.NYC: It's up to you New York, New York

.NYC new gTLDs - .nyc comes with it great online potential for US brands and marketing organizations. Commercial benefits from local geo-targeting through .nyc could be endless

“If I can make it there
I'll make it anywhere
It's up to you
.nyc, .nyc”

Of course those aren’t really the lyrics to the famous song “Theme from New York, New York” made famous by Frank Sinatra (sorry Liza Minnelli, I know you did the original but Frank owns this song), but the celebratory lyrics got me thinking about the new .nyc gTLD backed by the City. Can .nyc make it here?

I live and work in New York City. The NetNames offices are just round the corner from the New York Stock Exchange on Broad Street in the heart of the financial district. New York – the most populous city in the US with a population in the five boroughs of 8.2 million people – is a city that markets itself aggressively within its own city borders and beyond. Two of the most well known strap lines are the ubiquitous  adorning t-shirts, snow globes, tote bags and almost anything that can support a logo; and ‘Go NYC’ the official guide to the City, with banners adorning lamp posts and billboards the length and breadth of the metropolis.

On a brand protection note the former is a cautionary tale of the huge amount of counterfeiting that will inevitably hit something as simple as the City’s logo. Yes, the State Government owns the trademark, but is it routinely ripped off every day of the week.  Take a stroll along Canal Street and you will see what I mean. None of these t-shirts on offer for 5 for $10 are official!

New York City is also a city that enjoys a natural three letter anagram, NYC. If I was being pedantic I would say NY is the anagram for the State of New York, but people use NY and NYC interchangeably I guess. Which leads me on to the new gTLDs (generic top level domains) and the City’s application for .nyc. Two letter new gTLD applications were prohibited of course, to protect the pre-existing ccTLD space. But three letter applications were permitted provided they did not clash with the ISO 3 letter country code list. And so the City government was free to apply for a new gTLD domain to represent itself on the web. How does the City see the proposed gTLD adding to “the current space, in terms of completion, differentiation, or innovation” to quote application question 18.2.2? Well, like this:

“The City of New York anticipates that the .nyc gTLD will enable a new level of integrity to the current space, providing benefits to New York City-based business, organizations, communities and individuals seeking to exchange information, services and goods specific to the City of New York. Through requirements, regulation and enforcement, the .nyc gTLD will help to identify the local New York City origin of information, services and goods to web consumers”.

I recently met with Ken Hansen of Neustar and GM for .NYC and he confirmed what I already knew: that the City is stood foursquare behind this application and sees a great future for the TLD.

This sounds good. The other day I was in Midtown looking for the nearest store of a certain well known clothing brand. Granted, I opened up a mobile version of the company’s website, my iPhone having identified itself for mobile browsing. But I still ended up having to input a zip code and look through a list that included stores outside the city limits. Had the said company a local URL such as ‘www.companyname.nyc’, they could have in their geo-targeting wisdom shown me a micro-site with only their New York City stores. The same could work for cinemas, restaurant chains and so on; the list of commercial concerns that could benefit from such targeting is endless. Think about it: www.gap.nyc, www.staples.nyc, or www.wendys.nyc and so on, all with micro sites, local offers and innovative local content. Google will like that too. And of course we would have to practice what we preach with ‘www.netnames.nyc’.

I could not find any reliable city figures for internet usage. However, according to the UN agency for information and communication technologies, the ITU (International Telecommunication Union) there were 239,893,600 internet users in the US as of June 2010, or 77.3% of the population. Now let’s imagine New York City is typical in its internet usage (and being a vibrant urban population, I am sure this is a reasonable assumption to make), then if 77% of the NYC population use the Internet, that is a whopping 6.3 million or so users. Certainly a fertile ground and a large captive audience for a change in local internet usage enshrined in the City’s .nyc application.

The new gTLD program is the biggest revolution to hit the domain name industry, certainly in my 12 or so years working for NetNames. But that doesn’t mean to say all of the eventual granted TLDs will ultimately be a success: some will and some won’t (and however successful .ninja is I still want a .ninja email address). But truly I like .nyc. As a resident, I can see it being a useful TLD, provided that companies use it in the spirit with which it was applied: to benefit users at a local level. It is a natural three letter acronym and rolls off the tongue. Not that .berlin doesn’t either for example, but NYC is so engrained into the City’s psyche and marketing in way that does not apply in other cities.

In other words, for the City to apply for .nyc was a complete no brainer. As an avid mobile web user I would definitely use, even seek out, .nyc URLs, particularly on my phone if they enhanced what I was looking for and I knew I would given NYC specific content.

So, if a geographical TLD can make it anywhere, I’d say it can make it there (in New York City). It’s up to you New York, New York.


Written by Luge Pravda, Senior Vice President, NetNames USA

29 August 2012