by Vincent D’Angelo

With 600+ new generic top-level domains (new gTLDs) due for launch in 2014, brand owners everywhere just had a big, unavoidable item added to their ‘to-do’ lists. How can they make the most of new gTLDs without committing excess time and budget?

This post addresses the key questions that confront any brand deciding what to do about the opportunities—and threats—of new gTLDs.pull_quote_ignoring_newgtlds

What are the risks and benefits of the New gTLD program?

If you have any significant online presence, the biggest risk from the New gTLD program is ignoring it. Because if you don’t get the new domains, your competitors—or worse, cybercriminals—will. As for the benefits, a .brand domain gives you more flexibility and reassures customers that they are in a trusted space. You can target marketing and navigation more easily (for example, buy.brand, search.brand and download.brand). And the new generic domains provide opportunities for your brand to stand out (e.g., brand.movie), own categories (brand.app), or build communities (brand.nyc).

Also, it’s likely that search will evolve once new gTLDs make it viable to search within, say, .boston or .cars. It’s already possible to search for web content relating to a specific TLD, and this could be a sign of things to come. Domain-related search engines (search.movie) could also become the norm when web users want quality content related to a particular sector.

It’s hard enough looking after my current digital brand portfolio. Where do I start with new gTLDs?

First, we recommend that you use data to work out which new gTLDs you need to be thinking about. Look at how people search for your brands. For example, if they use “salon” as a keyword, this is a domain to prioritize. Then, see if any of your existing domain names match new gTLDs. If you have a brand name that includes the word “app,” it could be targeted by cybersquatters registering “yourbrand.app.” Finally, check out what’s available in industry sectors (if you’re in finance, .bank may be a no-brainer) and also consider if your brand has been a popular target for cybersquatters (i.e. have you been subject to a lot of domain disputes in the past).

dbs-newgtld-articleThis exercise will create a priority list of domains from the hundreds available. To really make sure there are no gaps in your strategy, you can go on to find out which gTLDs have had the most queries (pre-registrations), because this is where competition will be most intense—“.app” is a good example. You should also think about blocking “gripe” domains (like .sucks) and using gTLDs that are relevant to your corporate presence, like .careers and .news. For more details on the data-driven approach 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”.

This sounds like a lot of analysis. Is it worth it?

Yes, for three reasons: focus, opportunity and security. We’ve run exercises like this for over 100 clients and on average, depending on the depth of analysis, between 14 and 40 new gTLDs made it into the higher risk/opportunity categories. So first of all, it helps you focus on the new gTLDs that matter. This translates into savings by heading off infringement issues and avoiding misguided registration strategies.

It also ensures that you’re minimizing the risk of cybercrime while taking advantage of the most relevant new gTLD opportunities. There’s one final reason for taking the time: avoiding scams. Disreputable companies are already out there offering spurious pre-registration programs and suggesting that people take immediate action.

Yes, there’s urgency around new gTLDs—but it pays to look before you leap. My team of Global Brand Advisors is available to provide complimentary consultations to clients.

Vincent D’Angelo is director, Global Brand Advisors, at CSC Digital Brand Services.

CSC and the New gTLD program

CSC Digital Brand Services works with trademark owners around the world to help them optimize their brands in the entire digital space, including new gTLDs. As an authorized agent for the Trademark Clearinghouse, we advise clients on which trademarks to file and how and when to file them. Our Brand Advisory Team, available to all CSC clients, is dedicated to helping our clients develop and implement successful Internet and domain name strategies.

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How to make the most of new gTLDs without wasting time and money