The new gTLD program's low attrition rate

The big new gTLD news of the hour is American carmaker General Motors' decision to withdraw the full set of its new gTLD applications.

GM had applied for the following five TLDs: .GMC, .Chevrolet, .Cadillac, .Chevy and .Buick. Buick and Chevy are in the process of being withdrawn, whilst the other three already have. Obviously, because of the size of the company and the fact that it has decided to cancel all its new gTLDs, this has garnered a lot of media attention.

Why has GM decided to step back from new gTLDs? "The digital landscape is constantly changing and GM regularly evaluates our digital marketing strategy to make the most effective and efficient use of our digital marketing budget", company spokesperson Ryndee Carney was quoted as saying by the Detroit News. "GM is committed to making access to our brands simple and intuitive, regardless of device or methodology. We'll continue to listen and adapt to our customers' needs and preferences in the digital space. If their attitudes or behaviors shift, we'll adjust accordingly".

This comment provides a fascinating insight into why GM applied in the first place. The company clearly felt that having its own TLDs would provide its customers with simple and easy-to-use gateways to their brands.

This customer-oriented strategy showed a keen understanding of the benefits the new gTLD program is set to bring consumers and Internet users worldwide, as clear entry points to a brand online.

So does GM's decision to withdraw mean new gTLDs are no longer a good idea? Obviously not. It just means GM is as flexible as it forward thinking. The company was one of the new gTLD early-adopters and now, it is being just as brave in its decision that having its own TLDs no longer fits its strategy.

Running a TLD is so far removed from registering a domain name that anyone intending to do so has to be sure. A new gTLD operator is taking on quite a responsibility as it commits itself to keeping a critical piece of the Internet's infrastructure operational 24/7 and signs a contract to do so with ICANN. There can be no room for doubt in this endeavour. GM was brave enough to admit it had some, and do something about it.

GM's decision is therefore very much its own. It does not cast a pall on the new gTLD program as a whole. Counting .buick and .chevy as already processed, total program withdrawals currently stand at 21.

A mere 1% of the initial 1,930 applications received.

Clearly, most applicants remain committed and convinced that new gTLDs are an important development for tomorrow's Internet.


Written by Stéphane Van Gelder

Chairman and Managing Director of Stéphane Van Gelder Consulting Ltd.

25 February 2013