C38. Describe any measures you propose to make to differentiate the .org TLD from TLDs intended for commercial purposes. Your proposal should describe in detail any planned marketing practices designed to differentiate the .org TLD, promote and attract registrations from the global noncommercial community, and minimize defensive and duplicative registrations.
THE UNITY REGISTRY PROPOSAL FOR DIFFERENTIATION
Unity registry proposes to position .org as a positive space on the Internet, a focal point for all varieties of noncommercial activities and a space which businesses can be encouraged to use in order to enhance their corporate social responsibility programmes.
As registry operator Unity Registry will
WHAT UNITY REGISTRY STANDS FOR
The .org domain can only be truly differentiated if the registry operator is truly different. Unity Registry can make .org stand out from other TLDs because it stands out from the other applicants in its understanding of and affiliation with the community that .org exists to serve.
Unity Registry has been created to meet the online needs of the global noncommercial community through building, managing and developing a world-class registry. We serve the .org communities because we want to help noncommercial organizations around the world use technology for social benefit, not because we see them as a market to be exploited.
We are focused on making our business succeed because we know that reliability, technical excellence, stability and excellent customer service can only be provided by a business which is itself effective, well-managed and financially viable.
Through our partners we have a track record of working successfully with both for-profit and non-profit organizations and companies around the world. We understand their needs and know how to make .org appeal to them and work for them.
OUR APPROACH TO DIFFERENTIATION
The noncommercial Internet community is brought together through:
Differentiating .org requires repositioning and attaching brand values to the domain so that it will begin to attract registrants from the various .org communities. In the public mind and in the minds of registrants .org needs to be associated with community values and activities whereas other domains are associated with commercial values (.com) or special purposes (.info, .museum).
A number of factors lay behind the original desire to differentiate .org. They included the unrestricted and unsponsored nature of the .org registry; the perception that a large number of registrations are from commercial entities; and the previous lack of a clear branding and marketing strategy for .org which made clear its relevance to noncommercial Internet users.
Unity Registrys proposal tackles these issues with an imaginative but well-grounded approach which allows us to market .org to the global noncommercial community through a combination of effective brand management and the creation of targeted value-added services, as described below.
Unity Registrys marketing plan broadly segments the market into three:
In each case the Unity Registry marketing plan, described below, creates positive reasons for new registrants to come into the space and for existing registrants to continue their registrations. We expect a decline in promotional, speculative and duplicative names but this will be offset by increased numbers of other registrations (see our projections, Section C17) leading to overall growth in the number of registrations and registrants over the three year period.
The reassignment of responsibility for operating the registry creates an unparalleled opportunity to position .org as a positive space on the Internet, a focal point for all varieties of noncommercial activities and a space which businesses can be encouraged to use for more than just the protection of their trademarks.
UNDERSTANDING THE CURRENT .ORG REGISTRANT BASE
We know that registrants are predominantly from the United States, although a significant proportion come from other countries. We also know that North American non-profits regard .org as a local name while non-profits with an international dimension see it as a global name, possibly complementing but not replacing the .org subdomain of the ccTLD. Our understanding is that there are approximately 2.3 million names registered in .org. Matthew Zooks analysis in Jan 20013 indicates that approximately 60% of names are US registered. Approximately 5% of the total are Internationalised Domain Names mainly in China, Japan, Korea and the Middle East. Removing these from the analysis indicates that the domain is in fact more US-centred than the 60% figure suggests.
We know that the namespace is going through a decline, mirroring the
It is unclear how much further the decline has to go before bottoming out, nor that this decline can immediately be countered by encouraging non-profits to register, although our plan aims to reduce the rate of reduction and to reverse it during Q2 and Q3 2003.
At present there is no verifiable data indicating the number of currently registered names held by non-profits or noncommercial organizations. This is an issue we address in the Market Analysis and Demand section of this proposal.
In preparing our proposal Unity Registry has carried out online and round table consultations amongst more than 50 key non profit organisations and inter-governmental agencies. Included in this consultation were London-based international organisations, Brussels-based international and organisations related to the European Union and international agencies based in Geneva. A further consultation with US non-profits is scheduled in Washington DC.
These discussions tell us clearly that the non-profit/noncommercial .org user communities value three things:
Our proposal will give them all three and will make .org far more attractive to its various constituencies.
Stability is a crucial part of the process from all points of view. The capabilities and the technical competence of the partnership are the bedrock on which we can build the new .org. We detail in Section C17 exactly how we will ensure that the Registry Function remains stable.
Identity is a much more amorphous issue. The .org community is currently largely US-based, but also international. It contains a myriad of noncommercial organizations, but also welcomes businesses and individuals. Broad sectors can be identified but a lack of statistical data prevents detailed market segmentation, as indicated above. Consequently our strategy focuses on .org as a broad platform on which different noncommercial and socially responsible identities exist and can develop.
Governance For many non-profits, being involved with the running of the .org namespace - or more generally in ICANN processes - is not part of their mission. However more and more are finding that issues relating to Internet governance and the name that is fundamental to their identity are becoming important. Our consultation exercises have shown that the machinery of policy development is a key concern.
For example, some interest groups expressed interest in the .org registry supporting the development of new special purpose TLDs. Others were concerned about issues relating to commercial use of certain names (an issue largely within the scope of UDRP, but requiring educational processes). All were interested in the way that directory services could benefit .org registrants. Through the mechanism of the .ORG Member Coop and Policy Group we propose giving registrants a voice in the policy governing the development of .org including a measure of resource allocation. Our approach to this is described in Section C35.
Some large groups will become alliance partners helping to devise new services and approaches to enhance the value of .org. Others will prefer to engage at the all users level with more limited rights of participation and nomination. The new .org marketing strategy can therefore promote .org as an inclusive namespace, encouraging registrants to participate at whatever level they feel is within their competence.
Corporations are moving rapidly to account for their social and environmental
responsibilities. Unity Registry intends to position .org to harness this
trend. The repositioned .org offers an ideal opportunity for businesses
to demonstrate their approach to corporate social responsibility. They
will be encouraged to use their
70% of Chief Executives report that corporate social responsibility is an essential issue for their business, while 89% of Marketing Directors believe that business should be involved in addressing the social issues of the day4. This is strongly supported by the fact that 79% of US consumers said that they would switch brands to a company which linked its product with a cause5.
While it is reasonable for large companies to wish to register their trademarks or service marks under as many domains as possible simply to prevent other parties from using these terms, the .org community that we will create through our marketing efforts will make it far more likely that the .org registration will be used for positive ends, rather than simply being blocked or pointed at the main commercial website of the company concerned.
This can be done without the need for sanctions, restrictions on registration or other disincentive, simply by repositioning .org and giving commercial users a viable and attractive alternative to pointing their .org offering at their .com Website.
4Corporate Survey III, Business in the Community 2001
DIFFERENTIATION WITHIN .ORG
We detail some of these services below.
.ORG AND CCTLDS
It is important not to overlook the perceived relative merits of .org
as a gTLD and
Clearly the new .org marketing strategy has to take account of this in promotion recognising the different issues inherent in these broad groups.
THE ROLE OF REGISTRARS
ICANN-accredited registrars act as the sales channel for gTLDs and as such are a crucial stakeholder in the new marketing and differentiation plan for .org. We have discussed our plans informally with a number of registrars. These consultations will be developed in a systematic way to ensure that registrar interests are taken into account during the development of the marketing program. Any such discussions, and any marketing plans, will be made in full compliance with the provisions of Section C21 of this proposal and will not in any way impinge on the equivalent access to registry services that Unity Registry will make available to all ICANN-accredited registrars.
.com = financial gain
.org = social gain
If .com represented the use of the Internet for financial gain, org should represent the use of the Internet for social gain. In the public mind .org can mean the Internet space representing the part of life that is not work and not commerce, but the space we create for social activity, for politics, for faith and for fun. This is sometimes called the commons of the Internet, a space that already brings people together the world over to share ideas, to debate ideals, and to work together for common goals.
However as a brand .org evokes different value propositions in different sectors of the community. Unity Registrys marketing strategy will take advantage of this to develop the brand in such a way that each different sector can utilise the domain to further enhance their Internet presence.
We have identified three different brand propositions which can be presented to the core market segments.
As detailed previously, the .org registry currently holds an estimated 2.3m active registrations. Something over 60% of names are registered in the US. The relative proportion of not for profit versus for profit registrations is not clear and one of the first tasks of Unity Registry on winning the bid will be to undertake more detailed research into the relative proportions, within the constraints of the existing thin registry model.
Gauging the total size of the market for .org amongst not for profit groups is difficult. Research into US non-profits by the Berkman Center of Harvard Law School6 shows that in 1998 there were 1,017,000 charitable organizations with 501(c)(3) IRS tax exempt status. Adding in various other tax-exempt organizations (health, educational and cooperative) the total in 1998 was 1,376,395. Of course there are many more unregistered groups, networks and individuals with the potential to register names in .org. It is their local non-profit domain.
The database of International Organizations published by the Union of International Associations7 contains entries on 25,000 international non-governmental organizations and 5,000 intergovernmental organizations. By their nature these are likely to identify themselves as .orgs (or in some cases .int).
More broadly the UK the Charity Commission8 register has data on 161,333 main charities as of March 2002. This represents a minority of the total number of non-profit organizations in the UK. In the European Union as a whole the European Foundation Centre9 estimates that there are 3-5 million voluntary and charitable organizations in total. Of course only a subset of these organizations are on-line and either have or will want a .org address.
While there is no definitive data on the number of registrants (as opposed to names) in .org, it is safe to assume that it is substantially less than the 2.3m names and probably less than 1 million. Of these a substantial proportion are for-profit organizations, and this leaves plenty of room for growth amongst non-profits in the US and internationally.
Unity Registrys approach to segmentation will be based on a matrix of organisational and network reach - local, regional and international - and sector. For .orgs globally key sectors include sustainable development, human rights, faith organisations, trade unions, consumers organisations, womens networks, community networks, campaigning and single interest groups. For the North American .org market sectors also include local community, sports and other interest groups.
By examining, the global evidence on consumer, employee, investor and government views on corporate social responsibility (CSR) the business benefits for developing and being actively involved are clear. Corporate social responsibility can:
Build corporate reputation with customers:
Develop employee morale and loyalty
Ensure greater value in long-term share price as investors want companies to secure a good reputation
Build government relations as governments want companies in their country who will contribute to a more prosperous economy and society
10Source: Millennium CSR Poll, 25,000 people across 23 countries, May 1999
11Source: Millennium CSR Poll, 25,000 people across 23 countries, May 1999.
12Source: Cone/RoperTrends Report, November 2000
13Source: The Ultimate Win Win Win, BITC, November 1999
14Source: Cone/Roper Trends Report, 1999
15Source: MORI, UK Opinion formers, 1998
Cause related marketing (CRM) is 'a commercial activity by which business and charities or causes form a partnership with each other to market an image, product or service for mutual benefit'.
In the last 5 years we have seen a real growth and understanding of CRM in the UK and the USA. It is fair to say that in these two markets CRM has developed from being simply used as a short-term sales promotion, to building customer loyalty to now being used as an important tool for building corporate reputation and trust.
Whilst a key element of our differentiation and marketing plan is to encourage the use of .org names to support CSR and CRM activities, it in no way implies and endorsement of any particular company or activity by the Registry.
The role of marketing is to communicate the new .org brand to the key target audiences, in order to change their existing opinions and behaviour. One end result of this is increased sales.
The key objective is to halt the current decline in .org registrations and to build new sales in line with our projections
See Financial Forecasts in Appendix G.
There are four main target groups for marketing:
What they are looking for
The repositioning of .org will lead to more registrations, so long as you help us.
How we can deliver this
If the overall branding and marketing strategy is going to work, Registrars need to buy into the process. They must be involved in the detailed development of the marketing strategy to localise it and adapt it in other ways. They must also be involved in the development of the technical strategy and implementation of the thick registry and value added services.
How we will engage the Registrars:
Co-op Marketing Program
Unity Registry will develop a cooperative marketing program as an incentive for registrars to commence marketing efforts of the .org name space on their own behalf. Unity Registry will engage a model similar to many of the new gTLD registry operators that allocates up to 33% of registrars expenditure up to a cap of gross registrations. This will be the first time that registrars have been presented with this opportunity with the.org domain. The participation will continue to widen the differentiation theme, providing a platform for uniform key message delivery which is consistent through this marketing plan.
Co-op Advertising Program
Unity Registry will develop a cooperative advertising program with registrars utilising on-line banner ads on registrar sites and key .org sites. The aim of this is to develop a viral campaign based on endorsement of the new .org approach.
Registrar Relations Management
Unity Registry will engage a comprehensive communications program aimed at building strong rela tionships with registrars selling .org domain names as well as their resellers. Account Managers will be assigned to represent registrars. This approach will enable the detailed monitoring of registrar marketing progress to help ensure effective results of the above programs.
Education and Training (registrars and resellers)
Unity Registry will also develop a road-show seminar program designed at outlining the focussed new approach to .org, registry services, processes, marketing programs and other relationships between the registry, registrar and resellers in order to maintain a seamless registration process throughout the entire channel.
Proportion of budget: 40%
What they are looking for
.org is the space that defines you
How we can deliver this
(a) through registrars
(b) through public Relations
We will engage an international PR agency, which will develop a strategy to communicate the message about the new .org carrying the key message of this is your space, get your .org. If you are listed in the directory then your profile and reach will benefit.
A key early stage activity will be a programme of targeted conferences and events at which to put across the message about the new .org.
(c) Conferences and Events
Unity Registry will actively engage with non-profit networks through presentations at major events - e.g. the World Summit on the Information Society. In this way we can get the message across to key opinion formers in the different sectors.
Proportion of budget: 30%
What they are looking for
.org is the space to make your case
How we can deliver this
We will engage an International PR agency to work towards heightening the appeal of .org representation and play on the growing need for a public perception of responsible corporate entities. Education devices such as seminars and workgroups would be organized among the leaders in the corporate sector. Attracting the market influencers to take up a .org domain will filter down the line making for an efficient approach.
We will also approach the Public Relations industry directly, to lobby for them to recommend .org to their clients as a useful CSR tool. This could either be as part of their ongoing PR strategy or, for example, as a pre-prepared damage limitation strategy in the event of public criticism/ exposure.
Proportion of budget: 20%
What they are looking for
.org is the space to make a difference
How we can deliver this
This does not require a major program per se, it largely will result from the other marketing activities creating a new image and perception of .org. Consequently a small proportion of the overall marketing budget has been set aside for more general promotion.
Proportion of budget: 10%
Unity Registry will appoint a Sales and Marketing manager with responsibility for a geographically dispersed team. We already have experience of managing such a team in .coop with marketing and sales functions in North America and Europe.
Roles in the team will include registrar account management, communications and PR, on-line marketing, event development and management.
The team will be able to call upon the high level network of relationships in different .org sectors that exists within the Unity Registry partnership and broader alliance.
The centrepiece to this portion of the plan involves the reduction of the current registration price. This price reduction will be marketed to registrars and resellers as on of many benefits of focussing marketing and sales initiatives toward the .org domain. Unity Registry believe this pricing point reduction is a key incentive to registrars and registrants alike to raise registration rates and interest.
The option of value added services will also be a marketing focal point. Price plus services equal value - and it is this increase in intrinsic value that will attract registrants to the .org namespace. Packaging these additional services makes for a highly sellable item and one which will be attractive to the three target markets alike.
In truth, the success of the above methods will be reliant upon the pricing and packaging-for this is where the tangible value lies. The public relations and advertising are all well and good but the strength of the marketing campaign will be in the true value proposition to new registrants looking for the representation that only .org can give or existing registrants looking to renew their place on the web.
The Unity Registry marketing campaign will be successful in increasing the value of the .org space and differentiating it from the other names in the gTLD space. There is an honesty about the .org space with which no other can compare - it has a particular market and isnt trumped up to be something it is not. Conversely it is willing to concede that, while not attracting the glitz and glamour of its high profile cousins, the .org brand is one that will serve the non-profit sector admirably and with defined purpose.
One of the key concepts behind differentiating the .org domain is the transition from a thin registry to a thick registry (described in Section C17). Whilst the pure registry function is the prime focus, the thick registry will form a platform on which a wide variety of value-added services can be built.
The .org registry database will be fully relational and able to store details of the full range of .org registrants around the core registry data needed to ensure that the database can be searched effectively.
While the required WHOIS service will be run separately (see Section C17.8) the common data might include basic WHOIS data, plus organization type (noncommercial, for-profit, etc.); geographic location and scope; industry alignment by ISIC or SIC code; intended use of .org domain; other domains registered and their uses; size of organization (financial turnover and headcount); and others.
Further types of data will be collected, relating to broad categories
of registrants. For example, a unique data set will be designed for small
non-profits with local geographic scope, and another will be designed
for large corporations using their
.org domains to communicate their corporate social responsibility (CSR) policies. These data sets will be carefully designed to capture the information of most interest to each respective constituency.
The resulting database will represent a rich collection of information about .org registrants with a broad range of potential uses both for the non-profit community itself and the wider public, whilst of course complying with relevant data protection legislation. These applications form one of the key differentiators for the .org registry under Unity Registrys proposal.
The registry is, of course, little more than a database of information on organizations. The real value is provided in the ways in which this information is consolidated and made available.
Unity Registry proposes to establish three channels through which the database can be used:
Of course, registrants may opt out of any or all of these and choose to hide some or all of the data they submit to the registry.
The .org-branded directory will provide a range of search options for registrants of the .org domain. Functionally similar to online yellow pages for .orgs, the directory will allow users to choose between a basic keyword search and a more detailed search, with search terms based on fields mirroring the extended data set for each broad type of registrant.
For example, a user looking for a housing charity in Missouri could use the basic keyword search and quickly see a list of such .org-registered charities. Search results will be displayed with Yahoo!-style categories and breadcrumb paths, so it will always be possible to navigate up successive levels of information. Using our example, from the list of search results, the user would also be able to navigate up to all housing charities or all Missouri charities. The advanced search on the .orgbranded directory will offer opportunities to search on multiple criteria and exclude unwanted results.
In addition to the search capabilities, the .org-branded site may offer consolidated statistics on its registrants; though this feature could not be launched until the additional registry information is available for a sufficient number of registrants.
Information in the directory will also be made available for third parties to use on their own websites. This will serve to foster the growth and cohesion of the .org community by providing opportunities for creating relationships between individual registrants and groups of registrants.
At least two tiers of service will be made available: a basic service requiring only registration and use of a simple string of code; and a more advanced service allowing extensive customisation and requiring the use of an application program interface (API). For security the searches will only search though the Unity Registry Directory system. The database itself will not be given out to third parties.
The basic service would be free of charge to the third-party user, and
would be limited to the display of a set of search results on their own
website. One obvious use for this feature would be on links
pages. For example, a faith-based organization might want a page on its
website with a directory of similar or related
.org-registered resources. A simple set-up procedure on the .org website would generate a piece of code based on that organizations requirements that could be inserted into the code on their own website. Then, each time that page is accessed, a query to the .org database would display the most up-to-date search results. Any visitor to that page who clicks on one of the listings would view the full listing on the .org site.
A search box that third parties can use on their own websites is another feature available free of charge. Search results would appear on the .org site, as would details of the records found.
The more advanced service would allow a much greater level of customisation,
both in terms of search capabilities and display of results. An API will
be provided for this service, and a micropayment scheme will be put into
place that charges per query. This level of service will essentially allow
a rebranded version of the
.org directory to be made available on a third-party website. But, more importantly, the API will allow third parties to develop additional interactivity.
For example, a community-centred charity website could offer a giving wizard that asks a user several questions based on their donation preferences, and progressively narrows down search results until a suitably-focused shortlist is arrived at. Alternatively, a portal or registrars website could offer .orgs classified advertising that would appear along with their .org record when displayed on the portal.
This advanced service may be available to only a limited number of sites, and may also be restricted to use by .orgs in order to reinforce the cohesiveness of the .org community.
One important issue when developing a service of this nature is security. Unity Registry will include the necessary security precautions to ensure the integrity of the data is maintained at all times. This security may be in the form of search limits and resultant IP address blacklisting. The use of high-tech security methods will also encourage the .org registrants to participate in the directory without fear of exposure to spamming or other nuisance direct marketing - a high profile current problem within the gTLD space. Unity Registry will therefore promote this comfort factor to prospective directory entrants.
Of course, the effectiveness of the .org Unity Registry directory service will depend upon the quality and quantity of the data available to it. Not only will it be necessary to have all new and existing registrants to complete the extended data set; registrants will also need to update their information on a regular basis.
The times during which a registrant will complete the full set of data are most likely at initial domain registration or renewal, since administrators must already be engaged with the registration system at those times. Updates to the directory can be performed either by registrars, or directly by registrants consistent with the aim of creating a service of value to the .org community whilst not impinging on registrars' legitimate interest in maintaining close service relationships with their client base.
Fortunately the .org reassignment will provide another opportunity to request registrants to provide this additional information. Using existing registrant information, we can communicate with each domains administrator via email to inform them of the planned changes and enhancements following the transition - at that time, we can also make the point that the effectiveness of the directory services will depend on the completeness each registrants record and invite each of them to complete the survey via a link provided. (Of course, appropriate security and verification procedures will be observed during the design and implementation of this process.)
Ensuring regular updates of the information in the database is a significantly greater challenge. Apart from requesting updates at renewal time, Unity Registry could email domain administrators once per year to ask for the information to be updated, pointing out the advantages in keeping that information up-to-date. In those messages, the registry will endeavour to provide statistics on the number of times their domain records were viewed; that will presumably be of interest on its own, and it will provide an incentive to keep the information current. If administrators have asked not to receive such messages, none will be sent. However, we will then need to rely on them to update their own information in between renewal times.
As the directory will be linked to the central WHOIS, it will also be able to reflect changes in real-time with respect to creations and deletions within the .org namespace.
These directory services help to differentiate the .org domain from other TLDs by providing a framework within which they can develop and grow. The .org-branded site will actively promote the idea that .orgs are about noncommercial activities, supporting not only overtly noncommercial organizations, but also for-profit organizations seeking a platform for their corporate social responsibility programmes.
Most importantly, the .org directory site will provide multiple pathways to these organizations, also enabling third-party websites to provide enhanced pathways.
While there are already plenty of search engines and directories of charities on the Internet, we believe that this will be the first directory service combining access to noncommercials and the socially responsible commercial enterprises worldwide. As such, we are in a position to create a strong, inclusive platform on which the discussions of our common future can take place.
Once a comprehensive database containing details of .org registrants
is available and being properly maintained then other applications immediately
suggest themselves. Unity Registry will work with and listen to other
members of the community to ensure that the namespace is developed to
provide the tools, models and information flows users want and need, within
the limits set by current and developing ICANN policy and the Registry