Study: Some Big Brands Get Domain Name Marketing

Despite conventional wisdom that suggests that major marketers are slow to understand the nuances of Web marketing, a handful of major brands are proving to be adept at protecting their domain names and making sure that consumers can locate them easily on the Web.

Mountain View, Calif.-based VeriSign , which controls the domain name registry, analyzed the names owned by the top 25 global brands, as identified by Omnicom’s Interbrand this summer. The firm assigned index scores for the companies’ efforts to register domain names that protected their brands and thwarted cybersquatters.

The company found that American Express had the best overall record for protecting its brand online, having registered the greatest number of brand names as domain names, established domain names in a number of global markets, and taken some of the most extensive measures to thwart cybersquatters — such as by registering common misspellings of its domain name.

VeriSign also found that DaimlerChrysler’s Mercedes had the highest Digital Brand Protection Index score, as tallied by the number of domain names registered in the 50 top global business markets. Such moves can ensure that a company’s brand name doesn’t fall into the hands of an outside party — a growing concern connected with increasing global Internet usage. (After “.com”, “.net”, and “.org”, the two-letter top-level domains for the U.K. and Germany, “.uk” and “.de”, comprise the top-five top-level domains.)

BMW, meanwhile, had the best Digital Brand Damage Index score, which tallies the breadth of effort undertaken to protect against unaffiliated parties registering or spoofing domain names related to the brand. The index also includes curtailing damaging or illegal material that appears on unaffiliated sites — such as faked Web pages or unauthorized company information.

After American Express, Mercedes and BMW, Ford and Toyota tied for the highest combined index numbers, while McDonald’s , Intel , Disney , IBM and Oracle also ranked highly.

The study also found that the top global brands are more thoroughly protecting themselves by registering versions of their brand names using the three most popular top-level domains — that is, .com, .net and .org. At present, 15 of the 25 brands had registered all three top-level domains. At the beginning of the year, fewer than half of the top brands had done so.

The news comes amid continuing debate about the ownership of the domain name, and ongoing disputes regarding the future of the controversial Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, which oversees domain name disputes.

VeriSign itself has not been free of controversy. In addition to its role at the heart of the disagreement — the company, which also operates as a domain name registrar, transferred the domain from one owner to another — VeriSign in recent months has come under fire for marketing its domain name registry services to consumers of rival registrars using unscrupulous tactics. The Federal Trade Commission is looking into the matter.

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