Creating the right sized domain portfolio – Part 1 – The Understanding

The value of domain names to a business continues to increase over time.  Many are now viewed as critical to the intrinsic value of the business itself, supporting significant income streams and global marketing campaigns, which means their loss of control could be severely damaging both in terms of revenue and reputation.

Unfortunately, the opportunities that the burgeoning digital world brings for all of us are accompanied by the increasing risk posed by cybercriminals who look to exploit the intellectual property of others.  In the domain name world, this relates to exploits to the domain name system (DNS), cybersquatting and passing off, the practice of trying to divert legitimate web traffic to illegitimate websites.

For brand holders, it is important to develop a set of defensive measures to combat the threats posed by bad actors as well as protecting customers.  Aside from the domain security measures discussed in our white paper, the creation of a strategic approach to the management of these key digital assets is now seen as a measure of good governance.

As organisations grow, it is only natural that their domain name portfolios grow with them.  There is an inherent risk in deleting domain names, a natural worry that if the domain name was in the hands of a third party it could be used to somehow damage the business.  In almost every company there will be domain names that have been registered over the years that are “off-plan”, those that someone in IT or marketing has quickly registered using their own details rather than following any established process.  These known unknowns could give fraudsters and those intent on malicious activities a back door into the company.

This is why Com Laude have developed their portfolio rightsizing promise as part of our Client-Shaped Domain Services. The key to this approach is to ensure businesses have a domain name portfolio that balances the risks and rewards that the Internet brings in a future-proofed way aligned with the current budget numbers.

The first step in understanding the right size of any organisation’s domain name portfolio is to find all of the domain names which have been registered. Almost every organisation will say they have ‘too many domain names’. In many cases, they are right, which is one of the objectives of the rightsized portfolio audit. However, most are less than sure where all of the domain names reside within the organisation.

There are a number of tools that can be used to help ascertain the outliers and combined with an internal amnesty with all potential stakeholders, most of the domain names should be discoverable. Using the registrant data for all identifiable domain names coupled with reverse Whois lookups used to be a good way to discover any others hiding from view, but the introduction of GDPR and subsequent redacting of social data from Whois searches has made this difficult.

The Com Laude Domain Strategists and our IP experts will be able to identify rogue domain names that should be held within the main portfolio. As part of a wider domain name strategy, consideration may be given to brand protection services, such as Com Laude’s Watch solution that not only monitors the Internet for infringing domain names but can also help locate those domain names that have been registered legitimately but without the knowledge or control of the domain manager.

Armed with the list of domain names the next step is to understand why? Why does the organisation own that particular domain name, why is it resolving to that particular website or IP, why is this person or that department the owner of the domain name? This part of the rightsizing approach will require input from different parts of the organisation, but it is key to understand why a domain name is registered or being used so informed decisions can be made.

Understanding the history of the domain portfolio is a step to which businesses often pay little regard, simply assuming that every domain name is required or in use, or that it isn’t possible that other domain names belonging to the organisation exist. Our team of Domain Strategists are experts at working with organisations in bringing some light to an often-dark area and guiding them onto the next stage in creating the rightsized domain name portfolio, understanding how domain names can support the objectives of the business.

If you’d like to learn more about rightsizing your portfolio, speak to our domain strategists today.