Most people are in a “let’s wait and see” mode when it comes to new TLDs and it’s an attitude I don’t understand. As far as I’m concerned, the effects of new TLDs are fairly predictable, not exactly rocket science. If you want to find out how I think new TLDs will affect dot coms and the other extensions, read on:
Dot Brand vs. Dot Keyword
It’s important to understand that there will be two main categories of new TLDs. On the one hand, we’ll have “dot brand” TLDs such as .apple or .IBM and on the other hand, we’ll have “dot keyword” TLDs such as .music.
Now there’s a HUGE difference between the two when it comes to the goals of the people behind them. The people behind dot brands will not be interested in convincing random folks to register domains, they are simply interested in the branding effect of owning a vanity TLD. On the other hand, the folks behind dot keywords will probably (assuming they’re not billionaires who are only doing it for fun) want to run a profitable business, in other words make more from registrations and renewals than they spend keeping the TLD alive.
Let’s analyze both of them and their impact on the domaining industry:
“Oh noes, all businesses will apply for their own TLD rather than go after the dot com!”… yeah right! In case you didn’t know, the costs of running your own TLD will be quite restrictive, so anyone with half a brain will realize that only huge businesses can afford their very own dot brand.
If you’re the owner of “Dan’s Car Dealership” which operates in Chicago, does going after your own TLD make financial sense? Why spend six figures initially and then a lot of money each year in order to keep your TLD alive when you can just buy a domain like ChicagoCars.com for a lot less and only pay a few dollars each year (literally) in order to keep it? And let’s not forget that running a registry will be a lot more complicated than simply signing up for an account at a major registrar, a process which takes a minute or so.
Will some huge brands spend millions promoting their dot brand TLDs? Yes, some will and the result will be that consumers will pick up on the fact that there are a LOT of TLDs these days fairly quickly.
- Will this affect the value of dot coms? Nope, in my opinion it won’t because think about it. Over the years, billions upon billions of dollars have been spent promoting dot coms and money talks. Which sites do consumers love? YouTube, Google, FaceBook, Twitter and so on. What do they have in common? They all have a “com” at the right of the dot. So in my opinion no, the small islands of marketing efforts (remember, each company will promote its own TLD: Apple will promote .apple, IBM might promote .IBM and so on) will have no affect on the value of dot coms. It’s a millions (the amount a huge brand will probably spend on marketing) vs. billions (the amount spent promoting dot coms) thing.
- Will this affect the value of ccTLDs? Nope, for the same reasons outlined above (small islands of marketing efforts will not “kill” something as huge as a country’s ccTLD) but on a smaller scale.
- Will this affect the value of existing TLDs? As always, money talks. Some TLDs will gain traction, some won’t. Yes, new TLDs will make it harder for existing ones to gain traction but there’s no “one size fits all” answer to this question.
Now as opposed to dot brands, dot keyword TLD owners will run their registry as a business and, naturally, everyone wants to make money. As mentioned previously, it’s all a matter of money and eyeballs.
What do most people see when looking at billboards which feature a domain? They see the dot com TLD in most cases. What do they notice when they take a look at their bookmarked sites? They’ll notice that most of them are dot coms.
What do they notice when they deal with their ISP? They’ll notice that quite a few companies like comcast or cox use a dot net domain. What do they notice when they analyze the charities and organizations they support? They will notice that quite a few of them use a .org.
It’s all about exposure and exposure costs money. I gave you three examples of TLDs which receive lots of exposure but what about others such as .ws? How many people visit dot ws sites? Not a lot unfortunately and that’s what will make or break a TLD.
The principle will be the same for both existing and new TLDs: if enough people have adopted your TLD and are using their money to promote it (billboards and whatever), you’re on the right track. If not, too bad.
No, the Sky Is Not Falling
Forums are always flooded with “the sky is falling” threads but they should be labeled as “noise” and nothing more IMO. Take information from as many sources as possible but use your own brain and don’t just blindly accept the “facts” others feed you.
[sarcasm] Of course, I could be wrong so it might be a good idea to sell all of your high traffic one-word dot coms while you still can. Out of the goodness of my heart, I’ll gladly help you by offering 1x yearly rev for all of your one-word dot coms, you know where to find me [/sarcasm]