2 Saturday, October 4th, 2008
Online Brand Stewardship Requires Proper Domain Management
As interactive media matures, I foresee a greater dependency on a unique service discipline: the Brand Domainer. This person or company would monitor domaining trends and would consult with agencies and clients on procurement. Domaining and brand registration is a critical duty in interactive campaigns, yet this responsibility is currently dispersed between IT, marketing & production groups and across client, agency, developer and hosting companies.
The Brand Domainer fulfills these roles:
- Domain Procurement & Maintenance
Stakes out and maintains Registrar partnerships for generic, sponsored and country code TLD registration & transfers. Marks timely payments to avoid downtime and tightly controls DNS administration across all brands.
The idea of a “Digital Safe Deposit” can be useful for interactive ad campaigns, especially flights across multiple platforms (social media, SaaS, Web 2.0, DNS, hosting, etc). With dispersed talent & high turnover between client/agency/interactive/partner companies, account authentication & digital assets are at risk.
- Domain Consultation & Recommendations
Make recommendations on domain names based on availability, creative work, domaining budget and risk of domainjacking threat.
- Social Media Consultation & Profile Registration
Make recommendations on social media platforms based on creative work and risk of domainjacking threat. Register profiles and maintain a master list of access points for brand agents and community managers.
- Domaining Budget
Forecast and maintain domain registration budgets based on procurement plan and length of agreements.
- Brand Monitoring & Policing
Use RSS & monitoring tools like Google Blog Search, Radian6, TweetBeep and UsernameCheck.com to passively intercept threats. Actively query and patrol search engines and popular social media platforms for brand abuses.
Protectors of very large brands already pursue brand infringements, at least passively. I have a good friend who took his site down after receiving a Cease and Desist letter from McDonalds. This was for a .nl Netherlands domain that simply began with “Mc.” Either some poor legal IT intern found his obscure domain while scouring the web through a dictionary search (black helicopter active), or his online brand promotion was so successful that he sprang up on a staffer’s radar (passive interception)
Note, brand monitoring describes preventative activities for brandjacking and domainjacking. This is distinct from listening, measuring and analyzing social media for ROI, strategy or engagement, more accurately defined as Analytics.
- Domain Dispute Resolution
Command a working knowledge of the ICANN Dispute Resolution Policy; a domainjacking mandates a rapid response. Refer to the Domainjacking Primer for advise on what to do if you’ve been domainjacked.
- Social Media Dispute Resolution
Most social media platforms currently do not publish dispute resolution policies. Brands with trademarks and service marks likely have a case for account termination or transfer. However, at this time, prevention through pre-launch registrations is recommended.
- Legal Liaison
Maintain awareness of legislation like the Snowe Bill that impacts the domaining industry. Follow dispute resolution briefs such as the Fairwinds’ list of brandsucks complaints.
Brand Domaining As a Vendor Solution
If anyone is poised to successfully launch this new kind of service, it’d be a large ICANN registrar like GoDaddy, Register.com or Network Solutions. A smaller registrar might also consider this play as a means of generating properties through large bulk registrations.
Interactive shops or hosting companies could provide brand domaining as a flat pass-through cost to large and small agencies that are stretching interactive resources. I can also conceive of a new SaaS company carving a lucrative niche practice in this space. Profilactic.com is a social media agreggator/lifestreaming service that promised to help people with “identity crisis.”
In either case, the should become an Accredited ICANN Registrar capable of registering its own Top Level Domains (TLDs). This would make the registration of domains less expensive so campaigns could acquire massive domain batches.
Domain management is an important part of brand stewardship; I think clients and agencies would appreciate the peace of mind from a partner that made this a painless component of their interactive campaigns.