AUTHOR: Allison Chowdhury

The gTLD Land Grab Controversy: Google, Amazon, and the GAC Part II

Here is Part I of Tiffany’s series on the gTLD Land Grab Controversy.

Just one of the reasons Amazon and Google are garnering so much attention as new gTLDs (nTLDs) make their way through ICANN’s application process is the sheer number of their applications (read about the other reason, here). Google applied for the administration rights to 98 different nTLDs (after withdrawing three applications), while Amazon applied for the rights to 77 nTLDs. Early Warnings were issued late last month by the GAC, and some issued by Australia to Amazon, touch on the controversy surrounding the notable “land grab” that both Google and Amazon are participating in.

What is a ‘Land Grab’?

“Land grabbing” used to refer to a large-scale acquisition of land by a single entity. That definition doesn’t change, when referring to gTLDs, except that the land is the new gtlds land grab controversyvirtual. Many argue that nTLDs represent “new frontier” in Internet real estate. And while no one really knows what effect nTLDs will have on how users interface with the Web, many who keep watch on the application process seem concerned that Google and Amazon are applying for such a large amount of nTLDs, citing the common repercussions of a land grab – pricing smaller organizations, communities, and entities out of the market, thereby creating a monopoly.

Who’s Objecting?

Australia may be the only country to issue a GAC Early Warning concerning Amazon’s land grab, but bloggers and tech magazines have been discussing the implications of Amazon and Google obtaining so much nTLD land since the applications were filed. For anyone connected to the online world of writing, music, apps, cloud storage, or any other market represented by the gTLDs Amazon and Google are applying for, the amount of applications coupled with restrictions to third party access may affect the way you’re able to connect with nTLDs as a register.

Most contention centers on the fact that both Amazon and Google plan to use many nTLDs exclusively, without allowing third party registrars to open independent registrations, or without allowing single entities to register domains and obtain full ownership, boxing competitors and other potential registers out of their gTLD space.

What’s the Solution?

Right now, the solution is fuzzy. While the GAC has issued their Early Warnings  and heeding the Early Warnings is strongly recommended, Amazon and Google don’t have to comply with all GAC warnings, since the GAC will not be making the final calls on applications – ICANN will. Amazon and Google can also change their exclusivity policies to make them more transparent, and to allow third party purchases of their gTLD domains. Keeping the market open on their end may help squelch the land grab controversy, since others will be able to register common term gTLDs for their own use.

And, not everyone agrees that Amazon’s and Google’s move to purchase administration rights to dozens of nTLDs is in the wrong – some believe that gTLDs are an open market, and therefore the power of purchase dictates who gets administration rights. Twitter and Facebook chose not to apply for any gTLDs, while other large corporations, like Yahoo! only applied for gTLDs related to their brands and trademarks. It may be too early to tell if Google and Amazon actually pose a risk to healthy nTLD development, and the inconsistency of how big corporations are interacting with nTLDs complicates putting forth an accurate prediction.

What’s Your Take?

What do you think of Google and Amazon applying for the rights to so many nTLDs? Is this a move that might affect the industry you’re a part of, or do you feel comfortable getting your piece of the pie, even if Google and Amazon are successful in their bids for multiple nTLDs? Let us know in the “comments” section below.

For more information on nTLDs, check out our handy dandy nTLD guide. To read more about Amazon and Google, and the controversy surrounding their applications for “generic term gTLDs,” click here.

The Internet is Not Going to Break and 4 Other gTLD Myths Refuted

The internet’s abuzz with hype and gossip about the future of top-level domains and we’re here to help. Whether you’re worried about trademark infringement, administrative rights, search engine recognition, squatters or getting a gTLD of your own, don’t let the hype get you down. Here’s 5 gTLD myths debunked

1. A registrar has unlimited control over the release of their gTLDs.

Many people in the ever-watching internet community believe that businesses or organizations that get the rights to administer nTLDs will have the control to keep all of the extensions for their own use. But, it wouldn’t be that simple. To get that exemption, because the ICANN guidebook explicitly states that an administrator can’t keep all extensions without due cause, the GAC (Government Advisory Committee) and ICANN would have to rule that the exclusivity wouldn’t harm another organization or community. So if authors everywhere feel being excluded from .author would hurt their community, they could raise objections. Even though companies will have certain rights as administrators, including how exclusive or inclusive their registration process will be, the guideline have to be approved by ICANN first to make sure they are fair and encourage competition.

2. Squatters will prosper with nTLDs.

A lot of people think that the addition of nTLDs will increase the amount of cyber-squatting, but one of the reasons ICANN decided to expand gTLDs in the first New gTLDs mythsplace was to help eliminate squatting. More options (hundreds, in some cases) for domain names mean that the chances of your name being unavailable, or costing tens of thousands of dollars to purchase, is low. Some also worry that squatters could become administrators themselves, but ICANN has taken advanced measures to make sure that doesn’t happen, including looking into whether or not the organization or person applying for administration rights has a history of internet squatting, making the application detailed and the process intensive, and keeping the cost of application high.

3. gTLDs are a big business game.

Many small business owners express feeling as though nTLDs are out-of-reach, because of the cost to apply ($185,000 an application, plus $25,000 in annual costs). That’s a lot of money, because it costs a lot of money to run a domain, and register extensions to purchasers. But the sticker price on administrative rights doesn’t translate to the bottom-level, where most small organizations and businesses purchase their gTLDs. Administering .pet may be expensive, but buying a .pet domain extension for your business probably won’t be.

4. Trademark protection will be harder to enforce.

Trademark infringement have been a worry for internet users since day one, but the nTLDs have brought many of those concerns back to the forefront. ICANN operates within U.S. regulations, and reviews all applications with objections and GAC recommendations. Still concerns around how brand protection, global trademarks and restricted use abound. To counter these concerns,  ICANN, registries, registrars and the intellectual property community are working on setting up a Trademark Clearing House (TMCH) to add an extra layer of protection for trademark holders. All of the nTLDs will be subject to the TMCH, which is currently undergoing extensive development and review before implementation. The point is, the community is doing everything possible to make sure that the nTLDs won’t make it easier to infringe trademark protection because the oversight and regulation will be tighter.

5. nTLDs are going to make the internet difficult to navigate.

One of the greatest concerns out there is that nTLDs are going to mess up the web by adding confusion. Some think that nTLDs will lose traffic to more traditional domains. If you own example.music won’t you lose traffic to example.com, because the internet public won’t be used to nTLDs and just type in “example.com”? Won’t the internet be harder to navigate with all these new domains? Rest assured that nothing will fundamentally change about the way we use the net, because nothing will change about how the net fundamentally operates — it’s just going to get bigger. The consumer base will adjust, as they have in the past (this is not the first time gTLDs have been added for public use), and while search engines haven’t stated explicitly how they’ll deal with nTLDs, most experts believe that the new extensions should help search engine recognition, by adding more keywords right into the domain name.

Hopefully we’ve helped squash some fears about the new gTLDs. Follow your favorite nTLD using our watcher and keep an eye on our blog to see how the application process pans out.

Geo Domains, SEO, and You

Geo domains are awesome. They are domain names that cater to a specific geographic location, most commonly cities. They are great for SEO because users quite often search for things like “denver ethiopian restaurants” or “denver audi mechanics” on Google and other search engines. Search engines love exact match keywords in the domain name and geo domains offer a fairly easy way to have them. Now, if you know the exact city you want to target things are easy. You can simply register the domain DenverEthiopianRestaurants.com (available by the way), create some sweet content about the topic, and be done. But let’s say you want to target all major cities in a particular state, that’s where the Name.com Geo Domain Search Tool comes in. I’ll now show you how, with pictures.

Step 1: type your keywords into the search field

Step 2: choose your geo domain options

Here you can choose whether to append or prepend your keywords to the place name. Different keywords might look better one way or the other. Denver Roofing Companies, for instance, sounds better than Roofing Companies Denver. Likewise, Fishing In Denver might sound better than Denver Fishing. Those might not be the best examples but I think you get the idea. You can choose prepend or append based on how users most commonly search for the phrase you are targeting. You also need to select the TLD you want to search, the country, and state you want to pull cities from. You will notice other options in the Countries and States drop downs, feel free to play around with those. You can optionally enter a population range of cities you want us to pull. If you leave those blank we will simply pull the top 300 locations by population.

Step 3: click search and scroll down to the “Geo Domain Results” section

The first set of results you will see are the exact match keyword search results in our famous “Power Bar”. The next set will be the geo domain results themselves. Unfortunately, due to the way we perform domain checks the top 300 results by population will be in no particular order but they will be there. With each geo domain result we give you a link to perform a search on that term for all of the TLDs we offer, the population based on the most recent data we have (we admittedly need to update our database with new data), and of course the ability to add the domain to your cart. You should probably add them all, just sayin’. Based on the results for Colorado, one could completely corner the market for Ethiopian restaurant geo domain search results in the state 🙂

 

Step 4: go forth and be awesome

Now just buy the domains for the keywords you want to market in the cities you want to market to, create compelling and awesome content with some sweet SEO, and start getting some very specific location based traffic rolling into your site.

As always, let us know what you think and feel free to send us suggestions for how we could possibly improve the service.

Thanks!