The revolution of new generic top level domains has started
At present 15TLDs are already available to the public (.bike, .guru, .estate etc.). One of the most active new Registry Operators is Famous Four Media (FFM). FFM was set up in 2011 by a small group of recognized domain name experts and successful financiers. They operate 60 gTLD applications, which include some of the most interesting domain suffixes, such as .accountant, .bid, .date, .download, .faith, .loan, .men, .review, .science, .trade, .webcam and .win. Andy Churley is the Chief Marketing Officer at FFM, and I asked him to give his perspective on the future of the new gTLDs. While every man and his dog seem to have an opinion about the new gTLDs these days, in my opinion it is much more interesting to hear the views of an industry insider, who breathes new gTLDs every day. 1) What impact will the new gTLDs have? Ever since the new gTLD program was conceived, there have been a lot of theories and speculation around the impact that New gTLDs will have on the Internet and on how Internet users’ browsing habits will change. Whether you think the new gTLD program is the best thing since sliced bread or whether you think it is the devil incarnate, there is no doubt that it will have an impact. We may not see the changes immediately but without a doubt brands, companies and individuals will adapt to use this new mechanism to its fullest potential, probably in ways we have not considered today. Obviously, the most immediate and visible impact is the many new nouns, adjectives, imperatives and abbreviations that we will see after the dot. Trying to put myself in the .shoes of a normal Internet user, a new web address should bring an additional layer of granularity when searching for something online. This new capability of combining a meaningful Top Level Domain (TLD) with a meaningful Second Level Domain (SLD) greatly increases the sensemaking value of a domain name. For example londoncars.bid or carsfor.men or ukcar.loan immediately informs the user of what to expect on a website before they visit it and will allow a user to navigate quickly to a relevant website without necessarily using a search engine. In addition, the owner of ukcar.loan will undoubtedly see an increase in relevant, qualified traffic. The other thing that the new gTLD program can do immediately is to enable an increase in user trust in the name space. In the past, if a banking customer were to visit a website called www.security.com there was more than a little likelihood that the web visitor may unwittingly be visiting a website which has no affiliation to the bank in question. With a new gTLD, visiting any. <bankname> website is a guarantee that the website is controlled by that entity. 2) Which factors for a gTLD to become successful? Success means different things to different people. In the world of gTLDs, the definition of success depends upon the applicant. For example, some applicants have applied for a gTLD in order to prevent any others using it. The very act of delegation means that they have been successful. For others, ensuring that their customers do not get duped into visiting counterfeit or fraudulent websites is a definition of success. For the majority of commercial registries, success can be measured in the number of domains registered in Sunrise, Landrush and early General Availability as well as the overall growth rate of registered names. When looking to pinpoint a string which will be a runaway success, identifying a TLD with some of that ‘special sauce’ that has mass appeal is a difficult task. How many of us predicted the growth of Twitter and Facebook? Famous Four Media has invested in 60 applications and is very conscious, that the act of delegation is actually where the hard work begins. In what is now a crowded market place, a successful Registry Operator must be able to differentiate its string from around 1500 other Top Level Domains vying for a share of customers’ budgets, vying for primary positioning on Registrars’ virtual shelves and vying for critical mass of registrations and web traffic to names in their registry. Ultimately though, success in gTLDs will be down to the imagination and creativity of the website owners of tomorrow, and probably not registry operators. 3) What are your favourite three gTLDs that you launch and why? If you were to ask that question to every staff member in Famous Four Media you would get different answers from each one. Even when looking at the first batch of TLDs that Famous Four Media will be releasing it’s a difficult choice but here is the top 3 pick of the Famous Four Media Marketing Team. 1- .BID: it will be Famous Four Media’s first string to launch and therefore close to all our hearts. As a term it’s short, punchy and dynamic and describes exactly what the domain name is designed to do – put buyers in touch with sellers. 2- .SCIENCE: science is all about discovery, from the smallest child discovering the world around them to any one of the 5.8 million scientific researchers driving forward the understanding of the human race. The team at Famous Four Media love the .SCIENCE TLD because it is totally inclusive – everyone can get involved with .SCIENCE and share their own discoveries. 3- .DATE: the capacity for love is one of the things that make us special. And at Famous Four Media, we’d love to be match makers for the whole world. Hopefully, the .DATE TLD will bring people from all over the globe together so that they can find their soul mates. Confidentially, a few of the Famous Four Media team are definitely in the market for a .DATE domain name.