ICANN's new gTLD program was designed in part to boost innovation. The thinking was: give people the canvas and let them paint in new and fascinating ways, with no set direction… and paint they will. Now that the new gTLD dream has become reality, new uses and business models are already emerging to prove this theory correct.
One of the industries in which new gTLD innovation is making itself felt is traditional advertising. This is a sector that has been turned upside down by the Internet revolution of the last decade. Traditional advertising has, and is still, changing so fast that just keeping up with evolving trends is almost impossible.
So the bad news for traditional advertising executives the world over is that the launch of scores of new gTLDs is another major trend they will have to contend with. But there is also good news: this trend may actually work in their favour!
Reinventing traditional advertising
There's a specific type of new gTLD that will prove an extremely valuable asset to those looking to run at the forefront of advertising trends. We call them AdDomains (广告域名), a significant number of which are likely to be IDN domains. Because they are the perfect bridge between new technology and secular cultures, IDN new gTLDs are going to prove extremely powerful to an advertising industry that has been looking for effective ways to reach new markets and consumers.
These new advertising techniques will make full use of the increased targeting that the new gTLD program delivers. The age of the .COM "umbrella address" is coming to an end. Users are getting a lot more signposts to help them navigate the information superhighway. And thanks to IDNs, those signposts will no longer be in a foreign language, forcing them to understand foreign cultural references. New "AdDomains" will be tailored to suit users, not the other way around!
A TLD like ".世界", which my company Stable Tone has applied for and which translates to "dot.world", is designed to reap the full benefits of AdDomains and is part of this new trend in which the domain ecosystem adapts to its users, rather than forcing them to accept its limitations. Advertising using this new generation of web addresses holds several advantages over those using traditional web addresses. AdDomains are the coming of age of the advertising industry!
Respecting cultural specificities
Actually enabling users so that they can read and reproduce what they are being asked to type to get to a website is part of the IDN technological revolution. But by its very meaning, ".世界" domains brings an additional layer of innovation.
For Latin character brands, advertising to Chinese consumers is currently not that simple. Brands end up basically having to run two identities, one based on the original ASCII script and one on its Chinese script. With ".世界" domains, brands will get access to a term that means something to their target audience, and is in their native script.
Latin web addresses are actually much harder to read for Chinese speakers than many westerners realize. An address like MercesdesBenz.com may look obvious to English speakers, but to the car maker's Chinese audience, it's not. On the other hand, the IDN address "奔驰.世界" (MercedesBenz.World) is instantly recognizable to them. It's also better suited to their culture, where the term "world" is effective in projecting the strong image of a global brand.
Speaking to people in their own language helps them understand what you're saying. Sounds obvious. Yet on the Web and on traditional advertising containing web addresses, that kindergarten level logic has long been ignored. Now, with IDN TLDs such as ".世界", brands will be able to use domain as true signposts.
For example, BMW has applied for its own TLD. So dealers could soon be able to use SanfranciscoPaulSmith.BMW instead of SanfranciscoPaulSmithBMW.com to get ever closer to their client base. But the same concept doesn't translate directly for the Chinese market. An address like BeijingjingZunbaocheng.BMW is just too long for the average Chinese consumers including savvy internet users. Should BMW use "北京尊宝成宝马.世界"(BeijingZunbaochengBMW.world) instead, they get a fully readable signpost to every consumer for their local dealership. Plus the IDN address will seem much more professional to those consumers. So combining the technological advances the new gTLD program brings with the AdDomain concept helps clear a simpler, more direct path between BMW and its Chinese audience.
Big data crunching
Because AdDomains empower brands to connect more effectively with their target audiences, they can also provide powerful analysis mechanisms.
For example, should BMW decide to allocate localized AdDomains to all the dealerships of a given province in China, the number of hits those domains get can then be measured. This means the effectiveness of each AdDomain in serving a given dealership's client base can be ascertained. So can the effects of national promotion or traditional advertising campaigns. This can be measured on a dealer by dealer basis, which will help the brand refine its service offering and presence where it counts: on the ground!
For brands, using AdDomains in this way ultimately means they have more control over their distribution networks and more effective ways of measuring the impact of their promotional campaigns.
Promoting core brand values
ASCII web addresses don't only force basic language limitations on users and brands alike, they also eclipse the deeper values that, in the Chinese culture for example, some characters or words represent.
No traditional web address ending in .COM or .NET can carry the same meanings to Chinese consumers that IDN new gTLDs can. Even if a brand attempts to define the values it is striving to highlight by including them in a standard ASCII URL, they risk not connecting with their Chinese audiences in the way they'd like to. A domain like TechnologyAudi.com will simply not convey the same values of innovation on a global scale that "科技奥迪.世界"(TechnologyAudi.world) can. To Chinese audiences, the AdDomain will be instantaneous to read, and the values it carries will be easy to grasp for them.
As another example, for brands today, emphasizing technological prowess can be just as important as showing respect for environmental values. To the Chinese, a standard address like GreenMercesdesBenz.com doesn't say nearly as much as an AdDomain like "绿色奔驰.世界"(GreenMercesdesBenz.world). Once again, AdDomains offer brands a more powerful solution.
Bringing order to chaos
Global brands can have so much happening at the same time that it quickly becomes impossible for their customers to follow. Filtering out events that are either too far away geographically, or too far removed culturally, can help bring into focus what's directly relevant to a local audience.
Brands are forced to run many websites. Some are corporate, some are aimed at precise regions or languages, and some are product or service specific. AdDomains will provide global brands with a more precise tool to cut through the background noise at a time when consumers have less and less time, and shorter and shorter attention spans.
Here an AdDomain serves as a scalpel where the previous generation of web addresses was at best blunt instruments. For example, a charity campaign aimed by Coca Cola at the Chinese market will be much better signposted by "慈善可口可乐.世界"(charitycocacola.world) than by a CharityCocaCola.com address.
Clearly, the ability of AdDomains to shake up traditional advertising methods will be strongly felt as IDN New gTLDs come online and start to revolutionize the way non-ASCII users interact with major brands on the Internet.
Advertising yearly spend runs into the hundreds of billion dollars. Those brands that are the quickest to grasp the potential of AdDomains to refine their advertising stand to make huge savings whilst at the same time getting far ahead of competitors who do not use this new advertising technology to the full.
By Jason Du, CEO，Stable Tone Limited (点世界品牌科技)
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