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Domain Names Overcoming Awareness Gap in Mainstream Media

Jothan Frakes

One of the challenges faced by registries that are launching is that there is a large lack awareness of the new options being available — to browse as internet users or to register a domain.

In a recent survey conducted by the Domain Name Association, (TheDNA) (of which I am a member), people of varying aptitude and experience from the general population of 10 different countries were provided a series of questions about their browsing habits.

The results were that participants had little or no awareness of the new TLDs existing. In addition to that fact, many were unfamiliar with the TLD system in general to know what was or was not a new TLD. When questions would provide options mixed with new and existing TLDs, the responses trended towards new TLDs for cities and products, sometimes exceeding the ccTLD or gTLD most common in that market.

The fact that there was an awareness gap on the new TLDs was not really a surprise to me. There is a lack of awareness in general about domain names — though that is changing subtly. People are growing more aware of domain names, because they use them daily to shop, read news, plan travel, send email, or otherwise engage socially. The awareness has pivoted from being aware of domain names to an awareness of the maturity of the business of domain names.

I saw something that was really interesting to me in expanding the awareness of the new TLDs on television this week. There were new TLD domain names being presented and discussed on one of the largest television shows in the world.

In the USA, one of the longest running and popular television shows is called Wheel of Fortune, and it is a game show that is repeated in many languages with international versions airing globally. As I write this article, I just saw a prize promotion where there was a tour of the Sydney harbor highlighted as a prize under a new TLD name, SYDNEY.BUZZ.

At NamesCon last month, there were a few sessions about marketing TLDs, featuring the .NYC and .CO campaigns, .CLUB's efforts in mainstream, and the efforts of a number of entrepreneurs who see the potential in the new TLDs.

There was a session about domain names from the recent round being featured in the mainstream where things like seeing the new TLDs appear more frequently in various places, organically, had been discussed at length.
Seeing .buzz names featured on Wheel of Fortune, seeing John Oliver poking fun at the URLs that Former Mayor Bloomberg registered on his weekly HBO show, or finding .vegas and .club domains and more in magazine ads and hearing them on radio — these are places that the awareness grows within the general public.

To see in the LA Times travel section — many different sites of registrants of the new TLDs being advertised — not the TLDs, but the people using them and developing them — this is significant. Seeing them advertised on billboards and used in signs in windows and on fences, in taxi windows, and seeing them appearing on letterhead and business cards. It is starting to change.

I recall how email addresses started to gradually appear with increasing frequency on business cards in the early to mid 90's, and how there are few business cards today that are absent one. It was a 'pivot' - towards mainstream.

I suspect we're at the front end of the big changes with domain names — and that we will be seeing more and more 'pivots'.

At the 2015 NamesCon last month, we heard from heavyweight industry participants like GoDaddy, joined by social media celebrities like Ruth McCartney, entertainment promoters, and TLD operators discussing the pivot to mainstream that these new TLDs are starting to experience.

Noticing the Wheel of Fortune .BUZZ names that are happening this and next week only makes me curious about the other watermark and noteworthy changes we will start to see in the coming years.

My compliments to the entrepreneurs who are able to get the names that they want and work with registries in launching these new websites. For those who are watching for it, and who are not entrenched, there are magnificent partnering opportunities with registries and really solid domain name options out there to compliment or enhance sites and services.

So, as I tune in to watch this mind numbing game show with tens of millions of other American households, I will see .BUZZ domain names featured and wonder what the year ahead will bring and build on.

By Jothan Frakes, Domain Name Industry Consultant. More blog posts from Jothan Frakes can also be read here.

Related topics: Domain Names, Top-Level Domains, Web


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Gradual Upward Trajectory Max Menius  –  Feb 06, 2015 4:21 PM PDT

Right now, most of the people aware of new gTLD's are employed in the tech sector or working for internet-based companies. Plus small start-ups and a few savvy professionals in real estate who actively work the net as a marketing tool for their company. The circle of people familiar with new tld's will grow steadily as new online services & companies highlight their move to a more fitting & descriptive gTLD.

I noticed Miami.condos and also Houston.business as two relevant locality-specific examples. The Miami.condos domain is exactly what is represented in the domain name. The Houston.business domain is being forwarded to a Houston-based tech company serving the larger Houston market - so that's also a great use of the domain. I believe in 2015 we'll see the mainstream media start to pick-up on new tld stories and the companies using them.

These new gTLD's offer a much greater degree of logic & clarity when pairing a good keyword (or brand name) with a very relevant tld extension.

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