Gérard Oury’s film The Brain (1968) tells the story of a stolen hoard that two rival gangs of crooks are desperate to get their hands on. In the final scene, the safe containing the money is burst open all over a boat and its contents scattered. A crowd of unidentified onlookers fight to grab some of the money that lands on the docks, but the bulk of it sinks into the water.
The peeved protagonists, played by Belmondo, Bourvil and David Niven, give up on their loot and decide to join forces for their next venture.
Is a domain name portfolio just a scattered and therefore devalued hoard?
Many companies with large portfolios do indeed find themselves in a similar situation to the one depicted in the final scene of The Brain. Domain names are managed by all sorts of people (agencies, subsidiaries, service providers, various experts, etc.), and if they’ve been purchased over three decades, without consultation, without a designated manager and without a standardised naming policy, they can create a sense of disorder and waste.
In light of this confusion, a number of initiatives for managing domain name portfolios at a central level have emerged in recent years. That said, many of them have struggled to materialise as real projects. Indeed, even the most motivated managers are reluctant to take responsibility for this type of seemingly thankless task.
There are, however, several arguments that can be made in favour of centralising domain names, since portfolio dispersion doesn’t do a company any favours in the long run.
The dispersal effect described above is usually a result of the autonomy granted to local market managers when it comes to purchasing domain names. This phenomenon can be all the more pronounced when a company has grown through the acquisition of competitors that have become subsidiaries.
The local players running these autonomous entities do not always have a 360° view of the branding issues a company faces and may favour choices that affect the customer’s perception of the brand.
- They choose sector-specific names rather than their brand names (e.g. mycity-insurance.fr rather than brand.fr/maville);
- They seek to emphasise their local identity, sometimes to the detriment of the brand identity;
- They may prefer to keep an unused portfolio of names for an unlimited period of time in case it were to prove useful at a later date;
- They believe that what they have gained in the past, especially where SEO is concerned, will be jeopardised if they review their domain name policy.
Such practices are detrimental to the brand, weakening its global visibility without necessarily improving the visibility of local players.
Nowadays, there is another vital factor that makes the issue of domain name portfolio integration all the more important: security.
The setting up of departments dealing specifically with security within the framework of key accounts has made it possible to start implementing common security rules where a company’s most strategic domain names are concerned.
But this issue still remains the poor relation of the security policies adopted by large groups.
Indeed, several recent failures and attacks in the banking/insurance, IT and administration sectors have illustrated this point.
A few months ago, for example, a large city lost several essential services for several days following a cyberattack. In the same month, museums were deprived of their websites and ticket sales systems due to an error in the updating of their DNS data.
The lack of centralisation where domain names are concerned also has the effect of weakening companies by allowing non-specialists to manage essential services in an insecure way. Which is exactly what happened this year to a bank that lost access to its customer area for several hours. The cause? Its primary and secondary DNS servers had been placed within the same network, preventing any redundancy in the event of a failure affecting the entire node.
Many French companies can experience such failures nowadays, since the ‘essential service’ and security aspects of domain names have no doubt been underestimated for too long.
Last but not least, the dispersion of a portfolio inevitably results in an increase in expenditure.
First of all, it becomes complicated to negotiate favourable rates with the service providers associated with the various domain names (registrars, resolution service providers, etc.).
Secondly, this sort of dispersion generally requires various different people to perform administrative tasks that could be combined. Let’s imagine, for a moment, a simple task such as updating the server information of 12 domain names following a new security policy adopted within a group. In a decentralised company, the task would have to be performed 12 times, by 12 different managers and through 12 different registrars. In a company with a centralised portfolio, the task could be performed across the whole portfolio at once using a single provider.
Our recent assignments for key accounts have led us to estimate the average additional cost of decentralising the management of a domain name portfolio. For an equivalent volume of domain names, a company that lets its various subsidiaries handle the matter will spend at least 80% more than a company that has centralised this activity.
3 levers for streamlining a domain name portfolio
Streamlining a domain name portfolio can result in significant savings, and there are three levers a company must use to achieve this objective.
Controlling expenditure by creating a single, controlled process
Firstly, it must set up a centralised team and a single portfolio management process.
As part of this process, a domain name must be created with a specific intention, in keeping with a brand strategy and for a specified period of time. The domain name portfolio is then managed by a truly usage-based frame of reference.
This process also makes it possible to achieve savings by limiting the number of people involved and creating synergies with similar functions that are already centralised (branding, certification, security, etc.).
Last but not least, centralised management also ensures compliance with the company’s brand and security policies.
Choosing key partners
Centralising and streamlining a domain name portfolio also helps reduce costs by working with benchmark providers, making it easier to negotiate favourable rates with one or two registrars and in doing so achieve significant economies of scale.
Streamlining the size of the existing portfolio
A centralised process also makes it possible to challenge practices that no-one has questioned for years.
This, in turn, means that domain names can be removed from the portfolio if they no longer serve a purpose or if they are not in keeping with the brand strategy. Here are some examples of potential efforts to streamline a portfolio:
- Domain names that do not feature the brand name can be deleted after a certain period of time specified in advance;
- Portfolios linked to obsolete brands can be significantly reduced;
- Domain names associated with in-house projects or purposes may become sub-domains;
- Domain names corresponding to commercial operations may be deleted at the end of the campaign in question;
This reduction in the size of the portfolio takes time for companies with very large portfolios but is vital because it boosts the efficiency and cost gains generated by the two previous levers.
A .brand TLD to control your domain name portfolio
Centralising and streamlining a domain name portfolio makes a significant contribution in terms of brand value, security and cost control.
This centralisation can be even more effective with the implementation of a .brand TLD. Indeed, this choice helps provide a global response to the issue presented by the uncontrolled expansion of a domain name portfolio, meaning that all of the uses associated with the domain name are covered by a single TLD that promotes the brand.
This is precisely what French bank BNP Paribas and Brazilian bank BRADESCO have done. The sizes of these companies’ domain name portfolios are now controlled, meaning that they contribute fully to the companies’ brand strategies and security.
With a .brand TLD, the company outlines its digital territory and makes its brand the common denominator for all activities involving the use of a domain name. In addition to the benefits associated with streamlining the portfolio, this TLD will enable companies to do the following:
- Clearly set themselves apart from competitors
- Improve both the service and the customer experience through unique and secure customer areas
- Showcase innovative initiatives
For further information
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