New gTLDs: have they really accomplished their goals?

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The new gTLDs began launching in 2013. A steady trickle continues, with some still in contention whilst applicants battle for ownership. A second launch is planned, the year 2020 being the latest target. So, did the new gTLDs take over the world? Should .COM feel threatened? Is Elvis still King?

ICANN’s goals

In June 2011, ICANN authorised the launch of the New gTLD Programme. The programme’s goals included enhancing trust online and increasing choice and competition. Plus enabling the benefits of innovation via the introduction of the new gTLDs. Did it achieve its goals?

Enhanced trust?

Strict registration processes, ongoing monitoring, heightened security protocols, and independent validation companies. The new gTLDs like .INSURANCE, .LAW, .PROTECTION, and .BANK are small but powerful domains.

Throw .INSURE, .ATTORNEY and .LAWYER into the mix and there’re more to choose, but what about trust levels? No registration restrictions mean that anyone can register them. You and me, and the dodgy-looking guy next door with sweat stains and a clip-on tie.

The ones with rigorous restrictions will be successful; .INSURANCE, .BANK, .LAW, etc. They may not reach big numbers, but they’re repairing online security and end-users are taking note.

Why did ICANN dilute their message, reducing the credibility of the good domain extensions?

Quality vs Quantity!

Industry-specific and city domains are quality. A plumber registering .PLUMBING, what could be better? I’m opening a restaurant in Oxford Street with a branch in the Champs-Élysées. Now I can register .LONDON and .PARIS – superb!

But so many near-matches! What should a photographer choose .PHOTO, .PHOTOS, .PHOTOGRAPHY, .CAMERA, .PICS, or .PICTURES? Increased choice is great but should we go for .REVIEW or .REVIEWS, .GIFT or .GIFTS, .PROPERTY or .PROPERTIES, .CAREER or .CAREERS, .LOAN or .LOANS?

Maybe ICANN missed the quality over quantity memo!

Competing for the top spot – freebies, discounts…

In their bid to create a fantastic set of figures, some registries have fallen short when it comes to encouraging end-user adoption – a fast profit being their goal. Registries have targeted domainers who park domain names, selling-on once value has increased. There’re new gTLDs that on paper, appear to be doing well. But where are the websites?

Giving away domain names, slashing prices, and stuffing domain names into unwitting customers’ accounts. The massaging of registration figures is prevalent. Some registries have also bought up large numbers of their own products.

dotBrands will spread the word

Some big brands have registered new domain extensions including Apple, Sony, and Amazon. But as yet, they’re not being demonstrative with them. Once they start using them in earnest, general awareness will spread. Credibility and trust will increase.

The .XYZ extension is a strange one. It’s a nonsensical, keyword-free domain. It’s early foray into freebies and huge discounts mean spammers have pounced on it, which has given it a bad rep. But when Google registered, it buzzed. The domain name industry became public news and this can only help the credibility of the new gTLDs.

There are other end-users out there prepared to take the plunge. Young, innovative and technologically savvy, start-ups are using the new gTLDs. Able to get the perfect domain name or loving a challenge, the websites they’re building provide the public-face that the new gTLDs need.

Barefaced blandness – good choice!

It feels like you already know them they’re so familiar. They’re not quirky, funky, funny, or clever. Their genius is their barefaced blandness. Examples include .WEBSITE, .CHAT, .HELP, .HOW, and .LINK. With more to come once they’re out of contention, including .WEB, .BLOG, .SHOP, .APP, .CHARITY, .MUSIC, and .DOCS. I believe, and so do the registries, that they’re good.

Domains in contention generally mean that they’re so tasty, everyone wants a slice. Let’s hope that the registries don’t reserve too many. Or, set extortionate renewal fees to make up for the high prices paid at auction.

The real winners

The true success stories are not about the number of registrations. The real winners are new gTLDs that end-users are registering and building websites round; winners because they’re fit for purpose. They’re used to build websites, not recline on the back shelf waiting to increase in value. They can be considered successful not because they have so many domain names but because they’re promoting the new domains, showing them at work in the real world.

The .BANK domain currently has 3,242 registered domains, compared to .WEBSITE with 168,015. Does this mean .BANK isn’t a success?

City new gTLDs with local presence requirements will level-off. Not because they’re failing but because their audience is set. They’ve chosen to be exclusive, keep their domains true.

The King remains in the building!

End-users don’t care how many domain names a new gTLD boasts, they want to see websites in action. They want to know that it’s safe.

If the new gTLDs are to succeed, to last; the manipulation of registration figures has to stop. It’s devaluing the new gTLDs that are bringing good things to the Internet table.

No, the new gTLDs didn’t take over the world but the good ones are creating niche worlds of their own. I don’t think .COM feels threatened, any more than Elvis did when young usurpers tried to steal his crown. Elvis will always be the King because he was the trailblazer!

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