strategy mentioned in the HBR article.

Observations Of .HU In Budapest Ray Marshall  –  Aug 11, 2011 10:22 PM PDT

Completing our visit in Budapest today.  Just like .AT in Vienna, my family noticed that .HU is well embraced in Budapest.  Again, most of the domains advertised on buildings, vehicles, and brochures in Budapest are in .HU.  We could also count the number of .COM domains on one hand.  Also noticed a couple of .EU domains advertised by businesses.  Looking forward to reporting my observations on the next city.

Minds + Machines And Their Focus On City TLDs Ray Marshall  –  Aug 14, 2011 2:10 AM PDT

Provided below is a link to a very interesting interview on CircleID (in case you missed it) with Anthony Van Couvering and Peter Dengate Thrush.  Not surprisingly, Minds + Machines will focus one of their revenue streams on Geo gTLDs, in particular, City gTLDs.  Looking forward to following their progress in this exciting new space.

http://www.circleid.com/posts/interactive_investor_interviews_antony_van_couvering_and_peter_dengate_thru/

Complete Link Below ... Ray Marshall  –  Aug 14, 2011 2:14 AM PDT
City gTLD Naseem Javed  –  Aug 14, 2011 5:15 AM PDT

Thanks Ray, a great video indeed....
As anticipated, we are all headed for a new landscape of image expansion and branding where name identities will be the most critical component of advertising and marketing...a 'new name economy' is emerging where national name brands like armies advance on neighboring countries…economic power will be influenced by global name brand accessibility...currently gTLDs are the most misunderstood concepts by most global advertising and branding intelligencia, they seem threatened by the global corporate nomenclature complexities. It will change.

Observations of .CZ in Prague & Comments On Minds + Machines City gTLD Strategy Ray Marshall  –  Aug 16, 2011 9:58 PM PDT

Completing our visit in Prague today.  Just like .AT in Vienna and .HU in Budapest, my family noticed that .CZ is well entrenched in Prague.  Again, most of the domains advertised on buildings, vehicles, and brochures in Prague are in .CZ.  We could also count the number of .COM domains in the single digits (slightly higher relative to Vienna and Budapest).  Also noticed a couple of .EU domains, .info domains, and even a .aero domain (i.e. www.prg.aero). 

I think it's fair to say that the high penetration of these ccTLDs signifies a high level of pride and acceptance businesses and their consumers have for such ccTLDs in such countries.  I have no doubt that businesses and consumers will have a high level of pride and acceptance in City gTLDs as well.

With regards to Minds + Machines, it's clear that this company has first mover advantage given the tight deadline for submitting the next round of applications.  They will be in a unique position to create entire i-ecosystems all over the world.  Not many companies have an opportunity to be a transformational leader on a global scale.  As a potential transformational leader, I hope Minds + Machines will use this opportunity to introduce some form of standardization among the City gTLDs. 

For instance, they could recommend that cities reserve certain names, i.e. "directory", "info", "search", "parking", "metro", "parks", "email", "webdesign", etc., that would be used by the cities.  In turn, cities could outsource the use of such domains to companies that already have the expertise to manage such domains, i.e. the multistakeholder approach.  In addition, Minds + Machines could suggest that cities offer various services to encourage the purchase and use of their City gTLD.  For example, companies and residents that purchase a City gTLD could receive the following: 1) free listing on the city's website directory, i.e. www.directory.city; 2) free website templates with an opportunity to upgrade for an additional fee; and 3) free e-mail and webhosting plans with an opportunity to upgrade for an additional fee.  The obvious benefit of these strategies is quicker acceptance of City gTLDs. 

Let's hope Minds + Machines will take that extra step as they move forward in this exciting new industry which they alone will be able to define and develop for the next couple of years.

City gTLDs Naseem Javed  –  Aug 17, 2011 4:53 AM PDT

Thanks Ray, for sharing your unnamed journey.

The gTLD eco-system is a very solid idea, but currently these concepts are being fogged by too many mixed opinions erupting from the old first generation, free for all domain name system and advertising agencies being afraid of losing their turf. The sooner the players realize that this is more about ‘selective name usability’ giving more 'specific control' to the ‘owners of name identity’ in global space the better the results. The old concepts of mass selling of domain names will only work in certain places and not in most of the new gTLDs.

Such global naming complexities are being discussed at http://www.azna.com .  The centrality of naming issues and placing name branding tactical issues on top of the agenda is the real challenge.

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Who Will Give Birth to the gTLD's First Billion-Dollar Domain Baby? Naseem Javed  –  Aug 08, 2011 10:44 AM PDT

Thanks Ray, a great reflective post…
City branding will have an amazing advantage and most enlightened will all see the light soon. The global usability, marketability and uniqueness are some of the major influencing factors and when all in harmony with global nomenclature issues the global acceptance endorsees the universal mind share resulting in commercial success. However, the dotcom kingdom is safe, but ccTLDs will always have global visibility challenges.  They work in certain national or regional markets. Like anything else we have to learn quickly about the limitations of the first generation domain names and conveniently prepare to forget their days of glory.

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