THE MISSION AND PURPOSE OF THE NEW RESTRICTED .SEEK gTLD IS TO BENEFIT INTERNET USERS BY ENSURING INCREASED TRUST, SECURITY AND CONFIDENCE THROUGH THE ELIMINATION OF USER CONFUSION AND ASSURANCE OF ONLINE BRAND REPUTATION AND BRAND AUTHENTICITY.
The .seek gTLD will create a new generation gTLD serving the interests of end users by providing an authoritative Internet space where information, services and resources for online job search, learning, education, business search and volunteering via the seek brand will be closely controlled by Seek Ltd. (SEEK).The majority of the anticipated domain name registrations in the .seek gTLD will be used to make the seek brand more prominent and visible and to provide a more consistent user experience. A subset of domain names has the potential to be created and used for communication and marketing purposes, with internet users assured of brand authenticity.
SEEK was established in Melbourne in 1997 and has been listed on the Australian Stock Exchange since 2005. SEEK is Australia’s leading employment website with over 150,000 jobs advertised in Australia, New-Zealand, the UK, Ireland and worldwide and over 14 million visitors per month. SEEK employs around 700 people in Australia and New Zealand as well as a significant number in its JobsDB subsidiary, a leading online employment company in South East Asia, and international investments throughout South East Asia, China, Brazil and Mexico. SEEK has an annual turnover of over AUD 344 million and had a net profit of AUD 97 million (financial year 2011). SEEK has unique insights in the local labour markets and regularly conducts research into employment trends and jobseeker sentiment including ‘The SEEK Employment Index’ and ‘SEEK Job Market Update’. SEEK also has two non-employment businesses: SEEK Commercial (option to browse for businesses and franchises for sale) and SEEK Learning (providing jobseekers with vocational education through partnerships with leading training providers). SEEK further has affiliates providing online employment websites in Brazil, China, Malaysia and Mexico.
SEEK has consistently, during the past seven years, ranked highly in ‘the Best Employers to Work for in Australia and New Zealand’ survey conducted by Hewitt Associates. In 2009, SEEK was ranked on the top 25 Best Employers in Asia. SEEK strives to protect its key online brands (SEEK Employment, SEEK Learning, SEEK Education, SEEK Commercial and SEEK Volunteer) and in this regard, consumer trust and continuous innovation are paramount considerations in all its activities.
Since the inception of the current domain name system, business activities conducted on the internet are constantly changing and evolving with increased complexity. The volume of commercial transactions over the internet is constantly growing and bringing benefits of simplicity and lowered transaction costs to businesses and consumers. However, at the same time, criminal activities over the internet including data breach, hacking and phishing activities have also become more sophisticated resulting in loss of consumer confidence beyond mere monetary harm. The .seek gTLD will facilitate greater trust and assurance from internet users connecting with SEEK online, whilst still allowing convenient and efficient interaction.
SEEK’s mission and purpose of the proposed new gTLD share ICANN’s initiatives to promote public interest. SEEK is committed to contribute towards achieving such initiatives in line with ICANN’s Affirmation of Commitments, which includes:
- consumer trust: the .seek gTLD registry will be operated in a centralised manner with a restrictive registration policy. Registration of domain names will only be available to SEEK and its affiliate entities, at this stage, which will provide added consumer trust that .seek domain names are trustworthy. As .seek domain names are subject to registration standards, policies and procedures under SEEK’s control, this eliminates the possibility of incidence of phishing attacks and further malicious conduct within the .seek domain space;
- competition: the proposed new gTLD is not intended to instigate competition and consumer choice at the level of registration of domain names among prospective registrants. Instead it is anticipated to contribute to ICANN’s initiatives to promote public interest through its operation focused on promoting consumer trust and providing a more consistent user experience. Increased trust in the .seek gTLD will drive existing and new top level domain (TLD) registry operators to make improvements in mechanisms to improve consumer trust of their TLDs and differentiate them from other competitors; and
- consumer choice: the proposed new gTLD will enable user-driven improvements and innovations assisting SEEK’s marketing efforts through its ability to create new second and third level domain names on demand. These names will provide the consumers with more choices for interacting with SEEK by providing a clear and easily accessible Seek branded domain space. As SEEK has effective control over the registration and use of domain names under .seek domain space, this will also contribute towards general service innovations on the internet.
Given the restricted nature of the .seek gTLD, the projected number of registration is likely to be limited. It is anticipated that a more limited number of domain names (between 3 and 20) will be registered in the first few years. However as SEEK develops and implements new services and marketing campaigns, the number of registrants is likely to increase.
SEEK intends to create relevant domain names for use including product, services or geographic names in the second or third level domain names. In accordance with registration policy and the proposed measures for protection of geographic names as outlined in response to Question 22, SEEK will use geographic names to localise its websites in countries relevant to its operation. The use of geographic names is intended to:
- connect internet users with relevant information regarding its employment and education services as applicable to the territory;
- provide information specific to the states and cities where SEEK has operations; and
- comply with required rules and regulations in the national territory.
SEEK does not intend to utilise Internationalized Domain Names (IDNs) at the second level initially. However, as the use of the .seek gTLD evolves, SEEK may wish to utilise IDNs to allow internet users to engage with .seek in their native language, creating a more positive user experience and encouraging diversity.
SEEK is a well-recognised brand with its trademarks registered in Australia and New Zealand for the following categories: classes 35 (advertising services), 41 (provision of education and training via a global computer network), 16 (printed matter including education and training materials), 9 (computer software), 42 (computer testing and evaluating).
SEEK has an extensive domain name portfolio with over 400 existing domain names. SEEK has 15 domain names with being an exact match to the “Seek” trademark and the applied for .seek string including: seek.com, seek.info, seek.biz, seek.asia, seek.com.au, seek.net.au, seek.co.nz, seek.co.uk
SEEK believes that the .seek gTLD is unlikely to cause confusion with either a generic term or any existing TLDs. SEEK trademarks are a leading brand in Australia and New Zealand with significant reputation as Australia’s number one jobsite. SEEK has also expanded internationally by identifying and acquiring interests in 5 online employment websites which operate across South East Asia, China, Brazil and Mexico. SEEK has used the term ‘Seek’ in conjunction with its employment and educational business for over 15 years and is a trusted player in the employment market.