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The .Brand Challenge to .Com

“Ancillary” .com domain name purchases might be jeopardized when companies start using .brand domain names.

On last week’s Verisign investor conference call, an analyst asked the company what effect .brand domain names might have on .com.

Verisign CEO James Bidzos said that, even if a company adopts a .brand domain name, they won’t abandon .com. His point was that if a company like Google starts using .Google instead of Google.com (my example), it’s not going to let Google.com expire in order to save $8 a year.

I don’t think anyone will disagree with this.

The challenge for .com when it comes to .brands is longer term, and doesn’t have much to do with a company’s main .com domain name. It has to do with the hundreds or thousands of additional .com domain names companies register for promotions, product lines and brand protection.

Consider the 35 .com domain names that Guthy Renker registered last week. The company, best known for selling Proactiv acne care, registered grclk026.com, grclk027.com…all the way to grclk060.com.

I have no idea what it plans to do with these domain names. They most likely will be used for some sort of tracking.

If Guthy Renker had its own .brand domain name, such as .proactiv, would it have registered grclk026.proactiv or 026.Proactiv instead of the .com domain name?

These days, even when a brand adopts something other than .com, they frequently register .com domains to protect their brand. Consider Google’s holding company, Alphabet, which made big news when it selected abc.xyz for its domain name. It subsequently registered lots of Alphabet-related .com domain names. Each one of those domains is another eight bucks in Verisign’s coffers.

If a company adopts a .brand domain name, it’s possible they will not register as many .com domain names.

I think this challenge for Verisign and .com is probably a decade away. Right now, very few companies own a .brand domain name. We’re probably several years off from another round of .brands, and even at that point I don’t see a major surge in the number of .brand owners unless the cost plummets.

One a company adopts a .brand, it will also be smart for them to continue protecting their brand in .com for the foreseeable future. Very few people understand that new domains exist, and even fewer that a company can use a .brand domain name. Even if Dell sets up order.dell, it’s still going to want to own orderdell.com to protect itself.

This may well change at some point in the future, but I think it’s a long way off.

The point is that Verisign won’t worry about losing the $8 a company spends on its main .com if it gets a .brand. That’s not going to happen. What the company and investors should worry about are the many other .com domains companies purchase. If .brand domain names go mainstream, this revenue stream could be jeopardized in the long run.

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  1. Krishna says

    Congrats for collectively mentioning verisign and .com in the same context.

    How many companies are really interested in maintaining .brands?

    sad to see this kind of posts.

  2. Joseph Peterson says

    If Guthy Renker operated a .PROACTIV suffix, they’d spend 6 figures for the privilege. And would they be able to rely on anyone knowing they’re found at .PROACTIV? Not unless it becomes the convention for every brand to pay 6 figures for its own TLD.

    More than time is required. Critical mass is required. Predictability is what’s required. The vast majority of brands we interact with online are too small to justify dot Brands. And it’s these millions of brand interactions that train our habits as consumers.

    10 years won’t change that, unless operating a TLD for $xxx,xxx becomes as simple as registering a domain for $10.

    Until companies can count on all their customers and prospective customers knowing they operate a dot Brand, those companies might be unwise to rely on their dot Brand in isolation – i.e. without backup from a more familiar extension.

    Will they be unwise? Probably some will.

  3. random32 says

    You guys still hanging onto .com are ridiculous, the extension is on its way out, granted slowly. Face it the new domain extensions are just better.

    • Joseph Peterson says

      @random32,

      Straw man fallacy: “You guys still hanging onto .com”

      Name calling: “are ridiculous”

      Unsubstantiated claim: “the extension is on its way out, granted slowly.”

      Chest thumping: “Face it the new domain extensions are just better.”

      Everything but an argument.

    • fireganja says

      @random32 : the only sale of a gTLD i’ve seen on dnjournal to date was baltic.cruises for $20,000.
      Never seen it happen since.

      • Joseph Peterson says

        @fireganja,

        There have been other nTLD sales apart from the 1 you mention. I’ve reported several, as have DNJournal and others.

        They’re proportionally uncommon compared to .COM sales, but you’ll see a few each month.

  4. John says

    Yesterday for the third time I tried to tell someone to visit a site on a new gTLD and got the same response:

    “What, no .com or anything?”

    Every time, each person has said it using virtually those exact words.

    More marketing is needed if the new gTLDs are not going be like .US, in which the American public still doesn’t seem to know it even exists all this time since 2002.

    • C.S. Watch says

      Agreed. Dot-org and dot-gov have a clear raison d’etre because they’re non-commercial, but the rest of the field had already jumped the shark with the cheesy dot-net webhosting ad racket in the 90s. Queried, tested, resolved.

      More marketing will just drive new suffixes further into obscurity. People aren’t very tech savvy, but because they’ve been inundated with brand data from birth, they are plenty intuitive and sophisticated in that regard.

      They’ve internalized that dot-com provides purchase safety and saves search time. They’ve internalized that if you don’t have the intuitive dot-com then nobody was willing to back you.

      And they’ve internalized that buzz you have to pay for is anti-buzz. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-1GadTfGFvU

  5. Douglas says

    Dot brand does not seem like a replacement, rather an additional avenue for businesses to use as PR, marketing and launching new products. It’s time we all thought multi-dimensional, rather than “this or that”.

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