The only domain in town


With a steady rise in new gTLD registrations, brand owners might be noticing the benefits of the current landscape. Joe Alagna, vice president of channel development at 101domain, shares his thoughts

How popular have domains in new gTLDs been this year?

This year has shown steady increases in new registrations. According to nTLDStats, there are close to 25 million new domain names registered. More than half of them are parked, which indicates that the largest sector of buyers are domain investors and trademark interests. We’re still a little unsure about how many of the new gTLDs are being used for active business, personal or non-profit websites. 

A new gTLD release usually follows a pattern of quick rises upon release, then a cliff, then a steady rise. The quick rise is almost always domain investors and trademark holders. The subsequent steady rise is generally business or personal users who will build websites.

There have been some outlying factors in 2016. The first is .xyz. They achieved unusually high numbers through good marketing, low prices, and by reaching out to millennials. The second outlying factor contributing to the success of .xyz, .top, .win, and all the others, is the interest in domain names that has blossomed in China.

So far, 2016 has seen a massive growth of interest in domain names out of China and domain related trade shows have been packed out all year. The size of that market coupled with the new opportunities in domains has brought new gTLDs most of their growth.

Where are you seeing professions make the most use of their own gTLDs?

New gTLDs offer more focused opportunities for specific professions or interests, but the majority of existing users seem content to stick with their .com and .org domain names.  Many buyers of new vertical-oriented domains such as .accountant or .attorney are those interested in buying the domains as investments or new practitioners who can’t get the .com name they wanted. Sponsored TLDs such as .law and .bank are different because one cannot even register them without already being part of the industry. There are not as many investors involved so, in those cases, there is a gradual uptake among existing professionals. In either event, I can’t say that lawyers are flocking to the TLDs on offer. In fact, I think they are missing good marketing opportunities by going too slow.

What about defensive strategies? Is any significant take up of new gTLDs attributable to defensive registrations?
 
The largest brands are still registering their names in sunrise periods but there is a bit of new release fatigue. Donuts, the largest new registry in the business, is running a promotion through the end of 2016 on its revised version of the Domains Protected Marks List (DPML), called DPML Plus.  This extended version of the old DPML allows brands to register their strings for up to 10 years at a tremendous discount and to protect three or more ‘misspells’ or ‘contains’ as part of the product. It’s good value but we still have to see how interested large brands will be.

The general public appear still appear to be largely ignorant of new gTLDs. What can brands do to change this?
 
The real question here is ‘if’ brands should do anything. The onus of making new gTLDs known really lies with the registries and registrars. My view is that brands help to make the general public aware of new gTLDs if and when they use them. If a brand does an advertisement and shows off its own TLD, I think it is doing all that should do to raise awareness. Some registries are doing their part to partner with large brands to accomplish awareness.

For example, the Consumer Technology Association, which runs the largest technology trade show in North America, recently began using ces.tech for its website. This will go a long way to help Radix, the registry for .tech, to make this TLD famous. Technical product manufacturers from all over the world should begin to notice this and wonder if they can use one as well. 

When it comes to true brand-related TLDs such as .canon and .deloitte, there is a real opportunity for brands that have secured their own brand TLDs. By taking the emphasis off of .com, they are putting the emphasis on their own brand. A few companies are doing this but it is far from being standard. There are still hundreds of companies that have been awarded their new brand-style TLD but are not yet using them. 

My advice to brands that have secured their own TLDs is to make the transition, but do so in a staged and well-thought out manner. If they are big advertisers, they should do this even sooner. There are specific steps to follow and stages to consider, but every day that a brand advertises a .com domain name in its advertisement is a day where it could have had a deeper focus on its own brand, using its own TLD.

Will Google’s push towards new gTLDs, combined with its brand power, open the door for a larger public interest?
 
I think it will. Google’s use of abc.xyz was very public and highly publicised. It’s good to see Google’s interest in new gTLDs, but I think it is still early to call it a push. In my view, Google is taking a measured approach to new gTLDs. It doesn’t seem to be rushing.

Out of the 101 applications that Google made, it has withdrawn from about 46, while 42 have been delegated. Out of the 42, it only has about 18 listed on its registry site as planned ‘Google Domains’.

In fact, Google has only released about three (.how, .soy, and its Japanese internationalised domain name for ‘everyone’).
 
In any event, everything Google does related to new gTLDs is helping. The recent release of blog.google is an example. Over time, I’m sure that its involvement is going to be key to the larger public interest.

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