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Getting gTLDs Into the Marketing Mix

For those of us in the domain space, the hype and fanfare in the years leading up to new gTLDs was loud and pervasive. As early as 2010 or 2011, we saw news of their impending launch propagating through marketing and advertising publications, and even popping up on occasion in mainstream press. Yet somewhere along the way (perhaps in the confusion over procedure, dates and deadlines that seemed to plague the process), we seem to have lost the attention of a group vital to the implementation of the new extensions—marketers.

In a way, the success or failure of gTLDs hinges on the adoption of these new extensions by the marketers, advertisers and PR teams of major—and even not so major—brands. These are the people that have the power to get new domains names in front of consumers and ultimately encourage Internet surfers to use different extensions as they navigate the web.

Today, millions of new gTLDs have been registered, but those in marketing or related roles are still largely in the dark. The problem is not lack of justification for the new gTLDs, it’s lack of awareness and education. In May 2014, my company—domain marketplace and monetization provider Sedo—conducted a survey that revealed some surprising results that speak to this lack of understanding:

  • More marketers in the U.S. were unaware that the new gTLDs had begun to launch (43%) than those that were aware (40%).
  • Only 6% of marketers had purchased a domain name with a new gTLD, and an additional 9% had considered a purchase. 41% said they would consider it, but needed more information.
  • 58% of marketers reported that the biggest problem facing the introduction of new TLDs is confusion, while an additional 16% said lack of awareness that they’re available is an issue.
  • 91% of marketers did not understand the difference between the Sunrise, Landrush and General Availability phases of a new gTLD.

We truly saw this information gap in action at dmexco 2014 —the largest European digital marketing exposition and conference—which took place mid-September in Cologne, Germany. From the moment we registered Sedo as an exhibitor at the event, there was some confusion as to which category we should be put under for the event’s exhibitor listing. Though more than 800 exhibitors registered, we were the only domain company. In the end, the coordinators decided to create a new category for us—one that we expect to grow as gTLD awareness grows in the coming years.

During the conference itself, we broke the ice with the 32,000 international attendees by offering frozen yogurts with toppings named for gTLDs such as .sexy, .club, .trade and .email. While choosing their topping combinations of gTLDs, many of the attendees said it was the first time they were hearing that these aren’t just fun names, they are real domain extensions new to the market and available for them to snatch up for their businesses. And many of them saw the value immediately.

Jodie Chamberlain, one of the many domain industry experts with us at the event said it well: “While dmexco participants were knowledgeable about traditional domain endings, I’d say that 90% of them never heard of the new gTLDs. But they were online marketers, so it just took seconds for them to understand what opportunities new gTLDs can bring them.”

As the United States’ high-profile marketing and advertising event—Advertising Week in New York City—came to a close last Thursday, it was hard not to notice that gTLDs were once again missing from the conversation. Though the vast majority of marketers believe that their company’s domain name is important to the business (93%, according to our May survey), the discourse on domains is suprisingly lacking.

From the most basic questions, such as “what makes for a ‘good’ domain name?” to the more complex questions on the inner workings of the new gTLDs, we need to raise the profile of domain names and extensions in the marketing community. Not only will this help those invested in the domain name system to succeed, it will also help businesses develop their domain strategy to stay competitive, and enable consumers to take advantage of a more organized Internet with more memorable domain names as we move into the digital future.

By Semra Körner, Manager Global PR & Communication at Sedo

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This is a very good and well-written Thomas Lenz  –  Oct 7, 2014 11:51 AM

This is a very good and well-written article. Hopefully it can also be found in other online and offline magazines and newspapers that the marketing community reads. And thank you, Solomon, for introducing a European view with your experiences from dmexco 2014.

The introduction of the New gTLDs unveiled a stunning lack of awareness of domains in general. Domains have never before been marketed as products. The industry has created the perception of “domain = website” instead of emphasizing the important role of a domain name and the address behind it as the anchor / starting point for each sustainable online presence and communication, and for the protection of brands, products and services.

But awareness is growing, not at the speed of light, but growing!

Besides the marketing community, we also need to raise the profile of domain names in all these enduser communities. They need to understand that there are unknown opportunities lying in these new endings, be it for corporate communications or additional differentiation in the global marketplace. Their increasing awareness will create need and growing demand for their marketing partners.

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