“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.