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Embracing the ccTLD advantage – trust and credibility in a confusing market

ICANN's introduction of new gTLDs has flipped our industry on its head introducing new choice to the market. CIRA must keep our unique place within this environment.
By David Fowler
Vice-president, marketing and communications

ICANN’s introduction of new gTLDs has flipped our industry on its head introducing new choice to the market. CIRA must keep our unique place within this environment.

This month, I was appointed to the co-chair position of CENTR’s ccTLD marketing working group, a role I enthusiastically embrace. It’s an interesting time to be at the forefront of the ccTLD community. We are at a critical point in the development of our industry as we move from an operational and policy focus to a more market and customer driven industry.

Many industries have previously moved through this life-cycle change, resulting in disruptive innovation and the development of new marketing strategies and tactics. In our case, the catalyst for this change is the introduction of hundreds of new gTLDs and the introduction of new technologies that provide substitutes for the historical domain and website combination.

ICANN’s introduction of new gTLDs has flipped our industry on its head. Our historically stable market is undergoing unprecedented change. This move has introduced new choice to the market, creating opportunities for both domain industry entrepreneurs and those looking for unique or personalized extensions. We need to find and keep our unique place within this environment.

There are more than 500 new gTLDs now available. For customers, this means the path from an idea to domain choice is fundamentally different today than it was two years ago.

Helping individuals and businesses find their homes online and navigating this new domain landscape is a key role for domain marketers.

Country code domains have a privileged role to play in this process. We collectively represent the national online ambitions of our respective geographies and need to take care to ensure our constituents’ voices are not lost in a complex online environment. ccTLDs offer a credible and widely-respected option in a market which is becoming more confusing, even alien, to the average customer.

This privileged position is key source of ccTLD strength. I embrace the role that .CA plays in reflecting Canadian values online. So much of what makes .CA powerful and unique is its link to Canada, and I look forward to sharing some of our best practice experiences through my work at CENTR.

At the core of .CA’s competitive success is providing exceptional customer service for Canadians. We’ve grown to a sustainable position, with 2.3 million  domains under management. We also continue to report growth in an increasingly competitive market. With limitless domain choice, brand affinity and trust are important differentiators for our customers and are a key part of .CA’s marketing focus. My peers in the ccTLD community can similarly embrace “credibility” as a key part of their offerings.

But ccTLDs cannot succeed on the power of their brands alone. At .CA we’re launching new products and responding to our customers’ evolving need for Internet solutions. We’re translating our expertise in DNS, cybersecurity and online services into opportunities for new sources of revenue. We’re working to create safe, secure and stable spaces online that reflect the interests of the countries and geographies we represent. We’ve been anything but complacent in the face of 500+ new competitors.

At .CA we believe strongly that we can continue to win in this competitive market. We also believe that we must lead with purpose, supporting the development of the Internet in Canada and abroad. We’ve committed millions to not-for-profit projects in our country that work to build an inclusive, just, and vibrant Internet community. Every registration supports this work. We look beyond our next sales goal, to reflect and perpetuate strong Canadian communities. This social mandate is part of the culture of ccTLDs.

As co-chair of the working group, I’m looking forward to driving this conversation at CENTR, at the same time harnessing the knowledge of colleagues from ccTLDs around the world. Collectively, we will navigate the nuances of a rapidly changing domain industry.

About the author
David Fowler

David brings a wealth of experience in strategic leadership, program execution and partnership development to CIRA’s overall product marketing, corporate communications and community relations activities.

David joined CIRA in 2008 as Director of Marketing and Communications. In this time, David has played a critical role in positioning the .CA domain in the market and building a marketing program that has helped .CA remain one of the fastest growing legacy top-level domains in the world, bucking industry trends. He has also led the development of CIRA’s flagship Community Investment Program.

Beyond CIRA, David is engaged in the global domain sector through his role as chair of CENTR’s marketing working group. Prior to working at CIRA, David worked in marketing at the Royal Canadian Mint and on many other global brands including the Quaker Oats Company, RBC and Calvin Klein.