The term “new gTLD” may have popped up on your radar in the past year or so, and maybe you’re not entirely sure what’s going on (or have a colleague that could use a refresher). What exactly are new gTLDs and what impact will they have? In other words, why should you care about them?

Let’s back up for a second and start at the beginning.

What is a gTLD? What is a ccTLD?

gTLD stands for Generic Top-Level Domain, which is the string to the right of the dot in a URL. You’re probably familiar with the “legacy” gTLDs, for example .COM, .NET, .ORG, and .EDU. ccTLD stands for Country Code Top-Level Domain, for example .CA (Canada), .CO.UK (United Kingdom) and .CN (China).

A “TLD” can refer to either a gTLD or a ccTLD.

What is a “new” gTLD?

Approximately 1,400 new gTLDs – .SUCKS, .LONDON, and .MARRIOTT – are in the process of joining the existing set of gTLDs and ccTLDs.

New gTLDs emerged from a decision at the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) – by allowing anyone with the funds and technical ability to apply for a .WHATEVER, ICANN wanted to encourage innovation and expand the choices of domain names available.

Definitions to know:

  • .GENERIC: .GENERIC gTLDs are new gTLDs in which the TLD string is a generic term, for example .SHOPPING, .PHOTOGRAPHY, or .WEDDING
  • .GEO: .GEO gTLDs are new gTLDs that refer to a specific geographic area, for example, .BERLIN, .PARIS or .LONDON.
  • .BRAND: .BRAND gTLDs are a type of new gTLD that allows corporations to use their corporate and brand names as a top-level domain. Examples of .BRANDs are .GOOGLE, .APPLE, and .WALMART.
  • Open gTLD: An open gTLD makes second-level domains available to the public.
  • Closed gTLD: A closed registry does not make second-level domains available to the public; instead, only the Registry Operator uses the domains in that gTLD.
  • Restricted gTLD: A restricted gTLD provides second-level domains only to specific categories of registrants, according to the policies and guidelines of each gTLD (similar to how .GOV and .EDU operate now).

How do new gTLDs fit into a digital marketing plan?

New gTLDs will create communities of Internet users focused on interests, products, services, and brands.

From brand owners’ perspective, .BRAND gTLDs will create safe, trusted spaces with verifiable authenticity and security to enhance their brand’s reputation on the Internet. From a consumer perspective, .BRAND gTLDs provide a secure user experience and can help reduce the threat of phishing attacks or other malicious activities.

There are some notable differences among the new gTLDs of which you should be aware.

Why do you, as a brand ambassador, need to know about new gTLDs for your own digital marketing plan?

As new gTLDs take their place alongside legacy gTLDs and ccTLDs, we will begin to see brands using both .BRANDs and .GENERICs in their digital marketing plans.

While many companies who applied for their own .BRANDs are taking a wait-and-see approach before really using them, there are other companies that intend to stay ahead of the game and start hosting content on their .BRAND sites. At our Beyond the Dot conference on January 21st, Marriott announced the launch of nic.Marriott, noting that its corporate strategy would include testing uses for .MARRIOTT in 2015. Other brands that already dipping their toes into their .BRANDs are BMW (nic.BMW) and IBM (nic.IBM).

.BRANDs are just one part of a digital marketing plan when it comes to new gTLDs. Some companies have decided to use .GENERICs to develop their brand’s image online.

Last month, brandchannel.com featured an article on Quiksilver, the world’s biggest surf wear brand, and its sister brand Roxy’s campaign to use .SURF to develop their brand presence. The new domain names will be product and service specific, with domain names like wetsuits.surf and boardshorts.surf pointing to specific products and events.surf and quik.surf directing consumers to marketing and social media efforts.

Are you ready to talk about what’s best for your brand’s digital marketing plan?

Josh Bourne

Josh Bourne

Managing Partner at FairWinds Partners
A Managing Partner for the business, Josh draws on his experience with brands and blogs on business solutions for the domain name space.
Josh Bourne
What are New gTLDs and Why Do They Matter for a Digital Marketing Plan?

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