The Next Big .THING

FairWinds Partners —  June 13, 2013

As the final stages of ICANN’s New gTLD Program evaluation period approaches, everyone should be preparing themselves for the fact that the Internet is about to change in dramatic ways.

Anyone who uses the Internet will be affected by a tsunami of new generic top-level domains (gTLDs) – the space to the right of the dot – perhaps as many as 1,400 within the next two years. This will mark one of the biggest changes to the Internet since it came into common use.

To gauge the impact of this change on consumers in particular, FairWinds is conducting a series of market research surveys on awareness of and attitudes toward new gTLDs.

The second in this series of surveys was released today and can be downloaded here. A third survey will be released in the coming months as new gTLDs begin to roll out. The first of this series was released in December 2012 and can be downloaded here.

FairWinds’ second survey found that consumers:

  • Are open to using new gTLDs to navigate the Internet
  • Are willing to trust new gTLDs
  • Prefer .BRANDs to .GENERICs
  • Prefer direct navigation over search engine navigation
  • Expect companies to be technically prepared for new gTLDs

These findings underscore the fact that Internet users are untethered to the past, are open minded, and are receptive to new ways of doing things. FairWinds also discovered that Internet users prefer taking control of their Internet experiences and pay attention to what they type into the browser bar.

Brand owners – whether they applied for a new gTLD or not – can draw valuable lessons from FairWinds’ research. Internet users indicated they expect to see their favorite brands adopt and use new gTLDs and that poor online user experiences will lead to lost revenue and lost marketing opportunities for brand owners.

The better brand owners understand consumer behavior, the better prepared they will be to optimize use of their new gTLDs and remain competitive in the new Internet space.