How 900+ Communities and Generics Will Reshape the Internet

  |  April 26, 2013   |  Comments

These new gTLDs have the power to create categories that comprise consumers' varying interests or affinities on the Internet.

In this series, I have focused primarily on strategies that brands may use in maximizing the impact of their new gTLDs. From data capture to new content channels, security and authenticity, search, communities, and catalysts for innovation, half of the world's brands have applied and will likely reshape the way we navigate the Internet. But, let's consider the impact of the 900+ generics that will also launch. In an unprecedented expansion of the Internet, there will be nearly 1,000 generic domains including .golf, .tennis, .basketball, .search, .blog, .author, .book, .religion, .bible, .training, .marketing, .coupon, .realestate, .cheap, .luxury, .fashion, .mom, .vacations, .green, .kitchen, .city, .now, .online, .mail, .phone, .art, .top, .film, .game, .channel, and .tickets, among many others. These generics are broken into four primary segments of lifestyle, media, commerce, and search/navigation.

This type of segmentation can most readily be compared to the introduction of Zip codes. Today, we take for granted that Zip codes help deliver mail, but prior to the 1960s there were no Zip codes, as there wasn't enough mail to require anything beyond a city and state in the mailing address. But with the advent of technology, automated bill processing, and the ability to more efficiently send direct mail, the U.S. Postal Service determined that a Zip code system was essential. Zip codes spawned new direct mail industries from coupons (remember green stamps) to magazine circulation and steaks, movies, books, or you name it, directly to your home. Businesses could segment their mail and their customers by Zip codes and begin to capture valuable data that would help them transform their businesses and create the consumer generation. It was truly the beginning of the big data revolution.

These new gTLDs are not that different. Consider for a moment that .com is fully saturated. It's hard to find what you are looking for, even with the best searches on Google. This is why mobile and apps have taken over domain names - people want what they want, when they want it, and rather than searching for it, consumers are finding shortcuts. But gTLDs, like Zip codes, could change all of that. These new gTLDs have the power to create categories that comprise consumers' varying interests or affinities on the Internet. New innovative opportunities exist for entrepreneurs who can help sort it all out for consumers.

As an example, if you are looking for music, fashion, news, sports information, or verifying that a company is valid, new gTLDs will categorize, organize, and code websites corresponding to those categories. Many argue that this will only make the Internet more complex. While initially this is true, just as Zip codes were quite complicated at the beginning, eventually the categorizations will become far easier to navigate and organizations and communities will have an easier time deciding on domain name placement. Ultimately this will transform search engine optimization into a whole new ball game.

This type of paradigm shift leaves many wanting to run for the hills, or at least argue that no one will evolve from a .com world. But think of the potential benefits - if these generics create categories of interest, then communities can form around the categories to create a more tailored and customized user experience. For example, people who love golf, tennis, or politics can find categories of domain names directly related to their interests. And, for entrepreneurs, these categories create new opportunities to build these communities. Much like how Omaha Steaks or Disney books and movies built categories of consumers through mail clubs, and as Facebook was once reserved for college students, any of these new gTLDs can become the anchor for new reserved communities aimed at those with specific interests. As the new generics will start to launch later this year, marketers need to plot which generics are relevant to their brand and evaluate how their digital strategies must evolve to incorporate the new Zip codes of the Internet.

Image on home page via Shutterstock.

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Jennifer Wolfe

Jennifer Wolfe is founder and president of Wolfe Domain, a gTLD digital brand strategy advisory firm providing comprehensive guidance to global brands, interactive agencies, domain registrars, and legal counsel representatives on establishing a holistic gTLD name-anchored brand strategy for the next generation of the Internet. As a forward-thinking, accomplished, award-winning attorney and executive leader, she also serves as managing partner of their affiliate law firm WolfeSBMC, specializing in advising on intellectual property and brand campaigns and new media law. With a depth of entrepreneurial savvy, brand knowledge, and legal expertise, Wolfe brings a unique perspective to creating holistic generic top-level domain (gTLD) name-centric brand strategies that effectively bring cross-functional teams together and serve as a catalyst for business innovation.

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