By Roland LaPlante
[Roland LaPlante is Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer at Afilias, a domain name registry services and DNS provider. In this guest article he gives five reasons why a brand might want to get its own top level domain name.]
This week at the 39th international ICANN meeting in Cartagena, the ICANN Board is expected to make a decision on the final rules for applicants of new top-level domains (new TLDs). The opportunities that new TLDs can create to enhance an online marketing strategy are important considerations as corporations and marketers now face a timeline in which they must cement the details of their proposal.
New TLDs shouldn’t just be thought of as something specific to generic category names that Internet users will want to register millions of names in. Instead, here are 5 reasons why major brands should consider getting their own new TLD:
Social media and word-of-mouth marketing is “the new blackâ€ as far as marketing is concerned. A new TLD can actually give marketers the opportunity to reinforce their brand with every Web address. Imagine the viral possibilities of an army of fans with blogs, email addresses and Twitter links promoting a .brand in every post.
Indeed, many media organizations have already jumped on the bandwagon of purchasing intuitive domain names with ccTLDs just for custom branding in URL shorteners (e.g.: zd.net, Wpo.st, n.pr). These organizations can instead look at keyword optimization with addresses within their own branded TLD (e.g.: technology.nyt) to enhance user search and provide new advertising vehicles.
2) The Social Network
For a corporation with a short brand name, a natural use of new TLD simply could be as a better URL shortener, entirely under their control. But perhaps a more interesting application of new TLDs would be for the major social networking providers. The ownership of Facebook accounts is a good example; page ownership is tied to a personal identity rather than simply associating the contacts of the owner, like regular domain names. All of the processes built into domain management are ideal for managing the identity ownership of personal or corporate social networking profiles and could provide a more intuitive and proven process.
3) Innovative uses of the DNS
New TLDs also now present corporations with the ability to think beyond the traditional uses of the Internet like simple Web sites or email. Technology-specific applications may make great TLDs, for instance a .mail, a .skype, or .aim. By adding technologies like DNSSEC as well as verification of domain owners, a bank could provide for a more secure online payment system. Luxury brands like BMW could even launch new services such as tying a .bmw email address to a new vehicle purchase and communicating service updates directly to the car.
4) Control and Security
Today, regardless of whether a corporation picks a domain name in a .com, .net or another TLD, they are captive to that registry’s rules. These are rules that tell them when and how to register a domain name, how intellectual property can be protected, and what DNS records are allowed. With their own TLD, a corporation can control the policies of who can get a name, and for what purpose. To block spam, they can decide that no email will be allowed in their TLD. To prevent phishing, they can require verification of each registration. They could even decide that their TLD will only be used for verified internal communications like private e-mail systems or Intranets. A New TLD gives the brand owner the option to decide what customized policies and processes best fit the company’s brand identity and security requirements.
5) New Revenue
The most traditional use of a new TLD has been revenue from second level domain name registrations. If a major brand wants to own an online search category like .books, .sport, .baseball – they may look at applying for a new TLD as a way to tackle this piece of their search strategy in a new way, unavailable before to marketers. If their business has a strong fan base, they can look at revenue from selling personalized fan pages. Organizations with distributors could sell addresses as a preferred status (e.g.: mystore.ebay), or launch new advertising channels on premium names (e.g.: books.amazon or movies.hulu).
The cost of a new TLD may seem high to some, starting at $185,000 just for the application to ICANN. But consider that in 2009 Toys R Us spent $5 million just for the toys.com domain name. New TLDs instead give brand owners the chance to have millions of domains under their control, made for a customized purpose, for less than 10 percent of what Toys R Us spent, and probably for less than one typical TV ad campaign.
Nice advertisement 🙂
M. Menius says
# 1 Reason -> Defensive Registrations. That’s some serious leverage. Spend $185,000 with us to protect your brand.
If 10,000 global companies acquire a corresponding defensive tld, that’s nearly 2 billion dollars for ICANN. Don’t forget the revenue from annual renewal fees too. Nice. Thanks for ponying up corporate world. We’re here to help.
Andrew Allemann says
I don’t think many companies will register a gTLD for defensive purposes, unless they have a generic name. There are a lot of protections against registering a trademark at the top level.
That said, companies such as Apple should consider it, because anyone could go after .apple and make up a decent story. AT&T, too, since .att could also be a TLD for “attorneys” and applied for by anyone.
ahahaha, this is the biggest bunch of cr*p I’ve ever read.
Why bother to refute this. I got an idea, protect your brand better by not allowing any more glt’s !
I don’t want to sound like the person who predicted way back that there would only be the need for, say, (100 or 500?), computers worldwide (couldn’t find the exact quote) but I don’t see this having the impact that is trying to be sold in this piece.
At the cost it will never be ubiquitous. Obviously the operational costs and upfront fees are enormous.
Without ubiquity .something will just appear to be an oddity to the everyday user who still thinks mainly of .com.
Also w/respect to .apple there is a difference between a major corporation not having apple.com or gm.com and not having .apple and .gm. Not having the .com WOULD hurt them. Not having .apple may or may not.
It’s not a must have by any means.
Example first tld I checked .ws, apple doesn’t even have – this is the owner
Tsai, Anthony firstname.lastname@example.org
Ms Domainer says
I do believe that CORPORATE TLDs are the future and that $185,000 is actually pretty cheap for a major corporation to have complete control of their brand from spammers and scammers.
I also suspect that once corporations build their TLD brand (via advertising), the regular globals will fade into the background.
It won’t happen overnight, though.
Steve M says
Mr. LaPlante’s musings are best saved for release on April 1st.
Like your new comment rules, Andrew; especially no more shorteners. Would be great if all the domain blogs instituted such rules.
customer service says
This new TLD stuff is a waste of time. If .AERO, .TRAVEL, .COOP, .BIZ, .MUSEUM and .JOBS were all dismal failures, what makes ICANN think any thing else will indeed work? Keep in mind that those duds were initially selected cuz they represented the industries in which additional TLD’s were in the most demand. Ha!
This whole concept is silly. Seems obvious to me that any one who invests in a new TLD will surely lose his money. Long live .COM.
If you are involved in the domain name industry in any way (ICANN, Registries, Registrars, or Domainer) you stand to make more money from the introduction of new gTLD’s.
This was ICANN’s idea. ICANN also stands to gain power by the new extentions introduction.
You can either fight the power, write & talk about it negatively OR take positive action and go find a way to make money from it.
Best of luck to all.
M. Menius says
@Andrew – “I don’t think many companies will register a gTLD for defensive purposes”
Andrew, you may be right. But consider the internet environment and its perpetual array of abuses that companies are trying to mitigate through proactive planning.
With all the cybersquatting and emphasis from the USPTO that trademark owners police & protect their own brand, I think there may be a good number of companies who may not see a benefit from acquiring their company tld, but are advised to go ahead and secure it as a future safety measure. ICANN are counting on this.
Generic brands like Apple have the obvious incentive to move on their tld now. But you have many hybrid company names whereby they may decide its best to defensively acquire their tld. Examples might be .Ford for Ford Motor Company, .McDonalds for McDonalds Restaurant, .Hartford for Hartford Insurance, or .Ace for Ace Hardware. If these leading companies don’t blow $185,000 to secure their tld now, then another company is a different business classification may come along and snag it for their own use.
Many companies arrived late to the internet and failed to get their desired domain, so by extension, they may look at this new tld thing and feel pressured to blow the 185k now … as opposed to regreting the decision to not get it 3 years down the road.
scrabble cheat says
In my own opinion, I don’t think its right that TLD domains should be of great price considering they will get many benefits..The more valid reason is that top level domains should be categorized according to the position on google ranking and the number of years it had exist…