Many companies rely on their internet presence to inform and do business with their customers and to build and strengthen their brands. To accomplish this requires constant, active management of their portfolio of domain names in order to take advantage of new opportunities, and to prevent infringement or other forms of abuse that can undermine brand equity and revenue. Companies in the Asia-Pacific region of the world have their own unique challenges, threats and opportunities when it comes to domain name management.
Use of corporate registrars
In 2019, there were 220 companies from APAC listed in the Fortune 5001, with more than half from Mainland China. Among those globally recognized companies only 21.4% of them, 47 domains, are managed by corporate registrars.
Figure 1: APAC companies listed on Fortune 500
|Country/region||No. of companies using corporate registrar||Brand owners|
|China, Mainland||19||Alibaba; Huawei; Tencent; Lenovo etc.|
|Japan||18||Nissan; Mitsubishi; Panasonic; Nec etc.|
|Australia||5||Woolworths Group; National Australia Bank|
|Saudi Arabia||2||Saudi Aramco; SABIC|
|Singapore||2||Wilmar International; FLEX|
|South Korea||1||KB Financial Group|
The percentage is surprisingly low compared to 44.2% globally, and 65.7% outside of APAC. Corporate registrars have added security features such as registry lock, two factor authentication and DNSSEC that can help companies prevent domain name hijacking resulting in valuable domain names being stolen and lucrative websites being brought down. By leaving their important website domains to be managed by retails registrars, companies in APAC are exposing themselves to greater risk.
Among the retail registrars, AliCloud from Mainland China, Japan Registry Service from Japan, and Xinnet from China manage 40% of these Fortune 500 company domains in APAC.
If we examine the domain management complexity, challenges and managing models and strategies, we may find several reasons why these companies are not switching to corporate registrars.
Domain management challenges
There are many challenges around domain management, particularly for companies operating in APAC, including managing domains calls for registration, monitoring and renewing with registry operators from around the world, most of which do not make registration services easy for Asian speakers. Terms and conditions are often not translated into Japanese, Korean or Chinese languages. As a result, companies in Asia choose not to register many ccTLD domains. Corporate registrars though, in particular, have TLD experts that specialize in foreign registration requirements, transfer requirements and renewal requirements for each registry operator around the world. Currently there are a very limited number of corporate registrars in APAC, so brands must either choose a corporate registrar outside of its native country and face language challenges or choose to stay with a local retail registrar.
Another challenge is security. Most APAC companies report that security is the most important factor in domain management. However, security breaches in APAC are often the result of poor domain management rather than deliberate hacking attacks. As a result, companies will spend a lot of money to address breaches which could have been avoided with a corporate registrar but this extra expense is typically a little more than what companies would spend with retail registrars, so APAC companies aren’t motivated to explore more efficient corporate registrars.
In November 2017, the Chinese government (the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT)) announced they would enforce regulations on companies publishing websites in Mainland China. Each website publisher must have an Internet Content Provider (ICP) filing in order to operate a website that resolves to content in Mainland China. The MIIT regulations require that those with an ICP filing must have their domain names managed by a registrar licensed by MIIT. Currently, all the licensed registrars are local and nearly all of them are retail registrars which, again creates a burden for APAC companies seeking the services, extra security and expertise of a corporate registrar.
Who takes the lead on domain management inside APAC companies?
In most companies located in Mainland China, the legal department manages domains. In Japan, by contrast, the marketing department typically plays a greater role in domain management. The marketing team performs about 10% to 20% of domain registration and management for Japanese companies, while IT and other departments manage the rest. Because domain renewal costs are usually included in advertising costs, a cost area typically managed by marketing teams, marketing teams are more likely to manage domain names than legal or IT.
Domain portfolio strategies are not as comprehensive as they might be in APAC. Unfortunately, many companies just keep renewing their existing domains until there is an infringement or acquisition demand, which then requires teams to collaborate with multiple departments such as legal, IT and finance for a strategy to expand or protect the domain name portfolio.
Figure 2: MarkMonitor Global Business Survey Barometer, 2019
As for the budget for domain registration and management, a recent MarkMonitor survey showed that nearly half of participating APAC companies have very limited budgets for domain name management (less than $10,000) and less than 15% of companies have budgets between $50,000 to $100,000.
Figure 3: MarkMonitor Global Business Survey Barometer, 2019
Demand for corporate registration service
Most large companies in APAC work with multiple registrars to manage their domains, an inefficient choice often made due to cost, old policies or lack of interest. Some companies aren’t bothered by having to work with multiple retail registrars despite the inefficiencies or lack of tools. Many companies in APAC lack basic domain name knowledge and also lack an understanding of the benefits of using a corporate registrar. They don’t understand what unique services are available or whom they should turn to for advice on TLD registrations. A lack of domain knowledge also leads to challenges in identifying how to improve their domain management work.
Key considerations for APAC corporate domain owners
There are many key considerations a company in APAC should keep in mind when developing and managing its domain name portfolio:
- Domain strategies need to be part of wider brand protection initiatives.
- Domains should be managed in collaboration between departments including IT, IT security, marketing and legal.
- Domain portfolios must be secured and managed to ensure they continue to add value to the business.
- Domain value should be monitored to ensure active, core domains are protected and managed, while other domains are offloaded to optimize the portfolio.