Donald W. Reynolds National Center For Business Journalism

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Fresh peg on new domain names

July 9, 2014

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The 2014 rollout of new top-level domain names is underway, but flying surprisingly under most radar screens.   If you haven’t yet written about the upcoming availability of hundreds of alternatives to good old .com and .net, you’ve got a fresh news peg in the release of the July batch.

The International Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), which is sort of the sanctioning body of the Internet, has approved 1,400 new “generic top-level domain names” (or gTLD).

.Services, .Deal, .Fail among 29 of the newest domain names. http://t.co/T9A4dvivkv

— CruxialCIO (@cruxialcio) July 8, 2014

Here’s a brief primer on what TLDs are and here’s a link to an ICANN site about domain names; note there is a news blog, interviews with domain-name applicants and other food for thought.  Some of the new domain names appear to be global brands like Suzuki and BMW, which isn’t surprising.  Others point to well-known city names or large organizations and efforts such as “navy” and  “cancerresearch.”

But quite a few could be applicable to entrepreneurs, business persons and professionals right in your market, like “plumber,” “dentist,” “attorney,” “accountants,” “mortgage” and “loan.”  Why not check around with the related businesses on your beats; who’s up to speed on the domain name revolution and already taking advantage of it?  What’s it costing them and have they had any issues with domain-name squatters snapping up likely handles and then scalping them for profit?

Other newly approved domain names have lots of possibilities for creative businesses and individuals, like “beer,” “Christmas,” “guru,” “recipes” and “bargains.”   And – speaking of holiday creep – there now is a “dot-BlackFriday” domain that no doubt soon will be rife with merchant ads.  And in rather eyebrow raising development, “WTF” also is a new gTLD. Domain Name Wire, an industry news source, offers other news and commentary that might lead you to local stories.

As mentioned before, some of the gTLDs lend themselves to creative website naming; instead of, say, “HomeCityBeer.com” a local brewery can dub its site “HomeCity.Beer.”   Talk with marketing and branding experts about how individuals and companies can best make use of the new leeway to customize web addresses.

And ask the big-name corporations in your area if they have any plans to change.  Would Delta, for example, go from a dot-com to a dot-flights?  I’d have to imagine the downsides of changing, for a well-established Fortune 500 company site, far outweigh the advantages.  But I’d bet a savvy firm would hedge its bets anyway; ask these companies about how many different domain names they’ve registered and if any are in practical use – i.e., if typed in will they redirect to the real site – or if they’re just being kept dormant for now.

This January article from the marketing size ClickZ says “half of the world’s top brands” will own their own name as a domain; an amusing list of which companies opted for that – and big names that didn’t – might prompt questions for your area’s corporations.  And check with trade groups as well as individual entities; this interesting article says the wine industry is protesting the gTLDs “wine” and “vin” fearing cyber squatting and counterfeiting.

Parents have been known to register domain names for their babies right after birth, but dot-com and dot-net probably weren’t too alluring.  Now that they can get “McKenna.guru” or “Jayden.Rocks,” who knows, demand may be picking up.  Check with parenting groups and domain registry firms about trends.  Here’s a Webroot article that urges a personal URL “will ensure branding opportunities and open doors for your child in the future.”   OK.  What parent wants to take the chance that little Abigail will have to settle for something blah like “dot-report,” or worse that she’ll select “dot-sexy” or “dot-tattoo” down the road?

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