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Allegravita’s Simon Cousins was invited to assemble and chair a panel of prominent China domain name sector experts at HostingCon China in Shenzhen on Saturday May 30, 2015.

Simon’s panelists were .CLUB Domains’ Jeff Sass, who was awarded the international domain name sector’s “Best CMO” at Miami’s TRAFFIC conference in 2014, Asian domain name veteran and founder-CEO of .ASIA, Edmon Chung, Radix Registry’s China chief representative Kenneth Fan, and Public Interest Registry’s China representative Jackie Zhang.

Simon prepared four broad topics, inviting each of the panelists to open discussion on one topic each.

Panel title:  China’s Globalized Domains Sector

Panel outline:  China is currently the world’s most vibrant and important market for the domain name industry, and is arguably the most significant cross-border business environment in the history of domains. International domain name businesses and investors are more focused on China than any other market, and increasing numbers of Chinese domain businesses are “going out” to international markets. Which companies are leading these cross-border initiatives? What are the tactics being used by the most successful players?

Moderator: Simon Cousins, CEO, Allegravita LLC & Allegravita Hong Kong Limited

Panelists:

  • Jeff Sass, Chief Marketing Officer, .CLUB Domains
  • Kenneth Fan, China Representative, Radix Registry
  • Edmon Chung, CEO, DotAsia Organization
  • Jackie Zhang, Representative, PIR

Panel discussion points:

1. Recent changes in China’s domain name sector regulations

There is currently no more important factor influencing China’s domain sector. After a ten-year period of status quo, as of July, all 93 approved Chinese registrars must have re-applied for MIIT approval, and by September, all TLDs which intend to be offered for sale by approved Chinese registrars will need MIIT certification.

.CLUB’s Jeff Sass updated the audience of 200, saying that his domain name registry welcomed the new regulations because they bring certainty and clarity to the sector. He shared that .CLUB is in an advanced stage of planning and anticipates no interruption in China sales and operations of the very popular .CLUB domain names in China (disclosure: .CLUB Domains is an Allegravita client).

The other panelists shared Jeff’s opinion that the new clarity on regulations is a welcome development.

Allegravita is arguably the western world’s expert on Chinese domain regulations (especially vis-a-vis western registries and domain name investment strategies), and published a well-received white paper on the regulations on May 20, 2015.

2. Domain name investment

China’s domain name investment market is currently the world’s hottest. Historically high prices are commonly paid for short and valuable domains, with the notable example of 360.com selling for US$17M several months ago. How are the registries reacting to the white hot market? How have recent Chinese stock exchange gains affected the domain name investment market?

Kenneth Fan of Radix Registry — a leading portfolio applicant of new domain extensions, including .WEBSITE, .HOST, .PRESS, .SPACE, .SITE, .ONLINE and .STORE — pointed to the excellent investment marketplace for valuable domain names in China, noting continued opportunity regardless that recent Chinese stock exchange gains had removed liquidity from the market.

3. Internationalized Domain Names (IDNs)

In 2014, China’s MIIT and CONAC jointly announced policy calling for all Chinese government websites to transition to IDNs, however very few relevant websites have done so. What are the panelists’ predictions for the Chinese language web (using Chinese language IDNs)?

Asian domain name legend Edmon Chung, who noted that he had invested half his life in the domain name sector’s policy and promotion, said that he had been predicting the rise of fully-Chinese IDNs for more than a decade, always saying they were “3 to 5 years away”. Now, he said, he is sure that his 3 to 5 year prediction is set to be realized, largely due to the rise of Chinese speech recognition in ubiquitous mobile devices.

4. Marketing strategies

With almost 1,000 new domain extensions now delegated to the global DNS root, China’s retail domain name space has never been more diverse. What marketing and communications strategies have worked well for the panelists? What strategies, with the benefit of hindsight, would be best avoided?

Jackie Zhang introduced a detailed overview of the value of .ORG and .NGO domains in the Chinese market, and shared a checklist of must-do’s, which rely heavily on public relations practices.

Simon’s still on the road in China, so bandwidth is inadequate to upload his video from the panel. We will post the video to this blog as soon as he returns to our New York City office.

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