A little domain name imagination

Companies will be able to use the new TLDs to market their brands through  memorable and creative URLs – and also benefit from online search!

What do the ubiquitous woman’s magazine Cosmopolitan, the British comedian and writer Dave Gorman, a pot of Greek yogurt and sports TV channel ESPN have in common? Well, you’ll have to wait and see.

But now that I have your attention, let’s turn our minds from comedians and throwaway lifestyle magazines to what many consider to be the resetting of the Domain Name Clock to Year Zero – certainly a view neatly expounded by my colleague Stuart Fuller in this article – the launch of the much heralded New gTLDs. The once seemingly endless program of policy and public debate is now entering the final straight (or so we believe, but knowing ICANN who really knows). Hold on to your keyboards with excitement! Because it won’t be long before you can type new and fun URL’s into your browser (providing IE, Firefox, Chrome and Safari work correctly, but that is another story) such as Pravda.news (providing that my namesake the Russian newspaper indeed registers such a URL) or use what is fast becoming the NetNames staff TLD of choice, Pravda.ninja (hands off, this is one is mine I tell you).

However, on a more serious note, from a web usability and relevance standpoint hopefully I will shortly be able to access local content on newyork.bmw (or bmw.nyc) or shopping.nyc (or nyc.shopping) as and when these TLDs are released into what is the called ‘the root’ (the fundamental internet foundations that allow you to read this article today in the comfort of your home, in your office or on the go on your smartphone).

Now, this got me thinking about the really imaginative ways in which companies will be able to use the new TLDs to drive more memorable and relevant URLs. And remember Google has said all along that new TLDs will simply feed into the overall relevance score when it comes to the top level domains. For example a search for Bob’s Hotels in New York City is going to look somewhat favorably on Bobshotels.nyc if the content is, as always, relevant. So, does .book implying a book as in to read; or book as in to book tickets.

Brand owners will need to think strategically about how they map their current trademark and brand names to the gigantic new gTLD space in a meaningful and sensible fashion. Most certainly, it will simply not be feasible or cost effective for large brand owners to adopt a scorched earth registration strategy to all open TLDs, rather what is required is  a strategic approach based on the brand owners’ specific business interests, which is exactly what NetNames is advising its clients.

We know catchy memorable domain names resonate with users. And we have much evidence to support this, namely keyword domains such as soap.com or wag.com (go on, visit the websites, you won’t be surprised what you find there) or so called domain-hacking, the practice of combining domain levels, so a truncated word and a TLD spell out a memorable word or title in the complete URL. Still confused? Well, this is where Cosmopolitan, the British comedian and writer Dave Gorman and a pot of Greek yogurt come to our assistance:

  • Cosmopolitan uses cosm.ag for Twitter links (.ag being the ccTLD for Antigua and Barbuda)
  • British Comedian Dave Gorman uses gor.mn for Twitter links (.mn being the ccTLD for Mongolia. I wonder if Dave has ever even been to Mongolia?)
  • Powerful Yogurt uses powerful.yt as its main website URL (.yt being the TLD for Mayotte, a small island north of Madagascar in the Mozambique Channel, there endeth the geography lesson)
  • ESPN uses es.pn for Twitter links and a redirect to their main URL (.pn being the TLD for the Pitcairn Islands, a group of volcanic islands in the South Pacific, there endeth another geography lesson)

All this simply goes to illustrate how innovative marketers can be with domain names, with what they already have to play with, using domain hack techniques. Extrapolate this URL creativity over a mass of new TLDs, many of which are dictionary words and you can foresee those brand owners who “get” new gTLDs, and those who have the right levels of domain name imagination striding forward ahead of their rivals, into the brave new internet world. No more two letter TLD hacks, hello completely new gTLDs to play with. I for one will be very upset if there is no doomsday.book (I like historic documents), bikram.yoga (my wife is a fanatic) or broadway.tickets (I have the urge to see Jersey Boys) in the months to come.

Luge Pravda, Senior Vice President, NetNames USA

7 February 2013

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