Keyword Registration – China.Con Revenue Generation?

18Sep08

I’ve become increasingly aware of Keyword and domain registration issues originating from China recently. These are the result of Chinese and Singapore-based registrars emailing Western businesses in large numbers with what may amount to a pressure story to sell more domain names and Keywords.

These registrars then register your domains and Keyword with the CNNIC regulation authority in China for you.

It appears that the introduction of Keywords in China has created another registration quandry. Keywords allow you to type your brand name directly into the browser address bar of Google in China without having to worry about the prefix (http://www.) or suffix (.com, .cn, .com.hk etc).

While Chinese companies are commonly registering their Keywords in Chinese characters. Chinese registrars are contacting Western businesses with the aim of getting them to register their Keyword in the Latin alphabet (e.g. Coca-Cola) in China, as well as offering Chinese varient domains (.cn, .com.cn, .hk, .tw)

As Chinese consumers (those who have internet access) don’t usually use a Latinised Keyboard, and other countries have yet to adopt the Keyword system, an issue is raised for Western businesses. Does a European or American company need to protect itself in this way? what if it doesn’t operate in China, will Keywords become the standard way to search in any language eventually?

While it may prove prudent to buy the main Chinese domain name for your business (.cn). Do you really feel the need to buy the Hong Kong and Taiwanese versions too? Or the .com.cn derivative? Let alone the Keyword to cover an audience who can’t use it easily? At least at present.

The answer unfortunately isn’t always straightforward. But to make the business pressure for registration of domains and Keywords feel more like a scam, there are Chinese domain registration businesses contacting Western business domain holders inviting them to register and pay for control of these Keywords using 10, 20 or 30 year contracts. The length of these contracts generates significant costs for the business trading under the names.

I’ve recieved 2 approaches from domain registrars based in Hong Kong and Singapore in the last week alone.

I guess life is going to get more complicated with internet regulation operating in such a regional manner.

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