Sorry “.com”, but you’re no longer the only tool in the shed. This summer, the Internet will begin transitioning from only 23 top-level domains (TDLs) – the root of the domain name system, such as “.com,” “.gov”, “.info”, etc. – to more than 1,409.
According to OnlineMediaDaily, half of the top 100 brands are paying in aggregate more than $350 million to acquire new names. The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), which regulates domains, allowed businesses to apply to create and manage four kinds of TLDs: generic word TLDs (e.g., .shop); corporate TLDs (.brand); community TLDs (.redcross); and geographic TLDs (.berlin). ICANN is currently reviewing applications, and it’s expected that we’ll see new TLDs rolling out by the end of 2013.
Is your head spinning? In plain terms, we may soon see “www.target.shopping” in addition to the regular www.target.com. We may also begin to see URLs such as “.film”, “.baby”, “.drink”, “.media”, “.listen”, etc. In fact, Google alone applied for 101 TDLs. Amazon, 76. And Microsoft, 11.
The new TDLs will act like zip codes and will help regulate online addresses, to help avoid online squatters who wish to capitalize on someone else’s trademark. DrinkerBiddle wrote a very interesting article on protecting your brand with the new TDLs, an important component of this issue. Brands can register their marks with the TMCH service for a fee of $95 – $150. The Trademark Clearinghouse also developed a video that simplifies it all:
These domain name changes are important for any agency, business or brand focusing on search engine optimization (and, really, who isn’t?) because the TLD name will most likely weigh more in Google and Bing search algorithms.
“The impact for brands will become more obvious as this evolves,” says Pita Interactive Manager Naren Kelso. “Name space, and short ones in particular, is critical, especially as we become more and more connected through any number of devices.”
While there’s an expected three- to five-year window before we see these TLDs widely adopted, it’s important for all online marketers to stay up-to-date on these changes. If these large brands are making such a significant investment into applying for TLDs, they must be confident in the ROI.
What do you think about the new TLDs? If you could select one for your brand, what would it be?