Three weeks ago dotAmsterdam launched to trademark holders, the latest geographical gTLD off the ICANN production line. The Top Level Domain will undoubtedly be popular, especially if the tourism industry embraces it and starts to use it for marketing purposes. Based on numbers from the Amsterdam Tourist Board, the city receives over five million visitors per annum, making it one of the top twenty most visited cities in the world. But does popularity equate to success when it comes to new gTLD registrations? With nearly 18 months of the launch phase of the gTLD program behind us, and approximately half of the city-related Top Level Domains now in the public domain, can we make any predictions based on how other cities have performed?
Taking the top 20 city-related new gTLDs as our basis (so excluding regional Top Level Domains such as dotBayern or dotWales) there are seven that are capital cities who current have their own gTLD. As of 13th May 2015, there have been almost 500,000 registrations in these name spaces. When compared to the total metropolitan populations of these cities, the ratio between registrations and people is 0.087%. Amsterdam has a current population of 778,000 people, meaning that in the next year the TLD should have just shy of 6,000 registrations, which would put it in the lower reaches of the top 20. However, what this calculation doesn’t take account of is the appetite and attractiveness of the gTLD.
We already know that there is a significant demand for Dutch domain names, with over 5.5 million dotNL domain names registered as at the end of 2014, the 9th most popular Top Level Domain in the world – similar demand for the dotAmsterdam domain name will certainly boost registrations significantly when we look at the “capital ratio”.
Amsterdam is also one of the most popular global cities in terms of locations for major brands. A number of big US organisations have their European HQ’s in Amsterdam including Nike, Cisco Systems, Adidas and Tesla Motors. In addition, organizations such as ABN Amro, Heineken and Akzo Nobel call Amsterdam their global home, which add to the attractiveness of the city as a digital hub.
In terms of how the Top Level Domain stacks up against the rest of the top 20, dotAmsterdam will be pushing for a place in the top ten, above the likes of dotSydney, dotCapeTown and dotBrussels. It may have some way to go to replicate the success of dotVegas (14,000 registrations to date) with its similar size population, although it is likely to have more registrations than dotBrussels.
There are still a number of interesting City new gTLDs waiting in the wings for their moment to shine including dotBarcelona, dotDubai, dotMadrid and dotStockholm. One notable omission from this list is dotRoma, which was originally applied for but the registry failed to get the backing of the relevant city authority and as such the application had to be withdrawn according to the rules set out by ICANN in the Application Guidebook.
The city related gTLDs have been one of the success stories of the program so far and with both dotBerlin and dotLondon coming up for their first renewal period it will be interesting to see what percentage are retained. Most of the city gTLDs have invested significantly in high profile launch events, along with securing pioneer brands who have agreed to use the gTLDs from day one. London and Partners, for instance, secured Standard.London (London’s leading daily newspaper) and Meantime.London (one of London’s most famous breweries) whilst the organisation behind dotParis managed to secure Toureiffel.Paris and Metro.Paris. The registry behind dotAmsterdam is still trying to recruit pioneers although one or two such as TEDx.Amsterdam are now live. However, one of the proven keys to success for any new gTLD is usage examples and PR activity.
The TLD launched on the 28th April to Trademark Sunrise holders and then to the general public on the 1st September. Most of the registrations within the new gTLDs happen in that first period, up to 30 days post general availability so by then we will be able to see where it is stacking up against its geographical rivals.
The current Top 10: