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New URLs Challenge Cities & the Internet

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Thomas Lowenhaupt
Thomas Lowenhaupt  
8/8/2013 3:44:51 PM
User Rank Village Voice
The .nyc TLD and the New York Brand

@CitySolver If carefully developed the .nyc TLD could provide a boost for the city's brand - now at an all time high. But after looking at the details of the contract the city has signed with NeuStar to operate the name distribution process, I'm concerned that the primary outcome of the arrangement will be to sell a lot of domain names, rather than build a better city. And that by focusing on name sales, our hard won positive brand recognition will be damaged.

 

Here's why. The NeuStar contract (see here) seems to provide the opportunity for those without the city's best interest in mind to acquire and use .nyc domain names - domainers, phishers, spammers... And with .NYC's intimate relationship to NYC, a failure of the brand extension could drag down the home brand.

 

Here's how. Releasing second level .nyc domain names is a three phase process. During the initial Phase ten groups from government agencies and licensees to not-for-profits and digital startups are able to get first dibs on the name pool. There's a 45 day sign-up window for these entities with 75 days provided to verify their eligibility.

 

Phase 2 access to the names is for Trademark holders and existing city businesses. And here's the first place we see a problem. If you want a .nyc name in Phase 2, you go to GoDaddy or a hundred other registrars and "self-certify" that you qualify for a .nyc name. "Self-certify" means you check a box saying in essence "Yes, I'm a New York City business."

 

There is no verification for these self-certifications. Enforcement is left to compliance with a Nexus Policy, which specifies who's a New Yorker and who's not. The contractor is to conduct random "spot checks" of "at least fifty (50) .NYC domain names to determine whether their owners satisfy the applicable Nexus Category" per week. When previous TLDs were released, tens-of-thousands of names were claimed in the first hours of availability. So if 50 are spot checked "per week," that leaves 9,950 (or more) unchecked.

 

Phase 3 begins one year after the final ICANN OK and is called General Registration, which is the first-come, first-serve allocation in effect for .com names today. It  presents a second ongoing "self-certify" situation with 50 "spot checks" per week.

 

That self certification and spot check creates a huge vulnerability for the integrity of .NYC, and for the city's broader brand. We know that every scammer, pickpocket, and worse in Times Square damages our city's brand, so we dedicate huge resources to run a safe and clean city. What's going to happen to our city's brand when thousands of outside entities (non-city firms, spammers, phishers, squatters...) with no long term interest in the city have access to use the city's brand?

 

I recently approached a high city official about the potential damage to the brand and was told "That's not my department." Asked who's department it was he responded "I'm not sure."  It's not clear to me either.

Nicole Ferraro
Nicole Ferraro  
7/16/2013 10:20:19 AM
User Rank Staff
Re: URL's for firms with global footprint
I think that there will need to be a way to alleviate the confusion at first, whether it's through URL redirects or some other method that I'm unaware of. Otherwise it's going to be a big guessing game for end users and that's just not going to work.

stotheco
stotheco  
7/16/2013 2:24:53 AM
User Rank Urban Legend
Re: global reach
Agreed, CitySolver. Aside from building brands, it can also serve as a means of distinguishing sites from the other in the future. Definitely interested to see how all this will play out.

stotheco
stotheco  
7/16/2013 2:23:59 AM
User Rank Urban Legend
Re: URL's for firms with global footprint
It's interesting, I agree, and I'm sure many people will be able to take full advantage of these new URLs. However, I think it will take some time to get used to and it's that adjustment period where most people will get annoyed or be inconvenienced by the whole thing.

Venks
Venks  
7/15/2013 2:01:48 PM
User Rank Urban Legend
Re: URL's for firms with global footprint
@PostSandy: Thanks for your reply. Good examples quoted there. It seems it will open up a bountyfull of exposure to all the small businesses and companies provided they know how to market the advertisement of their products/services. As Mary observed, it has its own set of challenges (and opportunities) and it remains to be seen whether its worth the wait.

Nicole Ferraro
Nicole Ferraro  
7/15/2013 11:17:28 AM
User Rank Staff
Re: URL's for firms with global footprint
Good examples, PostSandy. I'm really torn on how I see this playing out in reality. People are so used to .com. I think that things could get rather confusing once gTLDs are more widespread. 

Mary Jander
Mary Jander  
7/15/2013 10:11:30 AM
User Rank Staff
Re: global reach
Yes, @CitySolver, I think you're right -- the .nyc domain will boost city brands and the brand of NYC in general.

As you point out, that could come at a very high cost in terms of paperwork, trademark confusion, lawsuits, etc., etc. How heavy a burden all this will be -- and whether it turns out to be worth it -- remains to be seen.

 

Mary Jander
Mary Jander  
7/15/2013 10:08:13 AM
User Rank Staff
Re: URL's for firms with global footprint
@Venks, I think global firms aren't the ones targeted. Instead, small businesses and companies looking to aggregate information about NYC could find the URL with a .nyc suffix extremely useful. See PostSandy's note.

@PostSandy: Great point and I do think your examples are realistic. We're going to see a lot of promotion for NYC businesses and the use of the domain for online guidebooks and the like.

PostSandy
PostSandy  
7/14/2013 2:32:53 PM
User Rank Village Voice
Re: URL's for firms with global footprint
@Venks, local touch added to a global firm. Hmm... I can think of localized food menu, service, events. For instance, name_of_airline.nyc will display information of their NYC terminals. name_of_global_company.nyc will post NYC jobs, how they empower smart technologies in NYC. name_of_fastfood_chain.nyc will post nyc only coffee blend and sandwich items, etc. name_of_global_sports_brand.nyc posts NYC campaigns, store events, classes and discounts. As a consumer, I'd like to see that. 

CitySolver
CitySolver  
7/14/2013 5:12:19 AM
User Rank Blogger
global reach
Interesting point about the global aspect of business. I think its main use is in helping add to the brand of New York. I see alot more work for lawyers though when it comes to regulating the use of these domains!

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