Francesco Altomare
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New TLDs from the outer Domain Space

My Dear Reader,

It’s been well almost fifty days since the last Post on our Blog; we reckon it must have been shockingly hard for you to survive without our juice-filled, insightful Posts and irony apart, we’re back inbetween two travel trips to delight you further with an excursion on TLDs, or Top Level Domains.
You all hear the fuss about ICANN likely moving out from its predominant place is assigning Top Level Domains, or maybe you just landed on a “.london “ Website and wonder why the hexadecimal it ain’t a “.com” or “.net” like you are used to instead?

Time to find out!

New TLDs from the outer Domain Space

There used to be a time when the Domain Name selection was a simple process – you either had a dot com, dot net or dot org as your TLD or Top Level Domain Name. Those who were in the business of buying and selling Domain Names knew that things would heat up once new TLD’s were released. As if on cue country wise TLD’s were made available. The TLD pot came to a boil when ICANN announced thirty gTLD or generic TLD. The announcement of gTLDs has set the cat among the pigeons. There are all kinds of people and companies frantically trying to identify opportunities while many big Brands are looking to save their reputation from cyber squatters who are already dipping their fingers in the lucrative TLD pie with glee and a gleam in their eyes. Let’s have a closer look at the implications of this new development in the world of domain names.

What’s the difference between a TLD and gTLD anyways?

It’s like comparing apples with oranges. A Top Level Domain like dot com encompasses everything which has to do with a Business or Company. It represents the world where money changes hands. Dot edu is all about Education, Universities and Learning Institutions. Dot gov is synonymous with Government Institutions. When we come to gTLD’s or generic TLD’s we land into a more specific, smaller and contained environment. Who would have expected that a TLD like dot shoes will ever see the light of day? Essentially a gTLD is expected to expand the scope of available Domain Names. Is such an expansion a valid argument for having a slew of new TLDs? It is debatable. Some experts welcome this development while others call it a maze of confusion.

The process of buying gTLD

There are two types of gTLDs – open and closed ones. The closed ones represent individual Companies like say, Google. A gTLD like dot Google can only be used by the Company. On the other hand an open gTLD like dot shop can be used by anyone. The process of buying a Domain Name is not as simple as it used to be. When a gTLD is released, the first in the line are Trademark owners. Samsung for example can lay claim to “ samsung.technology “. In the second stage, if Samsung does not avail of this opportunity, the domain is auctioned and sold to the highest bidder. Just in case this Domain is still not purchased, it goes into the general category. The cost of acquiring a gTLD is highest in the first stage and lowest in the general category. Pre-registration is also possible. It’s obvious that there is going to be plenty of action in this domain space.

Why is the Expansion of gTLDs a Concern for Brand Owners

In this free-for-all, many Brands are going to have sleepless nights. Many established Brands have paid heavily for purchasing their favorite Domain Names. For example, Barnes ‘n Nobles, a reputed bookseller bought books.com by paying a hefty sum in the range of millions of dollar. Bank of America shelled out three million USD for loans.com. Will these Companies keep investing in new Domain Names? In such a scenario, the cost of maintaining their Brand and Reputation will skyrocket and maybe become unsustainable. Moreover, how big Brands keep track of tomorrow’s range of Domains to isolate malicious Brand-related Domains will become critical: it will be interesting to see how Companies cope up with this situation.

The business of Domain flipping

Cyber squatters and the like are gloating and smacking their lips. The gTLD phenomenon is just what they had dreamt about. There will opportunities galore for this community. A great turf war is likely to be the outcome. Legal eagles in the Internet Space will certainly make a killing trying to save Reputations and Brands. Copycat Websites will mushroom and make huge money while the real stuff suffers ignobly. It will be idealistic to expect that gTLDs will be used sensibly. Trademark registration will be taken more seriously. All of this will add to the cost of maintaining an Online Presence.
Online edition of Forbes magazine has an interesting article on the power of Cyber squatters. It highlights the plight of Brand Owners who are expected to spend a lot more to protect their territory.

How will GTLDs affect DNS?

This is great time for companies to redefine and reorient their DNS to create new Opportunities. Branding can become much more dynamic with a host of Websites created under the umbrella of a single TLD. DNS can now be geared to enhance Security of a Website. It can also assist in Brand Protection and Reputation Management. Perhaps a time will come when a reputed Brand sells its own subdomains at a profit. Imagine the amount of money Google can make by selling its Subdomains? The potential to make money is humungous when the number of Subdomains you can own is infinite.

How will gTLDs affect Search engine optimization and brand visibility?

The SEO Community is agog with the news of new gTLDs hitting the market. Make no mistake that these Domains will either make or break your Search Visibility. However, as on today, the impact of the announcement is still to change the search space. DOT shoes, for example is a generic TLD. You would expect big companies in the shoe business like Reebok to make a beeline for this gTLD. However, if you search for shoes in Google, you will still find shoes.com and similar websites crop up first in search results. Looks like it will take time for gTLDs to be properly reflected in search results.

So Pal, how many gTLDs are up for sale out there in the outer Domain Space?

This very long process has started in Oct 2013 and the about 700 new gTLDs will see the light not any earlier than 2016 . We believe one of the best links to keep track of the current new gTLDs release schedule can be found here.

In Conclusion

The new gTLD’s will certainly shakeup the entire Online Community. Brands will struggle to keep their reputation. More money will be required to manage an Online Presence. Cyber squatters will have a merry time misusing the situation. Companies, Brands and Reputations will need new tools to deal with the situation. It will take time for affairs to stabilize and till then you have to watch and handle the situation carefully.
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