Did New-GTLDs Start off on the Wrong Foot?

04/15/2017 03:52 pm ET

Did new-GTLDs start off on the wrong foot from the beginning? In a country where everybody travels by bus, launching a different but inferior bus may get some business, but launching a car is almost certainly going to be more successful...

The first wave of home computer users often talk the days of MS-DOS and the terrible “8.3” file name structure that everybody was bound to. Imagine the relief when Windows came along and gave files names that humans could find useful. The Internet was very much the same. Before ICANN introduced the first wave of new-GTLDs, all top-level domains looked like geeky computer code. While new-GTLDs gave web developers the chance to move away from that, was the opportunity really seized?

Let's get back to the core principles of marketing: if people can say it, they can remember it, and if they can remember it, they can tell their friends about it. With that in mind it seems odd that phrase-based domain names aren't already the universal standard.

The New Wave of GTLDs

Dot-CLUB is one of the more successful of the new-GTLDs. But its hard not to feel as though www.Get.Club have missed a trick when they could have gone with something more meaningful and memorable like Join.the.Club.

While new phrased-based domain names are yet to achieve the same level of authority and prestige as the traditional .COM, we are starting to see some interesting new start-ups populating this territory. For example, UK-based company, Names.of.London, along with their brand Phrases.for.Sale, are using the ubiquitous three-word-phrase as a business opportunity to carve out an innovative marketplace for new-GTLDs.

With domain names like, Just.for.Men, City.of.London, Mayor.of.London and Week.of.Fashion, they have identified a unique method of utilizing new-GTLDs for marketing. According to their website:

“At their simplest they work like a web-shortener, redirecting people to some existing web content or a website. While at their most complex they can work in the same way as any other dot-COM domain name. They are perfect for bridging people from real-world material (television/radio/posters) to online content.”

For example, the phrase "Watches.for.Men" could be added to the bottom of a poster for a specific man's watch instead of the dot-COM domain name. Therefore, instead of expecting potential customers to visit the front page, which may advertise hundreds of watches, they can be redirected to the exact model. In addition, these natural language phrases work in any browser, and are automatically clickable on Twitter.

Here are some other examples: Gifts.for.Men, Ladies.of.Fashion, Taste.of.London, Trucks.for.Sale, Two.for.One, Wine.for.Sale, Fitness.for.Men, Photos.of.London, Week.of.Fashion, Search.by.City, Ride.into.Town.

The Ever-Changing Marketplace

The first significant shift in the GTLD marketplace occurred during the 2015 Las Vegas NamesCon event, which held an auction for over 100 high-profile domain names. Auctions have long-since provided a way to clarify the monetary value of a domain name, and the results of the event showed that there was a clear and steady decline in the demand and worth of the dot-COM suffix. For example, the prestigious SexEducation.com sold for a whopping $120,000 in 2006, yet only sold for $23,000 in 2015. Of the other dot-COM domains on offer 55 percent never hit their reserve price.

However, most surprisingly, one of the flagship sales went to Wine.Club, which sold for a whopping $140,000, shining light on the potential of newer suffixes. Interestingly, during the NamesCom auction the number of dot-CLUB domain names that didn't reach their reserve price was lower than the number of dot-COMs. This debunked the myth that new-GTLDs didn't have a viable place in the market, and since then, they have been gaining more and more traction among buyers and new business owners.

Whether or not phrase-based domain names will gain a seat at the table, only time will tell. However, one thing they do show us is that new-GTLDs no longer have to be second best to dot COM. A unique selling point of the new-GLTDs, over dot-COM, is that a domain name can become a relevant and memorable key-phrase, offering huge potential– surely selling to your uniqueness is Chapter-1, Page-1 of the Encyclopedia of Marketing?

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