Guest Post: Promoting The New Top Level Domains – No Time For Napping

This is a guest post by Jennie-Marie Larsen, Chief Executive Officer of DomainDiction.com

Jennie-Marie has an extensive marketing, PR & business development background in web-based products and services with years of experience launching new businesses through digital marketing and channel management. She entered the domain name industry 12 years ago as Head of Europe for NeuStar´s registry business and managed the commercial market introduction and development of their business for .BIZ, .US, and ccTLDs.

DomainDiction offers end-to-end marketing programs for new and existing TLDs.

As founder and CEO of DomainDiction, Jennie-Marie works with many of the new gTLD registries to create and develop their commercial brand and online footprint to ensure they maximize their marketing and sales opportunities, on an international basis.

Here is the guest post:

I was asked what I thought was the most bizarre question by a journalist today, and by a New Yorker at that;

“Do you think PR and marketing matter to the new TLDs? And if so, how?”

It’s their only job in my opinion. The new TLD program is largely unknown by the general Internet user, so education, demand creation and trust are the three main drivers to ensure their success. In other words, they will be pushing boulders uphill from day one. New Top Level Domains will have to actually build the demand themselves, making marketing and PR are the only cards they have to play at this stage.

The TLD industry (and this might be the first year the average person has ever heard such an industry even exists) knows precisely how much awareness and demand currently exists for new TLDs; very little indeed. But this program of close to 2000 new names will undeniably change how the Internet is used forever.

Evidence of big changes to come in the way domain names are bought and used, is the entry of major Internet real estate moguls like Google and Amazon, who currently dominate search and online shopping respectively. They are now making moves to carve out a niche within the traffic space (DNS). It’s a clever move to get your hands on that data: it tells you exactly where people go online.

 

Let’s not forget the opportunity new TLDs will give to smaller businesses and startups. Not only will they be able to buy precisely the name they want, but for a while, they will have the same opportunity as much larger competitors to be the first movers on brilliant domain combinations without paying the earth. Isn’t it only fair they should be made aware of this?

The average user has no idea just how often they’re already using most of the new gTLDs in their everyday internet usage. Most of the names applied for were chosen based on what keywords and word sequences were already popular online in search and existing domain names. These two things tell us precisely what’s popular online; what people look for (search) and where they go (domain names and the traffic to their sites).

The Internet is getting harder and harder to make sense of. Websites are getting denser and deeper; we’re all getting lost and distracted along the way to our original destinations. The new names are going to provide much needed indexing to find what you want more efficiently. Just type it in to the browser.

If you look at the list of new TLD’s for which applications have been submitted, (the link comes later so you don’t won´t distracted away from this page) you’ll see many new TLDs that make you think- “Why on earth would anyone want that one?”

My favorite example is .HORSE. I love horses, I know that world. My initial reaction when I saw it had been applied for was: “How bizarre. Who will buy one? And for what possible purpose?”

But spend a minute thinking about horses, or more specifically, the equestrian community. It´s a multi-billion dollar industry that spans across horse buyers, sellers and traders, equipment, properties, events, and all kinds of related industries in every country in the world, wealthy or not. There are extensive and deeply established networks online in horse communities. There’s a global ecosystem if you tie it all together; more than interested in carving out their unique space online

If I had a horse to sell, I might like to buy a .HORSE name (with my horse’s name), where all I had to do was register the name, upload a photo, enter some stats on the horse, and maybe a video. 20 minutes later, under $50, and immediately my sale site is up and published to the existing horse sale site networks. Think there might be a few people selling their horse this week? Not a bad name after all. Now apply that same logic in considering the size of other industries such as the .INVESTMENTS namespace, or .FISHING. You begin to see the wide-spread application for the most obscure sounding names because it´s obvious that a large international online community already exists for it.

New applicants know well that they are tasked with innovation and evolving the value proposition of a domain name. These names won’t do the same old things that current domain names do. They will do what is expected of them in their niche market. .GAY will make sure it contributes to the gay community- in terms of both technology networking, and the implied social responsibility .WEDDING may sell to websites geared to helping you organize your own .BOUTIQUE could be a name you buy with an inbuilt online store- complete with payment solutions and inbound marketing tools.

The new TLDs will also do big things for brands. Radical, important, and strategic things. So much so, that those brands who turned their noses up at the idea of applying for their brand as a TLD, will likely come to regret that choice later. The $185,000 fee to apply will seem like nothing when their competitors rebrand their entire online footprint with an authenticity and exclusivity only achievable through a proprietary top level domain name that only they control and use: if the site doesn’t end with .GUCCI, you are looking at a fake.

It will also be a much-needed tool to break up the miserably confusing sites in industries like travel and consumer goods. Must I really search your horror zone for support? A phone number? I look forward to just writing SUPPORT.AMAZON. For that matter, I might like to assume that IBM.SUPPORT is waiting for me when I need it. Or CNN.NEWS. The new TLDs will be the evolution of search – intuitive to the way we see websites and words on the Internet.

Seriously. “Do they need PR and marketing?”. New TLDs need to let you, the consumer, know how, when and why you should use their names. And then they should solve a few more problems for you- like what are you going call your new company, new food or fashion blog.

Of course, we may miss wacky new tech start up names like Woodledoo.com But that trend only happened because there was nothing short and sharp left in .COM.

Now you can look at the list of all the proposed new names. Try and pick your favorites. I´ll race you to it. Did you really think the Internet would never change?

This will be fun to watch.

Comments

  1. says

    Jennie-Marie:
    Why have you chosen a DOT COM for your site I must ask? since you have an extensive marketing, PR & business development background in web-based products and services with years of experience launching new businesses through digital marketing and channel management.
    why not:
    . biz ?. info? . me? . tv? etc etc and more etc …
    or why not using the highly praised and coveted . co ? once pumped errr… I meant described as DOT Company/Commercial/Corporation/Communication/ even Compadre and any other word in the dictionary that starts with “co” .

    why not preach with the example and use something other than DOT COM?

    I am all ears…

    Robert Fernandez.

  2. says

    Robert makes a great point…!

    He and I both know there’s no good answer to his question, and
    Ms Larsen will have to do much better than that if she wants to
    sell the gTLD concept to businesses…

    I am sure that Ms Larsen said, on a Domain Sherpa interview,
    that the gTLDs will be seen to be the most trustworthy choice
    (of domain), in preference to .com, but she’ll have a hard time
    selling that idea if she, herself, doesn’t practice what she
    preaches.

  3. says

    on another note challenging her common sense:
    1. as for big brands if it takes more than 10 years and your customer does not know your website is gucci.com, on what basis should the customer know that gucci.gucci is the website, how long should it take? 5, 10, 15 years?

    2. as for .brand urls and shortening namespace in .com, – most of the brand names are trademarked and used by many different companies, so if the first company grabds its .brand does not mean that the next 20 compnies standing in line can do the same, as the address is still unique.

    i can draw that gtlds is a way to suck a good chunk of cash from big brands doing defensive regs, nothing more nothing less, as
    an average Joe wishing to sell a horse will find no problem to find and buy a .com/.net/.org etc..
    the problem does not exist

  4. says

    Jennie-Marie Larsen, is wise and has made some very good points IMO. In answer to some earlier questions tens of thousands of new dots are not designed to replace dotcoms (expecially those that are already owned , whether by investors or active businesses with websites built on them).
    In order to understand the impact or at least intentended impact of the new GTLD domain names program one has to step away from the dot com and start seeing the GTLD as a new a different animal. Kids and adults are all people but have different lives and purposes.
    Yes it is true that some are seekign a registrar as a money play. So what that is their risk and their business. I think what J-M is talking about here is how can mom and pop and medium sized business use a GTLD of an extension whose keyword is not available in dotcome version and make it work for them. The answer and as she points out … the only answer is promotion and marketing. Social media isn’t even the answer for tens of thousands of new dots. There is not enough tweet time in a day to read or post tweets about tens of thousands new dots. And the fact is that the GTLD program has and will continue to raise more questions than answers like what is going to happen to search? for example.

    So at least I can say based on my own 17 years of IM experience … here is the deal for small and mdeium sized businesses that truly expect to win and then succeed on a new GTLD name IMO. Follow J-m’s advice and consider all traditional and electronic media channels for promotion and marketing. That includes all the staples like networking, attending events, print radio and T.V. ads and yes using Social media channels in conjunction with traditional marketing to raise awareness and develop customer loyalty. In the end … like it or not the GTLD program is going to happen and while nobody can say for sure at this point if and to what degree it will work one thing remains true. That is the willingness to take risk and action will separate the winners from the also rans if the program and GTLDs become popular. Good luck to all and keep an open eye and mind is my advice.

  5. says

    MB to followup it does appear that J-M was speaking directly to the non activity by GTLD applicants in terms of promoting the pending availability of their wares. Perhaps you can shed some light on this one.
    Are the waiting for app approval? if so makes sense. I noticed that some applicants are already rolling out websites relating to dots they have applied for.
    That being said What marketing channels and methods do you foresee applicant registrars who have been awarded a dot exension using to promote their new dots (outside the small circle of domain industry folks) which BTW seem to be the only ones in the universe with any clue at all so far.

    I personally am blown away at how legitimate businesses could have ponied up 355 million and not be screaming about their endeavours from the top of city rooftops to anyone with the slightest chance to buyu something they are selling.

    MB? you thoughts on what we might expect along the lines of news and the content and timing of GTLD marketing campaigns to come?

  6. accent says

    It seems that if marketing a new TLD is effective, more existing registrys would be doing it. How many applicants would .Travel, .Jobs, .Name or .Pro have, if they were new extensions up for bids? All these and more are available now. The registrys have decided not to promote them very much – we have to ask why? Could it be that it is not cost effective???

    The potential market for .biz is huge – all businesses everywhere. With its’ current base of about two million names registered, and the recognition of a 12 year old extension, would it not be a great deal easier to promote .biz to another two million customers than to take a fresh new extension to the two million registration mark?

    Only .CO, of all existing TLDs, is spending significantly on promotion.

  7. says

    good points accent. Funny thing about promotion. .CO was a big sponsor at last year domainfest. Iattned the conference but did not take part in any of the .co sponsored events. Could have had something to do with the beautiful babes he was rolling with and my wife of 32 years being with me ;-)

    Bottom line promotion is not a guarantee of success as much as lack of promotion is pretty much a guarantee of failure.

    Still the domain industry as a whole could go a long way towards helping our cause by conducting end user education and sharing successful case histories of web design development and actual profitable businesses built on a good dotcom. Our own FindaSeminar trainign search engine is one shining example of the value of a good dot (but I may be a little bias).

    I want the GTLD program and registrars to succeed for personal reasons of course but also because I believe that the program has the scope to create umteen thousand jobs, new millionaires and move the economic needle in a positive direction.

  8. says

    I don’t really want to comment on to what the guest author meant or to speak for her in this case, I do think the new gTLD’s registries are going to have to a lot of marketing traditional and non-traditional and the .Co Registry is a great example.

    .Co spent a lot of money inside the domain channel but outside as well at conferences like SBSW

  9. says

    On that respect they did a fantastic marketing job, never seen in other new domain launch not even “.mobi who “…

    Hats off to the promoters…seriously.

    I personally fell for it and registered one… just to see what it felt like, is a day I am still trying to forget…:)

  10. bnalponstog says

    “if the site doesn’t end with .GUCCI, you are looking at a fake.”

    That is patently untrue. And misleading.

    Caveat emptor, as always, but to insinuate that all goods at Ebay, Gucci.com, Macys.com, etc. etc. are to be deemed counterfeit from this point forward is just absurd.

  11. says

    Happy to see my post sparked some debate. To the first comments on why we chose .COM for DomainDiction – the exciting answer is: it was available. And who doesn´t like .COM for their first choice when it´s available? You won´t hear me saying No Thanks to the current TLDs. But you will see me using the new ones when they make sense to me (we´re launching a marketing intelligence tool under .CO this spring). My previous business used TidTilSalgs.no (a Norwegian based business, of course). I´ll probably use .FOOD or .FASHION for some silly blogs I have when they come out. If the name fits…

    As to the Gucci.Gucci comment – I was referring to imitation sites like GucciBags.com. Of which, sadly for the luxury accessories market, there are many. The new TLDs will be an excellent answer to that one and many of those brands understood that opportunity and applied for their TLDs.

    My points were more to encourage the new TLDs to be AGRESSIVE in their marketing and PR because they will not be in demand until they´ve made their mark and proved to a skeptic audience (you lot ;-) that they are worthy of their target group´s registrations. And that is a tough battle that lies ahead. People rarely like change when they see it coming on the horizon.

    It was also mentioned that .CO is one of the only ´new´ TLDs actively promoting and winning ground. They cleverly pinned their new product to an unsatisfied need in the market – names available for savvy new start ups and the like – and they attached ´legitimate & cool´to the names with front runner brand ambassadors G.CO and T.CO. But if you ask Lori Ann about how they got there – she´ll tell you about pounding the phones for months to win those advocates. It was no small feat.

    Their success is certainly down to clever brains at the helm and an adult sized marketing budget. But they may also be benefiting from 10 years of the industry warming up internet users and businesses with the OPTION of alternatives to .COM & .NET.

    .MOBI had major telco names behind it, lots of marketing dollars. But although they invested, you never saw partners use NOKIA.MOBI in place of their .COM site. Yet most would agree .MOBI is one of the best of the new TLDs to come out. I feel .MOBI carved out additional use and application and is another one of the success stories, like .CO, that will have paved part of the way for the new TLDs with long fought success in converting the skeptics one by one.

    I think the new TLDs face an equally challenging road as did .BIZ, .MOBI and the rest. It´s not a question of do I like .JOBS – it´s: ´can I see myself using something else than .COM & .NET?´. I think that battle has yet to be completely won. However, the enormous landrush of new TLDs with the support of big names like .BMW using their own string, will make it a much easier job than for the first new TLDs to be launched than it was for the first batch of new TLDs in 2001: affectionately known as the seven dwarfs (.BIZ, .INFO, .NAME, .COOP, .AERO, .PRO, .MUSEUM) where really, only .INFO and .BIZ have made it to the mainstream.

    And believe me, many of them had XXL man-sized marketing budgets. Some more than .CO.

    Marketing is basic: find a need and convince the audience you can fill it. But in the case of new top level domain names – that need is still hidden under the plausible deniability of the .COM space still offering room for new comers.

  12. says

    @jennie-marie

    How do you reconcile the comment “And who doesn´t like .COM for their
    first choice when it´s available?”, that you made above, with the comments
    you made in your Domain Sherpa interview, where you inferred that .com
    is somehow not trustworthy?

  13. says

    If I remember correctly, I may have been referring to the 3rd party break in the security link that someone managing your domain name (a registrar, plus possibly a reseller) could pose to an operation that requires as high security as, say, a banking system. Owning your own gTLD means you are the final say in the namespace.

    Also, I´m not suggesting .COM is not, and has not been the default name of the current internet (with loads of exceptions for ccTLDs, and other personal/business identities) – I´m saying the new TLDs will change it in a very exciting intuitive way that I am personally completely in favour of – indexing and intuitive naming. And given the inroads the latest new TLDs (.everythingImentionedsofar) these names have a fighting chance to take on genuine internet real estate.

  14. Peter LaMantia says

    Jenne-Marie’s comments are forward thinking. It is a time to think radically differently about domain space and consider how the new landscape will enable innovation centered on registries. As she rightly states, new TLDs will require demand creation with significant PR and marketing channel investments. Critical to that investment and take up will be what new service value proposition innovations they deliver that resonate with their target markets.

    Will they succeed?

    If new registries are simply selling a second level TLD option without a service component, the vast majority will niche out and be marginalized like many launched in the last decade. A few…shortlist here, will gain any significant traction without the service value component. However, those that invest and innovate with services addressing the needs of a defined niche, geo or community – these have a great shot to succeed by the value their services deliver.

    As for brands, it is going to be a fools game for brands to try to defend by registering several thousand MORE misspells and brand domain variations. The brand registry will over time become authentic destinations as well as create opportunity for them to innovate the digital experiences they seek to offer their customers. Not immediately perhaps but eventually. No question – .brand is a bankable strategy in the new world.

  15. RobRoz says

    I love to drink Coca Cola. Its my favorite soft drink, i drink it every day, I’ve been to the Coca Cola museum in Atlanta, I wear a Coke t-shirt sometimes and a Coke hat. But if one day every can of Coke disappeared and the only way to get a can of coke was to buy someone else’s at an inflated price because they are scarce, or have to settle for Caffeine Free Cherry Coke which just isn’t the same and I don’t care who says it is. Well then I might just try a Pepsi.

    The ability to give consumers the freedom to choose in saturated markets is good for the consumer.

  16. jose says

    i do not see any general value in new extensions. i see value in brandables like “call.me”, “follow.me”, “go.to”, “help.us”, etc. creating an extension for niches is like using a second choice domain in .com, .net or .org just because it’s the only available.

    i think people have understood that for years and the new extensions are just hype and money sinks in the making, as some companies will continue to feel the urge to protect their brands and registry operators will be drove by all this hype and hopes of fortunes to be made.

  17. says

    Rob, you subtle charmer, in terms of micro-economic law, that is the single best argument I´ve heard for the new TLDs: ´The ability to give consumers the freedom to choose in saturated markets is good for the consumer.´

    Jose, those names are definitely neat and I´ve a few like that I hope I think of first and don´t forget to act on. I just might try my hand at domaining after all. But I challenge you to watch this space. There are too many clever minds, and big owners of critical digital mass and means entering this space (the odd one using .CO) to write them off like that. You´ll eat your words my friend ;-)

    But we did all bet the farm 10 years ago (and hopefully learned alot of things over the years).

  18. says

    I think that, if it’s a prime identity, gTLDs that are within a 3-5 character
    range may do well but anything over that will be a difficult ”sell’ as I think
    that users may resent having to type out, or relate to, a ‘big looking’ TLD.

    Users, the world over, have become used to (you might say “entrained”)
    on short TLDs (3 chars or less) and any TLD bigger than 5 characters may
    well be a risk.

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