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10|14|2014 11:00 am EDT

What domains can teach about brand engagement in foreign markets

by JS Lascary in Categories: New Companies, Tools

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Since the early 2000s, domain names can be registered and written in any language – for example Chinese characters are allowed in the .com namespace, 例子.com is a valid domain name. This wonderful innovation makes internet users less reliant on the English alphabet to navigate the internet – including when engaging with brands online.

As with any new technology, early adopters are often not the larger corporations but smaller ventures, one man operations and the likes. When it comes to foreign language domains incorporating brand names, this means that, unfortunately, some of them are registered to affiliate marketers and speculators unrelated to the brand owner.

From an academic perspective, this has the advantage of being a fantastic proxy to assess the viability of using brand names in different languages to engage with local audiences. The assumption here is that if a brand related domain has been registered and renewed to an affiliate marketer or any third party primarily motivated by monetization, whatever he/she is doing with the domain must be working.

The following are some of my observations on the topic :


A) Brand translations work.

It may not be practical for a brand manager to come up with translations of their brand in an effort to better engage with internet users. However, the translations may already be out there, used by native speakers on and off the internet. When a translation makes it to a domain registration, it’s a sign that its usage might be widespread.

PlayStation in Hebrew

PlayStation can be written in Hebrew like this : פלייסטיישן

Google data shows that the proportion of Israeli search volume for the keyword “PlayStation” to the Israeli search volume for “פלייסטיישן” is 10:3.

Surely, the domain name פלייסטיישן.com is registered, but not to Sony. It has been so since 2010 and it currently redirects to a one page Weebly website full of Adsense ads.


Iceberg showing the Skype brand in Russian along with some typos
Typo traffic is just the tip of the iceberg

B)Typos are a thing too.

Skype in Russian

скаип.com is a typo of скайп.com which is Russian for Skype. Despite the whois privacy, both domains seem registered to the same entity and currently redirect to an adult webcam affiliate page (NSFW). The domains were respectively registered in 2012 and 2007.

In other instances, typo domains look to mimic the visual appearance of the brand.

Viagra and Netflix


This domain resembles the viagra brand. It is registered since 2007 and currently resolves to a parked page (displaying PPC ads).


The Netflix brand name with the Spanish eñe instead of the regular “n”. This domain was registered in 2013 and currently redirects to a survey affiliate program.

The most clever cases of typo domains involve what I call “keyboard layout typos” whereby the string of characters resulting from typing an english word on a foreign language keyboad is registered as a domain name. This type of typo exists because most non english keyboard hardware come with two or more characters printed on each key, i.e. one english letter following the QWERTY layout and one character in the native language. The keyboard software is often programmed by default to allow the use of either layouts. Switching from one to another is usually a matter of one key press.

Godaddy almost in Thai

Thai keyboard layout showing a typo of the Godaddy Brand


This domain is the result of the keystroke sequence G-O-D-A-D-D-Y typed on a Thai keyboard with the Thai layout active instead of the English QWERTY layout. The domain per se means nothing in the Thai language. It currently redirects to through an affiliate link.

If anything, the existence of this domain shows that there are Thai keyboard users who could make use of a proper Thai domain to access the registrar.


B) Brand + Keyword domains are also used

The use of foreign language domains to engage with brand customers is not limited to exact match brand names. Brand + Keyword domains are prevalent as well, especially in markets with a history of online advertising and online marketing.

Forex Sale in Japanese


This domain name means “Rolex Sale” or “Rolex Purchase” in Japanese. The webpage it resolves to has a prominent affiliate link below the fold.


In conclusion, when it comes to engaging with “foreign” audiences, using a domain name in the proper language is an avenue to consider. Affiliate marketers and speculators have been doing it for years, and it seems to be successful, at least as per their standards.


About the author

JS Lascary is passionate about Internationalized Domain Names. He is a member of the Quebec Bar Association and the founder of, a brand monitoring business.

07|21|2011 02:09 pm EDT

Google Buys Illegal Domain Name on Domain Aftermarket

by Bill Hartzer in Categories: Registries

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This post has been syndicated (and slightly edited to reflect updates) from a post by SEO expert Bill Hartzer.

Google, in an effort to protect their interests in their new Google+ Plus social network, has recently acquired the International Domain Name (IDN), also known as The problem here is that ( is an illegal domain name–the domain name violates IDNA2008, as published by the IETF.

The use of the + character in the .com TLD is not allowed, and violates IDNA2008. Under current Verisign .com rules, it appears that the domain name cannot be renewed, and according to Mozilla, IDNs are not allowed on the .com TLD.

I realize that Google would want to protect their brand and protect their new Google+ Plus social network by purchasing the domain name. But from what I can tell, this was a mistake–especially because the is not allowed in the .com TLD.

It doesn’t look to me like Google “did their homework” when they purchased that domain name.

What has been disallowed in IDNA2008 (IDN in application, a standard for handling IDNs in apps) is most symbol domains. IDNA2003 (the previous version of IDNA, still running in most applications as of right now, including browsers) allowed symbols.

See here to compare how the domain is handled:

In IDNA2003 it worked fine, in UTS46 (a transition standard between IDNA2003 and IDNA2008) it still worked fine, but in IDNA2008, it won’t resolve. At this point, when does come up for renewal, we do not know whether or not the domain will be allowed by Verisign.

I have obtained a copy of the email from Verisign to Registrars regarding the deletion of certain domain names that are not allowed under IDNA2008. Below is the email:

As you may know, the IETF/IESG has adopted RFC 5891, which applies to Internationalized Domain Names in Application (“IDNA”). Compliance with this new RFC is necessary to ensure the security and stability of registry operations. RFC 5891 affects allowable second level strings in IDN domain names. As such, and in compliance with RFC 5891, Verisign implemented filters to block registration of disallowed strings, and updated our Software Development Kit in early Q1 2011. In addition, Verisign will insure compliance with RFC 5891 by deleting existing domain names and child hosts from the .com and .net databases.

You are hereby given 120 calendar days notice that Verisign will delete the attached registered names from the .com and/or .net databases. The attached names will be deleted on the 121st calendar day after the date of this notice, as measured by United States Eastern Time.

As a courtesy, Verisign will issue a credit to your account with Verisign for any deleted domain names pursuant to this notice, which will be calculated as follows: for each deleted domain name, Verisign will determine the remaining registration period as of the date of this notice and round it up to the nearest year.

Pursuant to Section 2.11 of the .com and .net Registry-Registrar Agreements, registrars are required to comply with (and include in their registrant agreements) an obligation for the registrant to comply with, operational standards, policies, procedures and practices of the registry as established from time to time. As such, you are directed to provide immediate notice (and in no event later than ten (10) calendar days after the date of the instant notice) of these actions to the affected registrants.

[Hat tips to Drewbert and JS Lascary]

04|18|2011 12:12 pm EDT

IDN ccTLD Request From Yemen Successfully Passes String Evaluation

by Frank Michlick in Categories: ccTLDs, Up to the Minute

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ICANN announced the successful completion of String Evaluation on proposed IDN ccTLD string for Yemen, ????? (xn--mgb2ddes).

With this announcement, a total of 27 countries/territories requests have successfully passed through the String Evaluation. Of these, 17 countries/territories (represented by 27 IDN ccTLDs) are delegated in the DNS root zone; with the remainder either readying to apply, or actively applying for, delegation of the string.

ICANN is looking forward to enabling the availability of non-Latin country-code domains for countries that qualify. ICANN will continue to accept applications for new requests in the Fast Track process, as well as processing requests through the String Delegation function. Staff support is available to help all countries and territories interested in participating in the Fast Track Process. Please email for any inquiries for participation.

11|25|2010 04:04 pm EDT

Cyrillic ccTLD Launch Overshadowed by Legal Dispute

by Frank Michlick in Categories: Legal Issues

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As reported earlier the Cyrillic .?? IDN ccTLD launch had reached a stunning number of 500,000 registrations in the first week. Considering the numbers, it was obvious that speculators were playing the TLD, but apparently six registrars are involved in registering many of the names for resale & auction and are now involved in a legal dispute as reported by TheMoscowNews. Many of the registered names have been frozen by the registry.

The accused registrar, RU-Center said there are no plans to stop sales, with spokesman Andrei Vorobyov saying: “We do not believe we have violated the law or the rules of the co-ordinating centre.”At the end of last week the Federal Anti-Monopoly Service (FAS) launched legal action against six registrars claiming they had broken competition laws.

Apparently the RU-Center itself bought 38% of the names registered and acquired another 48% of the registered domains through partner companies – a total of 86%.

[via TheMoscowNews & DomainIncite]

11|19|2010 11:43 am EDT

More than Half a Million Cyrillic .?? Domains in one Week

by Frank Michlick in Categories: ccTLDs

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The new Cyrillic .?? IDN ccTLD was just opened for registrations a week ago and has already passed the 500,000 registration mark. For the first year registrations are limited to those providing a local address during registration.

[via InternetX]

06|15|2010 09:45 am EDT

.TEL opens IDN Registrations

by Frank Michlick in Categories: Registries, Up to the Minute

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After placing the first IDN .TEL domain (???????.tel) in operation four days ago, the registry operator, Telnic has now officially launched IDN registrations today.

03|30|2010 12:54 pm EDT

.TEL IDN Domains to Launch June 15th

by Frank Michlick in Categories: Registries

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Telnic, the operator of the .TEL domain, announced today that the registry will launch IDN domains for .TEL in 16 languages on Tuesday, June 15th, 2010. Registrations will be served through accredited registrars on a first come, first served basis starting as of 3pm BST.

The languages supported as of the initial launch are Chinese, Danish, Finnish, German, Hungarian, Icelandic, Japanese, Korean, Latvian, Lithuanian, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish and Swedish. The registry expects to add more languages as it works with the community in order to determine Demand.

“If you’re a Jörn, Júlia or Bjørn, or a Chlöe, ? or B?a?ej, you will now be able to get your .tel name in your own language, opening up a significant number of names for individuals and businesses to register,” said Khashayar Mahdavi, CEO of Telnic Limited.  “As your single point of contact, we’re pleased to be able to offer these IDN .tel names so that many more people can get the benefit from being discoverable on the internet with a place they can own and control.”

Further information regarding .tel names and IDNs can be found at .

01|21|2010 09:39 pm EDT

4 IDN ccTLDs pass String Validation Phase

by Frank Michlick in Categories: ICANN / Policy

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4 of the 16 Applications (Egypt, Russia, Saudia Arabia and UAE) that ICANN received for the Fast Track IDN ccTLD have already passed the String Validation phase and can now apply for String Delegation (adding the domains to Root DNS) to IANA. The introduction process of new IDN ccTLDs is done in three steps:

  1. Preparation (by the requester in the country / territory). Community consensus is built for which IDN ccTLD to apply for, how it is run, and which organization will be running it, along with preparing and gathering all the required supporting documentation.
  2. String Evaluation: incoming requests to ICANN in accordance with the criteria described above: the technical and linguistic requirements for the IDN ccTLD string(s). Applications are received through an online system available together with additional material supporting the process at
  3. String Delegation: requests successfully meeting string evaluation criteria are eligible to apply for delegation following the same ICANN IANA process as is used for ASCII based ccTLDs. String delegation requests are submitted to IANA root zone management.

The requirements that had to be fulfilled in phase two were:

  • the script used to represent the IDN ccTLDs must be non-Latin;
  • the languages used to express the IDN ccTLDs must be official in the corresponding country or territory; and
  • a specific set of technical requirements must be met (as evaluated by an external DNS Stability Panel comprised of DNS and IDN experts).

More details about the Fast Track IDN process can be found on the ICANN site.

[via ICANN]

01|04|2010 03:53 pm EDT

Sedo Sales in 2010, sells for $150,000

by Frank Michlick in Categories: Domain Sales

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The first Sales Chart by Sedo in the new year is lead by, which sold for $150,000. The domain was previously owned by Canadian based Live Current Media [LIVC (NASD OTCBB)], which has been selling a number of domains over the course of 2009 (,,, and and the potential sale of

Another notable sales are for $25,000 USD, for 14,500 EUR (appx $20,745), for 12,010 EUR (appx $17,183 USD) and for 10,500 EUR (appx $15,022 USD). This week’s list also shows the first sales of .EU IDN domains after the recent IDN launch by EurID.

See the full list of reported sales after the jump.


12|10|2009 08:45 am EDT

.EU IDN Launch: German Language Domains Take Top Spots

by Frank Michlick in Categories: Registries

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In the .EU IDN launch today German language .EU domains with Umlauten (special characters) took the top spots. Also the majority of registrants of the newly released domains are from Germany according to EURid , the registry for the regional TLD. The first domain registered was ä, meaning Doctors in German.

As expected the majority of names has been registered through the numerous registrars of and will be auctioned at Sedo starting 3pm CEST tomorrow.

First 10 IDNs registered

  1. ä (Doctors in German)
  2. bö (Stock Exchange in German)
  3. flü (Flights in German)
  4. bü (Books in German)
  5. ferienhä (vacation homes in German)
  6. reisebü (travel agency in German)
  7. bü (office in German)
  8. kü (kitchen in German)
  9. mü (miller in German, also a last name)
  10. ö (Oil in German)

Which countries registered the most IDNs in the first hour?

  1. Germany
  2. Czech republic
  3. France
  4. Luxemburg
  5. Poland
  6. Belgium
  7. Great Britain
  8. Greece
  9. Sweden