CNET’s Paul Sloan provides a great glimpse in this article at the coming chaos as ICANN opened up generic top-level domains (gTLDs) – strings, in laymen’s terms – last week. I don’t know if this means the death of the dot-com extension, but as the article so eloquently describes, it does open up great opportunities – and confusion – for companies looking to build their brands in the post dot-com world.
Leading marketing-focused companies such as Canon realize this – they have already announced plans to replace www.canon.com with the .canon extension later this year. CNET says that others that were able to secure their domain extensions included Google, Apple, Microsoft, Samsung, Dell, Sony, Nokia, Netflix, Oracle, Cisco, Yahoo, AOL…just about every big byte boy out there. And not just in the tech space – CNET reports that American Express, Johnson & Johnson, WalMart and Allstate, among others, also submitted applications for multiple gTLDs.
What is going to be interesting to watch is the battle over contested domains. As Paul Sloan explains, the legal battles for these strings will be epic. It is, after all, the World Wide Web. So a company with a similar name in Brisbane, Australia can be fighting for the same string as a Peoria-based agriculture company.
There is big money at stake here, and ICANN has a pipedream that the Internet and big business behemoths will all play nicely in the same sandbox and be able to work out some sort of deal when they both want the same domain dump truck. Good luck with that. ICANN says if disputes can’t be resolved in that way, then strings will be put up for auction. GoDaddy has to be licking its chops.
It is still early in the process. While the giants plant their flags in the post dot-com gTLD world, your company should also be looking at its options…and closely monitoring like-named competitors from around the world. This is one case where grabbing the first-mover advantage by securing your preferred domain name doesn’t just make sense – in my opinion, it’s going to be imperative for the long-term success of building your brand in the post dot-com world.
Unfortunately, many of the same people who managed the domain world before – GoDaddy and VeriSign – are the ones who are probably going to be in the drivers’ seats for this race to the top of the branding mountain. We are doomed to repeat the past – those competing in the small to medium business (SMB) market are most likely going to have to go through one of these third parties to secure the rights to their names. Fair or not, SMBs just aren’t going to be able to compete against the corporate string hoarders that had the resources to compete for the rights to manage these domains in the first place.
CNET has provided some great coverage of this story. To understand exactly how this is all evolving and some of your future branding opportunities in the new gTLD world, check out these stories:
Let us know what you think about what Paul Sloan calls “the greatest Internet landgrab in history” in the comments section? How is it going to affect how you build your brand? What opportunities will now exist that you haven’t considered before?
Let’s start the post dot-com branding discussion now.