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Framing New gTLDs' Marketing Message

Alex Tajirian

In an earlier essay, I outlined a focused, cooperative marketing strategy that would be a first step for marketing new gTLDs. After that first initiative, gTLD registries' marketing strategy must focus on the complementarities between .com, and new neutral (such as .global and .web) and branding and labeling gTLDs. The legacy domains and the newcomers can work together nicely. If we don't realize this, all Internet users will lose out.

Unfortunately, registries of new gTLDs are less focused on improving the Internet's domain name navigation system than on founding a new global Internet world. The registries' current marketing message is unnecessarily divisive; it should be framed as complementary to .com and future competitors to .com. A registry that pioneers such a message would win greater credibility in the eyes of Internet users and also increase the credibility of the new gTLDs program. This would force other registries to follow with similar messages or lose credibility themselves, with the risk that irked stakeholders would spark conflict leading to everyone's financial downfall.

When viewed as complementary, all gTLDs would go up in value; looking at them as substitutes would be lose-lose. The complementary view gives additional credence to a focused and cooperative marketing regime, whereby gTLD registries, registrants, and Internet users win.

One of the dubious arguments by the new gTLD camp is that the younger generation is more likely to accept new gTLDs. But these kids may well ask why Google, Facebook, Snapchat, and a list of popular apps are all .com domains. We shouldn't pollute their minds as to which is better. Let them decide if .com makes sense and when. Their decision will be influenced by quality of content (relevant information and website user-friendliness), not by old vs. new or branding vs. labeling. They may associate use of new competitors for .com with branding, or they may mix and match new gTLDs for both purposes. Nevertheless, alienating them might accelerate their desire to develop new technologies for screening the quality of content, as well as alternative Internet navigation tools that result in social benefits.

However, you cannot blame only the registries for divisiveness. This conflict is fueled by pundits and domainers on both sides of the debate, who have self interest in maintaining their positions, which are not necessarily based on analytics. For example, some of the .com domainers have price illusion, in that they look at the absolute price of their domain names instead of returns. For example, investment return on a new gTLD can be over 50% when it is hard these days to achieve such returns on financial investments in .com.

Thus, the domain name industry's message should be win-win for all gTLDs, .com and new.

By Alex Tajirian, CEO at DomainMart
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