NEW YORK: The Association of National Advertisers has fired a warning volley over proposals by ICANN (the US government sponsored not-for-profit organization International Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) to launch a raft of new top level domain names in addition to the current suffixes ".com", ."net" and ".org".
Among the new options floated by ICANN are business sector suffixes (such as ".hotel". ".law" or ".auto") plus geographic locations (."nyc" or ".dc") – even brand names like ".verizon".
The ANA opposes the move, arguing that it could create costly cyber-squatting and copyright issues, generating significant legal costs for marketers.
In a filing to ICANN ANA senior vice-president Dan Jaffe wrote: "We believe that implementing this proposal is certainly premature and highly likely to be counterproductive. Brand owners will thus find themselves forced to pay dramatically more to maintain their existing brand equity."
He points out that ANA member companies' financial health depends on maintenance of legal, economic, technological and cultural structures that support creation and maintenance of strong brand identities.
The ANA filing further agues: "A coherent system for naming, identifying and advertising the availability of products and services is an absolute necessity for a strong economy.
"The new [ICANN] program threatens the health of this existing well-developed system for identifying products and services in the marketplace."
It also cautions that "the proposals open-up the internet to more scams and more attempts to steal brand names and that marketers, after winning the right to domain names, could suddenly find those domain names compromised, as a change of only one or two characters could lead consumers to a different web site."
The ANA wants a far slower approach to any domain name expansion, seeking recognition of trade names and some confirmation that buyers of generic names such as ".bank" or ".securities" are restricted to marketers qualified to use those terms.
Concludes the filing: "ANA believes that ICANN's proposal to open the generic top level domain space to virtually any character string and its outline of a program for an initial application round for applicants who wish to operate a registry deserves extremely careful further scrutiny and analysis."
Data sourced from AdAge.com and ANA; additional content by WARC staff