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We're Asking the Wrong Questions

Jeffrey Sass

In my role as CMO of .CLUB I get to speak about domain names at different events all over the world, and have been doing so for more than two years now. From stages and podiums at countless events I have heard the same comments and questions again and again, and in all that time it seems that very little has changed when it comes to the perceptions of the new domain extensions, the so-called "new gTLDs" (an awful moniker, by the way, that is most likely meaningless and confusing to the people who actually register and use domain names).

The story so far has been fairly predictable: registries that "own" the names and the registrars that "sell" the names are optimistic, and many businesses and domain investors that are deeply rooted in the "legacy" domains are pessimistic and openly "poo poo" the new. Consumers and businesses, save for a few million that have gladly registered a name with a new extension, are largely uncommitted to the debate and simply register names that make sense to them if they happen to discover them and they are affordable based on their individual budgets.

The truth is, as we enter the second year of life for the early released new top level domains, awareness of the availability of all these new extensions primarily remains inside our industry, dare I say within our little domain industry "club." Sure, when a customer visits a registrar to find a domain name for themselves or their business they may encounter some of the new domains as an option to consider, but which name and in what context it is presented may vary widely from registrar to registrar, and sometimes without much explanation. With so many potential choices now, it has been a creative and business challenge for registrars to merchandise and recommend domain names in ways that are simple and intuitive to the customer.

These are just some of the challenges we all face, but they are the growing pains of introducing a veritable tsunami of new extensions into an ecosystem that has long been dominated by one and a relatively small group of alternative choices. These are also the challenges of any startup or entrepreneurial business introducing a new product that represents a market expansion.

I find it odd that so many are so quick to judge startups in the domain name industry against a much higher standard than startups in other industries. In the tech world, would anyone complain if a new company was not yet profitable just nine or ten months after product launch? In the tech world, would anyone question a reasonably funded startup that follows an aggressive customer acquisition strategy, building a user base before worrying too much about the revenue base? Yet, in our "tech" industry, where many if not most of the new domain registries are indeed startups, we constantly read articles bemoaning the failure of the new domains because registries are not profitable, or are spending too much (or too little) to market their new product(s). Perhaps we should consider giving startups in the domain name space the same multi-year grace periods to grow their business and user base that would be afforded a new product launch in other tech sectors.

As for the questions alluded to in the headline, at nearly every domain industry event I have attended, people ask "Why are the new domain extensions better than .Com or .Net? They want to know "How are the new domain extensions different than .Com?" But I think these are the wrong questions. The wrong focus. The success of the new domain extension program, and really, the success of the domain name industry as a whole, is not based on a battle between .Com and .EverythingElse.

The real question that should be asked (and answered) is "How can we make sure that every individual and business on the Internet is able to easily find the best domain name for them?" "How can we ensure that everyone can find the perfect domain for themselves or their business?" These are the questions that matter. It's not .Club vs. .Guru or .Com vs. .wiki. It's all top level names collaborating to create an environment for the end-user to have a great experience and find a domain name they can love. A domain name that resonates with them on an emotional level, that makes them happy, and proud to tell everyone their URL. What extension will fulfill that dream will be different for each and every registrant, but when they succeed in finding that perfect name we all win. Why question it?

By Jeffrey Sass, Chief Marketing Officer, .CLUB Domains. More blog posts from Jeffrey Sass can also be read here.

Related topics: Domain Names, Top-Level Domains

 
   

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Comments

The real question that should be asked Alex Tajirian  –  Feb 06, 2015 2:18 PM PDT

The real question that should be asked (and answered) is "How can we make sure that every individual and business on the Internet is able to easily find the best domain name for them?" "How can we ensure that everyone can find the perfect domain for themselves or their business?"

The answer is relatively easy, if, as you do, ignore costs, i.e., ROI!

Thanks for the comment Alex. Can Jeffrey Sass  –  Feb 07, 2015 12:17 AM PDT

Thanks for the comment Alex.  Can you elaborate?  Not sure I follow. :-)

Jeffrey - The cost of gTLD acquisition Alex Tajirian  –  Feb 07, 2015 11:45 AM PDT

Jeffrey - The cost of gTLD acquisition and/or rebranding is not mentioned in your post! You say that “every individual and business on the Internet is able to easily find the best domain name for them” You ignore the fact that the same domain name can be “best” for more than one company! (A one-to- two relationship that is impossible to mathematically satisfy without additional constraints.) Your argument is no different than SEO companies promising you top ranking, which is impossible to achieve.

Alex, thanks for clarifying. I think Jeffrey Sass  –  Feb 07, 2015 5:38 PM PDT

Alex, thanks for clarifying.  I think we are talking about different things.  When I talk about a business or an individual finding the best domain name for them, it has nothing to do with re-branding, and the cost is what it is - there are domain name choices at all price levels, from $1.00 (or less) to millions. They are already looking for a domain, perhaps for the first time, for a new idea.  They should have great options to pick a name that they believe works best for them, for whatever reason, and according to their budget.  And, frankly, it is not new gTLD-centric.  If the perfect name for a customer is an available .com name or .whatever, if they are happy with it that's great.  Of course the same domain name can be the "best" for more than one company.  Just like the house for sale may be "perfect" for more than one family, but only one family gets to own it at any one time.  Thanks again for chiming in.

Jeffrey,Thank you for the insightful article. .Club Thomas A Gilles  –  Feb 07, 2015 10:59 PM PDT

Jeffrey,

Thank you for the insightful article. .Club is making great progress in enabling registrants to own the perfect address that suits them. Congratulations.

In regard to “New gTLDs” as an awful moniker, I wholly agree. Perhaps consumers might find New “Dots” to be a more relatable descriptor. “New” invokes excitement and freshness, and the New gTLDs are all “dot-Somethings”.

In regard to the questions, "How can we make sure that every individual and business on the Internet is able to easily find the best domain name for them?" "How can we ensure that everyone can find the perfect domain for themselves or their business?"

I think a logical first step would be to make consumers fully aware of their options.

nic.club could have information about all the new domain options, for instance. Or, maybe someone should ask Versign to include all the new extensions in their current “Make Your Idea #InternetOfficial” $35,000 cash giveaway contest?

Those are just a couple of ideas. Maybe others can think of different methods to serve the best interest of registrants.

Thomas, thanks for your kind remarks. Jeffrey Sass  –  Feb 09, 2015 9:13 PM PDT

Thomas, thanks for your kind remarks.  The "new dots" is a nice idea.  :-) Like you, I hope there will be more collaboration between registries to help raise overall awareness.  Thanks again for the comment.

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