Fad, Shmad. New Domain Extensions Are Here to Stay
To say that interest in and use of new domain extensions has exploded recently is an understatement, with approximately 12 million already in existence. Instead of being limited to domain names such as .COM, .ORG, .EDU, etc., businesses can select from literally millions of other options, with extensions such as .NEWS, .LIVE, .ROCKS, .ATTORNEY, .REVIEWS and .VIDEO.
Companies ranging from Apple to Google to Dow Jones to Major League Baseball have embraced the use of new domain extensions, believing that more descriptive and targeted url extensions offer diverse benefits such as better calls to action (CTA) and enhanced brand recall supporting both online and offline marketing initiatives.
One of the newest domains is .FAMILY, which was announced last month and has already been embraced by companies worldwide, including Amazon.com, BMW, Deutsche Telekom, Google, Johnson & Johnson, Tyson Foods, Viacom, and more. And it’s not just brands; people are also buying domains to secure their family name or an easy-to-remember email address for business cards or redirecting to an existing personal website.
And yet many companies are hesitant to take advantage of the opportunity created by new domain extensions, often because they're unaware of their existence or are still unclear of the value they can deliver to businesses and individuals alike. Below I’ve addressed three common questions about new domain extensions that will help you learn more about these new discovery tools and may even have you saying, “the new domain extension opportunity .ROCKS!”
1. I already have a .COM address, why would I need anything else? So much effort goes into selecting a domain name, and if you already have the .COM, that’s great! But what happens when you grow your business, start running ad campaigns, have more competition and need to stand out on mobile and the web? Imagine that you’ve spent thousands of dollars on an ad campaign only to use a bit.ly link or QR code as your CTA. When was the last time you were driving down the highway and remembered a url on a billboard?
This is why Nitro Circus is now using the url nitrocircus.live to take web browsers straight to its tour dates page. You don’t have to create a whole new website; you can simply forward visitors of your new domain to content on your existing .COM and get zero SEO penalty for doing so (see No. 3 below)! New domain extensions enable you to promote your campaign with a playful domain name that illustrates your brand and creates better brand recall and a stronger CTA that should translate into an increased conversion or response rate.
A company’s online presence is often spread across several different platforms. While the nuts and bolts of the business may still live on its primary website, content like blogs, video, photos and other social media are almost always hosted somewhere else. That “somewhere else” usually means the loss of control over the brand, with the company name getting stuck after the slash at www.youtube.com/user/ or www.twitter.com/.
Complementary domains enable businesses to maintain more control over their brands and create a better experience for their customers. “Complementary domains” simply means differentiating the url through the top-level domain (TLD), while keeping the domain name itself static. The Los Angeles Times' web properties are a good example of this strategy, splitting various pages into LATimes.VIDEO, LATimes.SOCIAL and LATimes.NEWS.
2. What's the business value for a brand to invest in new domains? One determinant is whether the domain extension is a branded domain, a relatively new option focused on a company or brand name. For example, Apple has the ability to create iPhone.Apple, instead of iPhone.com. In this case, Apple becomes the domain extension instead of .com, and iPhone becomes the second level domain. This is much more expensive because of the exclusivity aspect, which applies to any domain extension where exclusivity is desired. Still, for large companies or big brands, the opportunity to use the premium brand name as the domain has beneficial implications for both web bots and human searchers alike.
The International Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) summarizes the benefits:
- companies can create shorter and easy-to-remember internet addresses;
- they can intensify brand awareness among consumers, who will be able to access information regarding the company's products and services more easily;
- companies can control and diversify their web presence by creating second-level domains for disparate products and services;
- there's increased security against trademark abuses; and
- new opportunities for website marketing campaigns and strategies become possible.
3. What's the search value of new domains? New domain extensions are a boon to search engine marketing efforts. A controlled pay-per-click marketing study testing the use of different domain names to promote diamond jewelry found that new domain names have a dramatic impact on search engine results. The test compared www.3CaratDiamonds.com to www.3Carat.Diamonds using the same Google AdWords ads and landing pages loaded with search-friendly keywords. The test found that the domain using the .com extension cost twice as much on a CPM basis and was a third less effective in producing conversions than the new domain extension.
Like any relatively new technology, data regarding the impact of new domain extensions is still accumulating. Many early adopters who grasp the ways in which new TLDs and complementary domains can enhance the effectiveness of marketing initiatives are reporting favorably on their experience. New domain extensions are steadily growing, and brands, marketers, individuals, etc., will soon see that these domains are a new part of our online ecosystem.
Bill Glenn is vice president of marketing at Rightside, a provider of domain registration, web hosting and aftermarket domain services.