Welcome to our new Three Minutes With series where we talk with movers and shakers in our industry. From igaming to affiliate publishing, we talk to the people out there who are breaking boundaries and blazing new trails. Okens Content Director, Jennifer Kite-Powell talked to Alexander about how sees his role at Okens – hint: it’s about education and guidance.
Jennifer Kite-Powell (JKP) Steve Jobs said “Get closer than ever to your customers. So close that you tell them what they need well before they realize it themselves.” As Okens business development director, is this how you see your role?
Alexander Kucherenko (AK) Definitely because my agenda every day is to keep my customers happy. I spend a lot of my time educating my customers on the tools and products they need to get the most out of them to secure their domains and protect their brand online. I always try to put myself into the customer’s shoes to think of help I would like to receive, and this helps to develop more empathy and a better understanding of their needs.
When you work with a product regularly and see how it can impact a brand’s identity online, you get an understanding of some aspects of the product which are not that obvious to the customer. I always try to help customers discover those ‘hidden gems’ for their business. In any service business, I believe that honesty and speed are valued, so that’s where I like to keep my focus and the team’s focus, so there is no limit to improvement here.
JKP: What are the domain challenges you’ve seen in the iGaming markets over the past three years?
AK: There are two issues I believe people are dealing with in managing domain challenges which feed into each other. The first is a lack of attention to the domain itself like renewing or monitoring for typosquatting; and fraud. These human factors play a big part in errors. It’s easy to miss an email notification, forget to top up your domain account, lose your login credentials or the biggest one I see is to pass your domain’s credentials over to a new person when someone leaves the company or switches positions. It sounds unbelievable since the domain is the single largest most critical digital asset for a company, many people forget about their domains once they register them and then they expire, get lost in a paper shuffle or worse, hijacked. So that attention to detail can also help prevent fraud.
JKP: Give me an example of fraud with a domain.
AK: One of the most common fraud schemes we see is when someone registers exactly the same brand name in another top level domain (TLD), and takes advantage and leverages the existing brand awareness and customer trust of existing brand awareness only to sell the domain back to the original brand owner for a large sum of money.
JKP: What are the kinds of issues do companies face when they set up a global brand online?
AK: I think this depends on the size and phase of the company. If it’s a start up, a lot of founders tend to think it’s fine to have a local TLD because their logic is that they are small now and those TLDs for them seem too vast for where they are now. But as soon as they begin to look at the global market, their thinking begins to shift and it’s more like “okay we might need a .com for global domination,” which is a logical way of thinking. But the reality with domains is a bit counterintuitive, it is much easier to save all possible TLD spots for yourself before the name has extra and added monetary value.
This is where established brands find themselves at some point, they think about securing global presence way too late and therefore have to pay more for that. As soon as you can afford it – go there and secure your brand by registering all possible TLDs for your brand.
The best solution for either company is to get support and guidance from experts with domain experience and build a long-term relationship with them.
JKP: What is one of the simplest things a company can do to protect its brand that they normally overlook?
AK: It may sound simple, but they need to pay attention to the details around their domain names. Domain names may seem like a boring thing to do, or a box that has to be checked, but they are crucial to a startup or an established brand and they shouldn’t be neglected. If you pay attention to details: know your brand, know your audience, know your competition, know your markets of operation, know when your domain expires; at the end of the day know your domain credentials, everything should be protected. Otherwise, if the company doesn’t have the time or manpower to do those things, they should delegate the management of those details to those who can do the job for you either internally as a team member or externally through a company.
JKP: What’s one of the biggest challenges for companies who want to register multiple domains or a domain portfolio?
AK: In my view, the challenge for companies registering multiple domains or portfolios is simply the growing complexity with each domain they add. They will need to account for: domain availability, domain management and renewals, trademark and intellectual property, DNS and security, new TLDs opening, global regulation and compliance, brand protection.
And to do that they need to define a clear strategy and allocate resources, this will help them answer three questions: 1. Which domains to register. 2.Where to register the domains in the most convenient way and 3. How to manage different accounts if they use different registrars and have a range of renewal dates. It isn’t hard, but it does require attention and resources which are often limited.
JKP: How can customers know where their domain is vulnerable?
AK: There could be a lot of definitions for what vulnerability means for a domain either by company or individual, they may each define it in different ways. For example, a company might see vulnerability as lack of brand protection, trademark infringement, phishing or fraud, all of which puts business continuity (read income) at risk and a person might see domain vulnerability in anything that puts personality and reputation at risk: online identity, content ownership, social media integration, personal privacy.
Given the huge variety of potential vulnerabilities today, I recommend that companies look at several questions to determine if their domain is at risk.
- How many domains in total are in your portfolio?
- How many are revenue generating websites?
- How is revenue generation distributed between various money-sites?
- How many branded TLDs for each money-site do you own?
- How many typo-domains for each money-site do you own?
- Do you have consolidated data on your portfolio? (expiration date, costs, registrar etc.)
Once you understand what your vulnerabilities are, then you can think about a domain strategy that protects your brand better.