On Monday 20 June 2011, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) approved the plan to introduce one of the biggest changes in Internet naming history by dramatically increasing the number of Internet domain name endings such as .com, .net and .org. These Internet domain name endings are known as generic Top Level Domains (gTLDs).
NetNames, part of Group NBT, is already working with a number of large companies throughout Europe who will make applications to use their brands and names as domain name extensions. This will enable them to improve their visibility on the Internet and change the way in which they market their services online. It will also provide added security by allowing the company complete control over that domain extension. Over the next eighteen months we expect to work with customers to help them to assess the feasibility of a personalised domain extension and to make the complex application to ICANN.
There are already a number of projects underway with groups like .paris and .eco planning to make applications. Many companies are also considering how they will use this new and exciting possibility to enhance their marketing operations online and to protect their brands. This dramatic broadening of the Internet is likely to significantly increase the number of domain names in use and presents increased opportunities to users of the Internet.
"ICANN has opened the Internet's naming system to unleash the global human imagination.” said Rod Beckstrom, President and Chief Executive Officer of ICANN. “Today's decision respects the rights of groups to create new Top Level Domains in any language or script. We hope this allows the domain name system to better serve all of mankind".
Geoff Wicks, Chief Executive Officer Group NBT, Europe’s largest corporate domain name registrar said "This change is a major opportunity for Brands to take ownership of a part of the Internet for the benefit of their customers, suppliers, channel networks, users and the public in general. This fundamental change in Internet domain name policy will affect how the Internet works from a naming point of view for the better. Group NBT fully supports this landmark decision and is proud to have represented its corporate customers' interests on the ICANN committees making Internet history."
What are the proposed changes?
The programme known as ‘the new gTLD programme’ means that Internet address names will be able to end with almost any word in any language or script, offering corporations and communities of interest around the world the opportunity to market themselves, their products and causes in new and inventive ways.
What this means for the Internet?
The new gTLDs will change the way that information is found on the Internet and how companies design their Internet brand strategy and build their presence online.
It has the potential to improve customer and consumer safety by reducing the effectiveness of common Internet attacks such as phishing fraud.
It will make finding legitimate brand owners’ sites more straightforward, at the same time reducing the effectiveness of counterfeit or traffic diverting websites.
It will undoubtedly change the way search engines prioritise their search rankings
How to apply for a new gTLD
Obtaining a new gTLD is not cheap, not quick and will involve considerable internal and external effort to create a successful new gTLD application. Applicants will have to cover the $185,000 application fee and are required to demonstrate the financial, technical and operational commitment to manage and operate a new gTLD for up to 10 years.
Applying for a new gTLD has the potential to affect corporate, marketing, and sales strategy as well as corporate operations at a fundamental level and this has to be considered and understood by all key organisational stakeholders. Only a very few corporations will have the experience, resources and technical capabilities required to apply for and operate a new gTLD in-house. Most organisations are seeking out experts, such as NetNames, to assist them in understanding the strategic and operational implications that the new gTLD programme will bring.
When to apply for a new gTLD
ICANN will accept applications for new gTLDs from Thursday 12 January 2012 to Thursday 12 April 2012. It is expected to take at least three to four months to gather the information required and to create a new gTLD application so organisations seriously considering applying for a new gTLD should take action now.