MLS Domains Association Issues Update
Bob Bemis, President of MLS Domains Association (and CEO of ARMLS) sent out an update on the status of the .MLS initiative. It is posted below:
ICANN decision means .MLS will happen Q1 of 2012
In June 2011, the board of directors of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) met in Singapore to consider the status of the new top-level domain effort. ICANN is the international organization responsible for managing top-level domains or “TLDs” (such as .COM, .US, etc.) on the Internet. Some national governments opposed certain proposed ICANN policies leading up to Singapore, and there was speculation that ICANN might further delay the application window (which was originally expected to open early in 2010). But ICANN adopted the final version of its Applicant Guidebook and announced that the application window would finally open in the first quarter of 2012. (See the more detailed timeline in the sidebar at the right.)
Like many companies and non-profits planning to apply for new TLDs, MLS Domains Association has been forced to stand on the sidelines, monitoring developments, conserving its financial strength, and preparing to act once ICANN announced a firm schedule.
This apparent dormancy can now come to an end: ICANN’s actions in Singapore allow the Association to move onto the field of play, and the Association’s focus now is to select its technical partners for operating the .MLS registry, secure support from industry sponsors, and launch a new membership drive and member retention effort. All this should lead to an application to ICANN in the first quarter of 2012 and operation of .MLS sometime in 2013.
What is ‘MLS’ worth in the mind of consumers?
One premise of the MLS Domains Association’s efforts is that consumers know what “MLS” and “multiple listing service” mean, that they trust MLSs as reliable, neutral sources of listing information, and that they will recognize and value sites on the .MLS top-level domain or “TLD.” The board of directors of MLS Domains Association has decided to commission research to assess the truth of that premise.
The board has retained WAVGroup to provide qualitative and quantitative data to demonstrate the brand value of MLS for consumers and to better understand the connotations of the MLS brand to consumers and how it affects their perception of data quality and overall site integrity. The project will involve two different surveys: One will assess the attitudes of a randomly selected panel of consumers. The other will survey visitors to MLS web sites. WAVGroup will also assess the use of “MLS” as a keyword for search using Hitwise.
The Association will send a separate invitation to all member MLSs with consumer-facing websites to participate by placing a ‘button’ with an embedded link on the home page of their consumer-facing sites asking consumers to participate. The survey will be live from August 22 until September 21.
WAVGroup and the Association expect to announce some or all of the results before the CMLS conference in Tucson in early October.
Please agree to cooperate with the survey when you receive your invitation. The results will be important to the future success of the MLS Domains Association!
Real estate industry commentators support new TLDs and .MLS concept
As a result of the recent ICANN decision to open the application process for new top-level domains by the first quarter of 2012, leading industry observers are beginning to take notice of the revolutionary changes this action will bring to real estate marketing.
Phil Butler, in Realty Biz News, explains it this way: We “will be able to park a domain out there branded like never before. Instead of a dot com, or dot net, even a dot biz domain suffix, many businesses will register domains like dot coke, dot pepsi, dot apple, and so on. As you can see, the leveraged position and brand protection here is enormous.” Butler continues, “Like so many other traditional business niches, real estate has lagged a bit in adopting proper strategies for utilizing the so called ‘conversation’ – engaging in a two way dialogue digitally… ‘Dot Branding’ is a term real estate brokers and investors need to learn, or ask their attorneys about.”
In a Real Estate Technology blog, Victor Lund (the WAV Group), comments: “This new ICANN initiative will represent one of the most significant evolutions of domain names since the inception of the Internet.” Seasoned Association Executive Belton Jennings advises that “One small step the industry COULD take right now would be to wholeheartedly embrace the .mls domain idea.”
And intellectual property attorney and legal counsel for CMLS John Reese says, “There are at least two significant implications for brand owners and others doing business in an online world. Businesses need to seriously consider either banding together with others to develop a community or generic domain name, such as financial institutions adopting the gTLD .bank.”
Or MLS organizations, by adopting .MLS as the brand for real estate information that is accurate, timely, and unbiased. As always, if you have questions, please do not hesitate to contact the Association at info [at] MLSDomains [dot] org.”