This article is part of a series of interviews with NamesCon exhibitors and sponsors. The 2015 NamesCon event will take place at the Tropicana Hotel in Las Vegas from January 11-14. Over 500 people have registered to attend NamesCon so far, and over 800 attendees are expected.
Today’s NamesCon Spotlight interview is with John Kane, Vice President of Corporate Services at Afilias. You are welcome to post comments and questions for John in the comment section if you would like to ask about Afilias or the domain business.
Hey John , can you tell us about your company and how long you have been there?
Afilias is the world’s second largest Internet domain name registry, with more than 20 million names under management. We have many loyal customers and partners among the NamesCon participants – they are very familiar with our registry services, Managed DNS and award-winning mobile Web services.
Afilias was founded in 2000 and I was part of the founding team. Then I spent some time at CSC and Enom before returning to Afilias a few years ago. With new gTLDs coming onto the market almost every day now, I have to say this is the most exciting time ever for the industry including Afilias!
This is your second time at NamesCon. Can you tell us about your first time and what you got out of it?
Afilias was a founding sponsor of NamesCon and we are happy to be here this year also. Roland LaPlante attended for us last year, and still talks about the exciting atmosphere and the attention to new TLDs. He was especially excited to hear domain veterans like Frank Schilling speak at length about their ideas and plans. The talk by Jen Wolfe was also a highlight—she’s one of the few who really get the value of new TLDs for Brands. And the fact that NamesCon is a big sponsor of WaterSchool gives our participation even more meaning.
This will be your 2nd time sponsoring at NamesCon. Can you tell us why you are sponsoring this year and what you hope to get out of NamesCon?
Afilias was a sponsor last year, and we have upped our participation for this year’s program. We have a bigger team coming this year and have invited some our big customers to attend as well. For 2015, we have a bunch of meetings already set up and are looking forward to deep discussion around new TLD plans, including for the next round. We understand that attendance is going to set a record this year, so we hope to see all our old friends and meet a host of new folks as well.
What are your thoughts on the new TLDs?
The new TLDs are impacting every Internet user: you think it’s a big deal, it’s even bigger! We are barely scratching the surface of this phenomenon and there are just so many new opportunities to be explored. We need to focus on understanding the market’s needs and get creative – and bold!
Where do you see new TLDs going in the next year?
One thing that is really cool with the new TLDs is the birth of “.Brands” – that brands can apply for their own branded domains. In the next year, I think we will start seeing a wide variety of strategies and tactics tested by the brands who have gotten their own .Brands. Some may start using 301 redirects (permanent redirects) to send their current .com visitors to the new .Brand site while protecting their search engine ranking. Others may put new products on their new .Brand address, or migrate a section of their current corporate site, or create micro-sites on their .Brand address, etc. There is no textbook case (yet) on how to migrate to a .Brand address, so it will be a very interesting time for the industry and marketers to watch and learn.
Can you tell us about how your registry services help deliver value to your customers?
Afilias provides registry services to the full range of new TLD owners, including over 100 .Brand owners! Our market leadership is the best proof of our technical, security and marketing expertise. We have innovative tools and dedicated support staff to ensure our customers are getting the best services. I encourage you to talk to our customers and partners at NamesCon – let them share with you their experience working with us!
Any final thoughts going in to the next year?
2015 is going to be a year of EXECUTION. Success will come from paying attention to the details without losing sight of the overall strategy. It’s also a year of planning for round 2. Major brands that did not apply really do need to start NOW to develop their plans. Things move slowly in big companies, and the marketing folks need to engage now to build the internal support they’ll need for a successful application. Things have never been more exciting in our industry as we lay the foundations for the Internet of the future.