.ME DomainsWith the recent focus I have had on .ME domain developments I get quite a few emails asking about my thoughts on .ME domains and questions on values, where I think they are going, and other such things.  I was fortunate  enough to have the .ME registry team do an interview to answer some of he questions my readers have asked and I have had myself.  Special thanks to Predrag Lesic (CEO) and Natasa Djukanovic (Director International Sales)  for taking the time to do this interview.

Tell us a bit about the .ME organization, who are the leaders driving this extension forward?

With the professional guidance of some experienced people from Afilias and Go Daddy, as well as fresh ideas of .ME Registry Executive Director and CEO, Predrag Lesic, and his team, .ME was set up with a special marketing message, “It’s all about YOU!”. The domain’s usability and popularity exploded.  We are constantly trying to implement something fresh and new into .ME development and strategy. Interaction with the customers is the driving force behind .ME.

Whats the feeling from the .ME team about its growth and success thus far?

In a way we feel like proud parents of a beautiful baby. We gave birth to the concept of .ME and it has been embraced worldwide. With successful marketing moves, constant promotions and consultations with experts, we have managed to blaze the trail for this unique ccTLD. Now, being widely recognized for its international meaning and brandability .ME keeps making us very proud.

How has growth been since the initial landrush?

We have steady daily and monthly registration growth. We have reached a quarter million registrations after less then a year of going public. That is a record in the Internet business. Registrations are coming from all over the world and at the moment we have registrants from over 190 countries.

The .ME premium auctions have continued to do well with many names going into the 5 figure range. Do you think this says alot about how people feel about this extension as an investment or more about how people feel about its brandability to endusers?

Some people recognized its potential when .ME went live in July of last year and they immediately invested in .ME domains. They  recognized the great advantage of .ME – the meaning it gives to the words in a Web address. It makes them both personal and brandable. These two things are closely connected. We have a lot of individual users who use .ME with their personal name and you have probably noticed that many big companies have a logo, or a marketing campaign ending with .ME. This is the best promotion we can get. One of our favorites is Despicable.ME – it is the Web address for “Despicable Me”, a new Universal Studios movie coming soon to theaters worldwide.

How do the people of Montenegro feel about their cctld being re-purposed as an international brand?

Montenegro is a very small country – only 600,000 people. It is famous for its natural beauty and long history. Now, Montenegro is famous for one more thing – .ME. We believe that this is a good way to promote our country and that Montenegrin people are proud of .ME and its worldwide success. The .ME Registry is also investing in education by sponsoring summer schools in computer science, donating equipment and organizing seminars. And there are third level domains opened only for Montenegrin people (co.me, net.me, org.me, priv.me and its.me).

Much of the success with .ME recently has been with site launches in the US (YouAnd.ME and others) , what are your marketing plans to continue the push into the market here in the US?

Now, in our second year, the most important thing is increasing usage,through Web sites, new technology, service providers, or just simple personal e-mail addresses. There are already some great sites in existence and we are closely monitoring their activity, success and growth. We set up a procedure for the allocation of premium names to people with best development ideas. This program will connect two most important things in domain industry – a good idea and memorable name. People can find out more about that program at our Web site www.Domain.Me.

What would you say to the domain investor crowd who typically focus on .COMs or maybe .NET and .ORG when it comes to building their portfolio of .ME domains?

With Facebook, Twitter and similar services drawing the attention of  individuals and making everything online more personal, the Internet is becoming a widely-used social networking tool.  .ME is a perfect match for these innovations. It is something that goes hand-in-hand with a new trends and provides new marketing potential. Just take a look at new marketing campaigns and ask yourself how often the “me”  word is used to connect the product with the customer. (Mobile ME – Apple, ME phone – new Dell mobile phone, Just ME – new Max Mara collection, Toni & Guy’s Model.Me product, PC for ME – Microsoft, Despicable.ME – new Universal Studio movie, Set your watch to ME time – BAA marketing campaign, Planet ME – TNT service… ). The word  itself is extremely interactive and using it is much easier and effective with .ME.

What industry events are the .ME team planning on attending in the near future?

The first one is ICANN Seoul, then TRAFFIC Las Vegas, and DOMAINfest Global 2010

With the recent announcement of WP.ME and the great use of a 2 letter .ME by the WordPress team do you plan on starting to make these available to those with specific users for them?

Generally speaking, two-letter domains are not planned for allocation. However, we are willing to make an exception whenever we recognize a big
usability potential, like we did this time, with WordPress.com.

Also recently Tweetmeme.com has announced their ReTwt.me URL shortener, how does the .ME team feel about the added awareness coming from such highly trafficked services using the .ME brand?

We are very enthusiastic about seeing high-traffic web sites using .ME for different  kinds of services since this introduces .ME to the wider audience. It is a perfect vehicle to provide .Me with more exposure.

Godaddy.com has been a huge supporter (BobParsons.ME saying alot in itself), how do you feel the Godaddy support has helped .ME with the general consumer rather than the tech and domainer crowd?

Go Daddy’s support is very important for .ME and the company has greatly contributed to our growth track. We think that they share our .ME enthusiasm. Apart from Go Daddy we have more then 115 other registrars, most of which are  top ICANN Registrars. Thus, .ME’s success lies in the mutual effort of Registry and Registrars, and its general appeal to both tech / domainers and general consumers.

Any interesting .ME announcements we should be watching for?

The most important thing is ensuring strong content on .ME sites – so we now have the procedure to allow interested parties with good development ideas to apply for certain premium domains. The procedure is published at domain.me

Once again, I want to thank the .ME team for taking the time to do this interview and wish them luck as they move forward with their vision.