A Connected World: An Interview with .GLOBAL's Jeanette Söderlund
In today's connected world, what used to be considered inaccessible markets can now easily be within reach for both small and large sized businesses. Marketplaces like Etsy and eBay gave small businesses the opportunity to reach customers they would never have dreamed of reaching years ago, providing them with global possibilities. In this world economy, it's no surprise we're seeing more and more .GLOBAL domains in the market - everything from large brands like Toyota making their global profile clear, to smaller organizations like H2Go using .GLOBAL to set themselves up for growth and building their online brand. We’re even seeing it picked up in the industry with the companies like the newly launched registryoffice.global as well as used by the largest annual industry event namescon.global.
The growth in usage of the .GLOBAL TLD is no surprise to those watching, as the .GLOBAL team works hard to build the GLOBAL brand and contributes regularly to the domain industry. It is with this commitment to the industry and evolving approach to the market that we were keen to reach out and catch up with Jeanette Söderlund, VP Marketing and Channel Relations with the Dot GLOBAL Registry. Knowing .GLOBAL’s partnership with NamesCon's Global event is coming up later this month, we thought it would be a great time to get their take on the industry and what the .GLOBAL team will be working on in 2019.
Q: First off, thank you for joining us today. I know you are the main partner for NamesCon Global which is fast approaching. Why do you choose this particular event to play such a large role in?
The NamesCon event has, for the past couple of years, been the best commercially focused event in the industry. Few events that we have attended can compare to NamesCon in terms of attendance and the networking possibilities. It is a professionally run event, yet has a casual feel that is ideal for networking and an openness that allows for new innovations to be presented and explored, which in turn is exactly what will ultimately move the entire industry forward. All of these qualities align perfectly with what .GLOBAL stands for (openness, forward thinking and entrepreneurship), so being the title sponsor makes perfect sense.
Q: How long have you been participating in this way and what do you hope to accomplish in this year’s NamesCon partnership?
This is our first year as title sponsor but we also had a fairly big presence there last year when we, among other things, hosted the Opening Reception. This year, we’ve had the chance to share our messaging in a more prominent way via newsletters, articles and social media and I hope that this year’s event will be as productive as previous years in terms of meetings with industry partners. We also have the keynote sessions as an additional means of sharing our ideas, tools and thoughts with the industry.
Q: I understand the .GLOBAL team goal is to “encourage anyone anywhere to think global, be global and go global”. What are you doing to attain that goal and are you happy with the .GLOBAL growth to date?
GLOBAL has had good and healthy growth ever since the launch in September 2014 so we are very pleased with it. It has been important for us as a registry to continuously work hard to balance growth with maintaining a quality namespace that’s low in abuse.
.GLOBAL has a slightly higher price point than the biggest (in terms of DUMs) new TLD to ensure that the namespace remains professional and trusted. When we run marketing campaigns with our registrar partners, although offering a lower-than-usual price for .GLOBAL domains, we intentionally avoid going below a certain sale price. While selling domains at a price of just a couple dollars, or even cents, would significantly boost registration numbers, the renewal rates would take a big hit and the quality of registrations would likely go down (that is, higher amounts of abusive registrations and passive registrations that won’t be used. We carefully watch and evaluate our marketing campaigns by using RegistryOffice, which allows us to make informed decisions and make sure that .GLOBAL grows and develops in the desired direction.
Q: In the last several years, I hear people say they’re seeing more and more adoption and usage of nTLDs. Do you agree with this statement? And do you have any thoughts on how to better support the integration of nTLDs into everyday online usage?
I do agree, both in general but also for .GLOBAL domain names in particular (we’ve definitely seen an increase in the percentage of our DUMs that resolve to fully developed websites). I’ve actually seen more new TLDs “in the wild” in the past year too and when you think about it it makes sense that adoption of these new extensions didn’t happen overnight. Not only was it an overwhelming change for the registrants, but it overwhelmed many registrars for a long time too, as they struggled technically and strategically with presenting all of these new options in a somewhat understandable way to their customers.
It’s my belief that adoption will increase as people continue to see the extensions being used by others, which provides a sense of security, and ultimately will begin to consider new extensions as legitimate options to the legacy TLDs. For the health of the industry as a whole I certainly hope that more and more registries/registrars are moving away from the practice of focusing too much on DUMs as a the primary measurement of TLD and registrar success and therefore basically give away domain names for free, which in essence leads to a bad cycle in part caused by wrongfully teaching the public that domain names hold little to no value (something that, coming from a brand protection background, I really don’t agree with).
So, supporting and presenting relevant use cases together with educating small business owners (and others) of the importance of their online presence, can enhance new TLD adoption as well as increase the status of the industry as a whole. Fine-tuning algorithms and search results is also of the utmost importance, so that the customers are given relevant results and new TLDs are presented in a proper way. Registrars have done some hard work in the past few years and really improved the way TLDs are presented to the customer, although it’s understandably still a work in progress for many of them. Important to note here is also that registrars need to be mindful not only to focus on showing a vertical TLD whenever a certain term is searched for (such as showing .bike when someone searches for “mountainbike store”, for instance), but to also ensure that generic TLDs are presented more frequently when they offer a great option to generic legacy TLDs (such as .GLOBAL being displayed rather than niche TLDs when someone searches for e.g. “growmybrand” or a non-dictionary term/abbreviation which can likely be a brand in an unknown industry, and especially if the term is unavailable under .COM).
I also strongly support the recent proposal to earmark some of ICANN’s new TLD auction proceeds to run a global awareness campaign.
Q: I’m always intrigued by the restrictions that registries choose to either place or leave off their TLDs. What was the decision around choosing no restrictions for .GLOBAL? (I’m assuming was to make it assessable to all with global aspirations, but some may argue exclusivity is key.)
Placing registration restrictions on an extension like .GLOBAL would be very counterintuitive, as the very essence and idea behind the extension is to encourage anyone anywhere to dream bigger and go global. Criteria such as registrants having to prove actual global coverage for their brands, i.e. by multiple physical locations, wouldn’t make any sense either, as a single person with a laptop can in fact manage a global brand from the comfort of his/her home. In other words – placing restrictions on .GLOBAL was never an option for us. That said, I can see how registration restrictions can make sense for strictly vertical extensions targeting a certain niche.
Q: What are some of your favourite .GLOBAL usages - those that you feel best represent .GLOBAL’s ideal usage?
Some examples are:
Global brands operating in multiple locations across the world, such as sixt.global
Forward-thinking innovators, such as hyperloop.global
Non-profits, charities and other organisations working for great causes and global support, such as worldenvironmentday.global
Communities and portals to connect and open up possibilities for people regardless of their physical location, such as careers.global
Personal blogs that want to reach international readers, online shops that offer world-wide shipping, educational institutions that invite students from all over the world, existing brands creating a global portal page diverting the internet user to their respective country-specific site, and much more. We keep a bunch of great use cases on our website and have created videos two years in a row that focuses on great ways in which .GLOBAL names are currently being used. Check them out here and here.
Q: I’m a fan of the forward looking and future facing messaging on your website and agree it’s important for new businesses to make sure they are thinking big picture and planning for growth. In consideration of the domain industry, do you have any thoughts to share on what you foresee the .GLOBAL team working on for 2019?
We’ll continue to work closely with all of our registry partners to present .GLOBAL in a good way to end customers, both in and outside of campaign periods, to keep growing awareness and registration numbers. Aside from that, we’re just about to enter the Chinese market with everything that that entails, as well as continuously working to further improve our services relating to premium names and useful tools for domain investors (such as our premium portal).
A special thanks to Jeanette Söderlund for taking the time to chat and the HEXONET team looks forward to seeing you at the GLOBAL NamesCon Opening Reception on January 29th at 8pm! If you don't have your NamesCon plans in place yet, make sure to check it out at namescon.global and register for the event using promo code GLOBALFriends to get 25% off the ticket price.