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.
David J Castello says
Good article, Andrew.
The bottom line is that it is highly unlikely anything is going to stop these new gTLDs because ICANN has $$$ in their eyes. Yes, it will lead to confusion on the Internet because these gTLD proponents seem to be incapable of truly understanding the masses. The masses (or the “herd” as I affectionally call them) accept new technology at about the speed of a pregnant snail – and tend to understand it as well. They don’t like change unless it’s forced upon them. When the Internet revolution started, they had no choice but to embrace dotCom and they did so for all of their business names, business cards and stationary. Don’t look for them to change horses mid-stream no matter how well you educate them. They simply won’t do it because they will consider it an unnecessary expense.
99.9% of the hoopla about these gTLDs is coming from ICANN, registrars and consultants. On a selfish level, I’m looking forward to these new gTLDs because they will push our generic dotCom values through the roof. As opposed to diluting their value from market saturation, generic dotCom and primary Geodomains will bob to the top of this marketing & branding confusion like a cork.
Your notes about the trust factor go to the heart of any new TLD. DotCom and ccTLds have a major trust factor with the public. Watch when happens when one of these gTLDs is poorly administrated.
Steve Z says
Well said. I couldn’t agree with you more. The dot com’s will shine and yes there is way to much self serving hype out there!
Patrick McDermott says
“The Internet will become full of pointless
domain names…, messy and confusing…”
I still believe one day will be possible to register *.*