3 September 2022
What is .AU?
.au direct refers to domain names registered directly before the .au (e.g. getyour.au).
This is also referred to as a “second level name” or the “.au namespace”. Anyone with a local connection to Australia (including businesses, associations and individuals) is eligible to register a .au direct (.AU).
What are the Strengths of .AU
.AU allows users to register shorter, more memorable online names that are easier to type and display on mobile devices.
It provides for greater choice. With over 3.1M .com.au domain name registered, .AU gives Australian individuals and businesses options to register domain names not otherwise available in the .com.au space.
The program has also incorporated some safeguards for existing com.au holders by giving them the first opportunity to apply for their exact .au domain in a priority period that ends on 20 September 2022 (Priority Allocation Process).
What are the Weaknesses of .AU
There has been some criticism by commentators that there is not enough awareness in the business community, especially among small business, and not enough time has been allocated to protect existing .com.au holders through the 6-month Priority Allocation Process.
“.au… is like cutting a second set of keys to your front door and selling them to a rival, a stranger who tries to sell them back to you at a higher price or a criminal who uses them to rip off your customers.”
.AU is also less restrictive than .com.au, which could lead to a higher proliferation of cybersquatting and fraudulent registrations than seen in the .com.au space.
What are the Opportunities of .AU
Often brand launches are stalled when businesses discover that the .com.au domain name isn’t available. .AU offers Australian brands renewed choice in an official Australian domain space.
Brands can be creative and be fairly confident that there is a good chance that they can get the domain name in the new .au domain space.
Owning any Australian domain name space does provide an SEO advantage in Google Australia, so .AU represents an opportunity to register keywords in domain names for SEO gains, not available in the com.au space.
What are the Threats of AU
As previously mentioned, the weakened .AU restrictions, lack of awareness and relatively short priority allocation process could see an increase in cybersquatting and fraud-related activity.
Bad actors could register an identical .au domain name of a legitimate brand, copy their website and pass off as them. This could represent a threat to the brand itself, its customers, partners, and suppliers.
Bad actors can also register a typo domain name such as yourbrandcom.au and use these domain names for spam, phishing and other fraudulent activities.
Have a plan
Australian businesses that use a .com.au domain name should consider the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats as it applies to them, their risk appetite and budgets. At a minimum, we recommend that brands register their public-facing websites in the .au space and consider brand protection registrations as well.
brandsec specialises in corporate domain name management and brand protection company. We look after many of Australia, New Zealand and Asia’s top publicly listed brands, providing monitoring and enforcement services, DNS, SSL Management, domain name brokerage and dispute management and brand security consultation services.