In less than 24 hours one of the biggest global shopping days starts when the doors open and tills start ringing for Black Friday. The last Friday in November has always traditionally been a day reserved for North America to purge itself of the excesses of Thanksgiving with a bit of retail therapy. Just like the United Kingdom had the Boxing Day sales where people would queue through Christmas Day to get their hands on the best deals and bargains.
Our move to a global online shopping experience has not only meant Black Friday is not a meaningful word in the lexicon of many countires based outside of America, but has also spawned Cyber Monday, an extra day of consumer spending excess. This year experts such as Experian are predicting that £281m will be spent across the two days, meaning on average every person in the UK will spend over £4 on deals. Last year John Lewis broke all of their single day online sales records, and they are predicting this year's events to be even more. Amazon can claim to have "invented" Black Friday in the UK, offering specific UK-based discounts.
Uniregistry, one of the new organisations created to take advantage of the new gTLD programme when it was launched in 2012, saw an opportunity for brand holders large and small to create the perfect digital marketing platform for Black Friday, launching the .blackfriday new TLD earlier in 2014, allowing organisations to plan well ahead and build something special to grab the attention of the consumer looking for bargains.
Unfortunately, brands have yet to engage in the power of the new gTLDs and this can be seen with the poor adoption of the .blackfriday TLD. Earlier this week we got excited when we saw that Amazon would be using Amazon.blackfriday. Alas, the name simply forwards to a Amazon.com landing page. Likewise Gap and Nike have delegated the .blackfriday TLD but simply forward it to their main websites. Other brands such as Apple and Hollister haven't used the respective domains at all. Over at Disney there are strange things going on as we were able to access a server root directory when we tried Disney.blackfriday.
So why aren't brands using a very specific marketing TLD to drive traffic? Take up of the TLD has been muted so far, a story that can be seen across a number of new gTLDs that had what appeared to be a rosy future. Just over 11,000 .blackfriday names had been registered as of 26th November, although the vast majority (93%) were being held by the registry, Uniregistry, themselves. So the pool of names actually under the control of brand holders is small to start. Some may be using them for defensive purposes, registering the names to ensure a third party cannot take advantage of their Intellectual Property and causing brand and reputational damage. Others may be wary of the impact on search rankings at such a crucial online shopping period by adopting a new TLD.
A quick search for "Black Friday deals" on Google.co.uk brings up some interesting results. On the first page of results, Argos, John Lewis and Very.co.uk, three strong online brands here in the UK are all using specific Black Friday landing pages to drive traffic to their specific deals, but all as sub directory pages of their .co.uk URLs. With Google hinting at the use of a new gTLD as part of the search term is treated the same way as an exact key word match, it could have been a perfect opportunity to start to test the water of using a specific new gTLD for campaign marketing.
One thing is for sure. It is going to take a few pioneers to really get the new gTLD ball rolling. What would have been the impact on adoption if Amazon used the .blackfriday TLD in their headline marketing, or other major web properties adopted its use for specific landing pages? Build it and they will come is the mantra of the brave, but without such spirit we will constantly live in the status quo.
OK - who is up for a bit of .Christmas action?
Written by Stuart Fuller, Director of Commercial Operations and Communications, NetNames.