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July 13, 2011

New TLDs, boom or bust?

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Starting next year, ICANN is willing to take $185,000 plus $25,000 annual maintenance fee to sell you your very own top-level domain (TLD) to replace the “.com” domain you are now using.

Sure, Ford may be able to purchase the “.truck” domain and then have their very own www.ford.truck URL. But then what?

Google, Bing and Yahoo still convert keyword searches into potential domain targets. They tell searchers where to look for relevant information. And I don’t see that changing just because Ford or GM buy the “.truck” domain. Buying a new top-level domain will not guarantee you a stampede of visitors.

Of course, Microsoft makes the Internet Explorer browser while Google makes the Chrome browser and has a deal with Firefox for built-in web search. So the top three browsers are under the control of the top two search engines. I just don’t see Google and Microsoft suddenly making their search advertising business irrelevant by making these new top-level domains the default go to sites.

Search will remain a viable business. And for search to remain viable, the new TLDs must not come to dominate by default. The search engines control it, and the search engines will not let it happen.

So where’s the boom in new TLDs? Well imagine if you were a large national association, take the American Bar Association, for example. The ABA claims to be the largest association in the world. If I was ABA president, I would be writing that check for $185,000 right now, and I would want to own the TLD “.lawyer” for my association.

Why? Easy, I would give every member a free email address forward like “firstname.lastname@ABA.lawyer” for life. This will greatly reduce the association communications cost because you now have every member’s email address. Then I would offer to sell domains to member law firms so you could have “firstname.lastname@firmname.lawyer” as an email address. This generates income for the association and makes sustaining membership more valuable. The “.lawyer” domain on one’s email address is like the Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval. Of course, having the email address of almost every lawyer soon becomes a viable advertising vehicle. The association will be able to sell ads in weekly/monthly email newsletters.

My guess is, come January 2012, you’ll see the American Medical Association, the Auto Dealer’s Association even the AARP or the ASPCA lining up to buy their own top-level domains. I don’t expect Ford to purchase the “.truck” domain, but I’m pretty certain they’ll purchase “.ford” and every Ford dealer will get a new URL. In addition to their “.com” address, not instead of.


Mike Poller runs a Miami, Florida advertising agency involved in Online, social media, radio, TV, print and outdoor.

3 Responses to “New TLDs, boom or bust?

    avatar Dashworlds says:

    CONGRATULATIONS….Your new Top Level Domain is “.lawyer”

    Now…you might also like to buy:

    .barrister

    .solicitor

    .legal

    .law

    .etc etc etc

    Acquiring “.lawyer” would not preclude others from trying to compete with similar and perhaps more attractive TLD options. Should something like this happen, would price wars ensue? Would there even be enough interest or demand to go around? There’s already rumour (rumor) of a “.jeweler” TLD….but in some parts of the world it’s “.jeweller” or should it be “jewelry” or perhaps “jewellery”. It’s your choice and your risk.

    Ultimately, many believe that acquiring an ICANN TLD is likely to be a loss making venture. Remember, the $185,000 payment is just the non-refundable application fee. There are a variety of other costs involved, plus of course, potentially unlimited annual charges and expenses.

    ICANN is muddying the waters. ICANN’s main aims are to convince Internet users that they’re the only game in town and then try to herd everyone into a tiny part of an otherwise infinite universe. In this respect, ICANN has been quite successful. However, it’s rather like telling people that the only place they can shop on the entire planet is your local Safeway (not that one…the other one) and that there’s really nowhere else to go. Of course this is sheer nonsense and it’s understandable that people are starting to use Alternatives.

    Alternatively, anyone can now create their own set of Top Level Domains at no cost and without reference to ICANN, simply by opting to register NON-ICANN Dashcom (not Dotcom) domain names. Dashcoms are highly memorable & relevant web addresses such as “lawyers-com”, “legal-eagle””, “commercial-law”. Here is a part of the Internet that’s totally outside ICANN’s control yet able to exist quite happily alongside it. At present, resolution is via an APP, but new ISP links are coming online to negate that need.

    It’s only a matter of time before other new options surface, and none of them will have anything to do with ICANN.

    avatar Ryan says:

    I think it’s a bust for now, possibly a boom in a decade or so.

    avatar Dylan says:

    You seem to have quite a vested interest in the dashcom world Ryan – am I correct? I agree with some of your points however unsure Dashcoms are any sort of viable option given the fact that they are very difficult to resolve. Can you provide any example of one that works? I’m curious to see it. I’m not in complete favour of the new ICANN program as I feel for the money invested over many years, there is very little real value to end users. I think it will indeed muddy the waters unnecessarily.

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