I think a lot of new gTLD registry operators rationalized their fears away by saying something along the lines of “ok, most strings won’t be smashing hits but we’ll still break even in a reasonable timeframe” instead of trying to come up with ways to innovate.
The problem is this: even relatively soon in the game, we’re starting to see extensions with only a low 3 figure number of registrations after the first day of General Availability.
Under such circumstances, the break even timeframe might end up being everything but reasonable.
The thing about mediocrity is that it frequently generates a vicious circle.
The results are bad but instead of innovating, you remain passive.
Under such circumstances, instead of at least conserving the current pace, things degenerate further and so on.
Vicious circles 101.
I’m sorry but without innovation, there’s just no way to make things work.
A few random suggestions:
1) Offer additional product/services as a bonus, not just domains. For example, an easy way to set up a directory for each .directory registration, things like that
2) Increase your marketing budget or if you don’t have one (some registry operators definitely seem to fall into this category), start taking this dimension more seriously or sell your business to a company that can
3) Offer an incentive for people to develop domains in your extension. For example, waive the renewal fees for up to x years if the domain had at least y visitors over the past 12 months. It would be easier to implement than it sounds
4) Try to win over domainers by offering perks, for example lower renewal fees if you own x domains or more
… the list could go on and on.
The bottom line is this: in my opinion, the numbers will gradually become disastrous if registry operators don’t up their game.
Mediocrity is not and should not be rewarded.
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