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New TLDs are coming, and despite all of their critics, myself included, there are some who believe they're a good thing.

Take, for instance, Alexa Raad, whose company Architelos provides "new TLD consulting and management services". She thinks critics of the new TLDs simply don't get it.

In an AdAge opinion piece, Raad writes:

To understand the possibilities of new TLDs, think of an apartment building. A website (i.e., a domain name) is like an apartment. You rent it, conduct a good portion of your life there, entertain folks and get an address so people can find you and send things. You can paint the walls, but you can't upgrade the plumbing or replace the cabinets.

She goes on:

The owner of the apartment building is the TLD. She decides who can live there, charges rent, makes the rules and determines whether you'll have granite tops or laminates in the kitchen, burpee or shag carpet in the den.

Raad rattles off a list of ways well-known businesses and organizations could use their own TLDs: eBay could set up .ebay for power sellers, the American Medical Association could set up .doctor and give every doctor in America a free domain, automakers could use TLDs "to build a communication or logistical network with its suppliers, partners, dealers and customers" and so on and so forth.

It sounds very nice, but is anything like this really going to happen in the real world?

If the situation with the controversial .xxx TLD expected to launch later this year is any indication, new TLDs are less like apartments and more like undesirable neighborhoods you'd love to avoid but sometimes have to visit.

As reported by Computerworld:

Rates for XXX domains announced by Go Daddy range from $99 to $209 for the first year of registration. After that, it's $99 to renew the registration.

What's bugging many businesses about the new porn domain is that they're being forced to cough up $200 or so to protect their brands from being exploited by smut peddlers. In fact, initial returns in the UK indicate that four of five businesses that have pre-registered for the XXX domain have no relationship to the porn industry. Furthermore, ICM, which administers the domain, told Reuters that 900,000 "expressions of interest" from companies who want to pre-register their trademarks to block porn purveyors from using the brands in a XXX domain name.

Ironically, some prominent adult entertainment businesses don't really like .xxx either. Computerworld notes that "Both Hustler and Manwin, one of the world's largest online porn companies, are refusing to pay for registering the dozens of domain names they already own as XXX sites. What's more they want ICM to protect their brands from XXX poachers for free."

Needless to say, the .xxx TLD is somewhat unique, and companies may feel more strongly about protecting their brands from abuse in this TLD than they will in others. But if .xxx does highlight one thing, it's this: where a new TLD is open to public registrations, countless companies will weigh purchasing domains with a sole purpose: protection. In some instances, many will feel forced to shell out for domains they don't want and won't use, simply because the costs of defending against abuse after-the-fact are so high.

From this perspective, it seems clear that it isn't that critics of the new TLDs don't understand the new TLDs, as Raad suggests, but rather that they understand the new TLDs all too well. .xxx is simply providing validating of some of the criticism surrounding the new TLDs.

The good news, of course, is that there's little evidence consumers will embrace new TLDs.
Case in point: despite the massive effort to promote the .co ccTLD as a viable alternative to .com, I can't recall ever visiting a website hosted exclusively on a .co domain. Ironically, the only .co domain I see on a regular basis is t.co, which isn't home to an actual website, it's Twitter's URL shortener.

Which begs the question: if a new TLD is launched, but nobody visits its websites, does it really exist? We'll soon find out.

Patricio Robles

Published 17 August, 2011 by Patricio Robles

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

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Comments (8)

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Frank

Likening all new TLD's to the .xxx TLD is short sighted and misinformed.
I'd be happy to put a cheeky wager on the fact that some of these "undesirable neighborhoods" as you so eloquently described them will rise up to be seen in the skyline of Manhattan - and this does not mean they will have 100million registrations - this means that the value they offer the internet community and end users will give them a pride of place in any landscape.

about 5 years ago

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Business Opportunities Egypt

If the situation with the controversial .xxx TLD expected to launch later this year is any indication, the new TLDs are less like apartments and more like undesirable neighborhoods you'd love to avoid but sometimes have to visit. But this will help resolve all the TLD descriptiveness.

about 5 years ago

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Cyber Pundit, Principal at YWM Consulting

@Frank, the last thing the "Internet community" wants is even more URL confusion. Most new TLDs like ".to" etc have been used for spam and other nonsense. Let's get the .com and .net right. The focus of what needs to be done is just wrong.

about 5 years ago

Yves Goulnik

Yves Goulnik, Digital strategy director at Strategik & Numerik | Indigenus

Aside from the registrars lobby and a few specialized consultancies, there is little understanding of TLD issues and opportunities with marketers, digital or otherwise, let alone the for new TLDs.

In most businesses, this is typically handled by trademark lawyers, for defensive reasons only. After years looking after a few thousand domain names for a multinational corporation (and mainly because no one showed the slightest interest), I found very limited uptake for education and consulting I put together in this space over a year ago.

I've now moved on to other ventures, while the new TLDs are slowly becoming reality. As I anticipated back then, they will undoubtedly result in knee-jerk reactions by large companies willing and able to fork out the $1/2-1million it will cost them, yet with limited understanding of why and what.

Like .us/.info/.biz and a few other TLDs before, from .name to .co, this is largely unstoppable, thanks to the unabated lobbying efforts of a few vultures and the naivity of many.

Yet it's likely to impact at least some businesses much more significantly given the specific nature of these new TLDs (I'm thinking mainly of the .brand variety here).

There is no reason to believe anyone will embrace those new TLDs, something that is recognized by many pundits. But consumers will still end up paying for them, which seems to be all that matters.

about 5 years ago

Patricio Robles

Patricio Robles, Tech Reporter at Econsultancy

Yves,

Dead on. This is a huge money grab.

about 5 years ago

Patricio Robles

Patricio Robles, Tech Reporter at Econsultancy

Yves,

Dead on. This is a huge money grab. Unfortunately it's likely little real, lasting value will be created.

about 5 years ago

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Pauline de Robert

I so agree this is a racket of sorts. The same could be said for the .name, .us (disclosure - I worked for one of the big registrars at the time these went live) and now also .tel and all these other new TLDs. The company had an entire department dedicated to corporate sales, the selling point being protection...

about 5 years ago

Yves Goulnik

Yves Goulnik, Digital strategy director at Strategik & Numerik | Indigenus

See in the ICANN post how they are going about promoting the new(est) TLD programme.

How Should We Raise Global Awareness of New gTLDs?
Engage the ICANN Community.
http://www.icann.org/en/announcements/announcement-17aug11-en.htm

about 5 years ago

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