Consider this. During the first three months of 2006 alone, the online advertising market grew by 65 percent, according to the Audit Bureau of Verification Services (ABVS). This represents a dollar figure of approximately $195 million.
With this level of growth expected to continue for the foreseeable future, the internet should be central to the marketing and sales efforts of your business.
Before you decide to ramp up your online strategy, however, you need to be aware of a few key points.
Only registered Australian businesses and trademarks can register a com.au or net.au domain name. This, of course, includes registered Australian subsidiaries of commercial organisations based outside Australia.
Com.au and net.au domain name registrants must also observe auDA’s strict eligibility criteria, which means com.au and net.au domain names must either reflect the registered name of the business or trademark concerned or be “closely and substantially connected” with the activities that business undertakes.
auDA’s rules ensure the integrity of the .au domain space. For instance, cybersquatting doesn’t occur in the .au space nearly as often as it does with .com, which means com.au and net.au domain names are reserved for those who need them most – legitimate Australian businesses.
The internet is quickly becoming the main “shop front” of most businesses, so it’s very important that start-ups should not assume that their desired trading name and/or the preferred names of their products or services are available as com.au or net.au domain names.
Nowadays it is important to check the availability of com.au and net.au domain names before you decide on the name of your business and/or the names of the products and/or services your business plans to offer. It would obviously be pointless marketing your brand, product or service if the corresponding com.au or net.au domain names weren’t available.
You can check the availability of all .au domain names using the ‘whois’ lookup at www.auda.org.au.
ESTABLISHED BUSINESSES SHOULD ALSO BEWARE
The same principles that apply to start-ups also apply to established businesses. If you’re fi rmly established in the “bricks and mortar” market but plan on ramping up your web presence or rolling out a new product or service, it’s a good idea to register your new product or service name as a separate com.au or net.au domain name. (Kraft, for example, has registered vegemite.com.au in addition to kraft.com.au.) Importantly, this involves checking the availability of com.au and net.au domains names before deciding on the name of your product or service.
If the preferred name of your new product or service has already been registered as a com.au or net.au domain name by someone else you may need to re-brand. This might seem drastic, but would be nowhere near as drastic as your brand name not corresponding with your domain name.
DON’T ALIENATE YOUR CUSTOMER BASE
Most Australians are now conditioned to look for an Australian product or service online using a com.au or net.au domain name.
.au is generally accepted as being the “Australian” domain, which means you may be overlooked by most of your potential customers if you aren’t in this space.
If you have export ambitions, you might be tempted to register a .com or .net domain name because it seems more “global”. This could be a mistake. Australian export success stories are often built on the very fact that they’re Australian. So it’s advisable that your “Australianness”, a key differentiator in a cluttered global market, be promoted via your .au domain name.
Chris Disspain is CEO of the .au Domain Administration (auDA), the Australian Domain Name Administrator. For more information visit www.auda.org.au