TLD Land Grab to Begin on Thursday

What the Association of National Advertisers has dubbed a “reckless plan” is about to begin.

On January 12, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) will open registration for new generic top-level domains – the part of a web address to the right of the dot, such as .com and .net. The idea is to make URLs more understandable to consumers, while allowing brands to use their names in domains, for example, .McDonalds.

The ANA, the Interactive Advertising Bureau and members of the U.S. Senate, and even the YMCAhave asked ICANN to modify, postpone or slow down the process.

On Monday, the ANA made a last-ditch proposal to ICANN, suggesting that ICANN could proceed with its plan to begin accepting applications for new TLDs on January 12, but at the same time, all non- or inter-governmental organizations and commercial entities would be able to register their brands at no cost on a temporary “Do Not Sell” list to be maintained by ICANN during the first application round.

In addition, the ANA suggested it would assemble a team to work with ICANN to develop proposals to address what the ANA says are deficiencies in the program.

ICANN did not respond to several requests for comment about the ANA proposal. An ANA spokeswoman said the organization has heard nothing from ICANN.

In what is likely an effort to respond to criticism of the whopping $185,000 registration fee, ICANN is using the Google ad network to display information on the new gTLD program for Internet users in some countries, including all 35 that the World Bank categorizes as “low income.” ICANN’s Board has set aside a seed fund of $2,000,000 to assist needy applicants, with the hope that other organizations will kick in.

In a Tuesday press release, Melbourne IT Digital Brand Services, a company that helps businesses manage online assets, said major brands have already engaged with the company to apply for more than 100 new TLDs – including members of the ANA.

Melbourne IT CEO and Managing Director Theo Hnarakis said in the press release that he expects even more big brands to follow. The deadline for the first round of applications is April 12, 2012.

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