Move Over, Dotcom: Here Comes the New .Whatever! The Ongoing gTLD “Debate”! And Let’s Go Viral!
|Public Domain Photo (Remixed)|
Wikipedia -- Royal Navy Official Photographer
He who frames the question wins the debate.
– Randall Terry
This post has been divided into three parts, targeted to the following readers:
1. End users and casual internet surfers
2. Domain industry investors
3. The gTLD registries, both new and established
1. For Readers NOT Involved in the Domaining Business:
If you are not in the domaining business, you are probably not yet aware of the internet disruption coming your way: the proliferation of the new gTLDs (generic top level domains), the dot-anything revolution.
Eventually – perhaps sooner than you might think – you will start seeing websites that look like this:
www.Sioux.land (Disclaimer: this is mine)
No .com, .net, or .org. Instead, the extension (gTLD) itself is a dictionary word or branded term, often focused on a niche product area (.shoes and .land), specific brand (.Verizon and .Apple), or popular culture reference (.buzz or .guru).
The Sioux.land example is known as a “domain hack,” which simply means that the gTLD forms part of the term, which, in this case, is an unofficial geographic area, including parts of Iowa, Nebraska, Minnesota, and South Dakota. I could have registered Siouxland.land, but that seemed redundant, and Siouxland.com is owned by someone else (I have Siouxland.us).
And within the next year, about 1,000 of these new extensions will be released into the wilds of the internets.
Ready or not, they are coming to a computer near you.
How will this affect you, Mr. and Ms. End User? In the short run, probably not much, especially if you own a domain name that you love and if you already enjoy decent traffic.
On the other hand, small business owners might want to think about using a niche gTLD, such as YourStoreName.shoes. Such a domain name would offer you a chance to show off your brand and type of business without tacking it at the end of your store name on a .com extension (for example, YourStoreNameShoes.com – that is, if such a domain is available).
Some domainers are already investing in generic words gTLDs; I am not suggesting that the casual internet user should jump into investing in new gTLDs.
In fact, I would BEG you to refrain from doing so!
Almost every new domain investor jumps in without understanding the basic tenets of trademark law, and such ignorance can have devastating consequences on your bottom line. Squatters (those who register trademarked terms in order to profit from them) are already feeling the heat from trademark owners. Just Google the sad, self-inflicted saga of IBM.guru and IBM.Ventures or click on the previous link.
There are other reasons to study the industry before jumping in, but such a discussion is beyond the scope of this post.
Small business owners need not worry about registering every niche extension; for example, if you sell shoes, then you need not register the .bike version. For end users, this specificity is the beauty and strength of the new gTLDs.
Not so true with the more generic gTLDs, such as .com, .net, .org, etc., where you might feel compelled to register the .net, .org, .info, and .biz of your company name, even if you already have the .com.
Although this internet disruption is not likely to affect the end user too much just yet, the revolution is certainly causing a major flapdoodle in the domain industry.
2. For Domaining Business Investors:
I’m not an absolutist, an either/or person.
I believe in peaceful co-existence and cooperation.
And the domain industry needs to chill a bit, and not align with “sides,” especially in the gTLD non-debate.
“Dotcom is dead!” one new gTLD company proclaims loudly.
Nonsense. And certainly not believable.
“The new gTLDs are pigeon sh*t! the naysayers scream.
Dotcom still rules. That will not change any time soon.
On the other hand, while dotcom is still the reigning king – with over 120,000,000 registrations – there is plenty of room for the new kids on the block to grow and thrive.
And those who would simply write off the new gTLDs as doomed to failure may be making a serious error in judgment. There is opportunity here. Whether or not one chooses to invest is certainly up to individual investors, and I would certainly caution investors not to spend a boatload of cash in these and select carefully. There is risk involved and what one chooses to register may spell the difference between failure and success.
These either/or “debates” happen each time something new threatens or promises to disrupt the industry – depending on one’s outlook.
But there is a possibility that the gTLDs will fall flat, especially if the new registries fail to get the word out and depend too heavily on the domaining community for mass adoption.
3. For the New gTLD Domain Registries:
While I am excited about the new gTLDs, I am also troubled by the new registries’ lack of getting the word out to end users.
Like I stated earlier, I don’t see the new gTLDs as a threat or as pigeon sh*t; I see opportunity. Dotcom is not dead – it will still rule (for a long time) and then coexist with the other gTLDs –
That is, if the new registries commit
to making their own aggressive moves
into end user land.
The new and old registries need to introduce themselves to Ma and Pa and Hip End User, who (1) may not even know about the new TLDs and (2) who, if they do, may not see a need to buy into them.
The “need” part needs to be created; the registries must make a believable case for the average small business owner “needing” to register CompanyName.whatever to replace CompanyNameWhateverInc1.com.
Unfortunately, domainers are not going to be that ones who can make that case; our community is simply too small and too despised (sorry, but it’s true, LOL). Besides, that model of “domainer to end user” is old, old school.
Information about the new gTLDs needs to go viral.
But the gTLDs are not going to go viral on their own. The registries are going to have to do for gTLDs what Go Daddy did for domain registrations:
In other words, go big or go home.
Create a “cool factor” – which will resonate with the young, who, frankly, will be the new gTLD core target audience.
As an example, consider how the insurance industry has rebranded itself.
Remember when home and car insurance were just boring products that people purchased minimally because they had to? Prevailing TV ads concentrated on staid values, such as cost, reputation, and coverage – important, but not too interesting to a population that needs to be entertained 24/7.
Then the insurance companies got smart and developed commercials with characters that people love: the Gecko, Maxwell the Pig, Flo, the Cavemen, among other successful campaigns. Suddenly, insurance became fun and sexy. This is precisely how to “package” a product that can’t be eaten, smelled, touched, held, played with, driven, sat on, watched, etc. (e.g., Flo’s “boxed” insurance plans taken from shelves in a Progressive “store”). Moreover, each of these ads tell an entertaining story, slightly related to the insurance industry, but mostly humorous takes on the human condition.
I can’t speak for actual insurance sales, but who in the U.S. doesn’t know about Progressive, Geico, State Farm, and All State?
The days of putting a virtual product out there and just hoping for mass adoption are over: .com, .net, and .org got a pass simply because they were first.
But the upstarts have to climb a steep hill to catch up.
The new gTLDs are the new David, competing with the behemoth Goliath .com – but it’s going to take more than a slingshot to make inroads into this vast market.
Just one blogger’s two cents.
What do you think?
UPDATE: Don’t Worry, Dotcom, No Need to Move Over – Not Just Yet, Anyway!
UPDATE: Don’t Worry, Dotcom, No Need to Move Over – Not Just Yet, Anyway!
“3. For the New gTLD Domain Registries” has been adapted from a comment made by Ms Domainer (me) on Acro.net