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Should ICANN Overturn “.brand” Domain Plans? Advertisers Think So.

Advertisers in fits over the new domain changes

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In June, Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) made a historic move to open domain name endings beyond the 20 or so that currently exist to an unlimited number. This means that the .com, .net, .org, and others that consumers are familiar with could turn into .brand in the near future.

Would you prefer to see .brand or .com going forward? What do you think?

Advertisers are outraged by ICANN’s decision and have even contacted the corporation to express their concerns about the changes. The Association of National Advertisers (ANA) is among the groups in opposition because it believes the expanded generic top-level domains (gTLD) could be harmful to brands and consumers.

“The reality is, when we looked at the ICANN report when they adopted this, their benefits that they’re expressing are purely speculative,” said Doug Wood, General Counsel for the ANA.

As he explained, the expansion of domain names has been debated since the 1990′s, even before ICANN existed. The hope was to help consumers find information more easily. ICANN believes that this move will help to solve this problem. Wood, however, told us that this problem no longer exists since search engines and technology have become so advanced.

“Consumers have no problem finding what they’re looking for on the Internet through search engine technology,” he said. “This is more of a solution looking for a problem that doesn’t exist, and the costs that will be incurred by brands and then, ultimately, pushed on to consumers… is going to be far in excess of any justifiable cause.”

The costs he is referring to involve the $185,000 that brands would have to pay to simply apply for a new domain name. Many corporations have multiple brands, which means that they would need to purchase 100s of domains. Although these high costs would likely be transferred to consumers in order to make the investment worthwhile, brands believe that they would have to consider them to prevent cyber squatting and phishing.

Wood told us that it might be different if there were a shortage of domain names, but that is not the case. He said ICANN introduced new domain names including .biz and .travel a few years ago, but that they haven’t been widely adopted. Esther Dyson, who is the former board chair of ICANN, also wrote in a piece on the Australian Broadcasting Network that there was no shortage of domain names.

She opposes the move from ICANN as well and even wrote that it didn’t have any value:

The problem is that expanding the namespace – allowing anyone to register a new TLD such as .apple – doesn’t actually create any new value. The value is in people’s heads – in the meanings of the words and the brand associations – not in the expanded namespace. In fact, the new approach carves up the namespace: the value formerly associated with Apple could now be divided into Apple.computers, apple.phone, ipod.apple, and so on. If this sounds confusing, that is because it is.

ICANN justifies their action by saying that it will create new opportunities. While Wood agrees that the new domains will do this, he said that the people who would benefit from them are domain sellers, trademark lawyers, and domain consultants.

“The bottom line is simple – the Internet has matured quite well, brands have supported it from its inception, [and] consumers have used it now to increase their choices in the marketplace,” he pointed out. “They don’t need any more TLDs to accomplish that.”

“The only thing that these new TLDs will do, from what we can see, is increase the income and opportunities for consultants,” he added.

When the ANA notified ICANN of its concerns, Wood said ICANN defended its decision based on the grounds that it had debated the topic for several years.

The ANA and other organizations such as the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) and the Direct Marketing Association (DMA) are continuing to fight the domain changes. According to Wood, they hope to create enough awareness that ICANN will reconsider its decision.

Do you think ICANN should reverse its expansion of domain names?

Should ICANN Overturn “.brand” Domain Plans? Advertisers Think So.
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  • http://www.troisj.com Jacques

    Abby, you better check quoting Dyson: “Apple.computers, apple.phone, ipod.apple…” – that is not how I understand it to be.
    Not sure if she wrote that either, as it doesn’t make sense. ‘.apple’ would be the tld (like .com), so then it would become computers.apple, phone.apple etc.? But then ipod.apple is mentioned by her. I think somewhere the punctuation got garbled.

    • http://www.webpronews.com/ Abby Johnson

      Hi Jacques,

      I pulled Dyson’s quote directly from this article: http://www.abc.net.au/technology/articles/2011/08/30/3305736.htm

      I think she was trying to make the point that the process could have many different variations and that it would be confusing either way.

  • http://CCIN.com David J Castello

    Excellent article. ICANN has a horse in this race and its name is $$$. There are two things to remember here. One is that there is basically no public demand for these new TLDs. The only ones clamoring for them are those who believe they will make a buck. Two, some of the most high profile decision makers behind the new TLDs have left ICANN to work for companies who stand to profit. While not illegal, it stinks to to the high heavens.

  • http://dashworlds.com Dashworlds

    It’s not difficult to force Internet users to pay the huge and excessive prices demanded by “supposed” monopolies like ICANN….if Internet users continue to disregard the enormous influence they possess to transform the World Wide Web.

    ICANN and their associates are a part of an infinite and evolving universe, but they’re certainly not the only choice. Alternatives are available and it’s already possible to register new Dashcom (not Dotcom) domain names like “business-com” or “social-network” or “rock-music” completely free.

    ICANN’s new gTLD program is specifically aimed to cause maximum knee-jerk reaction by large corporations who (it is fervently hoped) won’t miss a few million dollars here or there going into the pockets of a select group of ICANN salesmen.

    If we sit back and do nothing, then we cannot complain. If we sit back and do nothing, we have only ourselves to blame.

    Disclaimer: Dashworlds.com provides dashcom (not dotcom) domain names.

  • peter lovatt

    Another point…….

    This will confuse the hell out of a lot of users. I have a customer who uses a .cc His customers – educated higher management types, mostly from the finacial sector are often confused and ask if its a mistake.

    Others get confused by domains that don’t start www – questioning whether its a “normal” website.

    This is just a poinless exercise.

  • Peter C

    ICCAN is clearly just looking for more registrants and more money. Why don’t they drop all the TLDs and the silly http://www. The later isn’t required by any browsers any more anyway. If a user is using something other than Hypertext markup, (like ftp.) then they would need to type in that specific prefix; all the rest would be assumed to be http. The domain marketing industry is getting out of control and the change just feeds their greed. I have a Yahoo domain name which I paid 3.95/year in advance for 5 years. At renewal time they have increased the registration to $32.50 per year! That is insane and there is no regulatory body stopping them from price gouging. Why doesn’t ICCAN spend their time on stopping this type of practice. Also without the suffixes an entity or business would only need one domain name. No phisher is going to try and abuse a businesses or brands name if there is only one. If they can handle an infinite number of TLDs then they really don’t need them at all.

    • Beamer

      You bring up an important point. It has only been recently that Google’s brain woke up from a coma, finally realizing the http://www and http:// are the same freaking websites.

      Before this, you had to signify which way you wanted your site to be indexed and how it is listed on your sitemap. The geniuses at Google thought it intelligent to make them 2 different sites, thus causing duplicate content, penalties and other such brackish nonsense. What are they smoking over there anyways?

      One of these good old days users will get fed up with Google. Many already have. Don’t think it can happen? Think again. Gadhafi thought he would always be in power too.

  • http://www.go-tips.org/ Grey Olltwit

    Absolutely ridiculous. ICANN just want bucket loads more cash as the supposed $185,000 price tag is meant to deter cyber squatting when in fact they could just ask for proof of brand trademark registration to be able to buy such a waste of space. And as usual the poor old consumer will have to foot the bill at the end of the day, just like we bail out the banks and failing world economies, while the fat cats just get richer making money out of nothing, which is exactly what this proposal from ICANN is.

  • http://www.alternative-healing.info Robert

    If .brand were limited to the legal owner of that brand name, not a problem, same as .us is limited to U.S. citizens and corporations. Otherwise it sounds pretty stupid to me and ICANN should reverse its expansion of domain names to include .brand

  • http:promotesolution.com James K

    there are already to many useless tld’s, .brand is just another way to waste time and money

    • http://www.brighthit.com kummar

      plz view it and give Ur valuable suggestions reg the selection of the domine and the input content and the tamp lent http://alturl.com/k3zmw

      thanks kummar

  • TAG

    Despite many brands complaining about the process, many are planning to apply, and have plans to use their TLDs for good purpose. And, there is no requirement to apply. It’s relatively easy for megamultimillion dollar brands to object to any applicant who might apply for their brand.

    But .BRANDS are not the only type of TLDs that are being introduced. There are also city TLDs like .NYC, .LONDON, .VEGAS whose municipal governments wholly support the idea of creating a localized space on the web. With search behavior becoming more localized these TLDs could help local businesses focus on their target markets.

    Communities also, like .MUSIC, .GAY, .ECO are applying to create a space around their cause, interest, or lifestyle.

    Industry sectors such as .JEWELERS , .SPORT, .BIKE intend to use the TLD to appeal to their constituents.

    There are also TLDs in internationalized characters or IDNs so that Russian, or Arabic users can access websites without having to switch to the Latin script.

    Thousands of new businesses come online every single day. Have you tried to buy a decent, meaningful name for a new site? Unless you settle for ‘somelongobscuredomainname.com’ or ‘amizpelling.com’ you can expect to pay hundreds or thousands of dollars for a domain name in the aftermarket. This is an artificial barrier to entry for newcomers.

    New TLDs will bring competition and choice for new businesses to serve the next BILLION users that will come online in the next 4 years.

    As for confusion, well, give people some credit, we’re not that dumb. People will adapt. It is the distinctive human trait. Millions of German users are accustomed to using multiple top level domains. Same with Dutch,French, every other developed nation.

    Fear, Uncertainty, Doubt . . Stifling