Debunking New gTLD Myths

FairWinds Partners —  August 4, 2011

As we talk with more businesses and brand owners, it is becoming very apparent that there is a significant amount of misinformation about new gTLDs being spread through the business community. Specifically, we have found that many brand owners are confused about what they can and cannot do in regards to new gTLDs. So we decided to set the record straight on some of the most common myths about new gTLDs that we’ve heard in a recent article for the CMO Council’s monthly newsletter, Marketing Magnified.

Myth 1: Brands Will Not be Allowed to Apply for a Generic Term as a gTLD

ICANN’s New gTLD Applicant Guidebook does not indicate at any point that corporate applicants will be excluded from applying for certain extensions. In fact, the Guidebook makes very little reference to corporate applicants at all.

Myth 2: Brands will Have to Operate Generic Term gTLDs as Open Registries

To clarify, “open” registries are those that are open for the public to register domain names in, whereas “closed” registries are for private use by their owners and their domains are not available to the public for registration. If a brand owner is the only party to apply for a certain generic term as a gTLD, it is a safe bet that it will get it, provided it meets all the requirements to operate a gTLD registry and neither governments nor communities raise insurmountable objections.

Brand owners could run into trouble if other parties apply for the same, or a very closely similar, gTLD. If a “community-based” application is filed for a gTLD, it will automatically beat out any “standard” applications for the same gTLD.

Myth 3: Start-up Costs to Launch a New gTLD will Total $1 Million

In reality, many brand owners, if they are the sole applicants applying for their brand name as a gTLD and choose to operate a closed registry, could pay as little as $300,000 to apply for and start up a new gTLD registry. If they use the gTLD modestly, such as by using it for vanity URLs that redirect to existing sites, maintenance costs could amount to as little as $100,000 per year.

Myth 4: The Success of New gTLDs will Depend on Whether Internet User Behavior Changes and Myth 5: Brands Should Reconfigure Their Entire Domain Naming Architecture around New gTLDs

As discussed in our last post, the success of branded gTLDs will not depend on how quickly or ardently Internet users adopt them. Marketers can extract significant benefits from new gTLDs without abandoning their existing .COM URLs.

These are not the only myths we’ve heard: earlier today, a client informed us that its registrar had said that ICANN has already received over 1,000 new gTLD applications. Funny, since the application period isn’t open yet…and won’t be for another five months! We’ll be continuing to debunk other inaccurate rumors and set the record straight for brand owners here on gTLD Strategy, so be sure to check back with us.