EXPERT ADVICE

The gTLD Metamorphosis

The cocooned gTLD has started to spread its wings, and soon it will show its colors and become a butterfly. Its well-guarded fuzzy and slow progress has finally propelled it to a much-anticipated metamorphosis, but the world still waits for some flying maneuvers. Mother ICANN has worked very hard to coax it along to this stage.

It seems that mainstream global brands, their leading ad agencies, major lawfirms protecting their complex intellectual property portfolios, and creative services need to come forward. So far the coy debates and borderline fear mongering have been mostly about floods of squatters and trademark defense posturing. Such mythical notions are destined for a head-on collision with factual issues of name identity marketability and suitability by gTLDs. The markets need point-by-point clarity to settle the confusion.

The conference events on gTLD have started, and that’s excellent — but they have to build momentum and higher frequency. The world is a very large stage, and few gatherings of often the same people and same topics will not make a dent. After the big announcement by ICANN in June, followed by a few thousand news items, the excitement has quieted down, leaving corporations and senior management worldwide wondering what just happened.

Corporate World Doesn’t Get gTLD

A quick survey of top senior marketing executives in North America by AARM points to a mere 2 percent of executives “having some very limited or somewhat confusing ideas without any reasonable understanding of what a gTLD is all about.”

The other current buzz in the Internet columns, blogs and media is that it’s a US$187K money grab, a threat to mega trademarks, and an invitation for a flood of cybersquatters. How wrong.

On the legal front, IBLS also did some research and found that legal practitioners have been trying hard to find a simple approach to connect potential customers with highly suitable gTLD opportunities, but they haven’t been getting any serious response. On the global naming complexities of branding, AZNA is also providing executive intelligence briefings on such matters.

The main problem is a lack of corporate world understanding as to what a gTLD is.By and large, domainers — a very small group of Internet technocrats familiar with ICANN-related services — are all positively engaged. They are playing with domain aftermarkets and domain name registries that deal with highly competitive pricing for basic domain name registrations.

Beware of Unhappy Surprises

The sum total of all these people, if measured in tens of thousands, is still an insignificant number. This is a serious global marketing issue poised to get the attention of hundreds of millions of businesses out there.

How fast will this cocoon hatch? How soon will gTLD spread its wings and show off its real colors? It all depends on the fast-track orientation that’s now in the spotlight and, most importantly, on when gTLD-based models are able to demonstrate real global cyberbranding and image-expansion opportunities.

The biggest surprise for the corporate world will be the sudden realization that there is no more room to file — or their dream names have been already taken — as the window in the first round closes. For major players with the right combinations, these will be the biggest shocks, as well as very major marketing setbacks.

Naseem Javed, founder of ABC Namebank, is recognized as a world authority on global naming complexities. He is currently helping corporations on ICANN's new gTLD cyberplatforms and lecturing on corporate nomenclature frontiers and global cyberbranding. He is also conducting a series of exclusive webinars on how to evaluate and achieve iconic name status worldwide.

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