Marketers believe new gTLDs pose a threat to social media

The launch of new gTLDs for internet users will gather pace in the first quarter of 2014 and they are likely to have an impact on many areas of internet use. One such area is social media.

Afilias, the applicant for and provider of services for gTLDs, conducted a survey of the 134 delegates and speakers at a recent London-based Digital Marketing and gTLD Strategy Congress. The respondents said they thought branded gTLDs will be more effective at engaging customers online than social networks such as Facebook, Twitter or other social networking sites.

The survey wasn’t too large, with only 51 percent of those attending, but they could be said to be among the more influential marketers. And of those responding, 41 percent believed that businesses will reduce their reliance on social media marketing once their new domains have launched.

“Brand pages on social networks may enable brand/consumer dialogue, but third-party sites - whether Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest — also own that interaction and information. One of the key advantages of a ‘dot Brand’ gTLD is that businesses will be able to take back control of their online presence and reduce reliance on social networks for online conversations,” said Roland LaPlante, CMO at Afilias.

“Our survey shows that businesses across industries are finally ‘getting it’ about the benefits of new gTLDs. The program represents the largest expansion of the Internet’s naming system since it began, and many brands are putting all hands on deck to take full advantage of the branding and security benefits the changes bring,” LaPlante added. “Businesses like Google and Amazon, which applied for their own domains in this preliminary round, are now working on how they will integrate their new gTLDs into online strategies and communicate the benefits to consumers. Businesses that did not apply for a new domain in the initial round must prepare for the competitive impact of these launches and begin planning to apply for their own gTLDs in ICANN’s next round.”

Social media has many benefits, and it’s likely that brands with their own gTLD will continue to use services such as Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. One benefit is “critical mass”. For example, Facebook had over 1.19 billion monthly active users in September 2013, while Twitter had 218,300,000 monthly active users at the end of June 2013. Being able to reach such large numbers will be difficult for a branded gTLD.

But those brands that will have their own gTLD will be able to be innovative with their social media interactions with their fans and customers. Brand owners will also have additional control with their own gTLD being able to keep the customer data to themselves, and even have competitors advertising to their customers through social media. And there is no risk of changes to terms and conditions or possible future charges.

Written by David Goldstein, Online Researcher and Consultant.