Generic Top Level Domains: Three Reasons Why the New Rules Will Not Excite Marketers

Today's announcement that the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) will change the rules for Top Level Domains in 2012 might be good news for people who want to use other languages and scripts, but is it also good news for communication, marketing and branding people? I am not convinced and here are three reasons why:

FIRST: in today's world people are more likely to be following a link than typing in an address. Most of the time when I visit a company website it is because I have seen a link on a news aggregator, on a social media site or in a message from someone. Other times I am simply following links from paper publications using QR codes -- as in Richard Wiseman's book Paranormality where additional video content is embedded into the book using QR codes. I am not convinced QR codes have such a great future either but they are better than typing URLs.

SECOND: since web browsers integrate automatic searches and all competently-run companies take good care of their search engine optimization you don't need to know the exact address anyway. It is a ling time since I typed a full address into a browser. Most times I type in a company name and let Google find me the site. For example, to find the company Ordning & Reda I just type "ordning reda" into Chrome and up comes the company website. I don't need to know how they write the "&" (is it &, and or och?) and I don't need to know if it their top level domain ends in .com or .se.

THIRD: yet more top level domains means more expenses for companies, that are effectively blackmailed into registering their brands on all major domains anyway just for brand protection. This means that a company called say Pear would have to register and pay for pear.com, pear.net and umpteen others. Fox recently complained that it would cost them $12M a year in additional registration and legal fees and that is without the cost of a .fox top level domain, which at $185,000 is priced out of the range of all but the biggest corporations. At that price it will become a status symbol and perhaps in the long run people will look down on .com addresses as old fashioned.

By the time .com has started to sound uncool, though, I doubt that TLDs will be so relevant and we will be finding companies in other ways, and typing in a URL will become as eccentric as trying to type in a numerical address.

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