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5 Reasons All The Hype About .anything Domain Names Is Like Y2K

IMB_RealityCheckAheadThe land grab is officially starting. For the first time since the popularization of the Internet, the big news today is that ICANN is opening up the ability for the creation of new suffixes that come after the dot, such as .com or .org. The open application process lets any organization apply to be the manager of a new top level domain (TLD) and applications are expected for everything from categories and industries like .ngo (for charities and nonprofits) or .city (for cities). In addition, of the over 2000 applications expected (despite the $185,000 application fee), more than 2/3rds will expected to be brands who are registering their own brand out of fear of cybersquatting.

This may not matter as much as many marketers and brands think it will. In fact, here are five big reasons why as of right now this is an overhyped development in technology:

1. History hasn't been kind to TLDs.

Wouldn't it be great if you were in the travel industry to be able to signify your site with a .travel domain name? Or for career sites to use .jobs?  Or museums to use .museum?  Well, all of those top level domains already exist. How often have you navigated to a site that uses any of them? New TLDs don't matter until people's behaviour starts to change for using them.

2. Any changes are years away.

The application process will be open for the next three months, and then will close. From that point, experts are predicting that it will be at least another year or two before ICANN is able to decide which of the TLDs are approved. The most obvious proof that this process will take years? There are a bunch of new consulting companies popping up as experts who can smell money to be made in the interim.

3. Categories will require a shakeout.

When tags started becoming popular to describe content online, it was seen as great news. Now you could describe content in a way that would index it automatically. The only problem is that people use different words. Some people call a retail place a shop and some call it a store. Will more people use .shop or .store?  How about .bazaar or .boutique? Until there is a single word, a TLD for a category really won't matter.

4. Google is still the kingmaker.

What most people are forgetting in all the hype is that a TLD really won't matter at all unless almight Google decides to list it in search results. So which TLDs get approved matter less than which ones Google chooses to index as part of their regular search results.

5. The web is now global.

In the early days of the web, .com (short for communications) was ok because the vast majority of sites were in English. Today the web is a different place. So TLDs that are in English may not see wide adoption globally. And different countries may use different TLDs. So the truly global TLDs like .com or .org may be few and far between … and they may not be in English at all.

4 thoughts on “5 Reasons All The Hype About .anything Domain Names Is Like Y2K”

  1. Rohit;

    I answered your post on my post about how nonprofits are impacted, but am copying it here, too.

    I think your post brings up some valid points. I don’t think half of what will be registered will catch on. For instance, even the seeming no-brainer .biz hasn’t really caught on.

    I do think, from a brand perspective, that large brands that register their TLD WILL use it for marketing. It is easier to remember and it doesn’t even have to resolve at .BRAND. It can resolve at .COM. A redirect is a powerful thing. I also think that many more will apply for TLDs than have resources to run them.

    As for the nonprofit side of this, I really can only think of a very small handful of them for which this might make sense. My feeling is that many of them will not go for it due to the cost to apply and run such a beast. However, I DO think that the .NGO TLD will be very popular, but perhaps not in the US. Outside of the US, nonprofits are known as Non Governmental Organizations more universally.

    Reply
  2. Although the ICANN New gTLD Program has launched, there still seems to be some confusion about the details.

    To help stem the confusion, my company (Afilias) recently sponsored a webinar by the Columbia Business School’s Center on Global Brand Leadership, “Who Should Invest in a dot Brand? Evaluating the Business Case for a Top-Level Domain Name.â€￾ The webinar was designed to help businesses and brands understand the pros and cons of the ICANN new gTLD program (described above). You can watch a free replay of the whole event, or just selected highlights — if time is at a premium — atafilias.info/gtld-webinar.

    We also have a quick, animated overview of the program at https://youtu.be/n7zJzxwQyBQ.

    Reply
  3. Rohit, couldn’t agree more. I have been advocating on behalf of my own company, New York Life, against this program for the past four years. So, okay, ICANN wins out in the end and the program has now gone forward. We will not participate and in the choice between answering either of two questions from my CEO, namely: How could you have allowed us to miss this valuable branding opportunity? or, alternatively, How could you have wasted so much money on useless URLs? — I’ve chosen to answer the first. I’m confident that question will in fact never be asked.

    Reply

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A keynote speaker on trends, innovation, marketing, storytelling and diversity.

Rohit Bhargava is on a mission to inspire more non-obvious thinking in the world. He is the #1 Wall Street Journal and USA Today bestselling author of eight books and is widely considered one of the most entertaining and original speakers on disruption, trends and marketing in the world.

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