Knee-jerk reaction doesn’t make sense and leaves companies vulnerable.
I’m not a fan of .sucks business model. I’m not a fan of charging big brands a premium to protect their brands with the veiled threat of someone creating a gripe site against the company.
At the same time, I’m a bit flummoxed at the knee-jerk reaction some companies are taking with .sucks compared to other domains. They’re paying thousands of dollars to protect their brand.sucks domain name, but leaving many other potential “bad” domains unregistered.
As I started to research which brands are doing this, I saw that Konstantinos Zournas at OnlineDomain.com has already run some analysis. He found that about half of the domains registered in .sucks sunrise are available as brandsucks.com.
Why would Ocean Spray pay so much for OceanSpray.sucks and not register OceanSpraySucks.com? If you’re worried about gripe sites, the extra $10 is worth it.
Any why are companies paying for .sucks when they skipped .gripe and .exposed?
I suppose it shouldn’t come as much of a surprise, given how companies are defensively registering domains in new TLDs. Companies seem to be taking three approaches.
1. Register ridiculous domains to cover bases – TD Ameritrade comes to mind. The company is registering TDAmeritrade in basically everything. Is TDAmeritrade.pluming really necessary? (And why did it skip Ameritrade.pluming, then?).
2. Register only relevant names – this is the smart approach. Someone like Ameritrade should certainly take a look at financial TLDs.
3. Register nothing – some companies are throwing in the towel and using measures like URS and UDRP when necessary.
I’m not sure of all of the economic motives at play here, but I don’t think brand protection registrars are doing a great job with advice…or the brand owners aren’t listening.
…or there’s an inside job where the one hired as proxy band protector is getting a cut? I haven’t checked, but it must not be ruled out until it’s checked.
You find it to be irrational otherwise, right? So check everything; that’s all I’m saying.
Same reason .XXX registered 100,000+ blocks while the BRANDXXX.com is mostly unregistered. A new name extension has the potential to become bigger than itself and turn into a platform. Brands want to stay out of certain platforms.
Compared to .gripe and .exposed, .sucks has received a lot more exposure as being potentially damaging to brand names. As the previous poster suggested, perhaps some of that was planned to bring in further revenue, at least on the part of businesses in the business of IP protection and monitoring.
Joseph Peterson says
A few points:
“Walmart Sucks!” is a battle cry. Potentially that makes Walmart.sucks a rallying point for disgruntled consumers, employees, et al.
Nearly everyone can identify with an exclamation of “______ sucks!” In contrast, adding the word “exposed” makes the person sound like a gossipy conspiracy theorist. Using the phrase “Walmart Exposed” would marginalize the protesters as cranks and nut cases. At least, many people would feel so.
As for .GRIPE, it isn’t inflammatory enough to terrify brands. Someone who “gripes” can be written off as a chronic complainer or dealt with by listening to their gripes and making concessions. Grammatically, “Walmart dot Gripe” cannot function as a battle cry. There is no urgency. Yet by the time disaffected consumers / employees are shouting “Walmart Sucks!” public relations have passed a point of no return.
That’s one reason why .SUCKS catches attention whereas .EXPOSED (too fanatical) and .GRIPE (too modest) tend be ignored.
You’re right about the .SUCKS publicity being a major factor. Companies are ignorant enough about the domain market to react mainly defensively. So whatever causes controversy gets into their meetings. Whatever doesn’t, doesn’t.
You’re right too. Every TLD ought to be regarded as a brand in its own right. Associations with .ORG or .COM or .CO.UK or .TK or .BIZ or .XXX or .SUCKS tend to spill over across the dot.
This means guilt by association … or success by association. For the same reason that people pay more to reap the collective advantage of .COM or .CO.UK, let us say, brands shy away from certain other suffixes. No matter how we specifically might employe them, we can’t control how others may use the TLD we share. And in the popular consciousness, generalization matters most. If 99% of .XXX websites are porn, then it scarcely matters that your .XXX website is a toddler day care center or an old folks home!
WalmartSucks.com appears like an individual domain with no spillover effects from .COM branding. Walmart.sucks will be allied in the eyes of the public with other .SUCKS websites they may come across.
So that represents a different danger to Walmart. If the public sees 100 legitimate complaint sites built on .SUCKS domains, each one connected to causes that get them out marching in the streets, then their reaction to Walmart.sucks as the 101st website will – irrational though this is – build on remembered associations with the other .SUCKS sites. So even though the particular .SUCKS domain is worthless and no real threat on its own, paranoid brand managers will worry about bleed-over effects from unknowable future .SUCKS campaigns.
Foolish? Maybe. But outsiders to the domain industry see more unknowns with .SUCKS than they do with WalmartSucks.com. Uncertainty and (if I may say so) Ignorance scare people.
TLDs are branded spaces. That’s as true of established gTLDs and ccTLDs as it is for nTLDs like .CLUB and .SUCKS.
Startups are frequently reluctant to build nTLDs because they don’t know how the TLD’s brand with affect their brand. Conversely, this same trepidation ATTRACTS established brands to alarming new TLDs like .SUCKS.
It’s fair to say that brand protection agencies are perceived to be doing their job in proportion to the number of domains they register to “protect” their clients. The more money they spend, the bigger the problem they must have solved, right?
That means bigger budgets for defensive acquisitions in the future, larger revenue from ongoing registration fees due to domains they’ve “secured” in the past, higher commissions, and (ironically) even more gratitude from clients for having spent even more of their money.
Brand protection firms will grow rich from all the new TLDs, but not from telling their clients to sidestep them – only from encouraging registration. The most expensive TLDs can justify the highest surcharges.
Large organizations just want unfamiliar problems to go away so that they don’t have to think about them and can get on with daily business. We’d be wrong to impute much rational thought to corporate decisions outside their day-to-day focus. Scare them enough, and they’ll pay protection money to the Boogeyman himself!
I’ve spent years attempting to interest companies in advance planning, but the vast majority can’t be bothered to think about domains until .SUCKS creeps up behind them and shouts “Boo!” in their ear. Then they jump 6 feet straight up in the air and take off running.