The changing internet domain space – from the improbable to the inevitable


This week Whiteoaks hosted an exciting press event with our client, brand protection specialist MarkMonitor. We invited journalists from national and trade press to talk about the dramatic expansion of the domain name space ahead of the launch of the new generation of generic top-level domains (gTLDs). There has been a lot of talk in the industry about whether brand owners are ready for the changes so it was fascinating to hear the thoughts of the press, who up until now has not dedicated too many column inches to the changes.

The new gTLDs are set to shake up the Internet and revolutionise the way brands operate online. This week alone, nine new web address suffixes have been made available including .bike, .clothing, .singles and .guru. From spring 2014, businesses, individuals and organisations based in London can show their loyalty to the capital and apply for web addresses with a .london suffix.

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) believes that the new gTLDs will transform the way business is done online. With new names expected to be released at a rate of 10 per week, organisations are scrambling to review their online brand strategies. To protect and promote their brands, and ultimately their income and reputation, businesses will need to adapt.

So following our event, what is the current feeling of the press towards the new gTLD programme? It is still decidedly mixed. What once seemed improbable to them is now inevitable and it is time to sit up and take notice. In fact this is true of marketers and brand protection professionals as well. One important question that kept cropping up was ‘why should brand owners and businesses be concerned with the new gTLDs?’.

Over two thirds of businesses (68{20156fe61baea400d2663eb990f17abdabeb6ef183a2129287a793abd8ac1d8a}) have applied for new gTLDs for defensive reasons to stop their brands being hijacked by others. Now is the tipping point for brands to make sensible and strategic decisions and to take immediate action to protect their most precious marketing assets.

Last night, for the first time, I saw an advert on TV encouraging online businesses to take up a new gTLD. The new names are currently only open only to those with registered trademarks, but they will be open to the general public at the end of January 2014, which should make for an interesting start to the year.

I think .holly has a good ring to it.