The Next Evolution Of Domain Names

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) recently closed the applications submission period for Top Level Domains or gTLD’s. As the council is currently in the reviewing process, Internet users are left to ponder on the fate of the Internet. It is projected that in 2013 common domain names like .net and .gov will soon be forced to compete with .lol and .whatever, ultimately pushing the boundaries of the Internet and the online experience. Businesses, large and small, flocked at the chance to gain rights to domain names as future investments and marketing ventures in the efforts of expanding and protecting their brand.

It was reported that Google submitted the most applications, approximately 101, vying for obvious names such as .google, .android and .youtube. The corporation also took a chance on .blog .book .soy and .boo. Amazon applied for 76 names including .search .wow .video and .kindle. Some brands applied for names solely for brand protection, rather than apply for a slew of domain names. For example, Apple and Microsoft opted for obvious choices like .microsoft and .apple. Majority of applicants view this as an opportunity to rejuvenate brand marketing creativity and innovation. Brands intend on implementing the domains into marketing strategies to promote and foster consumer engagement. There is a great deal of buzz and speculation surrounding the bids and the process itself – but not everyone or every business is buying into it.

A few brave brands have withdrawn their interest completely – something that will inevitably prove beneficial of detrimental to the overall security of the brand. Critics believe brands that have taken this route are more susceptible to fraud and false or improper representation. Critics also believe that brands that do not participate, increases brand vulnerability as that it will be “predisposed” to risks. Then this introduces another concern:  Is ICANN pressuring businesses to participate, completely at the brand’s expense? Check out some of the numbers.

For a brand to successfully secure a domain name, there was an application process with a fee of $185,000, and with about 2000 submitted applications, ICANN collected over $350 million in application fees, alone. The next step involves ICANN reviewing the applications and determining which applicant is qualified to have the rights to the domain (currently underway). Once rights are granted, the brand or corporation has complete control over the domain and has the right to license it out and implement it into brand marketing strategy as seen fit. There is an annual renewal fee of $25,000 for brands interested in maintaining rights to granted domains.

But what will this mean for the average Internet user? It is simply time to step out of the comfort zone. Prior to ICANN’s domain announcement, we have only used 22 domain names, the most common being .com, .net and .org. In a less than a year, hundreds of domain names will be added to the list, leaving some Internet users a little confused and uncomfortable. Nevertheless, as time progresses, we will grow accustomed to the interesting and creative ways brands incorporate these names into marketing strategies. Our complaints and confusion will be short lived.

There’s only thing for sure: the Internet is on the verge of a great evolution. And in the meantime, we have to sit back and wait for the outcome.