WAV Group would like to share an update that was released today from the MLS Domains Association. If you are not familiar with the initiative, it is a collaboration of companies that seek to buy the domain extension of DotMLS. ICANN, which is the international group that determines domain extensions is in the business of licensing domains to legitimate parties. Determining what a Legitimate Party is can be quite a cumbersome (and expensive) task. .Com, .Biz, .Gov, and all of the county domains like.CA.IT and the like have already been issued. ICANN became widely known when they issued.XXX. ICANN is trying to expand the names available for internet addresses in the best possible way – it is obvious that an extension like.XXX would allow people to block those sites from minors.
The strategy of.MLS is to provide consumers with a definition that would allow them to different websites that display MLS data from other websites that pretend to display website data but are unauthorized to do so. If successful, MLS participants and agents using the.MLS domain would have a special advantage online. Unfortunately, getting accepted as the registrar for.MLS is really hard, and very expensive. Here is the update on the initiative. If you have an interest in supporting or joining them .MLS Domains Association, please contact Judith Lindenau at mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org
Re: Status Report on the Progress of a ‘.MLS’ Top Level Domain Name
The Board of Directors of the MLS Domains Association would like to offer a year-end summary to our Association members and friends. Here an encapsulated version of our activities this year and where we stand with the .MLS applications.
Partnering with CREA. As we proceeded through the application process, we formed a partnership with the Canadian Real Estate Association to apply for the .MLS top level domain for the US and Canadian multiple listing services. We did so for two reasons: (1) CREA owns the trademark “MLS” in Canada, thus giving more weight to our claim, and (2) CREA was willing to share expenses with us in pursuing a worldwide license to use the domain name for only for CREA and MLS Domains Association members. CREA is the entity applying for the .MLS top level domain; MLS Domains will manage it for MLSs in the U.S.
Filing Two Types of Applications. The worldwide organization that manages domain names, ICANN, allows two main types of applications: a generic name license and a community license. A community application relates to a group of individuals or companies represented by the applicant. Community applications take precedence over generic licenses. CREA made both types of application with our full financial support in order to improve the likelihood of a favorable outcome.
Contested Application. Another company also made a generic application for .MLS. The other contestant is a large and well-funded international internet services company, Afilias, headquartered in Dublin, Ireland. Afilias has stated in its application that it intends to market the MLS domain name worldwide and sell 50,000 licenses in the first year. This goal will certainly threaten the exclusivity of the MLS brand in the US and Canada. CREA has made procedural efforts to stop Afilias’s application, but they have so far not met with success. MLS Domains Association provided financial support and also retained expert advice to assist CREA in these efforts.
Where are we now? CREA’s community application will be evaluated by ICANN. If ICANN certifies CREA as a community applicant for .MLS, Afilias will lose automatically. However, we have no clear picture about CREA’s likelihood of success, since no one has ever done this before. MLS Domains Association has provided financial and also retained expert advice to assist CREA’s community application evaluation effort.
What’s Next? CREA and the MLSDA Board of Directors have several avenues from which to choose, and we are meeting by regular conference call to explore all alternatives. Our choices, broadly speaking, are these:
- Wait for the outcome of the community-based evaluation. If we are awarded a community-based .MLS domain by the ICANN, the issue is over and the MLSDA and CREA can begin to assign the names requested by our members. The latest speculation is, however, that ICANN will not get around to making those decisions until well in to 2014.
- If ICANN denies our community-based domain name, our generic application will go to independent auction with Afilias. CREA supports this alternative with us, but the auction will be expensive and the MLSDA will need to raise additional funds to continue.
- There are alternatives which the MLSDA might pursue, including forming a partnership with Afilias to make sure US and Canadian MLS organizations can obtain important .MLS domain names, even though Afilias will be marketing the domain worldwide.
- Another option is, of course, to decide that we should abandon the effort of obtaining a .MLS top level domain as impractical and too expensive to continue.
Our current strategy is to actively pursue the community application and wait until the outcome has been decided by ICANN. The Canadian Real Estate Association is in agreement with this position. While we wait the outcome of the ICANN decision, the MLS Domains Association Board continues to meet regularly, monitor the situation, and inform you of our progress through our website and Facebook pages of our progress.
Please feel free to contact any one of our Board members to ask questions or further discuss these issues. Our names and contact information follow:
Thank you again for your continued support and our very best wishes for prosperity and success in the coming year.
The MLS Domains Association Board of Directors
|Merri Jo Cowan, Chair||Russ Bergeron||Cantey Davis||Judith Lindenau|
|Brian Larson||Tom Hurdelbrink||Dennis Durkin||Ray Larcher|
Brings to mind – A rose by any other name….
With or without the TLD consumers will choose based on needs and wants. It is obvious that realtor.com is the public facing organizational repository for MLS data, but that never stopped the consumer from going elsewhere.
Today real estate portals and similar destinations may be our challenge, but in six months, it may be some other domain or technology we have yet to ordain.
Pursuing the .MLS TLD is a fine objective – for any company. But that acquisition should be but one element of a much more broad and consuming long-term marketing strategy.
Real estate has become just another online business, and our problem is the same as for other online businesses – we need to attract and keep customers by providing a compelling reason for those customers to come to us over other solutions.
Even if the top level domain is won, that will only begin the road to communicate what it means. My intuition leads me to believe that brokers and agents will buy up the domain names pretty quickly. It may take years for the consumer to appreciate the difference. There is a parallel strategy with SourceMLS that aims at solving the same long term goal. Hopefully one of these will be successful. Consumer deserve to know the difference.
Solving the customer service on online inquiries is an entirely different basket of apples. Happy Holidays.