How the BBC Handles Domain Names It Doesn’t Need

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Large corporations tend to manage large portfolios of domain names. Over the years, companies acquire domain names for a variety of reasons – corporate acquisitions, defensive registrations, product or service domain names, and anything in between. Some domain names are mission critical and others serve a purpose for a short period of time and become unnecessary for the company to use and own.

The BBC is a huge UK-based media company that owns thousands of domain names. An article in World Trademark Review (WTR) discussed how the BBC determines what domain names it needs and what the organization does with domain names it does not need. Here’s an excerpt from the article:

“On realising that roughly 90% of the BBC’s 20,000-plus domain names were for inactive sites, Diane Hamer, head, business and legal affairs, brand protection, decided that it was time for a more pragmatic approach. “I just thought actually this is not an efficient way to spend money because no matter how much we do we can never litigate against every misuse of our brands,” she says. As such, her team has decided to strip back the portfolio by about 50%. “It’s been a backbreaking process,” she admits. And how do rights holders decide what to cut and what to keep? Traditional TLDs and the company’s origin country ccTLD are likely vital. Anything else (eg, domains that use hyphens or misspellings) may be worth slashing.”

I found it very interesting that an organization like the BBC smartly realizes it can’t protect its brand entirely. They could own thousands of typo domain names but still miss some that could be used nefariously. For every typo, there are literally thousands of extensions that could be registered with that typo.

Many large companies have at least one person who is responsible for domain name ownership and management. This person works with other employees within the company to determine what domain names are needed and how they should be used. I would imagine there are some companies that keep everything and others that rid themselves of unnecessary domain names. From my experience, most of the largest companies are unwilling to sell their domain names unless a substantial offer is made that makes the time and effort worthwhile.

It’s not often that we learn about what goes into corporate domain name decision making, so this was neat to read.

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