By Ben Anderson
As new gTLD registrations inch ever closer to the six million domain mark you would still be hard pressed to find any brands actually using any domains actively. Close to 60% of all new gTLD registrations are currently resolving to domain parking pages and volume appears to be driven by speculative buying and registry give-aways.
Brands continue to focus on new gTLDs defensively and are securing registrations to prevent potential brand damage or value erosion in TLDs such as dotPorn and dotAdult. Those two TLDs, launched by the dotXXX registry operator ICM Registry, recently closed their sunrise phase earlier this month with close to 8000 registrations. By comparison, the highest previous sunrise participation by volume was in dotLondon with over 800 trademark holders securing their rights.
The dotSucks TLD appears to be eliciting the same fear from brand holders and I expect to see comparative defensive sunrise numbers when the phase closes at the end of May. The controversial registry also stirred things up even more with a marketing campaign at the International Trademark Association (INTA) meeting earlier this month. The INTA.sucks drive round billboard certainly had the desired effect and proved to be quite a big talking point at the meeting.
Looking beyond the doom and gloom of defensive registrations and facts and figures of sunrise participation real signs of use are beginning to emerge. This is definitely a slow bloom but I believe that this is just the beginning. New gTLD advocates have long said that it only takes one super brand to start pro-actively using their own dotBrand and it won’t be long until others follow. Real use is the key but consumers need to be educated that there are domains beyond .com for any of this to work.
NetNames is proud to support the launch of Barclay’s two dotBrands (dotBarclays and dot Barclaycard). A first for the Banking sector and the new gTLD programme. In a bold move aimed at streamlining and simplifying the Barclays customer experience Barclays will move its online assets to their proprietary dotBrands - away from the traditional location-specific dotCOM and dotCO.UK web addresses. (Press Release here: http://www.newsroom.barclays.com/releases/ReleaseDetailPage.aspx?releaseId=3162# ). This is certainly one of those pivot moments which has flown under the radar for most. There are other dotBrands that have launched and are being used effectively such as dotMonash but the Barclays move, which is aimed at providing a more secure and authentic experience for their customers, shows real technological leadership in an age of growing concern around fraud online. Effective execution will be key but there can be little doubt that Barclays will capitalise on their first mover advantage and potentially influence the programmes current inertia.
Barclays aren’t the only dotBrand to be using dedicated content – Samsung launched the play.samsung aimed at the Korean market (warning: cute cate alert) and BNP Paribas are running a new initiative called “Living the Change” which is running on the dotBNPParibas TLD and is ranked first for the equivalent google search.
It’s not just dotBrands though, we have begun to see innovative and semantic uses of new gTLDs which are beginning to filter through new media channels and exposure is increasing daily. A NetNames office favourite is the campaign by Butterfly Twists, the London based shoe brand. The brand has registered a raft of new gTLDs and the user can navigate or shuffle through all the different domains with dedicated content that changes based on the TLD being used. Start at the .fish domain (http://www.butterflytwists.fish/) and see where you end up! Even the use of the .cheap domain is a great example of how a brand can turn the perceived threat of TLD on its head (http://www.butterflytwists.cheap/) – Sorry more cute cats, the internet is full of them.
Keen eyed gadget geeks will also have noticed a social media frenzy around what is soon to be the must have gadget, it’s not the Apple watch but the Lily camera. The new product has launched on a dedicated .camera site (https://www.lily.camera/) Expect to see the sky as congested as the ski slopes next year as users film themselves remotely with their own dedicated filming drone. General Motors have also launched http://www.generalmotors.green which is a site dedicated to show casing their green credentials.
One swallow definitely doesn’t make a spring but as the general public gets more exposure to new gTLDs growth may start to be driven by demand rather than speculation. I, for one, can’t wait to see how use develops over the coming months.