The Internet as we know it is changing dramatically. Instead of using domain names ending in “.com”—the most popular of the “top level domains” or “TLDs”—organizations located anywhere in the world may soon be able to purchase a TLD that corresponds to just about any word or phrase, including an organization’s name or brand.
What Will All of This Mean to Your Business?
Consider these examples:
- A financial services trade association might try to buy the domain “ ?? .bank” with the idea of servicing a financial community and selling second-level domains (the name to the left of the “dot”) to eligible financial institutions. A financial services company may then decide to purchase and do business from “firstnational.bank”.
- On the other hand, First National might simply buy the TLD domain corresponding to its brand: “.firstnational”. John Smith, a trust officer, might then be located at firstname.lastname@example.org; Susan Jones, mortgage banker, might be located at email@example.com, and so on.
- A consumer goods company might consider a TLD corresponding to its brand as an opportunity to create customer confidence in the shopping experience—a kind of web authentication that distinguishes the company’s site from the many other sites and general “noise” and “static” on the web. Thus, a powerful retail clothing brand might buy the corresponding domain—and organize second-level domains according to categories such as “menswear,” “shoes,” “coats,” etc.
- On the other hand, a company might use its valuable brand in the form of a TLD to reward its valued suppliers with the opportunity to use the TLD brand extension with the second-level domain. A global fast food chain (call it “goodchicken”) might allow its approved contractors to use “supplier.goodchicken”.
Given the hierarchical structure of the domain name system generally, there are a variety of ways in which the new TLDs might facilitate unique business/organizational objectives, while potentially enhancing the customer experience and increasing brand loyalty and awareness.
Currently, the domain name system is limited to 21 “generic” TLDs (.com, .org, .net, .info, .biz, etc.) and about 240 “country code” domains (e.g., .us, .uk, .fr, etc.). According to Paul Twomey, President and CEO of the International Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (“ICANN”)—the international not-for-profit organization responsible for coordinating the Internet addressing system—the expansion of the generic top-level domain space is “driven by the demand for more innovation, choice and change to the Internet’s addressing system…[and] has the potential to be one of the biggest influences on the future of the Internet.” Others disagree about the potential impact—at least as the initiative applies to existing businesses—and see little reason to spend the money for another top level domain other than, perhaps, very reluctantly as a defensive measure to keep others out of their space. Some in this camp resent the introduction of the new TLDs as creating complexities and costs that far outweigh any benefits.
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