Communications and outreach are key aspects for implementing the next round of applications for new generic top-level domains (gTLDs). Recommendations contained in the Generic Names Supporting Organization's (GNSO's) Final Report on the new gTLD Subsequent Procedures Policy Development Process (SubPro Final Report) focused on the need for an effective communications strategy and plan to support the primary purposes of new gTLDs, which are to foster diversity, encourage competition, and enhance the utility of the Domain Name System (DNS).
The Final Report specifically discusses the importance of creating early awareness with as many potential applicants around the world as possible. Based on this, the objectives of the communications plan are to:
- Heighten awareness of ICANN and the importance of the DNS
- Lay the foundation for a general understanding of Universal Acceptance (UA) and highlight the availability of Internationalized Domain Names (IDNs)
- Raise awareness about the opportunities created by the next round of gTLDs
We launched the first phase of the awareness-raising campaign in March 2023, focusing on the importance of UA to enable a multilingual Internet and the value of IDNs in creating a more inclusive online environment. This approach addresses GNSO recommendation 11.3 to make applicants aware of "the Universal Acceptance challenge in ASCII and IDN gTLDs."
In the first phase, we launched a series of mini campaigns targeting a mix of audiences and countries. We specifically targeted countries that are outside of ICANN's immediate community and have had limited exposure to the DNS. As noted in the implementation plan, these audiences include, but are not limited to, technology developers and decision makers, governments and ministries, small and mid-size enterprises, large businesses, entrepreneurs, brands, investors, researchers, academia, and civil society, including non-governmental organizations. From a regional perspective, the mini campaigns are focused on Africa, Asia Pacific, Latin America and the Caribbean, and Middle East regions, and were selected according to several factors, including infrastructure, Internet penetration, and languages and scripts currently available in the DNS.
The next step for first phase is to launch an awareness campaign for the Applicant Support Program in the May timeframe. Per the GNSO Guidance Process (GGP) initial targets include potential applicants from the not-for-profit sector, social enterprises and/or other community organizations from underserved and developing regions and nations.
The second phase of the campaign will generate global awareness of the next round of applications for new gTLDs and set expectations about the application process. Guidance from the GNSO stated that communications activities should begin no less than six months before the opening of the next round application submission period. However, the ICANN organization will launch this phase 18 months before the application submission period opens. ICANN will provide frequent and timely updates during this period. These activities align with recommendations 13.1–13.3 called for in the GNSO Final Report.
Communications and engagement tactics to create broad awareness of the program include press releases issued via a global wire service, blogs and announcements, media outreach, social media, speaking engagements, event participation, and collateral development, such as infographics, website content, social media assets, and presentation materials.
From an outreach standpoint, and in accordance with GNSO recommendation 13.5, ICANN's engagement teams play a key role in these campaigns. Engagement staff provide a point of contact in the regions for ICANN org.
We invite you to find out more about the New gTLD Program: Next Round on our webpage.