Last week ICANN released documents regarding more than 1000 new internet "top level domains". A top level domain is simply the ".com" or ".co.uk" part of the web address you type in when finding a website, but what is so radical about these new top level domains (TLDs) is that they could be a brand name, general product or service.
For example if Amazon were to secure ".amazon" for their entire site, instead of going to www.amazon.co.uk/kindle
, you could instead visit kindle.amazon. Another example would be a broader TLD such as ".hotel" which could lead to website domains such as manchester.hotel or knutsford.hotel.
What is really interesting is that ICANN will only allow one entity to secure each TLD, meaning that if any companies have applied for the same TLD, they will have to decide which company is more deserving through copyrights and brand. One such example of this is ".app" which both Amazon and Google have applied for... along with 11 other companies
Despite only one entity being able to own each TLD, it doesn't necessarily mean that companies won't be able to use them. In fact, US company donuts.co has big ideas for the 307 top level domains that they've applied for. It might be a good time to let you know that each and every application cost $180,000 (approximately £116,000) and every successful application will be charged a yearly renewal rate of $25,000 (£16,000)
As donuts.co has applied for 307 TLDs, it brings their bill so far
to $55,260,000 (£36m). It remains to be seen whether their strategy will pay off; they've applied for broader TLDs such as ".agency", ".cafe" and ".style" but they are competing with other companies for many of them. Their website says
they are bringing hundreds of new TLD options to market to help people, businesses, families and causes to tell the world what they do.
Could this lead to many smaller companies "renting space" of the TLD from the owner so they can achieve a more targeted domain (such as fabric.agency)? It's hard to predict how the average person browsing the web would respond as there would be so many permutations between the brand and non-brand TLDs. Even with relatively few TLDs now people often forget whether the site they want is ".com" or ".co.uk"!
Some of the brand TLD applications from Britain include:
- Barclays Bank PLC: .BARCLAYCARD, .BARCLAYS
- BBC: .BBC
- Bentley Motors Limited: .BENTLEY
- The Boots Company PLC: .BOOTS
- Guardian News and Media Limited: .GDN, .OBSERVER, .GUARDIAN, .GUARDIANMEDIA, .THEGUARDIAN
- HSBC Holdings PLC: .HSBC
- ITV Services Limited: .ITV
- Jaguar Cars Limited: .JAGUAR
- Land Rover: .LANDROVER
- Lipsy Ltd: .LIPSY
- Next PLC: .NEXT, .NEXTDIRECT
- Orange Brand Services Limited: .ORANGE
- Swiftcover Insurance Services Limited: .SWIFTCOVER
- William Hill Organization Limited: .WILLIAMHILL
What does this mean for you?
The latest documents from ICANN
simply show the entities that have applied for unique TLDs, not whether they have been successful. The process to decide this will happen in batches due to the sheer number of applications; it is anticipated that this could take at least 18 months.
When all the final decisions have been made, we may begin to see non-brand TLDs such as ".agency" and ".cafe" being advertised on domain registration sites next to the ones we use today, although it is presently unknown how much these domains are likely to cost.
Therefore there is nothing you need to do at this time, but you might want to think about whether your brand would suit a more targeted TLD in the future, helping your customers to identify exactly which market you're in. This could work well for companies with names that are born out of their given names, such as many estate agencies, solicitor firms and dentists. Having "johnwood.apartments", "bethprior.solictors" or "dennismiller.dentistry" would immediately categorise the business.
We'll keep you updated as we hear about successful applications; it'll certainly be interesting to see which companies win the rights when competition is so fierce.