Afilias' specialized technology makes Internet addresses more accessible and useful through a wide range of applications, including Internet domain registry services, Managed DNS and award-winning mobile Web services.
Almost exactly nine years ago, the .INFO domain first started accepting registrations. This was an historic event as it was the first time a new generic top level domain (TLD) was launched to an existing domain marketplace and, in fact, was the first new TLD to be added since .com. We’ve seen (and provided technology to power) many other TLD launches since then, with many business models. As you seek to introduce your own new TLD however, you should carefully evaluate the different launch models that have been tried before and determine which one will work best for your specific TLD.
All new TLDs will require some form of trademark protection to ensure that Intellectual Property (IP) holders’ rights can be protected prior to live, public registrations. Afilias has implemented a number of different types of trademark protection plans from pre-registration without trademark verification, to those with extensive application and verification processes. We’ve seen the best success with a very focused trademark pre-registration period that has clear trademark parameters and works with a known trademark verification agent to weed through all of the submissions. We also recommend that all registries lock pre-registered trademark domains for up to 60 days following their registration award to allow for any potential UDRP claims that IP owners may wish to file.
Landrush will be the most critical time for your TLD as it places the heaviest load on the technical registry system. We’ve seen in excess of 300,000 names coming in through initial landrush opening minutes, so you want to be very careful about who you select as your registry partner. You should make sure that their registry has been tested to withstand a significant landrush load.
In addition, you will have to make some policy decisions about how you want landrush to work. In almost all cases you should avoid pre-registration fees with a “chance” at getting your name. These can be viewed as lottery-based systems that can subject your organization to new legal restrictions. We highly recommend that clients not charge for applications, but only for awarded names.
Regardless, you need to decide if you will open the floodgates all at once, or if you want to have multiple, specialized application periods (see below) in advance of the “public” opening.
Premium Names and Auctions
In recent years TLDs like .info, .mobi, .asia and .me have seen good success by reserving premium names, which are highly desirable generic or category terms. In .info’s case, we reserved a number of country domains and have awarded them for use by their respective governments (some great examples are spain.info and germany.info). Other TLDs have used reserved name lists for auctions following landrush.
Premium or other reserved names can fit well into your new TLDs strategy, particularly if you will be representing a certain category or key community where they will present more value. An auction approach helps to raise the price, and therefore perceived value of these names, and can help put your registry on a sound financial footing more quickly.
If auctions are not to your taste, other domains have also seen success by simply launching a period where interested users can respond to a “request for proposal” with a business and launch plan for a highly desirable name. As a registry, you can offer additional promotion, partnerships or advertising to help assist with the launch of these sites, which can also act as great brand ambassadors for your fledgling TLD.
Each new TLD will have its own priorities. However, at the end of the day, you need a plan that will get lots of names into your target market quickly, generate awareness of your TLD (so it will be viewed as a legitimate place to visit by Internet users), and demonstrate actual use in the market (i.e. real sites and e-mail). Your launch plan is critical to establishing these building blocks quickly. If you are not a TLD expert, consider teaming up with someone who has been there before.