.SEX, .PORN and .ADULT – An interview with ICM’s Stuart Lawley

There’s been a lot of press lately about Taylor Swift registering adult domain names such as TAYLORSWIFT.PORN and TAYLORSWIFT.ADULT.  So what’s the story behind these new adult themed domain names that have suddenly started to appear?

I knocked on Stuart Lawley’s door to know more.

He’s the Chairman and CEO of ICM Registry, which will operate these new domain endings. Stuart and his team launched .XXX in 2011 to provide a namespace for anyone in the adult industry. Now he does it again.

.PORN and .ADULT go live for everyone on 4th June – .SEX will be out later this year.

In this post you will learn how a CEO of  a successful New TLD (Top Level Domain) Registry sees the world, how these new domain endings can boost the ranking of any adult site and how .PORN and .ADULT can actually be used in other industries to brand your product in a way never seen before.

Stuart Lawley, ICM Registry
Stuart Lawley, ICM Registry

1) Could you please introduce ICM and your vision and mission?

ICM’s vision is to provide a responsible online eco-space for the adult industry to provide goods, services and content to adults who are searching for and interested in adult entertainment. Both consumers and merchants know that our TLDs provide access to adult entertainment providers who have agreed to comply with our best practices.  This powerful combination is our unique global brand.  

2) Why .SEX, .ADULT and .PORN when there is already a .XXX? Is it just a money grabber, did you apply to protect your .XXX interests or did you simply see that the new endings were offering something in the market which .XXX didn’t? Please give us the full picture.

ICM Registry has a strong commitment to our stakeholders, which includes the adult industry, trademark owners, child protection advocates, non-governmental organizations and others.  Through .XXX we created a “best in breed” TLD; our online space promotes free expression and access to responsible adult content while also ensuring best practices.  When ICANN announced the new gTLD program, we felt a sense of obligation to ensure that we continued to provide that type of space in any of the adult-oriented TLDs that grew out of ICANN’s new program; we did not want adult-oriented TLDs to get into the wrong hands.  We also wanted to minimize consumer confusion for our stakeholders including consumers and brands; we did not want our stakeholders wondering which adult-oriented TLDs were “safe” and which were not.  ICM has built a strong global reputation; we wanted to ensure that we were able to continue to foster the highest levels of respect for the space and this compelled us to apply for .ADULT, .PORN and .SEX.  It was a decision we made born out of a desire to ensure brand consistency amongst TLDs and to ensure continued promotion of best practices for these TLDs.

3) What is your winning strategy? I mean, we have seen many new registries who have failed, when it comes to raising awareness. What do you do differently?

We believe that our TLDs serve as an online signpost, which allow adults to find the entertainment they are looking for and also allows parents to set up the controls so that their children can easily avoid the sites in our TLDs. We engage the adult industry through our participation in industry trade shows and conferences, we provide innovative services for our community, and we have created unique launch programs for our new TLDs.  As we launch .PORN and .ADULT, we are giving our community a priority opportunity to register their matching .XXX names in our new TLDs.  Our unique launch programs and promotional pricing builds goodwill and integrity amongst our global audience.   We also strive to create an online environment which serves the interest of its constituency, in that regard we innovate and provide unique offerings to our community. 

xxx.xxx directory
xxx.xxx directory

For example, we are able to offer our community free traffic through our online directory XXX.XXX.  We also have been conducting research and analysis on the SEO benefits of our TLDs to assess how our TLDs help our customers with higher ranking in organic searches. 

4) Who should use these TLDs and do you have some great .XXX business cases, where the domains were used in original ways?

Our .XXX sites are predominantly geared towards the adult industry itself. SEX.XXX is a great example of a business case of our TLD being used in original ways.  The team behind SEX.XXX wants to make it an industry-wide site, where adult content producers have a vehicle to reach more consumers through this “portal”.  Its a great way for consumers to experience original and copyright protected content; its a win-win-win. Some other interesting sites like STAR.XXX and MODELS.XXX focus on adult industry performers themselves, which is a great way to feature these amazing and talented people.

Models.xxx
Models.xxx

Our new TLDs, .PORN and .ADULT are geared towards a much larger audience.   Any adult can buy a domain name in our new TLDs and start a website – the site does not have to offer adult oriented products or services.  For all of the same SEO reasons the adult providers have, non-adult businesses can also reap some of those benefits.  As you may be aware, there is a mainstream cultural phenomenon regarding the word “porn” – it no longer just means adult entertainment. In social media, a tag like “foodporn” is an extremely popular way to reference a beautiful meal; this phenomenon keeps growing in popularity. People have extrapolated the “porn” reference and use it on other obsessions and genres as well, like “shoeporn” “carporn”, etc. – any brand or industry could choose to jump on this trend by using “porn” to connote the love or obsession or beauty of the product or activity they are wanting to promote. 

 When it comes to the .ADULT TLD, the implications for use in the non-adult entertainment world are exponential.  Any product, service or resource that can be promoted to adults can use .ADULT as a relevant extension; so things like cigarettes, alcohol, travel, hotels, concert tickets, gaming, dating, insurance, etc.. Literally anything where adults are the target audience is appropriate. 

5) Fast forward to 2020. How do you see the internet landscape with the new TLDs in general? Is it just a big graveyard or do you see extensions such as .LONDON, .CLUB and .SEX everywhere in the search results and displaying on big billboards?

While ICANN’s new gTLD program as a whole has currently seen fewer registrations per TLD than in years past, we believe we provide a unique value to the adult entertainment community.  The importance of SEO cannot be overstated, when it comes to promoting products and services online.  Our new TLDs: .PORN, .SEX and .ADULT have inherent SEO value, as they are amongst the top keywords searched online throughout the globe.  The migration of adult content to these domains is great because of the opportunity for easy-to-remember domain names, as well as the SEO value described above.  With over 300,000 million searches per month performed by end users looking for XXX, PORN, ADULT and SEX – adult entertainment providers will be able to capture those searches by using our TLDs. The way to get noticed is increasingly more difficult because search engines like Google have stopped taking adult oriented advertising; in a world where “traffic is king”, higher ranking, relevant and targeted organic search results are good.  Adult providers are eager for new ways to attract end users who are searching for their content and our TLDs provide another tool in their toolbox.  No one really knows what the Internet will look like in 2020, but we believe that the new TLDs created by ICANN allow for some interesting innovations amongst brand owners and certainly clarify for consumers the various “online neighborhoods”. 

Launch dates

Thanks to Stuart for his time.

From 6th May anyone who already owns a .XXX domain can get in front of the queue and secure their matching .ADULT or .PORN.

From 4th June .ADULT and .PORN will be available for all.

You can check availability of your domain name here. If you have any questions about these new domain endings, then leave a comment below, and I or Stuart will answer them.