New gTLD Market Strategies

The optimistic view and the one I choose is that new gTLDs will create innovations enabling internet users to contribute, create & consume experiences in new ways. Valuable content and applications will migrate to the most relevant strings. Users and search engines will favour authoritative strings driving increasing efficacy in search, use and therefore the value the registry delivers in a virtuous cycle of success.  There are conditions for this to come true. Successful registries will at a minimum;

  • ensure integrity of their registrant base,
  • set conditions for services and experiences to flourish in string relevant uses and benefits,
  • deliver web services to drive domain string adoption and ongoing use, and
  • execute effectively and continually adjust as their market needs evolve.

Those registries that fulfill these conditions will be the registries that exist ten years from now.  The remaining will be aggregated by the successful and either fall into decline or be reinvented under a new vision and strategy. This is all good; it is a time of change where the valuable and well operated will survive.  It is an exciting time with untold opportunities to innovate, create value and accelerate the evolution of our interconnected online society. In brief;

  • Brand strings will seek to enhance awareness, extend and educate their brand promise and provide new experiences  to attract target customers and deliver more value in customer relationships.
  • Geographic strings will create geocentric experiences to deliver user value centered on local communities, creating new opportunities for geocentric entities and interests to flourish.
  • Niche strings will innovate to deliver focused service capabilities and benefits to the specific needs of their niche unlike anything that has come before.

Each new TLD registry leader imagines the future vision that will drive success. To make it a reality, they need a clear strategy aligned with all stakeholders and a measurable execution plan to bring the vision to market.

Clarity of purpose, preparedness and exacting execution will be the characteristics of success.


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The registry must articulate a clear compelling big idea vision of how and why the string will create an  innovation, delivering new, better or different experiences to address a real market problem, contributing indispensable and sustainable value driving business growth.

 Upon Vision articulation, the registry will develop a strategic & tactical plan to deliver the big idea vision. This involves the interconnecting detail on; financial planning, vendor, distribution, business partnerships, human capital, sales & marketing, operations, compliance, systems and applications all clearly defined in a practical measurable tactical plan with defined budget, activities, resources, timelines and milestones.

 All said and done, every plan requires execution measurement, analysis and adjustment after GoToMarket launch. This last phase is never ending and where true innovation emerges, driven by market adoption and use.

Thank you for checking in…Peter

Posted on July 5, 2013 .

The Brand Registry: A CEO’s Vantage

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.BRAND registries prepare to innovate their online presence.  How it really happens.

 Q1: 2011:  I am Bob, Brand CEO. Today, our senior council advised us to secure our .brand in ICANN’s gTLD program. “Why?”, I asked. He explained it like this:  Defensive – Trademark Uncertainty – High Impact Risks – Innovation Potential.  “I get it – approved!”   Next agenda item…

Q4 2012: “There is a $500,000 line item in G&A expense for year end 2012 related to .brand. Why was it not allocated to marketing, brand, IT or public relations?  Should it be?  Who owns it? Who has a plan?  How do we use it to innovate, define and drive brand awareness, connect with our customers, channels and partners? How will we use this thing to bring life to our brand and gain market share?” Silence…everyone looks at Joyce, our CMO.  I comment further;

“Come on guys – it cannot just be a cost. Council advises we will have it mid-2013 and could launch programs as early as late 2013.  Joyce, give me something, what are you thinking?  What’s going on out there?  What’s the plan?”  I can tell she foresaw the question, she hands me a diagram and is preparing to respond. She is a clear thinker, this will be good and her creative energy is on full throttle. (I love it)

 “Bob, we are at the starting line in a race without a clear route, nor a known finish line. That’s OK, it allows us to define the future and innovate on our own terms.  It is also a risk but I know how we can manage it so as not to disrupt current activities and market traction.”

“Today we manage several dozen websites including corporate identity, various campaign and loyalty to product specific and channel partner sites and more.  We also invest heavily creating brand presence and experiences with third party social networks like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and we invest in other related mobile experience technologies. We need to make these investments to drive to customer acquisition run rate targets and to support operations but sometimes we feel we are fueling the third party businesses more than benefiting our own online presence and capabilities.  It is also painfully difficult to attribute sales to specific initiatives. Additionally, these networks can and do evolve according to their business drivers and we cannot control that. We believe we need to maintain and even expand presence in these social networks and mobile technologies, we are challenged to prove which are most efficient use of our marcom spend. And then Bob, there are continually emerging social networks and technologies that we must discover and understand how to leverage.  Frankly, we cannot reasonably spend the cycles and expertise to assess each new thing and make smart proactive planning and investment decisions. Everything is evolving at lightening speed. Yet we cannot ignore latest trends, so we must be nimble operating within the structure of our planning framework.  On top of all this, there is phishing, fraud and piracy of our brand.  They prey on our need for agility, which can result in delivering inconsistency in our brand experience across marketing channels.  All this makes it difficult for us to get our feet planted on firm ground where we build on successes, plan and execute as well as we would like.”

“I would normally not bore you with my headaches but it highlights, how for the first time since digital marketing started to really accelerate a few years ago, I see terra firma and it is our .BRAND REGISTRY.  The registry has the potential to change everything, be our anchor, shift the control paradigm back to us from reliance on social networks, alleviate fraud and piracy.  Here we can invest in our own registry space experiences. Those investments in customer outreach and experiences will provide long term ROI as we develop, measure, analyze and adjust.  As we and other brands launch, the market will come to know that if not on a .brand website then it is not authentic. This is a huge benefit to help combat phishing, fraud and piracy. I believe the market will be quick to adjust to this new reality.”

“What I really like is the registry is ours, we own it, we create, we control, we measure activity, dollars expended and returned in the form of sales. Think of the possibilities: a network of websites on our registry such as customername.brand, product.brand, campaign.brand, channel.brand, support.brand, funstuff.brand etc. Here we can enable personalization, mobile apps, social sharing, live engagement etc., all creating dynamic experiences that customers consume, create and share. We will listen to prospect and customer activity We will respond with relevant content experiences that evidence our brand attributes.  We will know exactly what goes on inside the registry space and how individuals and partners share to outside networks. We will create programs, investing and developing .brand registry network as our anchor online asset from which we influence out to social networks and technologies.  We will design it with flexibility to adapt and integrate new emerging technologies and trends.  Each of which will add value to our registry network itself as it becomes a brand network influencing out and drawing in, to and from external networks. I call it “heliocentricity”, where our brand registry at the center – social networks and technologies interacting around. This is a paradigm shift, where we will control and manage the experience, user behavior and user generated content that benefits us, our customers and our network.  It does not mean we abandon other networks, absolutely not, but it means we will make our registry network/space the focal point of all calls to action.”

“We see this as a strategic imperative. We need your support to invest in a learning strategic plan and the resulting execution actions to make it happen.  It is a multi-year undertaking that will turn the market on its head.  Exactly how – not entirely sure but I know it will happen and I know it is our best shot to deliver and control brand attribute experiences and help us extend and differentiate our brand for the long term.  We can lead it or we can follow.”

“Joyce, #1, let’s lead our category. I get the germ of it; we bring our .brand attributes to our customers in our own space where we invest and make compelling.  We continue to invest in third party networks and innovations but focus on using their capabilities to add value to our space vs. us investing to make their networks stronger.  You have my support.  Let’s get this going.  Work with the brand guys and define the Vision, Strategy and Execution plan.  Keep me posted, I want to help on this one.  Thanks Joyce, nicely articulated, love the diagram”

Next agenda item…

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Does this sound familiar?  Thanks for checking in — Peter

Posted on July 3, 2013 .

Brand Registries: 3 Initiatives

Opportunity Premise

New TLDs offer brands the ability to innovate their online presence to build better relationships with current customers and attract new.  Brands seek the following growth objectives.

  1. Acquire customers organically through effective marketing and sales channels,
  2. Increase loyalty, retention and customer referrals,
  3. Increase average order value, and
  4. Define brand identity and drive awareness.

Imperative for Action and Risk of Inaction

Brands that effectively launch a closed registry will control their future web space. This is transformational stuff on how we will use and value web addresses and networks. Innovators will create online environments exclusive to their brand. They will capture a larger share of market in competitive search and reference.  The fantastic news is that by owning the registry and focusing presence there, brands will, over time be largely released from the damaging menace of cyber squatters who divert market attention through bad faith practices.  Innovative brands will seize the opportunity and make the registry addresses authoritative destinations and engines of growth.  Brands who do not move, risk becoming less relevant as the approximate 1,200 new TLDs come to market. They risk losing competitive position and will certainly miss the opportunity to be a category leader.  It is a whole new web space. Those who do not occupy and innovate in it will be left behind.  “HELLO …. BRANDS – DO YOU SEE IT?”  If not, you are in trouble.

Developing and Executing a Plan

How do you bring a TLD registry to market?  The process is simple enough, however, articulating a winning vision and strategy, defining and executing requires significant expertise and diligence.

  1. Create a new gTLD vision aligned with core business objectives.
  2. Research and iterate with teams the market factors that influence strategy.
  3. Articulate an aligned executable strategy.
  4. Create the execution plan, and
  5. Execute GoToMarket: Measure, Analyze and Adjust.

Here are just THREE strategic approaches for brand based registries to consider.

1.  Marketing Promotion

Restrict to marketing and communication destinations for specific programs that can be deployed quickly with address bar context such as; ‘promotion.brand’, ‘rewards.brand’, ‘csr.brand’, ‘event.brand’ … etc.  Here the brand is able to publish clear and authentic destinations for promotional purposes with focused messaging and services that match the web address.  

Why valuable?  Authentic, Trust, Focused, Easy to Communicate and Memorable, High Converting, Spoof Proof…

2.  Customer Identity and Engagement

Offer selected customer profiles their own web addresses such as; ‘johndoe.brand”, where customers can engage with the brands through various means both public and password protected. Include function such as; multimedia blogging, product and service support, enhanced knowledge based value adds, secure access to loyalty programs and benefits, participation in product focus groups, sharing of insights, stories, testimonials, etc. 

Why valuable? One-One Relationships, Loyalty, Referrals, Community, User Generated Content: SEO & Authenticity…

3.  Product Centered

Deploy product destinations such as; ‘widget.brand’ designed to enhance the value proposition. Product destinations deliver opportunity to improve online presence with SEO performance through multimedia blogging function, product detail and support, feedback, sharing of insights and WOW as well as sales conversion capabilities, etc.

Why valuable?  Focused Messaging & Services, Specific to Product, SEO, Customer Satisfaction, Conversions

Layer SOCIAL and MOBILE capabilities and experiences.  Have brand – must travel –  with customers, wherever they are, whenever they are thinking of or using your product, needing help or communicating about your brand’s WOW Factorshared through social networks.  Create an environment for your customers to maximize the value they gain from your product and relationship, then motivate their actions to help you reach new markets and improve your position.

What is your view? How will innovative brands make the gTLD investment drive returns?  

Thanks for checking in…Peter

Posted on July 2, 2013 .

Did Hilton make a big mistake?

 Last week Hilton executives made the decision to withdraw their TLD application for .HILTON.   Did they make a mistake?  Are they losing an opportunity to differentiate?  Yes and yes. Why and what impact is the decision likely to have as the .BRAND registry era begins?   Unclear, but two competitors are happier this week.

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Hyatt and Marriott are moving forward. Others hotel brands will likely apply in Round 2.   We must assume Hilton didn’t see how the registry could improve the guest experiences at their 540 locations and drive advocacy into social. They just didn’t see the innovation potential of the beachfront property with their brand’s name on it.

“FUNWEEKEND.HILTON”   Not to be.

Hyatt and Marriott are alone.  They have the opportunity to innovate and create differentiated service experiences based on an authentic, secure, controlled and effective .hyatt or .marriott registries.

If you think about the business problems facing a large respected hotel brand you can imagine how a registry can be applied to address and differentiate.  Let’s take simple but challenging guest acquisition performance. Think of a direct response campaign that drives traffic to website. “GUEST.HYATT” is more memorable than www.hyatt.com/guest, interesting and different too.  If the response rate increases due to memorable and curiously differentiated URL, would that justify the cost of a registry. You bet it would, and that is just the simple beginning.

What’s really interesting are the opportunities to enhance the stay experience by connecting the offline and online worlds with a personalized communication and content marketing vehicle. Consider key hotel business performance metrics;       1. Rate of repeat guest stays, and 2. Revenue per guest stay.  How could a .BRAND registry engagement initiative impact those core performance metrics?

HERE’S AN IDEA

At guest booking, set up “guestname.hyatt.”  Welcome, check in, connect and learn what this location and the surrounding area has to offer.  Check out the geo-enabled nightlife or dining reviews, entertainment and local attractions.  Access branded mobile applications to enrich area discovery, all to maximize guest stay experience.  Check out LIVE what’s happening in the lounge downstairs, order stuff, collect and redeem rewards.  All found at a personalized ‘guestname.hyatt’ registry URL.  If the guests dig it, they share it and Hyatt gains thousands of points of entry into social channels, postings that are authentic voice of the customer advocacy.  Now, perhaps you don’t need that expensive direct response campaign. Rather, invest in the guest experiences that create brand affinity and drives advocacy in social channels.  Analyze behaviors, measure, analyze and adjust to become increasingly relevant to your very best guests.

Not done yet. Visit another Hyatt and feel the same welcoming experience.  Now guests know how to get the most out of their “guestname.hyatt” enriched stay.  When they depart and go home, they can login, adjust stay preferences. Then prior to arriving on the next Hyatt trip, they can have the concierge research and prepare a tour and/or have dinner reservations for two ready on arrival.  Make an engaged Hyatt guest a special guest. When they love it – they share it. Generate guest/brand affinity and motivate advocacy actions.   Now that is a different hotel experience and that generates returns, all made possible by ownership of a .BRAND registry.

This is a simple, assumptive glimpse of what a .BRAND registry could enable for a hotel brand.  There are many innovative and fun ways a hotel could, with a proprietary .BRAND registry, generate authentic engagement experiences that are valued and share worthy.

Time will likely reveal that Hilton made a mistake.  You can understand why they missed it.  The value of a .BRAND registry is a nebulous idea.  It takes informed resources to think and manage it, timing remains uncertain and the www.hilton.compresence is excellent, so one can excuse them for not seeing the potential. Yet they did and it’s a shame they gave up on the opportunity to innovate guest experiences. See you in round two Hilton.   

Recommendation: “ICANN please reinstate our .HILTON application.”

Thanks for checking in.  Peter

Posted on July 1, 2013 .