Big data is abuzz today when it comes to ongoing market strategy with companies like Facebook, Twitter, Amazon, Google, among others offering staple tools by selling ads, analytics, maps, discount strategies, and more to big brands. Using data to drive new products, content, and track consumers' behaviors as well as needs before they happen are ever-changing in response to new scientific, data-driven technologies and methodologies.
Analytics and the use of big data to inform marketing strategies will continue to remain a driving force with generic top-level domains (gTLDs), potentially dramatically shaping the marketplace. While many continue to discount the impact of the new gTLDs, there has never before been such a scaled expansion of the Internet. Led by Internet powerhouses like Google, Amazon, Microsoft, and half of the world's top brands, gTLDs should not be ignored as critical drivers of analytics. Although traditional websites are in a state of decline in favor of social media and apps, the introduction of new gTLDs and the benefits to consumers will change the way marketers must think about their domain and website, particularly when architecting how to extract that important big data from the various digital sources available.
Unlike .com, gTLDs Offer Closed Ecosystem to Capture Data
Analytics help us understand consumers' activity and purchase path, e.g., what they read, what they buy, where they click through, which ultimately provide key indicators of how to evolve a brand's market strategy. Brands with their own gTLD will be able to architect and design their anchor landing pages and drive data in a very customized and closed ecosystem. What's important to distinguish the gTLD website from a traditional sub-domain is that the brand owns the entire ecosystem like .Target or .Walmart and not just the .com or .biz or even .shop version. And, within that closed domain, brands can create new ways of navigating that are a bit more intuitive at the browser level and drive behavior through an innovative approach. For example, Target could customize special promotions and landing pages around seasons and holidays, through retail partnerships, and even further customized to the individual shopper: memorialdaysale.target, outdoorfurniture.target, neimanmarcusholiday.target, and jenwolfe.target.
Google-Amazon Will Offer Enhanced Data Analytics With Their gTLD Portfolio
For those companies that did not apply for a gTLD, the segmentation of the Internet set to occur could provide important guidance in creating new or alternative landing pages. Google, Amazon, and other big players will likely offer enhanced data analytics-packaged offerings within many of their available new sub-domains. These sub-domain opportunities and additional big data insights will grow as a unique platform to consumers. For example, would you want to move your domain name, as the anchor to all of your digital strategy, to one of Google's numerous top-level domains? Or, will you partner with Amazon to become an affiliate in one of its gTLDs? And, if Google and Amazon, along with retailers, big banks, and insurance companies educate consumers that there is more security in their top-level domains, this effort will bring value in migrating landing pages so long as the migration is designed with analytics in mind.
Websites' Value in the New gTLD Landscape
Many analysts indicate that domain names and traditional websites are becoming irrelevant. Today, consumers rely less on search engines and more on social media drivers and apps - whether it's a social media ad, a Pinterest recommendation from a friend, or a shared review with someone you admire. The use of social media and apps to "get to you" is more critical than ever and an essential piece of marketing data analytics. But once a consumer finds you, what type of activities and behaviors does she exhibit and what devices does she prefer? Despite the expected acceleration of social media and apps as a means of getting to a brand, the website, if designed strategically, can be an important anchor to all other digital components of your market strategy - a holistic digital strategy. And, as an anchor, it can be used to capture data in conjunction with social and apps that provide real value.
Time to Centralize Digital
For CMOs, the expansion of the Internet and the rise of social media, apps, and new websites for data analytics means digital needs to become a centralized hub rather than fragmented across brands or specialized areas. A complete holistic strategy that incorporates the many facets that impact extracting data from social media, brand, and web apps to website landing pages to capture the elusive, on-the-go consumer must cohesively fall under one strategy. Analytics will continue to evolve and the scaled expansion of the Internet must be considered an important piece to the puzzle.
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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.
March 19, 2014