With the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN)’s decision to approve the .xxx domain, a whole new realm of possibilities as it relates to domain name registrations has been opened, and associations — like other groups – are beginning to weigh the possibilities as it relates to their members.
For many associations, though alluring, generic top level domains are cost-prohibitive. The official price for a generic top-level domain application is $185,000, but National Restaurant Association CIO David Matthews admonishes associations to consider that appropriate consultants should be sought to help with filing the applications, which can add another $200,000 to the application price tag. Once one considers the possibility of dispute and auction fees if multiple entities go after the same domain, and takes into account that there will be a minimum charge of $25,000 per year to maintain the domains, the cost of registering top-level domain names alone may out-price many associations’ budgets.
Still, the possibilities available by registering a top-level domain name could prove invaluable for associations that can afford to make the investment. A top-level domain name could do wonders for an association’s brand and reinforce the organization’s prominence in the industry, or it could draw more attention to the industry as a whole. ICANN’s initiative will introduce new top-level domains in generic terms (such as .architecture), which will enable distinction for the industry overall, as well as for brands (such as .aarp), which will increase visibility of the association itself. Some associations are considering moving to register the domains with hopes that there will be a way to monetize them in the future. For some, it is a question of infrastructure, says John Nicholson, an attorney with Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman. For others, he contends, it is more a matter of capitalizing on the opportunity before someone else does.
Software and Information Industry Association president Ken Wasch remains skeptical, calling ICANN’s initiative “a solution in search of a problem. I think it will go down as one of the biggest blunders ICANN has ever made,” he says.
Among Wasch’s primary concerns is how associations will be able to recoup the cost and monetize domain registrations. He suggests that perhaps associations could create a standard by which all groups seeking to register with their new specific domain should comply, but says that this will not offer real value, and certainly not enough to justify the cost of generic top-level domain name registration. Wasch worries that the cost of registration will prove to be a tax on members, who will inevitably bear the many burdens associated with the investment.
Generic top-level domain registration was among the topics discussed at the recent TRENDS Live annual technology update in Washington.