Dot Brands are coming
We haven't seen them yet in the internet landscape (except for .axa), but the dot brands are coming; .bmw, .nike, .mcdonalds and 614 others. A dot brand domain is operated fully and exclusively by the brand owner, and no third party is blocked from registering any domains with the given extension. I call them the monster trucks of domain names, as there is some serious money behind these new top level domains, as these brands are worth millions of USD. And they are about to leave the garage. In my opinion dot brand domains could be the "icebreaker" to make internet users aware that it's not only .com anymore but practically dot anything. If you as a brand owner missed the first application round or are still waiting for the perfect moment to register domains with some of the +700 new domain endings such as .shop or .berlin, then you should read this post.
"Expect 5.000 brands applying for a dot brand in the next round of gTLD applications", - Jannik Skou, Thomsen Trampedach.
Jannik Skou, partner at Thomsen Trampedach. Behind 25 new gTLDs such as .bmw, .spiegel and .merck
Interview with Jannik Skou
I have interviewed Jannik Skou from Thomsen Trampedach, as he has consulted with some of the biggest European brands. He has lived and breathed dot brands during the last years, and Thomsen Trampedach is the consultant behind no less than 25 of the new gTLDs including .bmw, .merck and .spiegel. So do read this interview. Jannik shares some great insights, which you can use for your business decisions. At the end we have the complete list of all the dot brand domain applications.
1) What are the benefits of a dot brand for applicant companies?
It's mainly a question of control and security. Now the companies control the complete supply chain, thus minimizing the risk of dependency on any third-party provider. Now they also have access to (almost) all second-level domains. This means that they have some new online marketing advantages such as short URLs. All content at .brand is authorized fully by the brand itself and will assure their customers that it's a secure website. In the long term they will save money as well not having to invest in domain names with other TLDs. They profit the large scale costs which signifies very low costs per domain name. Basically each product and each employee blog (E.g. jannik.brand) can have its own domain name. It is possible that there is a SEO effect as well if Google, Bing, Yahoo, Baidu etc. give dot brand special attention.
2) How will the dot brand be used by the big brands? Is it basically just a defensive move, or will companies rebrand from .com to a dot brand?
The starting point for (almost) everyone is to protect their IPR (Intellectual Property Rights). But it will be interesting to follow any active strategies. Clearly, it will depend on the type of industry and customers, whether dot brand domains will be used actively. Brands that currently do not have the .com domain name (and they do exist!), which have applied for .brand do plan to change from a ccTLD (.fr, .de) or a regional ccTLD (.eu, .asia) to a .brand. Even though this is expensive to implement, we have heard about brands with concrete plans to do a .brand migration.
3) How do you see the dot brand in 3-5 years? Are there any new opportunities in the horizon, which we haven't seen already?
I think dot brand will be the standard over time. You can expect that the next round of gTLD applications, probably inside the next 2-3 years, will approximately be around 5.000 brands. I also expect that the application and operating rates fall significantly (today it's USD 185.000 for the application plus running costs). I don't believe in the primary competition coming from .com. It will come from apps, social media or other domain independent technology such as voice over search engine. It's important to state that domains will not die out, as it is still easier for search engines to handle domain names than IP numbers (especially when ipv6 becomes even more widespread). And yes, I do think that a dot brand will enable big companies to promote user and product specific content even more. I imagine even that IDN (Internationalized domain names) .brands will be more common. Let's see what Google plans to do with their own domains ( .google .youtube etc.) and how they will index the other dot brands in their search engine algorithm. I see it as a positive sign for dot brands and new gTLDs in general that Google has chosen to become a domain registrar (reseller), even though other domain resellers are not happy with this move.
Thanks to Jannik for some great insights. Here is my take-away from the interview:
1) Dot brand is at first a defensive registration, however in the long run the dot brand will be the standard domain for these big brands. Even though a shift is costly, the advantages are simply to many. Full control, no expenses for other TLDs and costs of scale to promote any web page with a unique domain name.
2) The second wave is coming, and it's a huge one. It's only an estimate, however with the lower barriers to entry and the market maturity I think that the 5.000 applications predicted is a conservative guess.
3) Google understands dot brands, as they have applied for their own. It is a strong indication that they will favour results from a dot brand as being more reliable than from any other TLD. Jannik mentions a possible SEO effect. I would like to state that I imagine a higher CTR (Click trough rate) from users, who see a dot brand result. Here is the complete dot brand domain list Around 30 dot brands have been left out, as they have either been rejected (.amazon, .patagonia) or withdrawn (.loreal, .buick).