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How do we choose what new gTLDs to support?

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.

Registry Cost Increases for .BIZ and .ORG Domains coming April 1, 2011

It’s an unfortunate part of being a domain registrar that we have to let you know about price increases coming up as a result of announced increases by the registries which operate those domain extensions.

Effective April 1, 2011 at 00:00:00 GMT, price increases for .BIZ and .ORG domains will go into effect at the registries. These costs are payable directly to the registry by OpenSRS for domain registrations and we really have no choice but to pass those costs along to resellers and, in turn, to consumers.

Here’s the breakdown for each top-level domain (TLD) involved:


.BIZ (operated by Neustar)view ICANN notice

  • Registry fee increase takes effect on April 1, 2011 at 00:00:00 GMT.
  • New cost for a .BIZ domain payable to the registry is USD $7.30 (an increase of USD $0.45 from USD $6.85)
  • Total OpenSRS cost including ICANN fee and OpenSRS Management Fee will be USD $10.48.

.ORG (operated by Public Interest Registry)view ICANN notice

  • Registry fee increase takes effect on April 1, 2011 at 00:00:00 GMT.
  • New cost for a .ORG domain payable to the registry is USD $7.21 (an increase of USD $0.46 from USD $6.75)
  • Total OpenSRS cost including ICANN fee and OpenSRS Management Fee will be USD $10.39.

Our Cost-Plus Pricing Model for gTLDs Provides Cost Certainty

Thanks to our Cost-Plus model for gTLDs, OpenSRS Resellers have complete visibility to our costs associated with domain names. It also means that, as with past registry cost increases, we aren’t going to use these registry price increases as an opportunity to raise our prices on these or other gTLDs by piling on increases for domains where our costs are not increasing.

We strongly believe that our transparent pricing model gives you comfort in clearly understanding how we approach pricing, and provides you with confidence in terms of what you can expect around pricing in the future.

The Reseller-Friendly Approach to ccTLDs.

I’ve written several posts over the past few months about the reseller-friendly choices we’ve made in our products, our pricing and our policies.

ccTLDs provides another great example.

There are a few approaches that a registrar could be tempted to take on ccTLDs…

You could essentially avoid them. Offering a wide selection of ccTLDs means integrating with a wildly diverse set of registries around the world. They speak different languages and code in different languages. They have different legal constraints and policies. A registrar could satisfy a reasonable percent of the market by offering gTLDs and a few of the simplest ccTLDs and calling it a day.

Pricing Comparison between OpenSRS and eNom

(based on the top 15 ccTLDs)

Rank TLD OpenSRS eNom Savings
1 DE 8.00 14.95 6.95
2 UK 6.50 5.99 -0.51
3 CN 15.00 24.95 9.95
4 NL 8.00 29.95 21.95
5 EU 7.00 9.95 2.95
6 RU N/A N/A N/A
7 AR N/A N/A N/A
8 BR N/A N/A N/A
9 IT 15.00 29.95 14.95
10 PL N/A N/A N/A
11 FR 15.00 N/A N/A
12 AU 10.00 N/A N/A
13 US 10.00 11.50 1.50
14 CH 20.00 N/A N/A
15 CA 15.00 14.95 -0.05
*Prices listed above are  per year.

You could seek to differentiate yourself by offering every ccTLD in the world. Build an awesome list of “trophy TLDs”. Spend months integrating with registries that have a few hundred domain names under management, potentially sacrificing your core services along the way. Hang a bunch of international flags around the office.

You could embrace ccTLDs as an opportunity to pump up your profit margin. The industry tends to compare registrars by gTLD prices. The registry fees on gTLDs are well known. A registrar could bring in resellers by reducing gTLD prices and then make up for it on the ccTLDs.

Needless to say, OpenSRS has a chosen a different path.

We survey our resellers regularly and watch the global trends closely to determine which ccTLDs could help our resellers grow their businesses. That criteria has shaped our current list of 23 ccTLDs, including 11 out of the top 15. It inspired us to add .au in September and is driving us to consider some exciting possible additions in 2011.

We maintain a high standard of reliability and usability across all our products. So, we do not add a ccTLD if we don’t think it offers the sort of experience our resellers expect and deserve. And we weigh seriously whether launching new ccTLDs (or any new products, for that matter) will in any way compromise our maintenance and support on existing products.

And, as the chart indicates, we offer competitive prices, allowing our resellers plenty of room for their own margin. (In fact, this chart would look even better if we brought our .uk price down a bit. So we’re working on that.)

A product offering shaped by reseller demand, focused on reseller satisfaction and priced for reseller profit.

That’s our reseller friendly approach to ccTLDs.

We’re Hiring in Europe. Can you Help?

We’re continuing to build out our team in Europe and are recruiting the best talent we can find.

I wanted to reach out to our reseller channel to see if anyone knows of a candidate that might be a good fit with Tucows – someone that is passionate about the Internet, the hosting business and our industry in general, as well as having a solid technical grounding and aptitude.

The role we want to fill is a sales position with a mix of account management and business development. Language skills are important, and we are looking for someone that can speak Italian, Spanish and French.

Location is not important, we want to find the best person and are open to the city they would be based out of.

If you know of anyone that might be a fit please have them follow up with Thorsten or myself directly.

Thanks for your help!

Welcome Thorsten Einig, OpenSRS’ New Managing Director, Europe

It gives me great pleasure to welcome Thorsten Einig to the OpenSRS team as our new Managing Director, Europe. Thorsten brings a wealth of experience in the hosting and internet industry, and we’re excited to have him leading the charge as we continue to support and grow our OpenSRS business in Europe!

Thorsten has more than ten years of experience in the hosting and domain industry. He spent eight years with 1&1 Internet in both Germany – being in charge of 1&1’s domain business – and the USA, and last held the position of Business Development Manager for 1&1 in North America. Most recently, Thorsten worked as a Senior Product Manager at Leaseweb B.V. in the Netherlands.

Thorsten’s first-hand knowledge of the hosting industry and his depth of experience, specifically in terms of understanding the unique needs of the European market, will be of great benefit to our existing customers in Europe. We’ve tasked Thorsten with the responsibility for growing our business in Europe while still maintaining and reinforcing the existing strong relationships that we have with our European resellers.

Thorsten will be based in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, while his team will remain in the UK to bridge Canada and Europe.

Free WHOIS Privacy from OpenSRS

Did you know that an estimated 20% of .COM domain owners have WHOIS Privacy enabled on their domain’s public WHOIS record?

For GoDaddy, that means as many as 8 million domain owners pay an extra $8.99 per year to have their personal address and contact information protected from the public Internet. That’s tens of millions of additional dollars into the pocket of the world’s largest domain registrar!

Many wholesale registrars enjoy high margins on WHOIS Privacy as well. For example, when a reseller purchases the Privacy Protect option from eNom, that adds an extra $6 per year to the cost of the domain registration.

At OpenSRS, we offer WHOIS privacy for free.

It’s just another reseller-friendly choice we’ve made (foregoing substantial additional profit) to set ourselves apart from our competition and to help you profitably satisfy your customers and set yourselves apart from your competition.

So, WHOIS Privacy has real value to your customers. You get it for free. This affords you two wonderful options:

  • Charge for it (like GoDaddy) and enjoy the 100% profit.
  • Make sure your customers know and appreciate that you are not charging for it.

(Look out for some great white label materials soon to help explain the benefits of WHOIS Privacy to your customers!)

Giving you the opportunity. Giving you the choice. For us, that’s what being reseller-friendly is all about.

Refunds for misspelled domain names, because that’s how we roll.

As human beings, we all make mistakes, some are bigger than others. But when it comes to misspelling a domain name, should your end users be stuck with anything other than a perfect representation of their brand? At OpenSRS, we don’t think so. That’s why we have a five day window during which time a registered domain can be deleted, where the TLD Registry permits, for a nominal fee.

We know what it’s like to search for that perfect domain name. Countless lookups and various spellings. Heck, a typo in a domain name is bound to happen every once in a while. Or maybe your customer simply thinks of a better, more appropriate name after the registration process has been completed.

Spelling mistakes aside, there’s another big advantage to dealing with OpenSRS for domain registrations:

If your company is an online service provider say, a webhosting company for example, you’ve probably also felt the sting of some unscrupulous fraudster registering a website with your company and a domain name to go with it.

Sure you can cancel the website services with little cost to your company, but will your domain registrar be as unforgiving? Or do they have an ALL SALES ARE FINAL policy?

We understand that as a reseller, these things can happen We’re not going to hold you, or your customers to those mistakes for the sake of a few extra bucks in our pockets. Having a five day grace period during which time a new domain registration can be canceled is another advantage OpenSRS has over other registrars such as eNom.

Want to learn more about our reseller-friendly practices?

Our Reseller-Friendly Approach to Sub-Resellers

Subreseller Group PortraitLast month we talked about the OpenSRS approach to wholesale domain name pricing and why we feel it’s the most transparent and reseller-friendly model in the industry. We’ve taken the same approach with our Sub-resellers program.

The OpenSRS Sub-resellers feature allows you to set up your own network of domain name resellers using our back-end. The popularity of Sub-resellers since its launch last year has confirmed for us just how valuable this can be. It has also reinforced how important it is to our resellers that they manage these relationships.

We built the Sub-resellers functionality with input from our existing resellers, and took a different approach than our competitors by giving full control to our resellers. Here are a few of the features that we believe make ours the most reseller-friendly sub-reseller program in the industry:

Flexible pricing editor.

Unlike some other options out there, our Sub-resellers pricing editor provides you with complete control over pricing. Whether you decide to price a group of TLDs at $12.99, or want to make sure you earn $2 on every sale, the decision is yours. You pick the price your sub-reseller pays. We provide you with the ability to create as many different pricing plans as you like, and the tools to view and manage pricing for your sub-resellers.

Branding options that put the spotlight on YOU.

We’ve placed a great deal of importance on branding. The Sub-resellers feature provides the capability to fully brand the experience to the needs of your brand and your customers. Email communication, logos, system messages, control panels and related interfaces have all been designed to be reseller friendly – to let you put your company and brand in front of your sub-reseller.

Sub-resellers is free and designed for your business.

Sub-reseller accounts can be created in seconds, either manually, or via the API. With no extra account setup costs, and multiple account funding options, it’s a simple way to rapidly grow your network. We’ll even manage the account funding on your behalf. There are no additional charges for this feature, and as an OpenSRS reseller it’s already enabled for your account.

I’ve only just scratched the surface of what’s possible with the Sub-resellers feature and we’re amazed at what some of our resellers have already accomplished in such a short period of time. The Sub-resellers option helps our resellers leverage the power of an alternate sales channel to increase sales, and to strengthen the relationships they have with their customers.

I hope this provides you with yet another example of our strong commitment to building the world’s most reseller friendly Domain Name Service on the planet and I encourage you to learn more about our capabilities.

See it in action at HostingCon 2010

If you’re going to be at HostingCon 2010 next week in Austin, TX, and you want to see more, you can request a meeting or just drop by our booth (link to hostingcon event page). If you aren’t going to be in the area, then we also have a half-hour webinar that walks through Sub-resellers and talks about different ways to setup and manage your own sub-resellers network.

Our Reseller-Friendly Approach to Pricing

At OpenSRS, we’re proud to be an industry leader when it comes to ‘reseller friendly’ wholesale domain services. Features like free WHOIS privacy, a 5-day add grace period for domain deletions, true white label sub-reseller support, and our ‘cost-plus’ model for pricing have established us as a leading choice for wholesale domain name registrations.

Effective July 1, 2010, registry fees for .com and .net domains are increasing. These registry fee increases were announced by VeriSign (the operator of the .com and .net registries) in January, in accordance with their agreement with ICANN.

Here are the details:

  • .com increases by $0.48 to $7.34 beginning on July 1st, 2010
  • .net increases by $0.42 to $5.40 beginning on July 1st, 2010

Several years ago, OpenSRS transitioned to selling gTLDs, including .com and .net domains under a ‘cost-plus’ pricing model, meaning that the price you pay is broken down into three separate parts – the Registry cost, the ICANN fee (currently 18 cents), and an OpenSRS management fee. OpenSRS retains the management fee for providing the domain registration and management service. Changes to the Registry costs and the ICANN fee are passed through transparently.

The chart below shows the changes to our domain registration fees after the VeriSign fee increase on July 1st:

OpenSRS

gTLD Registry Cost ICANN Fee OpenSRS Fee Registry Increase OpenSRS Increase Total
.com $7.34 $0.18 $3.00 $0.48 $0.00 $10.52
.net $5.40 $0.18 $3.00 $0.42 $0.00 $8.58
.org $6.75 $0.18 $3.00 $0.00 $0.00 $9.93
.info $6.75 $0.18 $3.00 $0.00 $0.00 $9.93
.biz $6.85 $0.18 $3.00 $0.00 $0.00 $10.03
.name $6.00 $0.18 $3.00 $0.00 $0.00 $9.18

Our transparent, reseller friendly pricing model is in contrast to the approach taken by other registrars, where there is often a single price per gTLD. In the case of eNom, this was recently announced as an across-the-board 55 cent increase to domain registration fees for the six most popular gTLDs. Below is their Basic plan pricing, broken down into its component costs, with the new pricing effective July 1st:

eNom

gTLD Registry Cost ICANN Fee eNom Fee Registry Increase eNom Increase Total
.com $7.34 $0.18 $2.98 $0.48 $0.07 $10.50
.net $5.40 $0.18 $4.92 $0.42 $0.13 $10.50
.org $6.75 $0.18 $3.57 $0.00 $0.55 $10.50
.info $6.75 $0.18 $3.57 $0.00 $0.55 $10.50
.biz $6.85 $0.18 $3.47 $0.00 $0.55 $10.50
.name $6.00 $0.18 $4.32 $0.00 $0.55 $10.50

As an OpenSRS reseller, you have complete visibility to our costs; We won’t use one registry’s price increase as an opportunity to raise our prices on additional gTLDs. We believe that our transparent pricing model gives you comfort in clearly understanding how we approach pricing, and what you can expect in the future.

If you want to see more detail on the current registry costs and ICANN fee, you can see it here: http://opensrs.com/services/domains/domains-pricing

Up next, we’ll be writing about our more reseller friendly approach to sub-resellers. Stay tuned!

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