1 Sunday, October 5th, 2008
Domain Management is a Function of Brand Stewardship
In my experience on campaigns large and small, domain management is too often been an afterthought. This is unfortunate because proper domain planning can really help the success of a campaign just as a lack of planning can harm a campaign. Domain stewardship isn’t difficult and it attaches naturally to the creative process.
Online Brand Stewards Should Control Domains
Who is the proper steward of a brand online? The client? The ad agency? The interactive agency? There are many POVs about who “owns” a brand online.
As marketing stretches into corporate strategy, sales, service and support, it becomes more than visual identity and messaging in traditional media. Arguably, some measure of brand ownership actually transfers to the public because of the distributed self-investment of social media.
Online brand stewardship is currently relative to a blend of talent, resources, capabilities, experience and expertise within a particular client-agency partnership. Depending on the mix, brand control would clearly fall into one camp, or it might be a joint responsibility with each party assuming specific roles.
Regardless of who stewards the brand online, one party should assume ownership of the brand’s roster of domains.
Domain Management for Small Businesses
When I started my own web development company in 1997, I used to register domains for my clients. I stopped this practice by 2000 because I found it to be a taxing deviation from my primary service. I spent too much time tracking down old clients, getting renewal approvals and collecting money for domains I paid for, but didn’t own.
I also wasted a lot of time tracking down old web developers and hosting partners who had registered my client’s name in their own name. In most cases, I’d have to convince a dejected former partner to hand me the domain keys. In some cases I encountered old vendors who wouldn’t release the domain without receiving payment on an unrelated service, a form of blackmail domainjacking. Consequently, I registered domains on behalf of my clients using their credit cards.
Today, small hosting companies and web developers can turn to broad suites of automated hosting tools to help them run their business. These tools handle everything from lead gen to automated POS, server administration, and of course, discounted domain registration.
Still, I encounter considerable domain management risk all too frequently. Registration and administration is abdicated to the most technically savvy people on the team.
Good domain management involves more strategy than production. Many domain managers are intimidated by the technicalities of domaining, but they really just need to approve a clear domain strategy. The plan can easily be executed by an interactive producer or brand domainer.