The new .com bubble – .brand?

In 2009 the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) who are the body responsible for coordinating domain names across the globe put forward a proposal to allow companies to register their own Top Level Domain (TLD). This change has been approved and companies are now being asked to submit their requests for a TLD at a cost of approximately $185,000.

What is a TLD?

Top level domains are those at the higest level of the internets domain structure, that is the .com, .org, .edu, .net and includes Country Code TLDs such as .uk we are familiar with. The responsibility of managing the next tier of domains is then delegated to various registrars (for example Nominet in the UK who then work with various partners).

So what does this mean?

Historically, companies and individuals register domains which “hang” from a TLD – that is something.com or something.co.uk – this now allows the registration of .something. So we could have .pepsi for example or .bbc. Whilst this may seem sensible it introduces a new way of how we find and access information online.

dot.brand

Some of you may have read todays feature on dot brand in Marketing Week about how this change effects many global brands and the potential confusion as consumers work out whether to go to www.pepsi.com/diet or diet.pepsi for example.

My personal view is that this will change the way we search for things, perhaps making it more key and it will be interesting to see how Google re-act to keywords in a TLD verses in URL or domain name; this once again re-inforces the need for a sensible SEO and PPC strategy. I am also interested in whether any collaborations / communities bid for domains. For example .town could be purchased by sporting clubs, i.e. ipswich.town, huddersfield.town. Clever sub domaining may also help customers engage with brands, for example a serial-number.sony could bring up a page specific to a Sony model of television.

ICANN Chief Executive Kurt Pritz suggested that be 2015 they expect up to 5,000 additional TLDs. I am in two minds as to whether this number is high or low and until we see what TLDs are registered, by whom and the associated costs it is difficult to gauge. Before domain names were cheap and easy to manage and the .com boom, many UK businesses survived with sub-domains of their ISP (for example something.freeserve.co.uk). Some providers are already starting to allow customers to register their interest in dot brand – will the take up be in line with ICANN’s expectations?

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