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And They’re Off! The Race for ICANN’s New Top-Level Domain Names

Posted by: Jerome McDonnell on March 21, 2012

As of March 18th, at least 290 users have registered with TAS (Top-level domain Application System), the prerequisite for filing for a new TLD, or a so-called dotbrand URL. Each user is eligible to apply for 50 different extensions—meaning a year from now, we could have 14,500 additional domain name extensions to navigate. Or not.

A recent study conducted by Vanson Bourne suggested that “almost half of major consumer brands” are set to apply for a dot-brand TLD, and 40% are still considering applying . By the way, that study was commissioned by Afilias, a registry services provider, and was thoughtful enough to include the statement “brands that decide not to apply … risk an indeterminate period of disadvantage against competitors…”. And I bet you didn’t know that “Afilias has more experience in supporting successful applications to ICANN for new TLDs than any other provider”.

Until ICANN’s “Reveal Day” on May 1st, this list, compiled by .Nxt, indicates that “geographic,” “generic term” and “community” extensions currently outnumber those filed for a dot.Brand. While I have no doubt that many brands are playing their cards close to their chest, and many brand owners will file between now and when TAS registration closes on March 29th, it’s also worth remembering (as Ad Age reports), that brands such as GE and Coca-Cola, along with American Express, Dunkin’, J&J, Kellogg, Kraft, P&G, Toyota, Visa and Walmart are just a few that voiced opposition to the ICANN program. That’s not to say they won’t (feel obliged to) file, but it does make you question how successful an initiative can be if it’s comprised of reluctant participants. Ultimately, the number of TAS registrants is not as significant as how many applicants a) apply correctly/meet the requirements; b) are approved by ICANN; and c) are successful in implementing their new extension(s).

While ICANN sorts this (and this) out, we can reflect on the words of this gentleman, via Mediapost:

“The potential impact of this restructuring of digital domains could become one of the essential new organizing principles for our connected lives. It could likely change the way we discover and find things when using search. It might alter the expectation we have for what we will find and where we will go after the click… So here’s the puzzle for us to solve for, my fellow brand owners and marketers -- where is the proper space for a brand in this emerging world of connected places?... Places and spaces connected, identified, organized, and managed within the simplest and most powerful of things: a name.”

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