Faux gTLDs in Ads: A .YEAH or a .OHNO?

FairWinds Partners —  February 4, 2013

After this weekend, many blogs are, as expected, buzzing about the commercials aired during the Super Bowl. But there is another commercial that began airing a few weeks prior to this weekend’s big game that caught our attention here at gTLD Strategy: online travel agent Booking.com’s newest “Booking.Yeah” TV spot. You can view the ad here:

What stood out about this ad for us, aside from the very enticing vacation spots, was the very end, where the Booking.com logo gets replaced with the tagline “Booking.Yeah.” It’s clever and catchy, of course, but Booking.Yeah looks an awful lot like the kind of string we could see as a domain name once new gTLDs begin to launch. Although no applications were submitted for a .YEAH gTLD, Booking.com did apply for two gTLDs of its own: .BOOKING and .HOTELS. Could this commercial be the first in a series of ads designed to “prime the pump,” as they say, or to get consumers accustomed to seeing and understanding two words separated by a dot?

It wouldn’t be a bad way to start, considering that our own research here at FairWinds revealed that consumers’ awareness of new gTLDs is extremely low. But where does the line between educational and misleading fall? FairWinds’ Domain Name Strategy blog recently pointed out that Forex.com’s mobile site sports the title “Forex.Wireless,” which could become especially confusing for Internet users in the near future, considering that .MOBI already exists as a domain name extension and numerous applications have been submitted for other related terms like .MOBILE and .APP.

There’s no doubt that once new gTLDs begin to launch, the task of navigating to content online will become more confusing for Internet users. New gTLD applicants should be considering how they can begin mitigating this confusion now to facilitate the introduction of their new gTLDs – and users’ navigation to their new gTLD domain names – further down the road. It will be worth following Booking.com’s future advertisements to see if this is indeed the company’s goal and if it pays off.