(Ping! Zine Web Tech Magazine) – This week marked two of the biggest days of the year for the Web hosting industry as the biggest players came together for the first annual HostingCon Europe in Amsterdam. As a great opportunity to share the room with developers, vendors, analysts and media, all those that attended were able to discuss the biggest issues in hosting and Web technologies together. This was truly a great conference to collaborate over how to best understand user needs and drive forward new offerings in an international market.
While a wide range of speakers and panellists took part in educational sessions, 1&1 Internet (www.1and1.co.uk) is one of the few companies represented in two sessions: a panel discussion on new top-level domains (TLDs) and a keynote presentation on selling to SMBs.
Day 1 started with a look at SEO techniques and technologies to be offered by the hosting market. One of the biggest highlights of the day was a panel discussion exploring the impact of new TLDs on the industry and progress in their mainstream adoption. Participants included the domain registries .CLUB and Rightside as well as 1&1’s Robin Rudat and Fasthosts’ Bruce Roberts.
No matter the business model or goals, it was proven that the different parties in the industry have all worked towards a common goal – to raise awareness for new TLDs and promote the benefits. “Whatever touch-points we have with our customers, we always try to advise on the best domain options for them,” commented Rudat.
An interesting observation was the “spill over effect” where a strong domain launch acts to give a boost to the whole market. The consensus was that .WEB would perhaps be the biggest nTLD.
The Rightside registry provided a good example of “taking its own medicine,” in utilising www.rightside.rocks as its main domain. “Usage and sharing of usage in the industry is so important. We need to move from telling to showing what can be done,” said David Ryan.
There was agreement that much progress has been made this past year. “We have noticed .CLUB domains linking to Facebook pages. This could be a good way to build up a fan base,” said Felix Waltenberger from .CLUB. Rudat discussed how the new TLDs can benefit all generations of online customers, “Local domains are so easy for our parents to understand, they are real to them and I really like that.”
The Day 1 keynote was given by Futurist and broadcaster Ben Hammersley, who provided a unique look into how disruptive technologies challenge the political classes and establishment. There are a number of examples where concerns or confusions about new technology, especially with regard to data privacy and cyber-crime, have caused shocks to society. The technology industry was encouraged to campaign and collaborate in order to drive education and debate at every turn.
The show also had informative sessions exploring payment methods and looking into Cloud based options for SMBs. ‘Innovate or Die’ dove into how the hosting industry has consolidated and refocused toward a solutions/value-driven proposition, in order to satisfy new user needs.
The Industry Keynote was delivered by 1&1’s Robert Hoffmann, entitled “Hosting Businesses Can Grow By Better Serving SMBs” and provided a detailed look at the many sub segments of the SMB market, from lifestyle SMBs to advanced online retailers. “As an industry, we must show the value of being online,” Hoffmann said.
In looking at growth areas of the value chain for Web hosts, Hoffmann highlighted how online visibility and online reputation products were showing great demand. “Customers need a synchronised approach to social media channels and their Web presence.” He also pointed towards the fact that many SMBs already online are now seeking “content services” such as content marketing solutions in order to further benefit from social media.
An important area of growth in the industry was the Do-It-For-Me market. Hoffmann added, “Approximately 30% of SMB owners say they don’t have the time to build their own website… For a large number, Web agencies will be a great choice, but they do not work for a small amount of money. As a result, the DIFM segment is really growing.”
Hoffmann’s conclusion was that there was plenty of growth potential in the SMB market. Where providers like 1&1 can deliver products that impact the right priorities for each SMB segment, there is an important role to play in driving success on the Web. 1&1 MyWebsite is well known in the industry as an iconic product. “MyWebsite has the clear mission statement – to make SMBs successful,” said Hoffmann.
Over the past two days, the sessions of the first HostingCon Europe proved to offer attendees valuable insight further into the Web hosting industry. The results of the show will surely be seen in the new products developed in the industry for 2015.