gTLD Applicants: Passing ICANN Evaluation and Preparing gTLD to Launch
Posted by Jennifer Wolfe on 08th May 2013 in 360 Blog

Many brand gTLD applicants are passing initial evaluation and moving into the final phase of acquisition in contracting with ICANN. This means the time is now to start building your gTLD team and launch plan so that you can leverage and maximize the value of your gTLD by 2014.

In this video, I’ll review the facets of project management required to roll out a gtLd and the recommended approach for brands.

First and foremost, you need to form a project management team. GTLDs are not the same as launching a sub-domain like a .com or a .info and there are many interrelated components to how it’s managed that need to be considered in the strategy and technical roll out.

For example, all of the issues in this slide are important: Data Mining – what data will you capture in your TLD that is different from .com and how will consumers navigate your site to provide you that data?; Brand Protection – how will you protect your brand across the thousands of new top level domains?; IT & Security – what DNS resolution issues could be a problem and how do you ensure the security and stability of your top level domain?; ICANN Policy – who is paying attention to what new policies are being set and considering how it impacts your strategy and the value of your gTLD; Search Engine Optimization – will you lose your search equity or do you launch your gTLD in tandem with operating .com – do you migrate and when?; Strategic Relationships with other brands and affiliates – how will you leverage affiliate relationships to add new revenue? ; and finally the Architecture, Design and Engineering Capabilities of the gTLD – how will consumers navigate the top level and what technical support is needed? All of these issues must be analyzed and managed to utilize the top level domain to its full potential. Specialized expertise on all of these areas is needed to develop the right plan, consider how it impacts your current domain name strategy, as well as how it interrelates to social media and mobile app technology.

We see an integration of these functions as critical to how you use your gTLD. For example, consumers may use social media or mobile/app technology to get to you, but how do you use the capabilities of the gTLD once they get there to provide a better experience? What you are doing in social to educate consumers about your gTLD and how will you use mobile/apps to drive consumers to your anchor – your top level domain? These are all critical components to leveraging the key benefits of your top level domain: data mining, security for consumers, and new platforms for content and communities.

Because digital functions are fragmented in most companies, as a best practice, we recommend forming a centralized team for gTLD management that can develop company wide strategy, policies and best practices and then each gTLD can have its own launch team much like you likely do in .com now. In terms of budgeting, we recommend this group charge the brand back a monthly fee for management of the digital asset at a corporate level and build a P&L for the top level domain. This team can then work at a leadership level to build an overarching strategy and provide best practices to the implementation team.

No brands have ever launched their own gTLD so this is unchartered territory for all companies. Building the right team, finding the right expertise and rolling out the gTLD with a clear strategy is essential. Just throwing up what you have in .com to a gTLD is not a good strategy. If you need help in building your team, planning the project and understanding the strategies behind a brand gTLD, email us and we’d be happy to offer a free consultation by phone.