SXSW Dot.what? How New ICANN gTLDs Will Change the Web or Not
How New gTLDs Will Change the Web – Or Not A Marketer’s Point of View March 11, 2012
Barriers and Risks Barriers To Applying Risks Of Not For A TLD Applying For A TLD It’s Not Easy May Lose Key TLD • ICANN business, operational, technical & financial • If another party applies for and can demonstrate requirements rights to a particular string • Full Registry operations • If a “confusingly similar” TLD has been awarded in first round It’s Not Cheap • Application alone is $185,000 Will Not Have Opportunity To Apply • Other significant upfront and ongoing operational For A TLD Until 2014 Or Later costs, including $25,000+ annual ICANN fees • Goal for next application round is within one year of end of first round It’s A Long-Term Investment • Standard ICANN registry contract is 10 years May Risk Losing Leadership Status Within Industry There’s Not Much Time • Especially if direct competitors apply • Application launch closes April 12, 2012 Source, used with permission:
.gTLDs are not new • .travel • .info • .aero • .museum • .jobs • .pro Etc.Copyright iCrossing - Proprietary and Confidential 5
.Com: The branding of a gTLD • .Com became king in the 90’s when advertisers spent billions on promoting their domains (ex. company.com) • .Com is still king in the US • Short term prediction: gTLD fragmentation will only reinforce the strength of the .Com TLD brand • Long term: Will gTLDs become the norm for large online players? Not yet known…Copyright iCrossing - Proprietary and Confidential 6
.Anything: The branding of a gTLD • New gTLD operators will need a branding strategy to raise awareness • Different strategies will be required for open registries, versus proprietary brand registries • Media companies may be best suited for a .brand domain, as they have more visibility to brand towards their audience • Ex.news.cnn, snl.nbc, etc.
POV with enterprise brands • Most of the gTLD discussion is driven by internal legal departments (I’m in marketing, not legal) • Reports from IT departments suggest that some legacy systems will not function when moving from brand.com to site.brand due to dependencies on the core brand.com URL • Potential that some may attempt to migrate, but CMOs are in no rush • Closed brand gTLDs may provide an additional level of search engine trust, similar to other closed TLDs like .Gov and .Mil • ANA has taken a stance against gTLDs on behalf of enterprise businesses, and many large brands are not interested
Enterprise brands – other considerations • How long is your brand name, and would it make a good extension? • Are there other potentially confusing and similar gTLDs that could be registered, and preclude registration of your .brand? (ex. .apple vs. .app) • If so, do other potential registrants and operators have the resources to manage a large registry? • What are the costs of not having the gTLD 10 years from now, especially if there is a legitimate risk of confusingly similar strings? • Other than marketing novelty or brand protection, what value does the gTLD bring that your brand.com doesn’t?
Types of gTLDs • Closed and trusted: .Mil and .Gov are generally highly trusted TLDs with the search engines, because they are carefully managed, and contain authoritative content, with little or no possibly for spam to gain visibility. • Trusted, but open: .Edu was previously given high marks by Google due to the high percentage of authoritative academic content, but this trust was eventually diluted by student pages, and commercialism on university news sites • Open TLDs that have had a sketchy past with Google: Some “free” registries gave away domains, and thus the signal for their entire gTLD as a whole was weakened greatly, to the point that may be somewhat of a search liability to build a new site on this extension.
Spammy gTLDs: Can a whole registry be seen as a“bad neighborhood”? • The way the gTLD operator manages the registry will be a key influence on how well that TLD performs in search as a whole • Qualities of successful gTLD SEO: • Well-managed TLDs that discourage spam • Proprietary closed gTLDs • Sites with significant and engaging content resources and utilities • Sites within gTLD have good content, linkage, and buzz around the social graph
The birth of the search-optimized gTLD • There must be a solid content play behind the URL, and gTLD • Standard SEO signals and optimization still required for it to perform well in search across a wide variety of terms • Quality of sites residing on gTLD may be a signal to search engines, in terms of the overall TLD quality • Generic gTLD keywords do not guarantee top search visibility • Search engines view of TLDs have changed over the years – nothing is set in stone • Ex. .Edu links, Tweaking of .info, banning of entire subdomains and hosts • Hints from Google that exact match domains may not have the same boost they used to have
Understanding the impact of a site migrationImpact and cost to marketer when URLs change ● Spiders can’t find new pages as quickly ● Engines can’t apply pre-existing backlink history ● Visitors can’t find what they are looking for ● Bookmarks rendered useless ● Bandwidth wasted ● Traffic is gone ● Conversions and sales are lost @RobGarner 214.676.2089 Rob.Garner@icrossing.com VP Strategy, iCrossing
Final note • Each decision to pursue a gTLD (or not) is highly subjective • Each situation should be evaluated individually before deciding to obtain a proprietary gTLD • Assess the need for brand protection • Asses the search and use implications for your company • Consider the implications of site migration if a site moves to a new gTLD @RobGarner 214.676.2089 Rob.Garner@icrossing.com VP Strategy, iCrossing
THANK YOU Rob Garner VP, Strategy iCrossing.com Rob.Garner@icrossing.com @robgarner 214.676.2089 15
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