2017 has seen a strong increase in the volume and activity levels from dot brand registry operators with the total number of second level domains registered rising from 5,560 to 8,626, whilst the number of actively used domains rose from 567 to 1,622. Through the year we have seen increasing numbers of interesting use cases. We present a number of the notable launches below.
One of the most high-profile dot brand launches to date occurred towards the end of 2017 as the French national train company SNCF migrated its main business site to their .SNCF dot brand site. From 06 December 2017, visitors to the old web address, voyages-SNCF.com (which had been in use since the year 2000) were redirected to the new dot brand address oui.sncf.
L’Oreal have caught the eye with the novel way they are running their new top level domain .MAKEUP. With an eye-watering pricing model, average retail price of $7,000, it would appear that L'Oreal is seeking to use price as a tool to restrict registrations. However, what's really interesting to note is with the launch of https://welove.makeup we are beginning to see L'Oreal's strategic approach to using the .MAKEUP domain.
www.dotbrandobservatory.com highlights a new brand that has switched their domain completely across to their Dot Brand www.home-design.schmidt - Schmidt kitchens and interiors. Schmidt designs, manufactures and installs bespoke kitchens across Europe. It is the latest in a growing number of businesses who have chosen to switch the domain name where they host their website completely to their new Dot Brand domain.
Google has made the move to using new gTLD’s as part of their strategy (http://domains.google, http://abc.xyz) and one of the big moves for them in 2017 was to create a website which covered Artificial Intelligence and how Google is using this to capture data and then present it to us, the users as well as showing us how we can use our own data. Google used their .google Brand TLD as the main landing page for this service - https://ai.google/
Amazon, who applied for over 60 new gTLD’s in the first round, put a lot of effort into advertising (there were bill boards, large sign’s at airports / NYC Metro stations and TV ads) and promoting their service Buildon AWS. They used their own brand TLD .AWS to market this service and provide online content. This was a major push by a .BRAND owner to showcase their new gTLD in a manner that creates consumer awareness and also highlights a product on their .AWS service. www.buildon.aws
In 2017 .BRAND TLD owners also started to use their new gTLD’s in a clear marketing and communication method – URL shorteners. There was a jump in the number of TLD’s which started to use the idea of URL shorteners for example: http://grp.hsbc. The advantage of a URL shortener is that you as a brand can control how your messages looks when presented via social media for example: http://bit.ly/xgsftetsajs (traditionally this is how a URL shortener will look on social media) vs http://go.brand/marketing (as a brand you can tailor how the message looks after the “/” and you also control how ‘short’ the second level name is). URL shorteners also allow the marketing and communications teams to show case the .BRAND TLD without any perceivable harm to existing marketing etc.
In a year when domain entrepreneurs began to offload the speculative new gTLD registrations they ambitiously registered, the world of dot brands is consolidating and the important figures for usage are growing. Brand owners are taking a considered approach and are benefiting from the opportunities afforded by owning their own space.
What will 2018 hold?
Clearly there will be more launches of dot brand domains. We anticipate a growing number of high profile brands will switch completely to their new domain, as confidence and user acceptance rises. We will see further and more innovative use of dot brands for microsites, whilst URL shortneners will become common place amongst dot brand registries. As adoption and awareness rises, the voices calling for ICANN to open another round of applications will get louder.