A dotBrand full of beans

Stuart Fuller

The new gTLD program could be described as a ‘slow burner’ in terms of changing the way we register, market and search for domain names. I’m not alone in hoping that we would have seen a big (dot) bang when the program started in earnest three years ago. Instead we've seen plenty of registration activity but only a small percentage of new gTLDs being actively used. Michael Berkens of TheDomains.com noted that the total number of parked new gTLD domain names has risen by over 3 million in just a week to over 16,300,000, meaning around 65% of the total number of gTLD domains are now parked.

Although some brand holders saw opportunities to register keyword-relevant new gTLDs, the baton fell to the 600-odd dotBrand applicants to be the digital Che Guevaras, leading the revolution through their innovative ideas for their own slice of cyberspace.

Initial signs were positive. Barclays and BNP Paribas were the financial services pioneers, swapping their traditional Top Level Domains for dotBrands. Global organizations such as BMW, Shell, Sandvik and Canon have now launched brochureware websites, but some of the more intriguing usage scenarios so far have come from unlikely sources.

One that caught my eye this week was from down under. Australian Rules Football may be lost on most of the rest of the world, but in Australia − and in the states of Victoria and New South Wales in particular − it’s a religion. In Melbourne alone, there are nine professional sides, with each one representing an area of the city. The AFL applied for a dotBrand and launched play.afl over a year ago as a portal for all levels of the game.

Since the launch of the initial dotBrand website, they’ve developed a couple of other properties – but, as a sporting aficionado, it’s the latest one that’s particularly eye-catching and unique in terms of a commercial partnership. Australians aren’t just passionate about their football, they love their coffee too.

“You have the scarf; you have the beanie − but do you have the coffee?"

Using the domain name coffee.afl, fans of their respective AFL clubs can buy branded coffee capsules that can be used in most majority coffee machines. The website looks to promote both the use of a new dotBrand and also a unique angle to build some brand value.

“How would it feel to know that drinking coffee makes a contribution towards making your club stronger? Keep an eye out for the ‘Support Your Club’ stamp to guarantee every purchase you make on coffee.afl contributes to your club’s future.”

The new gTLD program was introduced to increase innovation on the Internet, and that's exactly what the coffee.afl website is trying to do − injecting some caffeine into the revolution and ensuring everyone is full of beans.