You have probably noticed an increased amount of activity and communication around the new gTLDs coming to market through OpenSRS. We are all very excited about the possibilities that the new TLDs bring but you may be wondering how we choose which ones to support. There is a thought process behind it and we thought it would be appropriate to share with you some of the internal guidelines we use in the selection process.

To help guide our evaluation, we consider several factors when looking at each new TLD and create a scorecard.This is not something we fill in for every gTLD, and it is not meant to be taken literally, but it helps tremendously as we look at options.

There are 7 indicators we look at and each one is rated on a scale of 0 (poor) to 10 (ideal).

1)    Size of market

2)    Semantic appeal

3)    Affordability

4)    Openness

5)    Predictability

6)    Ease of integration

7)    Support

I’ll explain each of these in a bit more detail. To make it easier we’ll use .CLUB as an example. This is an uncontested gTLD and we believe it to be one of the best ones available in the first half of 2014. Sunrise starts in mid-January and it rated quite high across all indicators.

1) Size of market

Is the target market broad based, large, and does it offer a good opportunity for our resellers or is it more of a niche gTLD with a smaller target market?

.CLUB: There are millions of clubs all over the world. And there are many different kinds of clubs from sports to golf to night clubs. We’ve identified this as one of the most commonly searched terms in the domain registration process.

2) Semantic appeal

Is the gTLD short and concise? Is there clarity in its intended use? Does it have meaning and is it understood in multiple languages and cultures? Would users consider it a good signpost on the Internet?

.CLUB: The gTLD is 4 letters long, it’s very clear on its intended use and it has clear meaning in many countries around the globe.

3) Affordability

How expensive will it be to register a domain? We think domains should be affordable. In recent years we’ve seen some prices increase. We would like to see them come down with new gTLDs being priced below what a typical .COM would cost, not double or triple the cost.

.CLUB: The price for .CLUB will be $10 which is very competitive when compared to .COM.

4) Openness

Is the gTLD broadly available and accessible to all users or will there be restricted use of the domain, limitations on the content of the website or proprietary platforms? Are there restrictions on who can register and use the domain? is there additional data required to successfully registry a domain? And finally, is there good availability of domains or is choice limited?

.CLUB: There are absolutely no restrictions, anyone can register and use the domain.

5) Predictability

Do we expect the Registry to operate with standard and predictable policies? Will pricing be transparent, consistent and predictable over time? As we review the Registry Registrar Agreement (RRA) do we have concerns with what might happen to policies, practices and the business model?

.CLUB: There is nothing unusual about their policies and we expect no change over time. Pricing to registrars is expected to be consistent and limited to a maximum increase of just 15% over the first 5 years of registry operation.

6) Ease of integration

Will it be easy or difficult to integrate to the Registry? Are we working with a known system? Does it follow industry standards or are we dealing with a one of a kind system for a single gTLD? What happens with the domain life cycle, is this typical or have they created their own? Can we implement their pricing policies?

.CLUB: The Registry backend has been outsourced to Neustar. We’ve very familiar with this system and are working with Neustar for .BIZ, .US, .CO, .TEL and .XXX.

7) Support

Does the Registry have plans to develop marketing programs and create awareness, educate the market, and assist the registrars in building the business or are they simply putting their gTLD into the market and expecting registrants to buy?

.CLUB: We hosted the .CLUB team in our Toronto office in December. They conducted lunch and learn sessions for our support, engineering and sales & marketing teams. We’ve received good support so far. We expect brand awareness campaigns to happen in 2014 which will help with awareness and education.

In conclusion we can say that as the domain name world expands dramatically, we want to make sure you have as much information as possible about how we are dealing with the addition of hundreds of new gTLDs over the coming months. New gTLDs represent the single biggest change to domain names in over a decade. We’re extremely excited to introduce these to OpenSRS and look forward to working with all of you on making this a big success.