Scott is an active Domain Investor and an ASX (Australian Stock Exchange) market trader based in Melbourne. In his opinion, he believes that the ‘.com.au’ space is only beginning to emerge as a dynamic and competitive market for both offshore and local investors due to premium domain rarity.
He is passionate about the .au space, and wanted to share with our readers another way of looking at the proposed implementation of .au domains into the market. There are lots of “numbers” about Australian demographics, but it’s worth reading through to the end.
Another Perspective – by Scott Long
In June 2015, the number of actively trading businesses in the market sector were 2,121,235.
Small businesses accounted for the largest share of total employment in Australia (by firm size) at 34.7%. Yet, non-employing businesses numbered the most, accounting for 61.2% of total businesses.
According to the Government Treasury report, 65.8 per cent of micro businesses, other small businesses, and medium businesses experienced barriers to innovation. And yet, according to the RBA (Reserve Bank of Australia), over 85 per cent of the firms in Australia that are engaging in innovative activity are small businesses, reflecting the large number of small businesses in the economy overall.
- As of 1 January 2016, the population of Australia was estimated to be 24,168,303 people.
- There were approximately 12.9 million internet broadband subscribers in Australia at the end of December 2015.
- As at 31 December 2015, there were approximately 21.3 million mobile handset subscribers in Australia.
- 96% of Australians are connected to the internet.
Only 23% of domains registered a ‘good’ or ‘very good’ score in relation to SEO. In partnership with further investment in SEO, domain owners are advised to invest in mobile friendly websites (due to a change in Google’s algorithm which rewards websites that are mobile friendly). In fact, only 12.6% of domains were ‘technically very good’
A high proportion of Australian “com.au” names are relatively new (41% are in their first two‐year registration cycle). 2015-2017 [interesting to note auDA announced .au implementation decision in August 2015].
When you piece it together, what do you really see?
In my opinion, it’s the under-utilisation of the Australian domain name space.
Statistically, the majority of small business / domain registrants could fall into one or more of these categories:
- Lack the cyber-skill to utilise the potential of consumer engagement via the internet
- Are financially restricted to funding [AustGov is launching a crowdfunding platform but like European models will be under similar pressures and problem that currently have not been resolved].
- Are time deprived in self-help-training to develop a domain.
- Defensively register domains to redirect traffic.
- Caught in a costing myth or a technical capability myth.
Barely 1% of all Australian domains registered have a relevant online identity. That to me is difficult to comprehend when 96% of the population is connected to the internet…88% of consumers who search for a type of local business on a mobile device call or go to that business within 24 hours. And yet, only 26.1% of all businesses have a social media presence.
If domain development barriers were overcome, the value of the domain name space increases as it achieves stronger engagement with consumer markets, releasing “parked premium domains” into development which otherwise would have remained stagnant. Registries / registrars and resellers profit from increased host demand, SEO offerings, web development products and service – not from a defensive $10 per annum .au domain duplication.
What about auDA’s role?
The auDA is the internet community governing body for the Australian DNS. It is concerning to me that the auDA website doesn’t have a domain development support program. They could so easily collaborate with industry partners, developing education based programs; or collaborate with the Government digital business hub. This would be the sensible way of promoting domain development and domain monetisation of which auDA policy requires of domain registrants.
From what I can see, the auDA website has just “one article” entitled “How do I get my Domain Name and start using it?” – nothing about domain utilisation or the “value of a domain name”?
Interestingly, the auDA Strategic Plan includes this one statement:
3.4 Educate the community about the value of .au: auDA will increase its promotion of the .au space as a trusted, well-recognised space run for the benefit of all Australians.
So what’s the intrinsic value of a domain name?
Domain names represent an entrepreneurial sense of hope to 91% of small business in Australia, aspiration drives the population of registrations. 61% of non-employing businesses are individuals, likely employed by big business in the wage cycle, this employment cycle limits the time and funding to develop their business into an income producing asset, yet their domain name represents the encouragement of one day bringing a product or service to market.
24% of micro-businesses are similarly bound by big business contracts. Other micro-businesses utilise big business inefficiencies such as rural and regional supply chain demands for income. Collectively, 85% of businesses registered a domain name because their product, service, innovation, or novelty contains hope that one day, customer engagement will ignite through their unique domain identity.
Australian businesses don’t need a new .au – they need education and leadership to utilise the existing DNS.
The statistical observation of small business in Australia demonstrates this point. Small business is big, and requires a shift in thinking to unlock the internet as its best value.
I would like to thank Ned for his encouragement to post this article. I’m usually the guy on the sidelines reading the opinions of others. I hope others in similar positions to me can find their voice and contribute to this issue, otherwise we risk losing our unique domain identity.
Scott Long – 26 May 2016
[Statistical information provided by RBA, ABS, AusRregistry [behind the dot], and The Government Treasury report and digitalbusiness.gov.au]