‘dot brands’ are the next big thing in domains names yet very few businesses know what they are about. Learn the ins and out in this podcast.
In episode forty of the podcast I chat to Shaun LeCornu from Slam Strategy about some big changes happening in the domain name space that many businesses owners aren’t aware of. Shaun is passionate about this subject and has lots of great information and insights to share.
- What is a ‘gTLD’?
- What is this ‘dotbrand’ thing that we’ve been hearing a bit about?
- At $185k + $25k/year, these new gtlds are not cheap. What are some of the ways that brands are going to get their money’s worth?
- Those prices will put this option out of reach for most small businesses, but what are some of the effects that these domains could have on the wider online business world?
- Will smaller businesses get an opportunity to get involved with things like a .adelaide domain?
- What will be the SEO impact?
- Shaun’s website
- Shaun’s Twitter Profile
- Shaun’s Facebook Profile
- Shaun on Google +
- Slam Strategy on Google +
- Shaun’s LinkedIn Profile
- Slam Strategy’s gTLD information website
[spoiler title=”Transcription” open=”0″ style=”1″]
Nick: Good day everyone. My name is Nick Morris and welcome back to the Web Marketing Adelaide podcast. Today, we are talking about the dot brand revolution. We’ve got a special guest with us, Shaun Le Cornu from Slam Strategy. Good day, Shaun. Welcome to the show.
Shaun: Good day Nick. Good day everybody. How are you?
Nick: Good , thanks. How are you doing?
Shaun: Busy, very busy.
Nick: It’s always the way especially in this space, as we were just talking before the show. It’s very fast moving and always lots going on but let’s lunge into the – before we get into the topic for today, how about you just tell us a little bit about yourself and about your business, Slam Strategy?
Shaun: My name is Shaun Le Cornu. I’m the CEO of Slam Strategy and the Founder. I’ve been in this industry since 1998. I was formerly working for my family’s business, which, if you are South Australian, you would know it quite well, look on your furniture. And I was with them for 20 odd years and developed an online strategy for the company and we generated about $7,000,000 a year from that, which was great. I got to play with some very cool and fun internet tools while working for them, which has now put me into the fortunate position of being able to gain lots of experience. So, then the company sells the business and then I started up Slam Strategy and now I provide internet strategy solutions for businesses based on that knowledge that I’ve gained from that 20 years.
Nick: Awesome, great. Good introduction. So, the topic for today as I said, is dot brand revolution and I think a lot of business owners perhaps may have been vaguely aware of this new thing with top level domains in the news but they probably don’t really have a good idea about it. So, that’s what we are talking about today, what it’s all about and how’s it gonna impact business owners and you’ve got 6 points on your white board there and I think it’s best if we perhaps go through each of those points, so we can get a real sense of what it’s all about. So, what was your first point you got up there Shaun?
Shaun: What is the first one I’ve got there? To give a bit of background, we all know, if you don’t know what a domain or top level domain is, that is .com .gov .net. They are considered top level domains. There’s also a country code top level domains like .com.au and those sort of things, so there is roughly 22 top level domains that have been in industry for quite a while and these were set up by a company called I Can, which the stewards of the internet established by the U.S. Government. Yes, the internet is run by the U.S. Government, that’s right and I Can, which is the Internet Corporation For Assigned Names And Numbers, they have been working on a plan to develop the whole internet for a long, long time now. They started it out with the .com’s that we know then .net and now, I think it was June 2011, they released the successful program to allow businesses into these two to own their own slice of the internet. So, what that means, is, especially in terms of businesses, is that you are now going to be able to own your own trademark on the internet, so that’s what a top level domain is. I think that pretty much explains it. Do you want anymore, data you’d like on that, do you think, for the business?
Nick: No, I think that intros it pretty well. We’re sort of clear on that. We are talking about, as you said that .coms and that the dot something happens at the end of your domain.
Shaun: Yeah, for instance it might be dot nike, it might be dot Ferrari, it might be dot Toshiba.
Nick: Absolutely. It’s obviously got to make a pretty big difference to what people are used to, where, you know, where, in Australia we’re often looking to the dot com, dot au’s and more generated dot coms and now, we’re going to be seeing dot brand, which is going to be quite a different space to be in. It could be really interesting to see how it develops.
Shaun: It is gonna be very interesting, especially for the brands because for the first time they’re actually going to be able to control internet policy for their own trademark, whereas, if they were Ferrari.com they would be under the rules and regulations of .com, where under this and what’s most important for any trademark holder, is it, they need to have control of their trademark on the internet that is part of why 60% of the nearly 2,000 applications that went in, were for brand. Now, this isn’t for just any brand to get involved with.
In fact, they created a window for the applications to happen, of which that ended in March 2012, I think it was and that window allowed people to apply but you first of all you had to have a $185,000 just for the application fee and then there is the ongoing cost. So, each one of these is about half a million dollars a part. Now, besides the brands, they are what they call generics and really the top level domains that we are talking to guys about, I really broke it into two main categories and hopefully I’m not gonna lose people in this conversation but this two main categories is what they call an open, top level domains and closed top level domains.
Now, the difference between the two, is that your .com’s are what you’d call an open, meaning that anybody, the general public can apply to own a sub-domain or a second level domain name of that top level domain, so it can be shaunlecornu.com. It could be Ferrari.com but with the closed top level domains, which are basically the vast majority of those are for brands, that is purely for internal purposes. The brands are not going to be selling those domain names. I mean, there’s no point in selling a domain name of a brand, that’s why they’ve structured it and it also enables them to maintain that control.
So, besides the dot Ferraris that you’ll see, there is also going to be top level you know open ones like dot pizza or dot love or dot church, a whole range of domain names that the brands also need to consider because some of these extensions are actually relevant to their industry, for instance if you are a chemist, there’s going to be dot pharmacy. If you are in a fashion industry, there is going to be dot fashion, so you need to understand how that’s going to impact on your business and what you need to do to prepare for that because this is considered to be the greatest change to the internet since the creation of the internet itself. Why? It’s debatable because on the one side, you’ve got – that’s another one of our topics up there. Why is that on one side, you’ve got a whole pile of the people saying, why do we need them? We’ve got .com, we’ve got .gov. We’ve got all of those things out here, why do we need all these other extensions? This is just a ploy by big business to capitalize on the market and to further sink their teeth into making more money and I can understand that.
With my background being in retail and franchise and internet strategy, I can say that there is also a huge amount of opportunity here and part of that reason is that, as a consumer, when I type something into the internet, I am looking for something and that word that I type in, I’m expecting relevant results to come back that are going to satisfy whatever my search query is about. So, I am trying to look for groofing I suppose, so if I’m looking for pizza, I’m looking for something to do with pizza, so the natural thought process for me would be that if a company has a dot pizza, then they’re one, they’re up to date with what is happening in online space. So, they’re more likely to be able to satisfy my request for an online question but they are also in the right genre.
Take Eagle Boys for an instance, now if you don’t know who Eagle Boys pizza is, who’s Eagle Boys? If I came up with a search result for a split second there, my subconscious is not necessarily going to identify Eagle Boys as being a relevant search term, where as Pizza Haven, dot pizza for instance, automatically straight away in that split second, I’m gonna be able to identify with that company. When you’re talking about things on the internet, we are talking about percentages, 1%, 2%. There is so much information that’s out there and you’d know this yourself you are an internet man, you can be out by an inch and be out by a mile in the internet space and so that’s why this top level domains names is gonna be so important and you’d know this yourself, you’re an internet man, you can be out by an inch , and be out by a mile in the internet space and so that’s why, these top level domain names are going to be so important. And you know for a brand, this is gonna be the most absolute cheapest, cost effective way for them to be able to gain branding exposure.
If you are an Australian brand or a global brand for instance and it doesn’t have to be that but let’s say you are one of those, think of those what medium you have available to you in order to build your brand. The first thing that comes to mind, is the internet, so being able to brand yourself on the internet as a dot brand gives you that percentage of extra brand recognition and control that you didn’t have before. I can think of a brand comes to mind that I won’t I mentioned at the moment, I can think of a brand that they have their franchise company, they have, I think it’s about 1,300 franchise stores in about 30 countries around the world. Now, each of those franchise stores they have a website, each of those websites has a different domain name. There is no consistency with that domain name structure and the brand is freaking out because they don’t know how to control this whole internet space. Now, if they, all of those franchises were under their brand, so it might be store and Guanelle, whatever it is dot brand, if that franchise closes or if something changes, they have complete control over that where as, at the moment, they don’t even know what domain names these franchises have got, they’re using , so these brands, this franchises could go rouge and they can bad mouth. There are examples of franchises that have done that. I’m not saying that‘s the whole motivation for doing this but a brand needs to maintain their control.
Nick: It’s interesting. It definitely seems like it’s gonna be really targeted towards people obviously, as you say, trying to control their brand and how their brand’s viewed in the marketplace and specifically the franchise thing where, as is it now, as you say, there’s lots of independent franchises with their different websites and so there’s very little control going on. I definitely can see how having that control with your dot brand there.
Shaun: Really what on, I wouldn’t say the elephant in the room but really, the thing that this is all really based around on the internet is Google. Fundamentally, between 85 and 90% of all search online is done using Google and that is changing as some of the other platforms like Bing and Get Up speed but by far, the strongest platform is Google. So, all of this is irrelevant unless Google happens to be doing something and they are. In fact, they have patented the algorithm to include the ranking for top level domain names, previously there was the perception that a dot com would be more likely to show up higher in the search results than say a dot net or dot moby and on that basis a dot com .au was more likely to show up than a dot com because a com.au is for Australia.
Well, that’s changing and the impact that is going to have includes Google Adwords and a whole and obviously, search engine optimization, so businesses need to be aware about that because obviously, there are millions of dollars that’s invested into coming up on those search results and if you’re not on the front page of Google as any search engine person will tell you, you are invisible basically because most people will be in that space. Now, actually on that note with dot com.au, cities have also applied for their top level domain, so there’s going to be a dot New York and more importantly for Australia is it, there’s going to be a dot Sydney and a dot Melbourne. Now, if I’m looking for a hotel in Sydney, then somebody who has www.getawayhotels.sydney, it is going to come up higher in the search results than a what a dot com.au for a hotelsydney.com than a dot com.au is going to, purely because they are basing it on the fact that a dot Sydney is more likely to be relevant to a Sydney search than a dot com.au is to be to a Sydney search.
There is still a argument and debate over that because they say, well and your optimization people out there would say well, it’s all about relevance. Google said it’s all about what’s the most relevant site and that what’s comes up in search results and my argument and this is irrelevant of what Google does or doesn’t say is if you have two websites that are absolutely identical in every respect, the content’s the same, the content’s updated at the same time but the only thing that’s different between those two websites is the domain name. The more relevant domain name will appear higher in those search results and that’s the way Google wants it to be and Google themselves have applied for over 100 top level domain names, so that says something.
Nick: Obviously I care about it there. Being an SEO myself, the SEOs is gonna impact this year’s because [Audio breaks 00:18:18] very interesting for me and it would be interesting to see once they get on to the marketplace and start being used, how it impacts that, what Google’s going to be doing with that and also it’s interesting that…
Shaun: It’s actually up on my Facebook site. There is actually an article from Matt Cupps, who is, he’s the man and I refer to an article that he’s done regarding this exact topic so check that out.
Nick: Awesome, I’ll link to that on the show for this episode from the website, if anyone wants to check that one out. Yeah, so obviously Google are taking note as you’ve said. They’ve patented a process for including this in their algorithm and also applying for their own things themselves and also, it’s interesting to know that there’s been a bit of a progression lately within SEO anyway, towards more of a branded approach, giving more way to brands on the internet, as opposed to say, keywords rich domains or exact match domains it’s known as. I can see the dot brands certainly impacting that and also we aren’t talking about dot Sydney, that’s basically a brand in itself.
Shaun: That’s right.
Nick: I can see how this fits in an overall picture as well. Let’s sort of change tact a little bit and think about how, obviously most businesses or most smaller to medium sized businesses are not going to able to afford the $180,000 or so or even up to half million for the whole process as you mentioned, to get one of this domains but we were talking about these ones like the dot city ones. How can the smaller businesses like the hotels for instance be taking advantage of these? Are they gonna be, is it going to be a city sort of an organization that’s looking after those and distribute them to people who want them? How is it gonna work?
Shaun: It will be the same process as what happens now for you to purchase dot com.au, so you go to a registrar like Go Daddy or Melvin IT or any of the other registrars out there and you’ll apply for a domain name. They will have a list of all of the domain names available and you just type in what it is that you’re after and you go through the normal process and that fundamentally won’t change. So, what there will be though, will be far more choice. The argument that there’s already 22 and some of them, many of them are not full at all but the thinking for me is that the choice doesn’t go far enough. It’s one thing to have 22 top level domains to choose from and its quite another to have 1000 domain names to choose from.
There is even Google applied for dot LOL, that’s a strange one. There’s even dot socks, so you can imagine what this is going to create and the idea from I Can, was to create diversity, it was to create thought, it was to create creativity in the internet space that they believed was not there and a lot of the negativity is definitely coming from the domainers, people who have bought up lots of dot coms that they then put on sale for a profit and the last thing they want to see is dot com becoming less relevant because that’s obviously gonna affect their cash flow.
Nick: Yeah, that’s good that you mentioned that, a question that just occurred to me, what these domainers think of this change. I wonder if do you think it’s actually gonna have a massive impact on their business model or do you think it would maybe a slow…?
Shaun: Look, yeah. I’m an optimist, so I’m progressive for change and I would like to see more diversity and part of what I’m doing out there as a passionate person for this is trying to speed up that process. The official word from people in the industry is that it is going to take a long time for this things to take effect and part of that is because if you are ranking your dot com or dot com.au and then suddenly you change the domain name, well that’s gonna affect your rankings so people are going to be hesitant to be changing that so there will be a transition phase for those who are looking at transitioning but they believe that the vast majority of purchases will be new people who are just looking for their first domain or they are looking for new domain name for whatever reasons.
That’s gonna be something that happens over time because largely 95% of the population are not even aware that this whole thing is happening. It doesn’t affect their daily lives at the moment but as soon as they see those rankings get affected, they gonna start asking some questions to why that is happening. I really believe that the success of the entire domain name industry for these new top level domains is going to be largely up to the brands who have gone and purchased who are purchasing their own trademark as a top level domain and the reason behind that is because well, first of all, they’ve invested half a million dollars plus at least $50,000 a year to maintain it, so there’s an ongoing investment there. So, any brand, any business, the objective is whatever you invest in, you want a return on that investment. So, these brands are not gonna be any different.
Initially many of them purchase these top level domains from a security point of view in a defensive registration because they wanted to make sure that lets say if United Airlines for instance, they wanted to try and secure their dot united in case one of their opposition or another trademark did. This inherent issues and all of that if United were going to the political side of registering of top level domain names but there are those brands out there that would hate to see their global trademark that they’ve invested millions and millions of dollars in suddenly be owned by another entity that they have absolutely no control over. So, many of them invested just because they felt they had to but the advantage that they got is that they also have huge databases of existing clients, existing customers so for them it’s a matter of educating the customers about you know “Hey we’ve got a new domain name.”
You’ll see going down on a bus a big sign talking about Loreal or Tiffany or even IFL or INZEB, to bring something home. IFL has applied for their own top level domain name, so is Channel 7. They have applied for their own top level domain name. So, you’re going to start to see these domain names now appearing in advertising material that they’re using to their customers and also to show a point of difference between them and their competition . So, the open domain names like dot LOL and dot pizza, they don’t have that database with which they can educate people. So they are largely looking at people just to start asking questions and educating themselves. Where as the brands, they’ve have got you know everybody. You know everybody is a fan of a brand somewhere along the line.
Once they start getting involved with their advertising and promotion and their education process about, hey we’ve got a dot Tiffany and anything that happens under dot tiffany is a real dot, you know it’s a real product. Nike for instance, how many people want to buy a pair of authentic Nike shoes? Well, part of the program that Nike and all brands are going to use is, if it doesn’t end in our brands, then it’s not us and that’s a way of being able to identify a real website that has the legitimate product from someone whose doing copies and it’s sub-quality product.
Nick: Great. Yeah. Fantastic. Let’s just talk a little bit about timing. So where are we at now in terms of timing. How long until we might start seeing these top level domains out there?
Shaun: That would be the win. Okay, so these top level domain names are now going through the approval process and there’s various stages that they have to go through, in order to get approval. In fact, if you go to www.gtod.net.au that is the web site that we’ve set up that is dedicated specifically to top level domain names. Understanding the process, how to apply the agreements and everything that’s there, you’ll find it on that site. There is some information that needs to be updated on there, because the space is constantly changing but if any of the readers want to get some more information about it, it’s there.
If any of them want to apply, they can’t at the moment. They haven’t done a second round, although they say they will be but we are expecting that in the third quarter of this year, that they would start getting approved and you’ll start seeing that advertising starting to happen and it’s gonna be very, very, very interesting. Huge opportunities for those people who get involved early, whether it be, an example is virgin when xxx was listed Virgin, Richard Brandson went and defensively registered www.virgin.xxx because he didn’t want that to affect his business and his trademark.
Businesses who haven’t applied and don’t have these top level domains, they need to be thinking about what ones can they apply for that they can use to add value to their business but what ones should they be registering as well to defensively register against somebody who might purchase it to use it for their own purpose that could be negative to their business. So, there is a few things there that they can look at and there is, I Can has set up a trademark clearing house, which is where brands can go to, to apply before these domain names are released to the public, they can apply to have defensive registrations before hand of these top level domain names and secure that space for them, so yeah interesting.
Nick: I Can, have they given an indication as to when there might be another round? I thought I heard a 5 year?
Shaun: Basically, they’ve said look, we can only process 500 applications a year maximum and though that could change they haven’t said it would, so if there is 15,000 applications, assuming that there’s no problem, there’s no contentions, there’s no political issues, that would take 3 years Now, if there is problems then that could take longer because for instance for dot app, there were, I believe 11 companies that applied to register dot app.
They have to go through a process of first of all being approved by I Can but then those that did get approval, they then have to either negotiate amongst themselves and if unsuccessful in that negotiation, they then have to go to an auction and then that will come down to he who has the most money wins. One company by the name of Donuts, they registered for 307, I believe top level domain names, all open, all for people to purchase from but they’re in contention with many companies including Amazon and others who have also applied for some of these.
Nick: Interesting. So, there could be quite a process before we see another round later on the other track?
Shaun: 3 to 5 years I think it’s safe.
Nick: I was thinking along the lines of when might we see a dot adelaide coming out there. Who would be responsible for actually doing the application for Adelaide? Would it be Adelaide, the city of Adelaide or…?
Shaun: It would probably the council would approve it or say for instance, I will accompany does, our company helps organizations to apply for top level domain names and I could apply for a top level domain name myself. When you get involved with something like a domain name that involves Government, you need to have approval from the Government in order to do that and it would be more of something that you worked in conjunction and when the applications were open, I’m kicking myself from the foot now for not contacting the Adelaide City Councilor about applying for it.
Now that I know that Sydney and Melbourne – because the thing is when nobody knew who was applying for what. Some had come out and publicly said hey look you know we are registering dot Toshiba or whatever it might be but many kept it quiet and you know it was only through walking the hallways that you would find out about some of these things.
Nick: Yeah, I guess that I’m also contributed to the defensive position thing you were talking about before, if no one really knew who was registering what, there would been a lot of, we better get this before someone else might be thinking of getting it.
Shaun: Well, yes they don’t the money is out.
Nick: And yeah then I’ve got, on top of the perhaps 3 to 5 year period until they can actually catch up so doubly bad if I get on top of it. That pretty much brings me to the end of the questions I have on this topic.
Thanks very much for joining us on the show Shaun. You are probably the best person to talk to this about this topic. Obviously, you have quite a lot of knowledge and passion for it so it’s really good that we’ve come to you for this particular topic. Where can people – sorry go on.
Shaun: I just got to say there is one more interesting thing that I did want to tell the viewers about which I think it’s gonna be very relevant and especially in terms of the brands, is that now that the brands are going to own their own trademark, there is the possibility that they are going to offer to their customers, a personalized web space experience for their customer. So, it could be shaunlecornu.ferari, shaunlecornu.tiffany, shaunlecornu.inz and they would then provide a tailored web space.
If you do internet banking for instance, your internet banking profile would be tailored around what you do on the internet more so than it is now. How that’s all gonna transpire exactly, the brands aren’t really aware of. They don’t know how exactly how they’re going to use that but that is something definitely that if you are a fan of a brand, that you will, for an instance IFL you may be able to go and have your name dot IFL and that may entitle you to certain benefits that you would only get as a dot IFL member.
Nick: Yeah, the more we talk about the topic you just, there are so many more avenues that you open up and it’s only gonna get more, I guess, after you get in there. I mean just on the air, the final point. I guess all the teams are gonna want their team names dot IFL that fans with a sub domain than with perhaps fan club name to IFL. So many possibilities but I think we’ll leave I tthere for today. I’ll put the links that you mentioned both, the [Inaudible 0038:52] so was it GTLD.net.au for your website?
Shaun: GTLD.net.au. If anyone would like to contact us on our other website , it’s www.slamstrategy.com.au or they can also find us on Facebook, Slam Strategy, twitter, Slam Strategy, You tube, Slam strategy and also Linked In, so more than happy to chat to anybody.
Nick: Awesome. You’ve obviously got your branding, your own branding there in line with the consistency there. I’ll have all the links in the show night for this episode at webmarketingadlaide.au and thanks again Shaun for joining us on this episode.
Shaun: Thank you.[/spoiler]