Why Are They Coming Out Now Against gTLDs?

Over the past couple of weeks, a number of organizations have issued strongly worded press releases condemning ICANN and the gTLD program. Among those who have criticized ICANN was the CEO of the International Advertising Bureau (IAB) and the CEO of the Association of National Advertisers (ANA).

According to Randall Rothenberg, CEO and President of the IAB, “There appears to have been no economic impact research, no full and open stakeholder discussions, and little concern for the delicate balance of the Internet ecosystem.”

Bob Liodice, President and CEO of the ANA stated that, “Brand confusion, dilution and other abuses also pose risks of cyber predator harms, consumer privacy violations, identity theft and cyber security breaches. The decision to go forward with the program also violates sound public policy and contravenes ICANN’s Code of Conduct and its undertakings with the United States Department of Commerce.”

While Rothenberg and Liodice are of course entitled to their opinions, I am surprised they were not more vocal about their beliefs during the gTLD approval and discussion process that went on for a number of years. Many companies and organizations provided commentary, and there were plenty who opposed the gTLD program.

I am sure one opinion would be that it’s better to oppose this late than never, but it’s strange to see. What were some organizations waiting for to comment? I can’t believe they didn’t know about the program or know how to participate. That just wouldn’t make sense that such large organizations didn’t realize this was taking place.

Elliot Silver
Elliot Silver
About The Author: Elliot Silver is an Internet entrepreneur and publisher of DomainInvesting.com. Elliot is also the founder and President of Top Notch Domains, LLC, a company that has closed eight figures in deals. Please read the DomainInvesting.com Terms of Use page for additional information about the publisher, website comment policy, disclosures, and conflicts of interest. Reach out to Elliot: Twitter | Facebook | LinkedIn


  1. They knew it would come eventually. My guess is that they thought it wouldbe delayed some more. I was kinda suprised ICANN moved forward, while the GAC still had some unresolved issues.

    Not that those issues have been resolved since the announcement back in Singapore but the wheels are set in motion and so far they only roll forward and not backwards.

  2. The acronym soup that is ICANN does involve these stakeholders and give them their “time at the mic”. The likely problem is that these stakeholders would have had to invest the time, energy and expenses (like traveling to BFE to ICANN conferences) over the course of years to even keep pace with any of this “progress”.

    Like most in this world these “organizations” have clearly chosen to be reactionary. . . imho it’s too little too late for the IAB and ANA. These “organizations” clearly aren’t and their memberships should really think long and hard about their leadership and direction going forward. They have dropped the ball on a wide-reaching important issue.

  3. I believe two reasons:

    1) Reality is setting in.
    Even though ICANN announced it was opening the floodgates, I believe most of corporate America had heard them cry wolf so many times that they didn’t take it seriously until recently and only now are taking a hard look at the consequences.

    2) dotXXX
    Reality check #2. Article came out today saying 4 out of 5 applicants are not porn industry related. In other words, it’s companies buying names to protect their brands (cheaper than UDRP later). Now times that by 1000.

  4. Maybe NOT being involved until this point is part of a larger legal strategy?

    IF these organizations had of been involved during the gTLD approval and discussion process, perhaps it might have weakened their ability to mount a ‘post-approval’ legal battle?

    For example, IF they had of been involved during the process, they would no longer be able to put forward their specific ‘non-inclusive consultation’ argument: “There appears to have been … no full and open stakeholder discussions”.

  5. @ Elliot

    Why don’t you ask them (IAB and ANA) to see what they have to say about this.

    My guess is that they probably had underestimated the popularity and potentials of the new TLD program.

  6. Maybe they didn’t want to get into a fight during the process, maybe they didn’t have the money, and would rather score point by releasing statements after the fact.

    (Not to go on a political rant, but something like when during the debt negotiations Republicans wanted to transfer the power of the purse to the President, just so A) that responsibility would no longer be theirs and B) they could blame him afterwards)

    Or maybe it’s just sour grapes that one of the first gTLD’s to come out was the .XXX, a not-so-family-friendly extension

  7. Really there are two choices as to why now….

    1. They are incompetent and didn’t realize this was happening. You could add the close corollary that they didn’t think it would make any difference. Same result — not keeping their eye on the ball. That would get you fired in most companies.

    2. They knew all about it but were participating through proxies in the ICANN process so as to keep some ammunition in reserve. What this means is that any agreements to abide by the results of a process where everyone gets to participate were just horse-pucky — essentially, bad-faith negotiating. Since they didn’t get their way in ICANN, they are now throwing their weight around.

    Doesn’t really reflect well on the ad industry in either case.


  8. @ Antony

    I would imagine the organizations would have people monitoring these plans for a while now since they represent so many brands. I am surprised that they are up in arms now.

    Did either organization make objections or recommendations to ICANN along the way?

  9. I believe that several corporate constituencies refused to apply any strategic thought to ICANN policy development.
    And want a few associations to throw a few legal Hail Mary’s…

    IP lawyers ….saw future litigation $$$$

    some IP….seeing 1000’s of defensive registrations so at least fight for modified UDRP etc…

    Marketing….. saw dot BRAND for cheap at $185K

    SEO/ Web Marketing….. Ignored the issue relative to SEM or any competitor to dot com being worthy.

    IT… IPv6, mobile, apps, cloud,

    CEO/ CFO … recent realization that auctions for something like dot Hotels or dot CarRental is going to be $500K +++
    and they are not ready but a newcomer or established rival is preparing for 2012 Q1 and they are not.

  10. @Elliot

    The ANA made a comment to the second version of the ICANN Applicant Guidebook (there were seven versions). That was many years ago.

    Time Warner, Microsoft, and some other members of the IAB were active in the IP constituency, but acting for their companies, not the IAB. So was Demand Media, on the pro-gTLD side…

    No one cares much for substance, it appears, but it’s worth noting that everything the ANA and IAB are complaining about were brought up early in the process, thoroughly debated, brought to the fore again by governments (guess who was lobbying them…) and in most cases very significant concessions were granted to IP interests, granting them more rights in ICANN than they have in the real world.

    It’s particularly galling that after a hard-fought compromise was reached at ICANN, corporate interests are now going for a second bite at the apple in the press and (I have no doubt) in Washington DC when our lovely congress reconvenes — look for congresspeople reading from scripts about how outraged they are by new gTLDs.

    The good news is that ICANN — and the results reached — are truly the result of a global effort. The U.S. government has a special role, but it’s not up to congress or any other single group to decide how the namespace should develop. In addition, the NTIA (part of the Department of Commerce that has an historical relationship overseeing ICANN) has come out forcefully in favor of the “multistakeholder model.”

    This won’t be pretty but I’m confident that the program will move forward.


  11. The last congressional hearing was entertaining to watch.

    It doesn’t appear the DoC are interested in seeing ICANN implode.

    I guess they could get an injuction, muck things up.

  12. 17-Aug-2011, From Ellery Davies

    Many readers commenting on the ICANN decision to open the TLD floodgates suggest that it is a “cash grab”. Perhaps this is one motive for the move. But considering the nearly unanimous vote, I suspect that at least a few ICANN members think that the idea has merit, even without considering the potential gains. Unfortunately, it has no merit! It is a very foolish decision. It makes TLDs irrelevant.

    Domain and trademark owners can’t possibly chase after every combination of letters in the universe. Under this scheme, we will all simply own domains with dot somewhere in the name.

    More likely, it will have a “regressive” and positive effect by making .com the only relevant TLD. In fact, .com is already it akin to NOT REQUIRING a TLD at all! In effect, you own the real-estate that comes before it. All other TLDs are irrelevant. (.gov is a possible exception, since it’s award is tightly controlled within a clearly defined venue).

    Why is .com so relevant and important?

    o It is the domain that most browsers add automatically (Think of CTRL-ENTER)
    o The domain Domains that end with .us resolves to .com, even without .us
    o Search engines are biased to present them first

    The CEO of Coca-Cola is Muhtar Kent. Once IANN begins doling out arbitrary TLDs, which of these addresses do you suppose might be used by Mr. Kent? Which would you choose?

    a. mkent@coca-cola.com
    b. mkent@coca-cola.{something else}
    c. mkent@{something}.coca-cola

    In both (b) and (c), the {something} is required! Without, the address is illegal (it fails). Why would anyone want the address mkent@ceo.coca-cola? It is preposterous.

    I am in favor of throwing away TLDs altogether! Let’s just agree that if you own the .com property than you are fortunate. You own the words that precede it. You effectively own the naked term. If you don’t own the .com property, then you are playing 2nd fiddle. You will forever be losing mail, because the sender accidentally addressed it to the “real” organization and not the “wannabe”.

    If you already have a domain ending in .net or .org, or even .info or .me, use it in good health. In some situations, it might even make sense. But only if you own BOTH the .com and another TLD of the same word(s). For Verizon, the domains .com and net are a nifty differentiator between the company and its users. But they still lead to confusion.

    Ellery Davies clarifies law and public policy. He is:

    ­ a fervent privacy champion and Antiforensics expert
    ­ creator of the leading email security product & service
    ­ expert in distributed storage & communications
    ­ expert in steganography & data recovery (for the data owner only)
    ­ security columnist, TV & radio commentator (using nom de plume)

    Feedback is invited: Ellery (at) starbus (dot) com

  13. @theo were you surprised that it was moved forward by ICANN and then the leader of ICANN, Peter Dengate-Thrush, became involved in a company that will profit from the new Gtlds ?

  14. “Doesn’t really reflect well on the ad industry in either case.”

    It also reflects poorly on the domain industry. . . these are potential buyers of domain products/services as well as and now they are adversaries ?


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