EXPERT ADVICE

How Much for That ICANN gTLD?

Is US$185,000 the right price for a single generic top-level domain? No, it’s definitely not. If a gTLD is supposed to provide worldwide exclusive use of a name identity with unlimited sub-name-brand-extension-domains, this amount is insufficient for ICANN to add critical features to the same application process.

A gTLD is like buying a powerful car engine and being given a list of body makers, mechanics and tire shops for optional fitting. That’s the way it was before the revolutionary assembly lines were formed to build Model T’s. Now, a century later, we are standing at production lines for unassembled gTLDs, while cyberhighways await the grand race of those magnificent folks and their high-flying name identities.

The $185,000 price tag is very modest. Current global advertising expenditures run well over US$500 billion annually worldwide. There are far too many organizations spending tens of millions monthly to keep their main name identity visible.

ICANN could have easily offered a full-blown million dollar “hassle-free turnkey global cybername identity solution” package with all the streamlined functionality so necessary in this new frontier. Instead, it is fragmented into different areas where overly protective disciplines seem to prevent this new mechanism from becoming fully mobile.

A rush application based on a grand and novel idea with a snazzy name could backfire or miss out due to some obscure technicality or miscalculation. Without a multidisciplinary and unified focus, the risk of error is too high.

Whole Brain or Split-Brain Thinking?

Brilliant technical and legal minds often become entangled in the hardwiring of left- and the right-dominated brains. Concepts and discussions are either couched in marketing-driven language or techno-legal jargon, leading to crisscross confusion. Establishing protective arenas only creates trepidation among real decision makers.

The law firms and domain registries are posturing for power to fill the vacuum, but their disconnects with marketability are too obvious. The domainers have already earned their stripes on the easy-come-almost-free domain names, but in this marathon they are boldly working for it — there will be spectacular successes and some catastrophic failures.

Most importantly, ICANN is releasing the updated New TLD Applicant Guidebook with a new website is and soon to launch its advertising campaign.

Undoubtedly, the markets are seeking bold leadership, with clarity and comprehensive understanding. The big question is will all these special skills intertwine to complete the circle, or will they obscure the goal by creating more smoke?

One Internet, One World

Those stuck in old domain name mentalities see the $185,000 cost as very expensive — the equivalent of buying 18,000 domains. However, the neo-cyberbranding model sees this as no different from the cost of a bubbly TV ad commercial that gets pulled within days for some politically incorrect message.

There are all kinds of other routine mega expenditures — like running a dozen full page ads in cities around the world to make an impact for a single day, or a logo-slogan-branding remake exercise — and let’s not forget the frequently allocated million-dollar budgets for fighting losing trademark battles over mediocre names.

If the gTLD platform is supposed to be the most powerful cyberbranding and name identity fortification tool, something is lacking in the market positioning of the concept. Unfamiliarity among agencies and brand holders is the most serious issue. Unless both the gist and depth of the entire program are well understood and teams carefully calibrated, it could fail to germinate.

On the other hand, due to tight timelines and the limited number of players allowed, the anxiety level to compete could rise suddenly. For every single successful example, there could be dozens of players ready to join from countries around the world. This would create hypervisibility of gTLD concepts, with colorful interactions and a variety of new ideas, markets and languages. There would be a race to champion name identities on the platform of one Internet and one world.

For now, gTLD ownership offers the cheapest and fastest tool to create global cybername identity domination in the marketplace.

Naseem Javed

Naseem Javed, founder of ABC Namebank, is a globally recognized authority on corporate nomenclature and related issues of market domination via name identity. He is a lecturer, syndicated columnist, and the author of Naming for Power.

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