For more than 25 years now, the world has been familiar with generic Top Level Domains (gTLDs) and country code TLDs. Top Level Domains (TLDs) are the characters on the right side of the “dot” in a domain name. An example of this is .com, which is the most common gTLD(1) in use today while examples of ccTLDs include .in, .ru, .au among the approximately 250 cc TLDs that exist.
This structure of the domain name space as we know it today is poised to undergo a profound change with the launch of new gTLDs. New gTLDs are a result of a recent approval by ICANN to expand the number of gTLDs. Under the program, applicants and/or entities themselves can define their gTLD to be a brand, community, geography or a generic term. For example, a business could apply for its own new gTLD such as “.yourcompany.” It is possible that this process could result in hundreds of new gTLDs.
Brand gTLDs -Cultivate your business on the Internet
A Brand gTLD may provide an excellent opportunity for companies to secure their online namespace. A Brand gTLD, for example, “.yourcompany” could potentially provide a means for brand owners to create new ways to extend their trusted brand and services to partners, resellers, and customers and to enhance brand trust. For forward-thinking company executives, IP professionals, and marketing and communications experts, the time is ripe to consider applying for their brand gTLD. Here are a few reasons why:
- Enhanced Internet presence: As the steward of a gTLD, a company may have authority to enforce requirements for second-level domain name registrants. A Brand gTLD could serve as a nucleus around which a company or organization could group second-level domains for individual products and services as well as partners and resellers.
- Enhanced security, control, and trust: Applicants for a Brand gTLD (like other gTLDs) will undergo a rigorous application process that considers an applicant’s existing trademarks. A Brand gTLD could help assure Internet users that they are interacting with a legitimate company and an authentic web site. By enforcing registration policies for second-level domains, companies could potentially extend this trust even further.
- User convenience: Highly targeted domain names and the ability to create URLs rich with keywords may potentially drive user interaction by aiding certain search engine optimization (SEO) and making it easier to browse web content and applications via mobile devices.
- Brand extension: By issuing second-level domain names to valued partners and resellers, companies may be able to extend the prestige and trust associated with their brands, potentially strengthening relationships, creating new joint marketing opportunities, and reaching new audiences.
- Consumer and brand affinity: Companies could offer affinity email addresses(2) that may enable consumers to associate with their favorite brands in an entirely new way, potentially expanding marketing opportunities and creating new revenue streams.
Brand owners need to consider this opportunity with alacrity
ICANN has announced that they will begin taking applications for New gTLDs in January of 2012(3). The application period will have a limited time window, and once it is closed anyone who missed the application deadline will possibly have to wait more than a year, before another application window opens.
Given the timelines for application, it becomes critical for companies to make a decision about augmenting their existing marketing strategies with a New gTLD component at this time. Companies should perhaps look at seizing their Brand gTLDs as a true marketing and branding differentiator. Applicants for any New gTLD will be required to demonstrate organizational, operational, and financial capability. The complexity of the application process may necessitate working with an experienced registry service provider. As the world’s largest registry, Verisign has an extensive history in operating the world’s best-known extensions, .com and .net, and can help organizations throughout the entire application process.
With the introduction of New gTLDs, brands will have to rethink their online strategy. A domain name strategy is quickly becoming critical for any organization conducting business or wanting to engage customers online. Ignoring the profound impact of the rapid evolution of the Internet with respect to the introduction of New gTLDs could turn out to be a missed opportunity to extend brands deeper into the Internet.