The recent launch of new generic top-level domains (gTLDs) has created a host of opportunities for businesses looking to register their brands and position themselves in the correct sector.

However, the expansion has created some more unexpected routes for businesses to take when it comes to their domains. One of these is so called geographic or ‘geo’ TLDs, which allow companies and individuals to register for the domain of the city they are based in.

World Map made of dotsThe first of these city domains to be widely available is .berlin, which has seen the suffix shoot to near the top of the new gTLD registration charts. Organizations and individuals have welcomed the opportunity to request web addresses ending in .berlin as an alternative to the more traditional options or the German national suffix .de.

Berlin’s mayor, Klaus Wowereit, said at a launch event that the domain “offers the possibility to highlight digitally that Berlin is where you live your life or base your business activities”, while Dirk Krischenowski, from dotBerlin, the company responsible for rolling out the new domain, said .berlin will create more room for for “diversity, ideas and the naming of things”.

Obtaining a .berlin website address will be granted on a first-come, first-served basis.

While .berlin has hit the headlines by being the first city-based domain name to become publicly available, there are a host of other applications in place, which will see the number of geo domains increasing in the coming months and years.

There are around 100 geographic TLD applications in place, with many cities around the world keen to secure their own domain. Paris, New York, Rio and London are all in the process of registration and will go live in the coming months and years.

The .london domain looks set to launch in the second quarter of 2014 and will be a popular choice for brands operating in the UK’s capital. More than 200,000 small businesses in London say they are likely to register a new .london internet address when the domain names go on sale at the end of April. A YouGov survey revealed that 48 per cent of businesses will choose to register their address because they are proud to be a London business.

The survey also indicated that 41 per cent of respondents believe that a .london web address would help customers find them more easily and 27 per cent said it would help generate more sales.

Geo TLDs will create a range of new opportunities for brands, as they can associate themselves with some of the most significant locations around the world. The opportunities are not just available for small firms: major brands have also expressed interest in a .london domain.

Perhaps surprisingly, few North American cities are currently applying for the domains, with New York – with its .nyc suffix – one of the only ones to begin the launch process. The sunrise period for the .nyc extension will take place in May 2014 and allow trademark holders to secure the domain name that matches their trademark.

The launch of .berlin and the future availability of .london and .nyc, alongside a host of other cities around the world, will have a significant benefit for brands operating out of those cities. In essence, it will create a more localized version of country websites, where content and information can be tailored to a specific location rather than an entire country.

Further reading: For details on the data-driven approach to gTLD strategy that we are taking with our clients at CSC, please read our recently published piece on “How to make the most of new gTLDs without committing excess time and budget”.

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‘Geo’ gTLDs set to boom around the world
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