A Scenic Tour of the Online World

Top-Level Domains: Everything/Nothing About To Change

Tuesday, May 7th, 2013

You may have heard that ICANN, the web’s governing body, is fielding applications for new top-level domains. (For those less techie among us, top-level domains are the part of the domain name after the dot: .com, .gov, .org, .edu, etc.)

For ages (in Internet time), there were just a small handful and nearly all sites fell into one of then TLDs above. Since opening up the application process, ICANN has received some 2,000 applications.

They’re reviewing those for copyright infringement and other issues, but many will be granted. (At a cost of $185,000!)

What does this mean for you and your online marketing? Nothing. And Everything.

For now, nothing really changes for the vast majority of domain holders. The de facto standard will still be .com. The first thing people try when they’re looking for your company is still going to be yourcompany.com.

That could change as new TLDs take root and become popular behind marking pushes by companies looking to capitalize on their investment.

Many of the new TLDs, though, have to be viewed as defensive moves.. McDonalds probably does not have much in mind for .mcdonalds other than to keep Burger King from registering it. (Kidding. That would never pass muster with the trademark folks. But it’s easy to imagine Burger King registering .bk to keep that from falling into use by an industry they’d rather not be associated/confused with. Then again, maybe not: they own bk.com but seem not to have applied for .bk.)

Other TLDs will be more interesting to watch, from geographic TLDs, like .london and .paris, to more generic terms like .yoga and .analytics. No defensive play there; one would assume the applicants have revenue-generating plans for.

So I wouldn’t fret if you can’t come up with $185k to protect yourself. Marketers will stick with what the public is most comfortable with for as long as they can. Edgier companies and companies appealing to a tech-savvy crowd may take the lead, but there’s no danger in falling behind in some way in the near future. Apple, a pretty innovative firm, doesn’t make the list of top applicants. Microsoft does. Go figure. 

Click for an infographic with some interesting info on who’s most active in the TLD game.


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