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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.

Patricio Robles

Published 9 April, 2012 by Patricio Robles

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

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gtld madness

12 April 2012 is the closing date not the opening date.

over 4 years ago

Heather Taylor

Heather Taylor, Editorial Director at Econsultancy

Thanks for your comment - I've corrected the post to reflect that!

over 4 years ago

Michele Neylon

Michele Neylon, CEO at Blacknight Internet Solutions Ltd

The .brand TLDs are only part of a much bigger picture.

Unfortunately a lot of the media coverage seems to be focussed on the big corporate angle and overlooking the other types of new TLDs that people are applying for.

In a couple of weeks time we'll know who has applied for what.

Some of the cities are applying for their own TLD, so expect to see .nyc, .paris and several more.

over 4 years ago

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Joe D

Agree with the sentiment of the 'gtld madness' username above - it is utter madness and such a pointless 'innovation' which will only serve to make navigation of the web a more difficult and 'branded' experience, while lining the pockets of ICANN.

Yet another example of the once-level playing field of the web being tilted towards those with big marketing budgets.

Counter-productive in every way, let's hope the whole thing backfires spectacularly.

over 4 years ago

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Mark Gavalda

While there are certainly a few cases (okay, maybe VERY few) where this could be useful, I agree with Joe D that in its current form it seems to favor large companies and is NOT useful for the internet community. Plus I'd really like to live long enough to see the majority of people change to something like search.google instead of using the now-hardwired google.com :-)

over 4 years ago

Patricio Robles

Patricio Robles, Tech Reporter at Econsultancy

Michele,

That's a fair enough point, but I think you're missing the bigger point: whether you're talking about a company like Pepsi or a city like New York, *somebody* has to brand these TLDs.

The corporate angle gets a lot of attention because realistically, major corporations have the most resources to invest in building consumer awareness around new gTLDs.

Why is that important? It's simple: at the end of the day, it's going to take a huge amount of investment to get consumers thinking beyond .com. Don't think this is the case? Just look at the gTLDs we have today (.biz, .info, .name, .asia and .mobi, etc.). In some cases, millions of dollars have been spent promoting them but I don't think that anyone can argue with a straight face that any of these have broken into mainstream consumer consciousness. Heck, when was the last time *you* visited a .biz or a .mobi site?

Bottom line: if any organization is going to be successful in marketing a new gTLD, it's almost certainly going to be a major brand that can throw huge sums of money at the exercise. Whether there's a need for this, or an ROI to be had, is the real question.

over 4 years ago

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Yatin Hattangadi

The End of Phishing. Isn't that the big one, hidden in plain sight?

Imagine TLDs like (.hsbc) or (.citi)

As a consumer, I'd feel rock-solid secure, exchanging information with one of these entities, because I'd know they are who they say they are.

To Shiv Singh's point - as well as the apparent conclusion of the article - isn't this something consumers would embrace?

over 4 years ago

Michele Neylon

Michele Neylon, CEO at Blacknight Internet Solutions Ltd

Patricio

I'd disagree.

The entire angle being taken in coverage on this site has been anti new TLD from the get go.

And this has been compounded by pretty much every single article that has been published.

You've completely ignored the marketing opportunities that many small to medium sized companies will have with new TLDs.

And that's just one of the many many angles you've ignored.

As for .biz and .mobi - I visit them pretty much every single day.

Trucking out the rather jaded examples of "failures" is easy.

I don't see you talking about .cat.

I don't see you talking about .co

There's a lot more to new TLDs than a few big corporates. Pity nobody will get to read about it here

Michele

over 4 years ago

Patricio Robles

Patricio Robles, Tech Reporter at Econsultancy

Yatin,

Brand TLDs aren't going to end phishing. If your computer is compromised, an attacker could just as easily make it appear that you're accessing, say, my.hsbc or myaccount.citi.

What about less sophisticated attacks? The individuals being fooled into providing their credentials to spoof .com, .net, .biz, etc. phishing sites obviously aren't looking at the URLs they're accessing.

Michele,

I'd love to see a list of the .biz and .mobi sites you visit every day.

I'm not sure what .cat has to do with this discussion. The TLD was approved for the Catalan-speaking world, and even though it's not technically a ccTLD, it serves much the same purpose.

As for .co, I have written about this ccTLD which has been marketed like a gTLD given that it's one character removed from .com. See http://econsultancy.com/uk/blog/8282-overstock-learns-that-com-is-still-king.

Are new TLDs interesting? Yes, but that doesn't mean that they should be endorsed because they sound cool or the .coms many of us would like are already registered. When it comes to small and medium-sized businesses, many of which have limited marketing budgets, I simply don't think there's a compelling reason to believe that new gTLDs are going to help them market themselves more effectively online.

The history of existing gTLDs (and ccTLDs marketed as gTLDs), on the other hand, offers plenty of reasons to be skeptical.

over 4 years ago

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