Right-of-the-Dot Domains – What’s it Worth to Your Brand?
No doubt anyone reading this blog is aware that nearly all websites (excluding institutions such as universities and government agencies) end in “.com.” But, what you may not know is that in the coming weeks website names will change. The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers ICANN – a non-profit for assigning domain names and IP addresses – announced it would create hundreds of new names for category domains that would include both generic spaces (i.e. “.beaches”) and brand specific spaces (i.e. “.microsoft”). Technically named gTLD (generic top level domains) these new vanity domains can be more easily understood as “right of the dot domain.”
There is going to be a lot of conversation and questions surrounding this move by ICANN in the coming weeks due to the potential headaches brands and companies will face in deciding if and how they will approach this new branding opportunity.
To give you an idea of how this announcement may potentially affect companies and brands we’ve listed out the Pros and Cons of the new “right of the dot domain” era.
- More Controlled Brand Building on the Internet –With company and brand specific domains companies will have the opportunity to build a larger brand presence on the internet through these brand domains. As long as a company can prove they own the trademark to a name they will be granted the domain.
- Generic Domain Names are Fair Game – This could be highly beneficial for the lucky companies that snag these generic domains as they would then control all of content posted at those generic domains. For example, if Nike won the rights to host the domain “.sports” they would control any and all information at “.sports” putting them in a position to be the reigning authority to anything sports related
- Greater Brand Control – Similar to the point above, registering .”yourcompany” will give you control over anything at that domain – virtually eliminating all potential fraud or negative brand images.
- Small Application Window – there will only be a 60 day open window for applications – after that it may be another 4-5 years before applications are accepted again
- One Brand Could Monopolize on Generic Spaces – though it can (and will be) viewed as pro for the few that can get the generic domain spaces like “.sports,” for those who miss out will now potentially have their competitors controlling all content at such sites, which in turn may turn them in the industry thought leaders on a particular subject.
- A Brand has Hundreds of Brands Under their Umbrella – Some companies, such as Proctor & Gamble, own hundreds of brands; which brings the question where does such a company draw the gTLD line? Does P&G buy a domain for every product, or none at all? Securing gTLD’s will not come cheap. So, how much is it worth to a company to have vanity domains for each of their brands? How much control do they really need/want on the Internet?
- A New Townhome or New Domain Name? – Filing cost is $185,000 per domain and an additional $25,000 in annual domain fees.
- The Application Closely Resembles a Short Novel – The ICANN application is a 150 page document that will be published in mid-June. After it is published there will only be a short time window to submit it.
The “.com” that we have all become accustomed to will more than likely continue to be the norm on the Internet, but it will be interesting to see how companies and brands use the new right-of-the-dot vanity URL to help build their brand’s online presence.