Can't find a good .com domain for your company?

Thanks to new top-level domains, there is more opportunity than ever to find a catchy, highly-brandable domain name that's still available for registration.

But is using a new top-level domain instead of a .com domain a good idea? 

According to a survey conducted by Nielsen and sponsored by ICANN, the agency that runs the internet domain name system, the answer right now looks to be a resounding "no!"

Nielsen polled 6,100 adults around the world who use the internet for at least five hours a week and more than half (54%) were unaware of new top-level domains like .email, .photography and .realtor.

What's more, more than half (51%) of survey respondents found the new domain extensions to be trustworthy.

Legacy domain extensions, .com, .net and .org, on the other hand were recognized by 94% of those polled and found 90% of these to be very or somewhat trustworthy. 

Not surprisingly, lack of recognition translates into lower interest in developing websites using new top-level domains.

In North America and Europe, under 40% of those surveyed indicated that they'd consider registering a new top-level domain. New top-level domains fared better in Asia, South America and Africa, where some 60% of respondents stated they'd consider a registration.

Too early, or too late?

While Nielsen's data makes it easy to call the introduction of new top-level domains a failure as far as mainstream consumer recognition and acceptance is concerned, one might also argue that it's too early to write these off.

On the other hand, ICANN's failure to introduce new top-level domains more than a decade ago could mean that it's simply too late for newcomers to ever outshine the entrenched .com, .net and .org.

Time will ultimately tell, but right now, it appears that businesses and brands looking to reach consumers should not expect websites using new top-level domains to get the same love as less-catchy or longer .coms.

Patricio Robles

Published 9 June, 2015 by Patricio Robles

Patricio Robles is a tech reporter at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter.

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Comments (5)

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Michael Glavich, SVP Sales & Marketing at NGE Thought Leaders

Patricio, I believe you may have meant that 51% of the survey respondents found the top-level domain names 'untrustworthy'. If that is true than the following comment about legacy domains being trustworthy and the 'no' opinion for using top-level domains makes sense.

over 2 years ago

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Martin Dinham, Sales Director at Barracuda Digital

We've just changed from www.barracuda-digital.co.uk to www.barracuda.digital . Initial feedback seems to be positive and its definitely better aligned with our brand than the slightly unwieldy original.

over 2 years ago

Troy Clark

Troy Clark, Consultant at Applaud Media LLC

I never expected the new TLDs to take off, reasoning there could only be one king of domains and it is clearly .COM. There can also only be one "default" domain for browsers (e.g. [Ctrl] + [Enter] » http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Table_of_keyboard_shortcuts#Web_browsers).

I think the new TLDs are both too late and too early; had they been available in the early days of the internet, users would be comfortable with them. However, as the availability of good .com/.net/.org etc. domain names continues to decrease, the new TLDs will likely find greater acceptance.

over 2 years ago

Pete Austin

Pete Austin, CINO at Fresh Relevance

The new TLDs make trademarks more important. If used to be that you could simply register all important versions of your domain to protect it, but all the existence of all these new TLDs make that expensive and impractical, so it's back to trademarks.

Must be a problem for businesses that can't get a trademark, e.g. because their company name is a descriptive phrase. *Cough* triggered messaging *cough*.

over 2 years ago

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Nick Leech, Digital Director at 123-reg

While it's understandable that some of the new GTLDs will take time to take off, they are proving popular in some sectors. Businesses certainly see the opportunity - new gTLDs accounted for 21% of the net growth of total domain names in 2014. The expansion of GTLDs has been introduced in order to provide more choice for consumers and businesses but consumers will need time to adapt to the new options available. With many reputable companies choosing to take advantage of the new domains, it wont take long before it's commonplace to have individual and sector specific domains to add to the existing extensions we're already used to.

over 2 years ago

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