Registry/Registrar Channels - Possibly the Biggest Change of all for this Industry
For newcomers to the industry, the Registrars are the lifeblood of the domain business. They sell the little buggers. Because of their name search tools, their website creation templates, their renewal follow up programs, their support staff – consumers and businesses have websites with the nicest looking domain name they could find.
Now, the Registrars would have little to sell without the Registries. They´re a bit like an electronic phonebook (from the olden days) charged with holding and administering the authoritative data so no one would have the same phone number. A rude simplification perhaps – but many organizations are coming into this industry without ever having know of the existence of these functions despite their critical role in all web users everyday life.
These two players will largely represent the success and the failure of the new TLDs – coupled with the marketing engine (strategy and budget) that will be the TLD contract owner.
The major challenge will be to effectively create the correct sales channels necessary to being the new TLDs to their intended end users. Traditionally, that has been solely done through the registrar channel, which is divided between local geographic access (to customers and registries, ccTLD or generic TLDs like .COM).
This session took a decidedly sober tone. It was unanimous that the new TLDs, though exciting and full of revenue potential, will present enormous challenge for both the Registries and the Registrars:
Registrars: They will have to consider how many of the new domains they will sell, how they will present them on their sales pages, and which of the NEW registries to connect to. The registrar channel will not be able to offer even near 100 new names in the first year. It takes weeks to months to connect with a new registry. The existing registries will be easier choice of new TLD partnerships because they already have a technical connection source for the existing TLDs.
Registries: This crowd, who have traditionally been used to providing a small few TLDs to a great number of registrars will now have to see the nature of their business change in a number of ways:
- They will have to learn to support customers in a considerably built out way – major support teams will be required, manning the phones, being available to the dozens, or hundreds of TLDs hosted on their platforms. The few existing relationships have been easier to manage because of their numbers – 2-10 TLDs are generally the maximum a registry has ever had on their systems.
- They will have to support, and in some cases develop new platforms to serve the .BRAND community who won´t necessarily follow the ´selling names through the channel´ model and will interact more like a registrar with their customers. Additionally, for any registry not currently servicing the majority of the Registrars for gTLDs, they will face months of relationship building from a technical, contractual and marketing standpoint. No small task in my experience.
One of the attendees of the event, currently creating a registry business, said to me in conversation – `Oh no, we´re not worried about not having the registrar channel connected to us yet. We know them all, it´s just a phone call away to get them all connected.` - No more naïve words have I heard spoken, bless.
This business is about to change significantly, internally as well as externally. Chose your partners wisely – you need to be confident they understand precisely how those changes will impact your business.
An interesting question from the audience:
Has registrar channel put much thought into how you will create a store front to accommodate possibly a 500-1000 new names?
Thorsten Smeets, Key Systems - We have thought about this - our plan will be to categorize the names carefully and intuitively. But I can´t say how until we see the extensions.
Stefan Legner, InternetX: Registrars are looking forward to seeing great new generics and we will try to integrate as many as we can.
Closing remarks to remember:
Steve Heflin, Afilias: You as a new TLD need to really understand and have seamless communication with the channel. They are your lifeblood.