How marketers should approach new gTLDs is an interesting question, and one posed by Jennifer Wolfe recently on the ClickZ blog.
One question Wolfe poses is “Should Fear or Strategy Drive Behaviour?” She answers this by saying that while there are new mechanisms in place to protect trademark owners, “the reality for most brands is that there is more than one company with the same trademark in the world. Meaning, just because you have a trademark in a name, does not mean you unilaterally are the only one with the right to a domain name using that name. While fear of not having a digital asset should certainly be a consideration, strategy should drive behaviour. And, to develop a strategy requires thinking both offensively and defensively about the value of the new top-level domains as a digital asset.”
Wolfe then asks “Would You Buy Up New Domains?” She answers this saying “The first offensive strategy for acquiring your brand in any of the 900-plus new generics or any of the geographic domains is understanding how it fits within your vertical industry. Is identification with NYC, Vegas, or Miami important to your business? Will that provide some authentication or market leadership for you to be in that domain versus .com? Then, you will want to secure your brand in those top-level domains. Is there a specific category that relates to your business such as fitness, tennis, golf, dogs, cats, etc.? Do your consumers identify with that vertical? The answer to this lies in your current data analytics.”
Wolfe goes on to say “offensively, the new gTLDs offer a catalyst for every business to think disruptively and provide a platform to try new ways of using your website within these new domains. At a minimum, it is worth the exercise of evaluating the new top-level domains, evaluating your analytics in light of these domains, and considering innovative opportunities in a scaled expansion of the internet.”
Then looking at whether marketers should use domains defensively, Wolfe says to “asses the cost-benefit analysis of acquiring your brand in gTLDs related to your brand category. This will ensure that if the new gTLDs do start a paradigm shift in the Internet that you don’t find yourself without these key digital assets a few years from now. Use the Trademark Clearinghouse to register your brand and be aware of when sunrise periods allow you to secure your brand before the top-level domain becomes open to the general public. Set a budget for acquiring core brands.” Wolfe has found that most big brands she talks “to are prioritising their portfolio and planning to secure their core brands in the top categories related to their business.”
Concluding Wolfe asks “Are the New gTLDs the Zip Codes of the Internet?” The concluding paragraph says:
“It’s quite possible that in the future we will look back and wonder how we lived in an Internet world largely dominated by .com or .co. country code. These new gTLDs could become category indicators of digital assets and allow you to splinter your primary website into various pieces that relate to specific categories and functionality, as apps have done. The top-level domain may become a Zip code (postcode) or way to indicate the nature of the website beyond just a .com. Before the 1960s in the U.S., we didn’t have Zip codes. The introduction of Zip codes created the direct mail industry. What industry might the new top-level domains create? Whether you believe the new gTLDs will be successful or will fail, it’s rarely a good strategy to assume nothing will change.”
To check out Wolfe’s article in full on the ClickZ website, go to: