Demo Video: Domain Abuse Monitor

Are you a TLD registry operator looking for an affordable and intuitive ICANN Spec 11.3.b compliant abuse monitoring and case management platform?

Take 9 minutes and watch my June 2018 update demo of the RegistryOffice Abuse Monitor.

Abuse Monitor consists of two major components:

  1. Abuse Detection. The service must be able to detect threats as they occur and immediately notify you with few or non false positives.
  2. Case Management. When you are notified about malicious activity, how do you make sure you handled it professionally? How do you make sure you don’t forget to follow up a case and keep track of the actions taken? You need a proper CRM or Case Management System for your abuse cases.

It’s built from the bottom up to be as cost efficient as possible, but at the same time provide ICANN Compliance.

The Basic version was developed for .brands and smaller registries that have little to no abuse. The Standard version is best suited for open registries that actively want to combat any and all malicious activities in their zone.

The professionally managed option (available for either version) has been selected by some registry operators. It’s great if you don’t have much experience in handling abuse. It’s also great even if you have staff that can handle follow-up, but would rather have them focus on stuff like sales, marketing, operations, etc. instead of dealing with abusive registrants and filing reports to ICANN.

Please contact me for an in-depth demo and discussion.

Time to kill the spreadsheets

I’ve produced a video that introduces a sensational RegistryOffice report that will reduce headaches related to domain name marketing campaign financial reporting and planning to your colleagues, management or Board, etc.

Plus another report to demonstrate how your renewals and deletes can be better forecasted and managed—even related to multiple specific marketing campaigns.

The best part is both eliminate the need for you or that lucky someone at your registry operation to stress over cobbling together spreadsheets and reports every month or quarter.

The information, reports and forecasts are always—just there—like your electricity.

So nice. 🙂

Take a look.  Then contact me to arrange a full-on live demo.

 

 

Understanding your TLD’s heartbeat

If you don’t have consistent access to the hearbeat of your registry, you can’t properly manage and grow your namespace.

That’s why I’m thrilled to announce that my consultancy is now an authorized Marketing Partner for the RegistryOffice Saas Business Intelligence platform and the RegistryOffice Abuse Monitor service for domain name registries.

My consultancy manages the backoffice and other functions for a variety of TLD registry operators. I am enthusiastic about the RegistryOffice platform because I use it.

If you want to quit worrying about time and internal resources needed to constantly collect data from multiple sources in order to analyze and combine all that data into reports and insight you can instantly share with your colleagues, board, registrars, whomever— then you need to take a look at RegistryOffice.

If you can’t deal with managing a project to build a system that provides rich data so that you can offer enhanced features on your websites, portals and dynamic ads for your TLD(s) so you can sell more—and faster—then you need to take a look at the RegistryOffice API.

Last, but not least, if you are searching for a cost-effective service to monitor your namespace for pharming, phishing, malware, spam and botnets in accordance with Spec 11.3.b of your Registry Agreement, or if you need Professional Case Management by security experts, then you need to take a look at the ICANN compliant Abuse Monitor, a new service from RegistryOffice.

Please contact me to set up a live demo.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gotta work for it. The inside track to TLD success.

This recent tweet by MarkMonitor, referencing Verisign’s latest Domain Name Industry Brief, illustrates the continued weak total domains under management (DUMs) performance of the new domain extensions sector (new gTLDs) within the industry.

It caught my eye, as I posted thoughts regarding The Great Domain Correction of 2017 last August, when the sector totaled 7.7% of the overall global total.  Now it’s down to 6.2%.

This is unfortunate, especially in comparison to the far less amount of legacy TLDs, introduced over a decade ago, that in total managed to capture a similar market share at the time.

Of course the current situation is throwing out different circumstances and challenges. Some new gTLD players are doing well, some are doing just O.K. Others are sucking wind.

Some market, execute and innovate like hell. Some just sit back. Both strategies have their pros and cons depending upon your their role, resources, experience, and ability to execute and scale within the ecosystem.

Total DUMs for a TLD don’t mean everything, and that’s why I’d like to point out that every single one of those legacy TLDs are still operating, as some survived by acquistion.

I suspect we will see more of the same in the new gTLD sector.  It’s possible a Registry Operator business or two might fail, but the TLD will likely survive, especially if acquired by a saavy Registry Service Provider or well-heeled and patient investor group, and because of ICANN’s Emergency Back-end Registry Operator (EBERO) requirement.

Total DUMs are important in other ways, especially to ICANN’s budget and even possible cuts to funding for a new round of TLDs. Also channel registrars, vital to many new Registry Operators, carefully look at DUMs, trends and the registry operator itself to determine how they will use their resources to deal with every single TLD out there.

That brings me to an article I posted six years ago (2012) before the new gTLDs were introduced. The Inside Track to TLD Success.  For the most part it all still holds true today.

Beyond those comments from long ago, my next post will talk about some other basics that registry operators should employ in order to grow their business.

The industry will evolve, and use of the new gTLDs will evolve, even if market share remains at a lower level for now. There is still opportunity to make a difference.

But the “build it and they will come” days are over.  Gotta work for it.

 

 

 

 

 

The ICANN 61 – San Juan meeting schedule has been released

The ICANN 61 Meeting Schedule is now available. The meeting will be held in San Juan, Puerto Rico. It is billed as a “Community Forum” and is only a few weeks away (10-15 March).

Expect discussion and debate on agenda items such as:

Cross-Community Session on the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and WHOIS Compliance Models—plus a separate session on the same with the GAC and the Public Safety Working Group (PSWG). I don’t have to tell you that the conflict between the domain name system’s WHOIS service and the GDPR that will come into force this May is a super hot topic in the industry. I think it will continue to weigh down resources and potentially add some more misery to the overall negative registration growth rate for new gTLDs.

GAC discussion on .amazon. ICANN says: The GAC will be following up on its inter-sessional discussion since ICANN60 and the Board response received following the ICANN60 Communique.  Alexa, will there ever be a dot amazon?

Universal Acceptance Steering Group (UASG) Update. Wise to keep up with this as the group’s good work benefits IDNs and all of the new gTLDs. ICANN says: Panelists from leading companies will share why their organizations are becoming Universal Acceptance-ready and provide an overview of their respective activities. The Universal Acceptance Steering Group will also provide a brief update on its activities.  

Of course there are plenty more sessions to attend if you can figure out a group’s acroynm name or purpose in the form of an acronym, and if it is germaine to your interests.  If you can’t make it to San Juan you can watch and/or listen via Remote Participation.

At present [as of 22 Feb.] I counted 911 publicly registered attendees.  The public list does not state date of registration, so it’s unknown to me how many that registered before the terrible Hurricane Maria devastation will be scared away, or if they are still planning to attend—or if more will be attending than is stated on the list—which is usually the case with past meetings.  I noticed the close-by hotels are sold out, so right now it looks like there should be a decent crowd.

Some quick back-of-the-napkin statistics on the registered participants data I was able to extract from the public list:

133 (14.6%) state “ICANN” as their organization

33 (3.6%) state “Fellowship” as their organization

The public list does not indicate type of organization, such as registry operator, registrar, government, etc.  However based on my own knowledge of certain organizations, I was able to identify at least:

125 (13.7%) are associated with a registry operator

41 (4.5%) are associated with a registrar

It would appear that unless I’ve not properly identified more registries and registrars on the list, that nearly two-thirds of the publicly registered attendees to date are not directly associated with ICANN, a registry operator and/or a registrar.

Some miscellaneous registration observations that raised my eyebrows:

One person is identified with “Crypto Fund.” Might be interesting to have a chat with that guy.

One person is identified with the “Tanzania Police Force”.  So watch out if you are doing anything wonky with .tz names and attending. 🙂 Seriously though, I note on the .tz registry website there is a prominent banner running across their home page announcing job vacancies. “Seeking Legal Counsel and PR & Marketing Manager.”   At present, there are 14,928 registered .tz domains. Fancy a move to Tanzania?

The six day meeting is being hosted by nic.pr, the Puerto Rican ccTLD.  Afilias recently won the contract to run the .pr backend, so I’m sure they will have a presence in San Juan. Unlike the new gTLD business, ccTLDs have experienced modest growth in the past year. I expect that growth to continue and increase in that space, especially over the long term.  Afilias seems to be in a good spot lately with ccTLDs. It’s good backend business, and unlike new gTLDs many don’t have to deal with the ICANN regulations.

Good luck to all attending and kudos to ICANN for going on with the meeting in San Juan.

 

 

 

 

Verisign’s Registration Data Access Protocol (RDAP) pilot is up and running.

You can now test it for .com and .net.  Afilias also has a pilot for .info.

Kevin Murphy over at DomainIncite sub-headed earlier today that “Verisign and Afilias have become the first two gTLD registries to start publicly testing a replacement for Whois.”

Read Kevin’s article here.

As mentioned by Kevin, the output is in JSON format on the Verisign pilot. So you may want to install a JSON formatter browser extension in order to make sense of the presented data.

He reports the Afilias pilot is similar but does not currently have a friendly web interface.

I agree with Kevin. I think its fairly safe to say that RDAP is going to replace Whois soon.

Reflecting back to 2009 – dotMobi, ICANN 36, Korea DMZ

Wow it’s hard to believe we shot this video EIGHT years ago this week inside the DMZ looking over to the border with North Korea, while attending the ICANN 36 meeting.

Not sure if the same would be attempted today, or if one could now even venture to where we stood.

Some things have remained the same. Dr. Evil is still in control over there.

Other things have changed.

Most, if not all of my former colleagues and the original folks at .mobi have moved on, professionally.

At the time of launch in 2006, and in late 2009 when this video was shot, a ton of web content looked like crap on mobile devices. Even on the iPhone—at least at first.

It was envisioned that content hosted on a mobile TLD (.mobi) web address would indicate that such content was utilizing W3C approved best practices to ensure a good user experience on mobile web-enabled devices, regardless of the handset or the network operator being used.

There was considerable effort to launch a solution featuring the .mobi TLD.  The TLD was originally financially backed by Google, Microsoft, Nokia, Samsung, Ericsson, Vodafone, T-Mobile, Telefónica Móviles, Telecom Italia Mobile, Orascom Telecom, GSM Association, Hutchison Whampoa, Syniverse Technologies, and Visa.

We all were wowed in 2007 when Steve Jobs pinched and zoomed in on the front page of the New York Times when first introducing the original iPhone.  A .mobi “button” seemed to be on the horizon.

Nope. That didn’t happen.

That kind of lousy user experience didn’t last long—and unfortunately long term demand for .mobi web addresses waned as mobile content delivering technology progressed. Content adaptation, device detection software, mobile-publishing tools and other resources are now readily available to publishers/developers.

As a result, even though there’s plenty of content that looks great on your phone or tablet today, there’s still a lot of content hosted on .com or other TLDs that still presents a lousy experience on a mobile device.

I’m continually amazed that businesses spending money on custom web sites do not pay attention to the fact that probably most of their online traffic is coming to them via a mobile device. If your site looks and works like crap on a mobile device you are going to lose business.

But that’s not a TLD problem. It’s a technology utilization and best practice problem.

DotMobi registrations peaked at a bit over 1 million registrations a few years ago. Today, although in a rather steep decline, the TLD remains with 500K registrations.

Technology disrupts. Especially in mobile. Stuff happens.

I would not trade the experience gained and the friendships made for anything.

Mobile rules the Internet today.

How solid is the customer relationship with the new gTLDs? Is any registry making decent money?

Some new domain extension (new gTLD) registry operators may be doing OK or even much better than OK despite lackluster volume. Unfortunately for more than a few, not so much.

It’s not just the number of domains under management (DUMs) that may indicate the relative health of a particular TLD registry operator and/or its future relationship and up-sell revenue potential with the end user.

Just because a new gTLD registry has 1 million+ names under management does not confidently indicate to me that they have a solid long term relationship with the majority of their end user customers, and thus solid prospects for long-term continued recurring renewal revenue.

Cases in point: Some of the top 10 selling new gTLDs have average create terms of just barely over 1 year.  Like 1.01 and 1.02 years.

That means they are going to have to work even harder and spend money or giveaway a lot of marketing dollars/incentives to keep that business at renewal time—and hopefully for more than a few dollars per name year.

I’d bet that barely 6 months after selling a 1 year create they have to start thinking about how they are going to get renewals in place. In my mind this takes management/investor focus away from developing a proper name product that demonstrates value to the customer, and that has decent margins for everyone involved in the value chain, vs. having to focus on short term domain renew goals and bother the hell out of registrars and others down the line.

Sure some have reported decent renewal rates. But we’ve heard frank comments coming from experienced operators recently warning to expect lackluster renewals in the coming months.

It’s not easy out there in the new gTLD name space. But you already knew that.

So what other metrics can one use to measure the relative health of a particular new gTLD and prospects for long term relationships with their end users?

One metric I look for is Average Term in order to estimate Total Name Years under management—then at what average net wholesale price per name year after all rebates/credits/free name years/marketing etc. are taken into account.

Unfortunately most registry operators do not publish such metrics for a variety of reasons. However if you dig around a bit sometimes you can find data points to help you do the reverse math to get some idea how someone might be doing.

I submit that there are new gTLDs with seemingly insignificant numbers that may be making decent money from a registry operator standpoint, although on the surface their low DUMs number might make it look like their staff is just wasting time converting oxygen into CO2.

For example, there is in fact a new gTLD registry operator with a little over 9,000 DUMs that might not look like a long-term player at first glance based on that number alone, but appears to be banking decent revenue.

According to NameStat this registry operator has an Average Term for all those names equalling just slightly greater than 8 years, the highest of all the new gTLDs. So doing the math it indicates they have about 72,000 name years under management.

If a new gTLD registry has an average term that is 1.25 years or greater then something is going well.

Unless they are giving away multi-year registration or renewal terms for zero or little change then I submit they may be doing well with direct B2B sales to actual end users willing to pay upfront for much longer terms than the average domainer. Of course some registrars may default their GA create offers to 2 years and that can also be a factor.

I dug further.

This operator is largely selling direct at ~$430.00 retail per name year in the mid-range of their pricing/service offers. The lowest retail price product is $185 retail per name year.

Yep you read that right.

There are also extra one-time service fees on top of the registration fees, and even charges for periodic changes to registration information.

Impossible you say?

OK. I did notice they were giving away some extra name years that can apply to a second name registration if you purchased or renewed a certain minimum term to start. If you only apply the lowest retail fee they are offering, which appears to be $185 per year and multiply by the average term of ~8 years, there’s potential for $13,320,000 in upfront direct retail sales revenue with no pressure to have to worry about renewals for nearly a decade.  And that’s still not including mandatory service charges and other fees.

Not too shabby.

Which guys with less than 10,000 DUMs are possibly getting those kinds of numbers? Well, it is a Chinese IDN that is mostly selling direct.

An IDN???  Are you kidding???

Nope.

A Chinese IDN that’s very restrictive. In fact more restrictive than many ccTLDs.

It’s .商标 (DOT SHANGBIAO). Translated to English it’s the “trademark” domain.

It’s first come, first served, but they apply a serious validation process. Within China there is 2-layer authentication, where the registrant must first pass the registry’s real name registrant authentication (real name verification) and then a trademark verification process.

Over 90% of the registrants are from within China. The rest are foreign registrants doing business in China. (e.g. Gucci, Starbucks).

trademark web site home page

The registry operator is Huyi Global Information Resources (Holding) Company Hong Kong Ltd. They also have offices in Beijing and Guangzhou, China. The parent company has deep experience in directory services, intellectual property protection services and B2B trading platforms in China. They’ve got more than 200 trademark service companies working with them right now to help sell DOT SHANGBIAO domain names…presumably for multi-year registration terms mainly via two Huyi controlled registrars.

I recently corresponded with Walter Wu, the President of the registry operation. He’s a soft-spoken and long-time industry friend of mine.

Walter is no stranger to the domain name business.  He was co-founder of China Springboard, which provided managed DNS, online advertising, domain name investment and online media development services leveraging direct navigation. He also was founder and President of NameRich, one of the early leading pioneers in the China domain aftermarket.

Walter Wu dot Trademark in Hong Kong_psE1
Walter Wu, President .商标 (dot ShangBiao) Registry

I asked Walter: “Why do you feel that enterprises are starting to purchase IDN’s? And in particular why do you think they are purchasing [your TLD] .商标?”

He opined “…IDNs provide an opportunity to let an enterprise use their core brand name for their online entrance.”

He added: “…before the IDNs launched, Chinese users could only use their indirect brand name (maybe in Chinese pinyin, or maybe their English name). But those types of names are not easily remembered by Chinese users. IDNs provide the solution for Chinese brand owners to use their core brand name as their domain name which is easily remembered in 3 seconds by customers. Recently the value of traffic is very high. SEM costs too much to get the traffic for enterprises. So applying the IDN, it’s easily remembered. Expanding the IDN direct type-in traffic is a good best practice for Chinese enterprises.”

Do the math and you can start getting a feeling for the potential by selling just a couple of thousand new names per year with an average term of 8 years.

If you take a look at NameStat you will find that as of today 8 of the top 10 new gTLDs (ordered by average term length) are Chinese IDNs. The only exceptions are .MMA (a brand TLD) and .CODES (a Donuts TLD).

I caution that just because a TLD has a high average term it does not necessarily indicate a particular level of revenue, or that they have a solid long term relationship with their end users. It is theoretically possible that some TLDs are assigning inventory to certain registrars for extended terms at lower costs to later resell to end users. However in the case of DOT SHANGBIAO this is not possible due to the registration restrictions.

In conclusion, yes it seems that some new gTLD operators are making decent money. It appears to me that direct B2B sales can work for some new gTLDs depending upon the domain product and access to a related database of customers.  Designing a TLD registry operation business plan so that sales organizations sell high average term lengths at decent margins will enable management to focus on new customer acquisition growth and product innovation vs. spending dollars and time to convince registrants to renew year after year at insanely slim price points and margins.

It appears that Huyi and .商标 (DOT SHANGBIAO) are able to leverage customer relationships that already exist in the value chain and offer an extremely restricted domain product that customers are willing to spend thousands of dollars for upfront—and use. The long term relationship will enable future potential to expose other complimentary services to the customer base.

 

 

The Great Domain Correction of 2017?

There were only 1.8 million registered .com names when I joined the NSI (Network Solutions) Marketing Team in the summer of 1998. ICANN was formed just a few months later.

By the time we were acquired by Verisign in June of 2000 there were roughly 14 million names in the .com database. I recall predictions that one day there would be 100 million registered .com names. Some thought that was a craaaazy number and wanted to know what we were smoking.

To me achieving that number seemed possible, but that it might take a decade or more. The market then paused for a few years. Looking back it was incredible buying opportunity for those that understood the long term value of good generic keywords in the form of .com names. Today Verisign manages roughly 128 million registered .com names.

Relative to today’s lean operations at many domain registries and registrars, it’s hard to believe that back in 1998-2000, with a monopoly position and .com practically selling itself, NSI employed 50+ people on the marketing team pumping out the .com message day and night.  Messaging that included how .com could be used with this incredible “killer app” called “email” where you could have an address such as mary@flowers.com instead of marysflowers582@aol.com.

Now it seems that some TLDs are at a growth pause or experiencing negative growth, particularly in the cases of some new gTLDs that were heavily promoted in China, or where promo deals were done with greater China area registrars. I don’t need to call them out. You know who they are.  

Today’s market and regulatory conditions surrounding the creation and trading of domain names is quite different from market conditions that existed in the past. The China bubble has burst and the free-to-nearly-free domain create promos don’t seem to have worked. 

Some registry and registrar operators seem to have never adjusted to the new realities, or figured out how to leverage all the incredible data, tools, and experienced human intelligence available to them today vs. relatively little that was available to us 15-20 years ago, not to mention common business sense.

Some registry operators have latched on to a PR huckster type of introduction to the Chinese market that might please inexperienced applicants and domain name investors at first, but does little to demonstrate value compared to .com or the local ccTLD (such as .cn) and how to achieve scaled up real business and end-user utilization of a particular TLD via the registrar channel.

I’m not immune to this and have learned tough lessons via my personal and business experiences in China over the years. Sometimes the best way to gain traction in a foreign market is to say as little as possible publicly and really learn how the market and culture operate before you press on with operations, marketing and sales.

Especially for China. China is HARD.

You will not be successful there, as a foreign registry operator, at a minimum, unless you understand that you will likely lose money or barely break even for several years and are prepared to deal with that reality. You must be in it for the long term. Long term, at a minimum, is 5 years of sweating it out (flying back and forth on a near monthly basis) before things *might* work out.

Over the short to medium term the domain industry is likely to shed inefficient registry and registrar operators and investors, especially some of those who banked on new domain extensions (new gTLDs) that have no real consumer traction—which are many— and can no longer, or are just unwilling, to fund the basic holding/operating costs, let alone fund any marketing team or person.

For sure there is an easily foreseen correction—if not outright registration numbers recession—going on right now for some in the domain industry. Perhaps a short growth pause for .com and some ccTLDs, but their long term outlook to me is strong (same for some generic IDNs) as they do not need explaining to their primary target markets.

nTLDstats for WP post
Above graphic added February 2018. Source: http://www.ntldstats.com

In case you didn’t read the latest Verisign Domain Name Industry Brief, the 294 ccTLDs make up about a 43% share of total global domain registrations, with the top 10 ccTLDs composing nearly 65% of the overall ccTLD count.  This has been rather consistent over the last 8 years, nudging from about 40% of the total market in 2009 to today’s 43%.

By comparison, the roughly 1,224 new gTLDs have only managed to capture about 7.7% of the overall global domain registration total, with the top 10 new gTLDs composing 64% of the total count—and that top 10 list is likely to shift around a bit in the coming months.

In May of 2013 I posted my thoughts on Zone file size of the average new open gTLD in 2016 and stated:

“…if applicants, the channel, and the industry as a whole do a bang-up job educating, marketing and selling their value props through existing and new channels—essentially hit the ball out of the park—we could see the global market share for new gTLDs in aggregate reach 18% by the end of 2016. I mean they/we/you would have to *kill* it to get to that point. That would be an achievement that means at least three times better performance in 3 years than what the legacy sponsored TLDs have achieved in the past 12 years.”

It is clear now that the new gTLD industry has not “killed” it.

Don’t get me wrong. There is money to be made with non .com TLDs depending upon your portfolio size, function and purpose to the industry. Even in China. There will continue to be plenty of opportunity there, and risk. (Disclosure: I provide consulting services to registry operators doing business in China or that have China on their radar.)

I think some new gTLD portfolio holders and backends are in a position to take advantage of the situation if they can carefully manage expenses for the next two years and don’t bet the farm on China. This includes ICANN, that may need to shed some personnel as a result of what may be “The Great Domain Correction of 2017.”

Last, I’m thinking some domain types that had dollar signs in their eyes just a few short years ago may be now wishing they invested the same funds into bitcoin!

Speaking of bitcoin, its status in 2017 reminds me of .com in 1998. It’s a relatively new digital asset that sells itself and appears to be enjoying rapid traction in a relatively unregulated “wild west” type of market. The “killer app” seems to be the blockchain and big time household names are paying attention. It doesn’t need much of a marketing team and the general public still doesn’t quite understand its future significance. 

Baidu is now using TLD Registry, Ltd.’s fully Chinese domain extensions.

Chinese search engine giant Baidu has started using TLD Registry, Ltd.’s Chinese IDN TLDs with 百度.在线 (“BaiduOnline”) and 百度.中文网 (“BaiduWebsite”) with no redirects.

Baidu is reported to be the world’s 8th largest internet company by revenue, and 4th overall in the Alexa Internet rankings.

This is another milestone for TLD Registry.

Earlier this year it secured one of the most vital pieces to running a successful domain business in China: full accreditation with the state agency of the Chinese government that regulates the Internet from within China – The Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT).

This was huge news for the company, and the MIIT accreditation has resulted in big changes for how .在线 (Dot Chinese Online) and .中文网 and (Dot Chinese Website) are marketed, sold, and used in China.

In addition to Baidu, other large global foreign brands and businesses are beginning to adopt the aforementioned Chinese domain extensions and put them into use as they aim to diversify their digital marketing strategies and take advantage of the e-commerce boom in China.