What’s changing in the UK internet landscape?

Nominet's Baroness Renn
Baroness Rennie Fritchie DBE, Chair of Nominet

It was an early start on Wednesday as I headed off to London for the .UK Nominet Registrar Conference.

It’s an opportunity for key players from the UK internet space to meet and discuss what’s happening online and how we can all learn, share and improve. The topic of the day was “The changing UK internet landscape”, we had some great speakers and I wanted to share some of what I learned with you.

The BBC Breakfast Business reporter, Steph McGovern opened up the day with good news on how the British economy is recovering, there is still a bumpy road ahead, but the digital economy is definitely playing an important part in our future.

We heard Tim Harford of the Financial Times talk about how businesses cope with change, how we respond and where those changes come from. He spoke at length about refinement of process that many business are doing today to deliver results and tiny innovations such as A/B testing that are producing successful results. Tim cautioned that we should balance marginal improvements and long shot innovation. The big risk he sees in our future, is that we no longer try those “it’ll be an interesting experiment” ideas that occasionally turn out to be revolutionary.

Hanne Tuomisto-Inch,Industry Head B2B of Google, took the stage to talk about navigating the digital revolution. Digital is growing fast, data is shared (such as content) and is exploding on the web. It was good to hear that the UK is one of most advanced and is leading the mobile revolution.

Interestingly, Hanne spoke a lot about video being the second trend, with sites such as YouTube showing very strong growth, she believes some of the growth of video is being fed by social media. Hanne explained how Google see the Business to Business “path to purchase” now – she said people see adverts, they go do some research and make their decision and go back to the website to buy the product or service. People then go on to use and share their experience.

So, how are people researching where to buy? Search engines 92%, brand sites 85%, peer generated review 56%, video sharing 33%, newspaper sites 24%. The biggest growth in the research area is coming from video and they’ve found that 7 out of 10 customers are multi-device shoppers.

So, why are people turning to video? 51% of people use video to understand specific features on a product or service, it is seen as a great way to answer basic questions. We learned that the top question searched online regarding domain names is “what is a domain name?”, looks like we have our own video that we need to be doing right now!

I have to admit, we did try and grill poor Hanne about how the new domain names would be treated online by Google, unfortunately she was more heavily involved in the SEO / PPC side and couldn’t (or wouldn’t) share any inner secrets. We’ll keep trying on that one and bring you whatever we learn.

It’s no surprise that a lot of the day was spent discussing the new domain name extensions, the first 31 of which are now live and available to register. One clear message came out of the panel debates, whilst we weren’t surprised that .guru is currently on top, the strong early registration numbers of .photography and .plumbing has taken a few by surprise. It would seem that none of us can predict the future but we are all watching with fascination which new domain extensions will lead the field.

The afternoon was spent in break out sessions discussing the launch of .uk later this year and topics specific to our UK internet space. All .uk registrars (including names.co.uk) will get access to the Nominet test systems from 8th April 2014 so we can ensure that the new requirements we need to fulfil, such as making sure domain name owner information is accurate and correct, will be fulfilled and everything will work come 08.00am on the 10th June 2014. With all the changes in how we register .uk domain names later this year, getting the technology right is vitally important to us.

We also heard from .wales and .cymru, the new domain name extensions for Wales. Nominet is currently in the process of signing their ICANN contract and they hope to launch them late summer (ICANN permitting).

Last, but not least… security on the internet was a hot topic of the day. Dr Ian Levy, Technical Director at GCHQ  did share a good PDF with us, page 7 has the “10 steps to reduce your cyber risk” – worth a read for any business!

So that’s it – a quick summary of what’s changing and what’s trending in the UK internet landscape. As always, we’ll keep you up to date on any news as and when we have it 🙂

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