Research report shows consumers not keen on new TLDs.
A couple weeks ago I received an email from a researcher at The Future Laboratory, a UK-based research and trend forecasting company. The company was preparing a report, sponsored by domain registrar Gandi.net, about the introduction of new top level domain names. We later discussed the issues surrounding new TLDs via phone.
I assumed that the report would be tainted by Gandi’s position on new top level domains, but I was assured the company was only the sponsor. Aside from some sidebars from Gandi, the report seems to be straightforward and unbiased.
One of the findings in the report is that consumers mostly haven’t heard of these new domains, and most don’t care to see them:
They believe existing domain name extensions are trustworthy and reassuring, whereas the prospect of new website suffixes provokes suspicion and concern. For example, 35% of consumers think
.uk is trustworthy, compared to 3% that trust .biz (which was created in 2001) and 4% that trust
.eco (a proposed new TLD)…
The majority of consumers polled (60%) agree that the liberalisation of domain name extensions will
change the way they use the Internet, but not for the better. The Internet will become full of pointless
domain names (for 65% of those polled), messy and confusing (57%), too complex to navigate (46%) and
out of control (41%)…
Consumers muster little enthusiasm for any new top-level domains. A quarter of people are ambivalent about the prospect of a .theirname suffix and 28% would be wary of domains ending with .theirprofession. Just 15% think this sort of suffix would be appealing.
The report also gave examples of new ways to use domains, such as london.lonelyplanet. I keep seeing examples like this, and wonder what’s wrong with london.lonelyplanet.com. Indeed, many people will type the domain that way anyway. The report includes a similar assessment by an ecommerce consultant:
Everyone knows that Amazon is amazon.com or amazon.co.uk,’ says ecommerce consultant, Emma Kane. But if Amazon ever decides to operate under .books, she says â€˜it will just lead to confusion, especially amongst less savvy internet users who will type in Amazon.books.com as opposed to Amazon.books.
The Future Laboratory surveyed 1,000 British consumers for the report. Although one could cite the sample size or locality of the consumers as different from the world at large, this is the only study I know of that shows any hard stats about consumer interest in new TLDs.
Over the next few months you will surely see more studies about consumer interest in new TLDs. Always consider the source, as many are backed by companies looking to make a buck off of new domains.