This is the first of a series of articles on new TLDs as a result of interviews with leading industry players. In this first article we interview Adrian Kinderis, CEO of ARI Registry Services who is forthright in his views on TLDs, how business outside North America is showing little interest and ways in which a brand’s own TLD could benefit.
Business awareness of new Top Level Domains is very poor outside of North America, says Adrian Kinderis, CEO of ARI Registry Services. Within North American, Kinderis estimates 90 per cent of businesses he encounters at events are aware of the new TLD process, but in the Asia Pacific he says the understanding is simply not there.
It is not only for his business that Kinderis wants to see businesses outside North America being proactive in applying for new TLDs, since ARI is likely to be a major beneficiary of the growth in the number of TLDs worldwide. But more so since once the current three month application window closes on 12 April, nobody knows when the next application window will happen. It could be several years.
Benefits to brands could include personalising services to customers, provide security for customers by saying this is our domain and allowing the business to focus their brand marketing on one TLD globally.
Kinderis’ experience of business outside North America, in the Asia Pacific and the Middle East regions, and in particular in his home country of Australia, is that they want to sit on their hands and wait until they see what their competitors and other businesses are doing.
Applicants in the Asia Pacific and Middle East regions are not only potential beneficiaries of TLDs in standard ASCII characters (standard English characters), but also of TLDs in their own native languages. Reaching out to potential customers using characters in the language of the local people could have a huge impact where often awareness of languages apart from the local language is low. Already where these internationalised domain names have been introduced there has been a huge demand. For example, in Russia there were over 850,000 .РФ domain name registrations within two years of the TLD becoming available. Over 700,000 of these were registered in the first 12 months.
And it is not only local companies that can benefit – multinationals such as airlines, fast food chains and soft drinks to name a few could benefit by promoting their popular brands in the local language allowing people to more easily type in the domain in the language they are familiar with.
Not surprisingly, Kinderis has found that the business sector with the highest level of interest has been telecommunications and information technology companies.
Another area with higher awareness has been the finance sector, and in particular banking. From a security perspective, banking could have a lot to gain from their own TLD believes Kinderis. With several TLDs currently required for different markets, to be able to say “if it doesn’t end with .mybank, it’s not me” could be a significant selling point. Building trust among customers could be a major selling point, particularly if the bank’s competitors have ignored the possibility of applying for their own TLD.
A TLD could even assist with personalising a customer’s experience with a bank, or even with an airline’s frequent flyer programme. Providing the customer with their own domain name, such as customer_name.barclays, account_number.hsbc or frequent_flyer_number.qantas could help develop personalised relationships.
And one unnamed car company has had a similar idea. The unnamed car company is believed to be applying for their own TLD. One of the uses they propose is to give each customer their own domain name with the car. This would be a way of building a relationship with the client. It would also allow each customer to have a portal where the customer could access all the relevant information about the car including manuals and service information.
For upmarket brands, such as Porsche, Audi, BMW, Jaguar, Mercedes or Lexus, providing a customer with their own domain name could even be a status symbol, and a unique way of promoting their brand. The customer could, for example, have as their email address my.name@bmw.
Industry TLDs could also be particularly sought after. Currently the term “insurance” or equivalents in different languages are one of the most sought after keywords for advertisers. So a successful applicant for the .INSURANCE TLD could gain a huge benefit in the industry. To use the tagline in advertising of, for example, “we are .INSURANCE” could be of huge benefit.
Kinderis quotes Henry Ford who once said if he had given people what they asked for, he would have given them a faster horse. Reflecting on the lack of innovation, of new ideas, Kinderis despairs and wonders where the thirst for innovation went.
But there are many possibilities with new TLDs. And Kinderis believes that in the competitive world we live in today, a TLD could provide an advantage for a business. A brand TLD could open up new opportunities for marketing and branding. But that is not the end of it.
“A business should regularly review their use of their TLD,” says Kinderis. “They should always be looking for innovation, new ideas and not sit on it when you’ve got it.”
“Anyone that sits on their TLD and does not take advantage of the opportunity it affords is a fool. And a fool and their TLD should be parted,” said Kinderis at the close of the interview.
Kinderis is nothing but passionate about the idea of new TLDs and the opportunities they can bring. Not just for his own business but for the expansion of the internet around the world.
Kinderis sees it as important that businesses investigate the idea of their own TLD now, and if they think it could be of interest, to discuss the idea internally, and even engage an external consultant and service provider to advise on the issues involved and assist with the preparation of an application.
And business should consider, particularly those with more generic brands or who might consider getting a TLD with an industry-related TLD, that once they have the TLD of their choice, they will own it forever!