In the coming months, certain aspects of the World Wide Web could become more like the Wild, Wild West. In what has been compared to the Oklahoma Land Rush of 1889, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) has created an opportunity for businesses to apply for new generic top level domains (gTLDs). We recognize top level domains as the word to the right of the “dot,” the most common being .com, .org, and .net. With ICANN’s plan to rollout new gTLDs as early as April 23rd, we will start to see top level domains such as .shop, .book, .news, and even brand-specific domains including .amazon, .nike or .pepsi. This will result in an over 6,000% increase in the number of website domains available for internet users. While it may not be possible to foresee all implications the addition of these new top level domains will have on the digital marketing world, there are a few things marketers should keep in mind when they consider embarking on this virtual land rush.
Know the Facts
According to a recent survey cited in Daniel Le Ray’s March 28th iMedia Connection blog, 63% of small business managers and owners have no idea that thousands of new top level domains will be introduced over the next few months. As a company’s web presence has become an integral part of any sound business strategy, it’s important to do a little research to see what kind of impact it will have on your business and either take action or take the “wait and see” approach. ICANN released the following video late last year which gives an overview of new gTLDs:
Explore Your Options
Purchasing a new top level domain may not be right for your business. Once you familiarize yourself with the process and cost to acquire your own gTLD, you may quickly find that larger companies with the technical and financial resources to not only go through the application process, but to defend and contest gTLDs, will have a definite advantage. Adweek put together some very compelling estimates to demonstrate just how much it could possibly cost marketers and media outlets to protect their brand identity online from phishers and cybersquatters. It is a good idea to check into your company’s policies and procedures and find out whether new top level domains will affect your brand.
Follow the Latest Developments
ICANN has been continually updating their website with recent announcements as their plan for new top level domains rolls out. You can read more about news and developments including the newly established Trademark Clearinghouse and about the recent ICANN board meeting April 7-11 in Bejing here.