The internet is a universe unto itself, and like our own universe, it is ever expanding and evolving. As a result of this expansion, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) has rolled out a lot of new generic top-level domains (gTLD) in recent years. The ICANN is an organization sets the benchmark for a global standard in internet communication. While simultaneously creating the structure for upholding and promoting a competitive environment for domain-name registration.
In recent years, gTLDs have gone beyond the .com box and new more brand-centred domain extensions have been born. These include, .shop, .team, .app and .media to name a few.
As the use of these new domain names became higher in frequency, ICANN understood the need for new gTLDs. This program would enable the continued progression and competitive nature of the domain name space.
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What are the new gTLDs?
As aforementioned, gTLD stands for generic top-level domain which simply put is the domain name extension used in web addresses. There are a lot of recognisable and trusted gTLDs like .com, .net, and .org. The last three years, specifically since 2015 the program has thrived and many other gTLDs have started to be used. These new gTLDs enable website owners to have a variety of domain extensions that speak to their brand’s message. For example, if you started a website for your popular Podcast you could opt to purchase the .media gTLD from your hosting provider to illustrate what your website is about. There are thousands of new gTLDs on the market today with the hope for much more in the future.
The Standardisation of gTLDs by ICANN
To maintain a quality of standard for new gTLDs, ICANN enacted a criterion that was contractual and allowed for allocation in 2008. This also extended to ensuring apprehensions about intellectual property, DNS stability, and consumer protection were adequately addressed.
With the publishing of a Guidebook in 2011 that offered thorough and pertinent information and education about future gTLD registration, ICANN received a remarkable response with almost 2,000 new applications in January 2012 once registration began. A year later, ICANN’s selection of new gTLDs solidified the future of these domain names.
This standardisation of gTLDs leads to exponential growth globally with over nine million domain names being registered within the new gTLD program. Over 200 domain registrars around the globe offer hundreds of new gTLDs for distribution. A shift in focus now has been placed on promoting global acceptance of these new TLDs and addressing user issues.
While the unveiling of new gTLDs has been slow and systematic to ensure consistency, accuracy and high-quality standards, there is a myriad of advantages in using a TLD that fits your business niche and speaks to your brand’s identity.
Let’s discuss them.
Advantages of Choosing a New gTLD
- TLDs have emerged as a strategic element of marketing and branding.
- Emerging Trends with TLDs
- Greater Availability of Domain Names for Purchase
- Continued Evolution
TLDs: A Strategic Element of Marketing and Branding
Remember that example from earlier of the Podcast Website using .media as its TLD extension? Well, one of the most advantageous elements of gTLDs is the marketing and branding opportunity that helps connect your business with your target audience.
This evolution in TLDs enables businesses to choose a domain extension that fits perfectly with their niche, one that identifies their industry, product and brand.
Let’s consider another example. Perhaps you’re an app developer that has just created a revolutionary App that is going to change the lives of your target audience. You want your prime piece of internet real estate so that you can offer downloads, upgrades, host a blog and engage with your audience. When purchasing your domain name from a trusted hosting provider instead of being trapped in the .com box you could opt for the .app gTLD that automatically informs your audience of who you are; yourrevolutionaryapp.app.
There is still a bit of scepticism with companies on using new gTLDs due to doubts on SEO performance, they are becoming more and more recognized for their branding importance.
Using the .shop gTLD seems logical if you own an e-commerce store or even more precise a .store gTLD.
Is your website community driven and requires membership? Why not purchase a .club gTLD to inform your audience of your brand’s function and purchase.
Consider how consumers would benefit from seeing gTLDs that were relevant to industries and more memorable when searching for new products and services.
With steady growth in popularity of gTLDs, new trends continue to emerge ensuring the continued use going forward into the future.
In 2016, China contributed significantly to the growth of gTLD registrations. As more Chinese business come online they have attributed 37% of the global registration of new gTLDs.
Globally recognised brands like Sony, Samsung, Google and Apple have all launched their own new gTLDs. This initiative will further expand their brand’s reach and to increase their visibility on the global online market. Google’s abc.xyz and Apple’s .NEWS are great examples of how new gTLDs can and are being used. Apple’s exponential growth of its .NEWS gTLD has a whopping 40 million users.
Greater Availability for Domain Name Purchases
As new gTLDs continue to gain traction on the market it enables and opens domain marketplace up to increased availability. Now there are more options for choosing a domain name even if it is already taken under another extension.
These new gTLDs allow new website owners to step outside of the .com box. It encourages them to explore domain extensions that better speak to their brand and offer built-in marketing. Greater availability for domain purchases means a continual evolution across the internet.
As more information and statistics emerge about new gTLDs we will continue to see the mainstreaming and growth of their use; which will directly translate to using gTLDs to enhance marketing and brand strategies for businesses across the globe. ICANN will continue to re-evaluate the standards and use of new gTLD. They plan to implement new application rounds (expected in 2019-2020), ensuring the standards to further the evolution and shaping of the domain industry.