On 24 May 2023, auDA CEO Rosemary Sinclair spoke to Grahame Lynch on the CommsDay Live podcast about auDA's Why .au? Australia's trusted .au domain report and the growth of .au direct
Grahame Lynch: Now, I don't know about you. I started a business in Australia at about the same time as the internet started and one of the things I always coveted was a domain name on the highest level, i.e. .com. The com.au thing, I felt, diminished my appeal as a company, but I was wrong. A new survey has been conducted by the .au Domain Administration that shows that far from a .com, by itself, domain conveying some kind of international status. 76 per cent of people in Australia are more likely to trust a company that has the .au in it. I guess it's perceived as being sort of more locally trustworthy and accessible. So, to find out about this survey, I spoke with Rosemary Sinclair, who's the CEO of the .au Domain Administration.
Rosemary Sinclair: Yeah, so the survey really comes from the fact that we are really focused in our work on creating value for Australians around the internet. It would be really easy for us to think of the task as being a technical task, running the domain name system or a licencing rules compliance task, but we work very hard to make sure that we're focused on what all this means for Australians and what it means beneficially. So, trying to find out where Australians see and find value from .au is the core reason that we did it. And we were highly delighted, Graham, to find out that Australians do understand that .au is a trusted signifier. That by comparison with other ways of doing things, .au is chosen by Australians because of that sense of trustworthiness and credibility and reliability and chosen on both sides, that's what was really interesting. Chosen by people using domain names and checking websites and so on, but also chosen by Australian businesses who know that Australian consumers identify .au as a trustworthy signifier.
Grahame Lynch: Now, going even further, the au Domain Administration last year introduced what they call a direct domain. So, you get rid of the .com it's just a direct .au. We actually spoke about this at the time Rosemary when it was launched. Now, they launched this, and they had an expectation that it might account for, say, 5 per cent of registrations in the first year, but it zoomed right past that and got to 18 per cent of registrations as of the end of March, which is way, way over original projections. So, I asked Rosemary about that as well.
Rosemary Sinclair: Well, we think that we came into the market with an innovation that was just right on the money. And of course, we were in the market around the time of the pandemic, where we're using the internet to degrees that they had never done before. And one of the little indicators we saw was about 200,000 Australian businesses that had never had a website suddenly found that they needed a domain name. So, we were just right at the right time with an innovation around a new namespace. And what we've seen is great take up, in fact, you're absolutely right. We thought it would be about five per cent of the total .au domain. It's 18 per cent of the domain. So, a very rapid take-up. Reminded me of the take-up of mobile phones by Australians. You know, once things got sorted out, that S-curve just went roaring perpendicularly, and that's really what we feel has happened here. So, it's the innovative choice that has really met the needs of Australians, and it's backed up by such interesting and unexpected data source such as the Australian Bureau of Statistics, because I'm always looking for confirmatory data about what's going on. And they've released a report about digital activity in Australia that shows that digital activity continues to grow in terms of contribution to the economy. But interestingly enough, we're creeping up the stack, so we're going from equipment to software to hardware, up to applications, and now the main driver of value-adding to the economy is e-commerce retail. So, it's people using all of the elements of the communications and internet technologies to actually do things that they want to do and through that, make a contribution to the economy. So, it's just the right choice at the right time, really, I think. That's the core of its success.
Grahame Lynch: Okay, well, what's interesting about that is that for the last decade or so, I'm pretty sure that Australia has been tops in the world for domain registrations per capita. So, the fact that a new category can come out and achieve success so quickly, which presumably is only added to that ranking, is pretty amazing stuff. And as Rosemary indicated, they're a pretty good sign of how advanced we are as a digital economy.