Since the dawn of the internet we’ve been restricted to the use of 22 top level domains (TLDs) such as .COM, .NET and .ORG.
As the World Wide Web becomes more of a cluttered space, ICANN (the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) decided to open up the variety of TLDs so that you can now purchase a URL extension suited to your brand. So instead of having a pesky, irrelevant .com sitting after your brand name in the prime space at the top of your website, you could, for example, have daisy.FLORIST
Unfortunately it’s not an open slather with every word available for purchase. ICANN are releasing groups of TLDs for keen buyers one set at a time. The extensions which have already been snapped up live since the end of January 2014 include .BIKE .CLOTHING .GURU .PLUMBING and .SINGLES. If nothing on ICANN’s list takes your fancy, you can apply for your own version for $185,000. Seem steep? ICANN had over 2,000 TLD applications in 2012 when they first started talking about the introduction of new TLDs which they claimed as “the biggest change to the Internet since its inception”. Of course Google is getting involved and have apparently dropped $1.87 million in name applications. This has also presented a money grab opportunity for companies like Donuts who have set themselves up as a reseller, successfully securing all of the new TLDs to be available online to make a fortune by selling off domains with these more personalised extensions.
This all sounds very nice, but what does it mean for the consumer? Is it all too hard breaking the pattern of the .com that we all know and love? Until this movement gains some traction, you’d think that this new format will just get lost on the people we want to remember this information the most. While it might tie in nicely with the rest of the content, it will be much harder to identify a URL in a piece of advertising.
But who remembers and enters URLs these days anyway? That’s what Google is for! So maybe we should just embrace it, make our URLs look pretty and rely on our consumers to keep doing what they’re doing – use search engines and links to find their way to our sites.
So what do you think? Is this going to be the biggest change to the internet that ICANN claim that it is, or will we all just stick by our old friend .com?
Stef Bartlett is an Account Manager at BCM