New Top-Level Domains Create Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt, Part 1
ICANN’s new top-level domain (TLD) program has been highly debated and refined around the world for six years, yet some organizations are just now taking notice. They're rushing to get smart and weigh the opportunities. After all, the brief window to apply begins today and it’s a complex issue with great potential gains for those who do it right. As with any big change, we’re seeing a great deal of fear, uncertainty and doubt (FUD). Fortunately, some of the common misconceptions are easily clarified.
The internet today has 22 generic top-level domains (gTLDs), such as .com and .org, plus about 290 country-level domains like .de or .uk. A top-level domain falls to the right of the dot, while the word immediately to the left of the dot is called a second-level domain.
While the ICANN gTLD Applicant Guidebook and application process are the same for all new TLDs, in practice there are likely to be three different categories of TLDs based on how they will be used:
- generic words such as .shoes, .movie or .bank, representing a market, interest or group;
- communities such as .nyc, .london or .florida; and
- brand names such as .canon, .unicef, .deloitte or .hitachi.
New TLDs aren’t all created equal
Almost any organization that can demonstrate the financial and technical ability to operate a portion of the internet can put forward an application for a new generic word TLD. For instance, several banking organizations have stated interest in applying for .bank and entertainment companies are likely to pursue gTLDs for .video and .music.
Many brands will pursue such generic word TLDs in addition to TLDs of their own brand name. For instance, Canon could apply for both .canon and .camera and use these TLDs differently. Popular generic terms are likely to see the most competition — as well as contention — among applicants after ICANN posts all applications for public comment in May.