New Top Level Domains on Deck


ICANN has announced a new opportunity for public comment on new generic top level domains (gTLDs). Top level domains are the suffixes on domain names, such as .com, .net, .tv, .info and similar.


The idea of having more TLDs is attractive to many because there are more options to register and market the best name for a particular registrant. In addition, one of the primary motivations for making this change is reducing the value of the “major” TLDs for purposes of reducing the gains of cybersquatters, who register certain domains with no intention of using the domain, but to resell the domains for higher value that they would typically cost to register from a licensed registrar.


The competing view, however, suggests that the numerous other choices available in the marketplace would make the “premium” TLDs more valuable, because the marketplace has been saturated by presumptively less valuable real estate. The “cream would rise to the top” as is said and the additional domains would be seen as “lower tier” domains that would require more work on the part of the registrant to “brand” the name in their customers’ consciousness.


If ICANN wants the new domains to have commercial success there will need to be a greater integration of the new names in the public eye. A classic method to promote the new names is a price lower than the more traditional domains. This increases the likelihood that the name will be registered. This has previously been implemented in marketing of the .name extensions which are intended for personal web pages, and the .info extension, which is a “general use” TLD.


The other method, and one which seems to be gaining greater traction, is the method of marketing specific extensions in certain industries. For example, the .travel extension is intended to be used for travel and tourism sites, and the .jobs extension is similarly intended for sites that will be focused on job-seekers and similar issues. By creating “categories” for TLDs the average consumer will eventually be exposed to newer names that are outside the realm of .com, .net and .org. This exposure, if only in certain realms of a consumer’s online life, will allow newer domains to eventually be more readily accepted.


Bottom Line: While newer top level domains will take some time to be accepted, it is likely that they will eventually become more integrated with the existing domains heavily in use today. Still, it is hard to imagine the .com ever falling from grace as the Internet’s “go to” domain for major business and industry, given its past branding and substantial integration in world commerce.

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