Marketing and branding will determine new gTLDs success

Being unique, having a vision and good marketing and branding are probably all in varying degrees required for a new gTLD to be successful when it comes to public registrations.

And these were some of the issues canvassed at the recent Domain Pulse conference in Salzburg, Austria, in front of over 300 attendees at the annual event for the German-speaking domain name industry where issues from new gTLDs to internet governance to online security and privacy were covered.

Four gTLD applicants outlined how they intend to use their gTLDs when they are up and running. One was the European travel agency Tui, who were initially focussed on getting the gTLD instead of the New Zealand brewery of the same name, but now they are getting close to launch are looking at a vision for the brand under .tui.

Alexander Bialas from TUI AG said strategic options for the future are being considered. Examples Bialas gave of the ways in which Tui will use their gTLD were plans to create destination domains that would promote destinations with information on activities, events and eating, for example. Tui is also planning to use the gTLD for direct access to social media ( and so people don’t have to leave the Tui online world.

Another gTLD with a view to increasing brand awareness was .tirol. Markus Kichl, CEO of .tirol said the Austrian region wanted to enhance tourism and make businesses easier to find in the region.

Dirk Hamm, Founder and CEO of Valuetainment, the applicant for .voting spoke of how they plan to introduce their gTLD and use it as a mechanism to enable voter initiatives and online voting, with tools to be available to make voting on a registrant’s website easy to implement.

And Ulrich Retzlaff from the Public Interest Registry, who has applied for .ngo and .ong spoke of how PIR is wanting to give the 10 million non-governmental organisations around the world an opportunity to market themselves, and provide better opportunities for fundraising.

Preceding these applicants was Dirk Krischenowski of dotBERLIN, applicant for .berlin. Krischenowski outlined their experiences in apply for .berlin which was marked by several problems. Krischenowski first became interested in the gTLD process and applying for .berlin back in 2005. To get to General Availability, which will commence on 18 March, there were lots of blood, sweat and tears, even in a Berlin winter!

There were countless meetings around the world, seemingly never-ending discussions and at times, it seemed the process would never come to fruition. And even when the programme was confirmed and applications were being submitted there were more problems. First there was the "glitch" that halted the TLD Application System (TAS) for new gTLD applications for a few months, then the fiasco of the Digital Archery process to determine the order in which applications would be processed and most recently an expensive and complicated Trademark Clearinghouse for brand owners to protect their brands.

Krischenowski also compared the launches of other TLDs to get an idea of how they evolved over their first year and to get an idea as to how to compare their initial success or otherwise. Looking at .asia, .co, .tel and .xxx he found that at the end of the first month, all of them consistently had around 45 percent of their registrations they at the end of the first year of operation, and that growth rates as a proportion of their current registrations grew very consistently across the four TLDs in the first year.

But now Krischenowski and other applicants can afford to smile as the road ahead is clear, and now the job for gTLDs who are taking applications is to convince business and individuals to register domains with them. And for those that are seeking to raise brand awareness, it is about marketing and new ideas to get their customers, and future customers, interested.

Written by David Goldstein, Online Researcher and Consultant.