auDA urges Australian businesses to back .au

Australian privately run domain regulator auDA said it would like to see more local companies supporting the nation's top level commercial domain suffix, .com.
Written by Andrew Colley, Contributor
Australian privately run domain regulator auDA said it would like to see more local companies supporting the nation's top level commercial domain suffix, .com.au.

auDA CEO, Chris Disspain, says that while most of Australia's flagship companies control versions of their trademark or brand within both the .com.au and .com domain -- widely perceived to be a United States domain -- some are marrying it to the latter.

Disspain believes it would be more beneficial for Australian companies to give their patronage to the Australian commercial domain rather than "branding themselves as generic" on the Internet.

"Some of the bigger companies should be demonstrating to their customers and their fellow businesses that they support the Australian market, and advertising and branding a .com.au name does that", said Disspain.

Telstra's online branding typifies the marketing credo Disspain believes should be discouraged. Telstra licenses its domain name under both .com.au and .com, but aligns its brand with the latter

The practice isn't universal however, in addition to Telstra, there are other notable absences from that group such as Qantas, the NRMA and Westfield.

auDA claims the list of Australian companies that have allied their marketing with .com is extensive including L.J. Hooker, ANZ, Big Pond, Jet Star and leading wine brands Penfolds, Lindemans and Rosemount.

However, Michelle Holland, director of online marketing with Clemenger Proximity said being restricted to the local domain contradicts the Webs biggest commercial attraction.

"I perceive the Web as being world-wide so it not something that people see as being a localised domain -- yes it is and we do work that way -- but I guess the whole point of where the internet and digital is going is that it gives us access to the rest of the world," said Holland.

According to Holland, companyies choose domain names on the basis of customer convenience, not patriotism.

However, Disspain believes .com.au domain has the upper hand over .com in that areana as well. He believes lack of regulation in the .com domain -- and hence protection for trademarks -- makes the URLs it produces less friendly for consumers than locally registered domain names.

In the .com space miscreants often usurp brands, and abuse ignorance and clumsiness to contrive ways to channel Web traffic to their preferred sites. Disspain said it was more difficult to achieve run these operations within the .com.au space.

However, Holland says companies often register names within the .com domains because of its lack of regulations rather than in spite of it.

"If you're a small business and you're out there trying to promote yourself and you can get the .com [name] you want, you're going to get up [on the Web] a lot quicker," she said.

auDA plans to examine these issues in a review of its domain regulations slated to take place later this year.

However, the Federal government will have to start asking itself questions about the merits of choosing a .com name over the home-grown domain much sooner.

According to reports of recent senate estimates hearing, the Federal government last year paid a former ranking bureaucrat AU$201,000 for domain name Tourismaustralia.com -- shunning a cheaper local alternative already owned by the government, tourism.gov.au.

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