The growth of the internet
With today’s online global economy now worth trillions of dollars, it is hard to believe that the first public domain name was registered just 30 years ago. Today there are over 270 million domain names, representing some of the world’s biggest brands whose business models are based around a single domain keyword such as Amazon, eBay and Google.
However, over time, the number of relevant and meaningful domain names available for brands has been exhausted. In response, ICANN, the multi-stake holder model that oversees domain names, announced in 2012 that it was opening the doors for organisations to run their own slice of the internet by applying for their own new generic Top Level Domains (gTLDs). Over 1,000 organisations, including Amazon and Google applied and now, two years later, we are seeing these new TLDs launch. For brands these new gTLDs offer a golden opportunity to optimise their digital marketing strategy, with businesses now able to register for domain names such as .luxury, .game, .technology and even their own .BRAND suffix.
Fragmentation of the internet
In the same way that the emergence of digital channels forever changed the TV industry, gTLDs are set to forever change the internet. The digital TV revolution created a fragmented model of channels such as sports, cooking and movies, which meant that advertisers could easily target specific audiences that they could never fully reach before.
In a similar vein, the .com suffix has been the BBC of the internet to date and one of the primary channels to reach a scalable audience online. However, with new gTLDs such as .hotel and .restaurant, marketers can now create a web presence designed to target specific audiences more effectively. Indeed, recent research from NetNames found that all (100%) of the marketing and branding professionals surveyed said they expected to see the internet fragment within the next five years.
Using new domain names to market brands
The new TLDs are likely to revolutionise how marketing professionals present their brands, but only if companies have a carefully planned strategy in place. According to NetNames’ research, more than eight in ten businesses are planning to change their online marketing investment strategy following the introduction of the new domain names. With the right investment and strategy in place, the words that come after ‘the dot’ could become just as important as what comes before it: Barclaysbank.com can become Barclays.Bank or my.Barclays. For innovative marketers, the possibilities are endless.
The real test of gTLD success, however, will be determined by user adoption. Without pioneer brands who are willing to start using the new TLDs, consumers will be less likely to embrace these changes. The real winners, therefore, will be those who set the rules from the start and build their campaigns around the biggest opportunity the internet has seen to date.