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Thanks to an ICANN decision, new gTLDs are coming.
According to a recent Afilias study, a sizable minority of brands may apply for their own gTLDs, ushering in a new era in which consumers are asked to visit websites ending in .brand, and not .com.
There's reason to be skeptical about the new gTLDs. Many, for instance, see them as a cash grab for ICANN and a handful of companies. Some, myself included, believe the .brand gTLDs will have little utility for companies but that some will snap them up anyway as a defensive move.
We will soon find out whether the skepticism is well-placed or not. On April 12, ICANN will close applications for the new gTLDs. So who is buying, and who isn't?
According to Ad Age, most of the "major marketers" it contacted were silent on the matter, for obvious reasons. But one of the few companies that did indicate it's applying for gTLDs is a big one: Google.
A Google spokesperson told Ad Age, "We plan to apply for Google's trademarked TLDs, as well as a handful of new ones," adding "We want to help make this a smooth experience for web users -- one that promotes innovation and competition on the internet."
While the spokesperson did not reveal which gTLDs the search giant would be applying for, it's logical to expect the company to apply for .google and .brand extensions for some of its top properties, including YouTube. As Ad Age's Jason Del Rey notes, "one could see using '.YouTube' as a way to mark a brand's YouTube channel destination -- for example, www.AdAge.YouTube."
Google will apparently be joined by companies like Deloitte and Canon in its new gTLD quest. But others, including Facebook and Pepsi, are apparently going to wait and see.
"Consumers are always going to think about first going to MountainDew.com or Pepsi.com before they think about Drink.Pepsi," Pepsi's global head of digital, Shiv Singh, told Ad Age. "That's not going to change anytime soon, and maybe not for a few years."
It may never change. Because ICANN's process will make it all but impossible for squatters to register gTLDs for brands like Pepsi, the work of branding .brand domains will fall to the companies which are going to not only register new gTLDs, but actually use them. Google may be one, but unfortunately for the supporters of the new gTLDs, it may only be one of a few with the resources to do anything meaningful.