From this Thursday (midnight UTC) companies can apply to the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) for the domain name suffix of their choosing — from dot brand (.brand) or dot product (.camera, for example) through to generic terms like .food, .hotel or .pugs. They have until April 12 to get their applications, along with the $185,000 fee, to ICANN. After that date it is expected that further applications won’t be accepted for at least two or three years.
voted yes to boosting the number of domain name suffixes. At the moment, there are only 22 generic top level domains (gTLDs), including .com, .biz, .museum and .jobs, as well as the recently added .xxx. This is in addition to the 250-or so country-specific domains such as .co.uk and .fr.
See also the Wired Q & A with ICANN President Rod Beckstrom
One benefit could be more personalized experiences for customers. So instead of linking to brand.com/login for your banking service, you might be able to go straight to a more personalized page such as oliviasolon.bank
The new ruling means that from this year, we may well start to see sites ending .pepsi, .apple or .microsoft. A number of companies have already laid a stake in the ground regarding a particular term, with Canon has made it very clear that it wants .canon, while the Mayor of London has announced that he is interested in the .London suffix.
These top level domain names have caused some controversy — particularly in the US — where organizations such as the Association of National Advertisers were not satisfied with the espoused benefits. These are said to be increased competition, innovation and reduced scarcity for generic TLDs. In many cases generic .com URLs — for example cameras.com — were snapped up years ago and are now owned by cybersquatters.
However, opponents argue that URLs are rarely used to locate a site anyway. Users go to search engines and look for the brand or product they are interested in without having to remember the company’s URL. They also complain that the cost to brands is enormous and outweighs the speculative benefits of the program. A major concern is that businesses and non-profit organizations will be forced to spend money to register their company name’s TLD in an effort to protect their brands.
Stuart Durham from Melbourne IT DBS, spoke to Wired.co.uk about some of the challenges and opportunities of the program. His company is helping to process around 100 different applications from companies keen to take advantage of the new domains. These include major brands as well as newly formed companies keen to open their own registries and resell their own URLs for their purchased domain.
“Buying one of these domains is a big responsibility. The application form comprises of 53 questions and delivers around 200-300 pages of responses,” Durham explained. “You need to show that you have the financial stability to operate as a registry and if you are acting as an open registry on a generic term you need to show who you are going to market that term to.”
According to Durham, companies that can benefit from the new TLDs include those for whom there is already an existing brand/trademark conflict. One brand might already own the .com, but the other could now own the .brand. He explained: “Under trademark law people can have the same trademark in different classes. But only one company can have the .brand online.”
He believes that it could also prove marketing effectiveness, allowing companies to improve their SEO. Although he admits that it’s hard to predict how Google’s algorithms will treat the new domains.
Roland LaPlante, CMO of global registry service provider Afilias, also believes that there will be branding benefits. “There are marketing benefits for having dot brand. Dot com or dot net does not evoke brand imagery of brand benefits,” he explains, “they are just added clutter in a URL. Imagine seeing “Drink.pepsi”, as opposed to Pepsi.com.”
Despite LaPlante’s confidence, consumers have had years of having .com or .co.uk URLs rammed down our throats, so it might take a while for people to be able to accept that a string ending “dot something else” as a URL at all — it certainly took a while before people trusted .biz and .info URLs.
The second benefit he sees is security: “Everyone knows there is a lot of fraud online and it’s very difficult for the normal internet users to know when you are visiting a fraudulent site, particularly for luxury brands, pharmaceutical companies or financial services. However if Rolex buys .rolex it will be the registry operator and have 100 percent control of who can use a Rolex address.”
Durham agrees, believing these new TLDs to be particularly useful for trusting the URLs of banking brands. Because of the high barrier to entry, it is harder for scammers to set up URLs with .brand on them. As a result, you could check the authenticity of an e-mail purporting to be from your bank by clicking through to the domain. If it doesn’t have .halifax or .natwest (provided these companies bought into the program), you could be safe to assume that it was fake.
Durham believes that a further benefit is the fact that the domains could be used to create personalized experiences for customers. So instead of linking to brand.com/login for your banking service, you might be able to go straight to a more personalised page such as oliviasolon.bank.
Continue reading ‘Companies Prepare For A Land-Grab of New Top-Level Domains‘ …