Source: Monday, June 20th, 2011

ICANN's Domain Expansion: Why .Metallica Makes Sense

Kirk Hammett of Metallica

shred.metallica? Image by via @daylife

As Eric Savitz reported earlier this morning, ICANN, the Internet's governing body for its naming system, announced this weekend plans to dramatically expand the number of top-level domains (.com, .net, etc.). Right now, beyond the 250 country-level domains, there are a mere 22 topic-centric domains in existence. As the BBC reports:

There will be several hundred new generic top-level domain names (gTLDs), which could include such addresses as .google, .coke, or even .BBC.

But such a luxury will not come cheap:

It will cost $185,000 (£114,000) to apply for the suffixes, and companies would need to show they have a legitimate claim to the name they are buying.

This could be great news for any industry or brand, according to Ben Crawford, CEO of global domain name registry CentralNic, but with one large caveat: they must be nimble.

Like those who missed the chance to purchase their preferred "dot com" extensions over two decades ago, brands who miss out on their dot brand TLDs could take years to catch up with their competitors, and even risk being locked out entirely if a "confusingly similar" word is registered as a TLD (if ".apples" were registered, Apple Computer could not acquire ".Apple"). Ultimately, the risks and costs associated with not acquiring a "dot brand" gTLD are numerous, but the potential for success and the opportunity to lead the Internet in a new direction is even greater.

Crawford also sees this as a plus for consumers:

With the creation of "dot brand" domains, web addresses will be more intuitive for consumers and search engines. New gTLDs also present a "brand-safe" environment that respects the importance of trademark protection and is free from aggregators, fan sites, knock-off sites, phishing and brand abuse.

I caught up with Crawford, via email, in Singapore, where ICANN made the announcement. I was curious how this change would affect the entertainment industry. And not just the mega-corporations, but the small entrepreneurs developing brands of their own through services such as YouTube. Crawford, a former marketer for motion picture companies and a pioneer in early web content-creation, knows a little something about brand positioning. As his bio touts, "From 1998-2000, he was the executive producer of IBM's official site for the Sydney Olympic Games, drawing in 11.3 billion hits in two weeks to set a record for the highest website traffic of the twentieth century."

At the helm of CentralNic, Crawford recently established dotBrand Solutions, a turn-key service to establish and optimize brands' domain presence. We talked about why he sees ICANN's decision as a potential boon to the entertainment industry as a whole.

How would you advise the entertainment industry to act upon this expansion? Is it better to take a broad approach (.movies, .punkrock, etc.) or to really drill into major entertainment brands (.startrek, .nirvana, etc.).

For the entertainment industry it is vital that they select the player that they want to support to acquire generic entertainment industry terms like .movies or .music. They will want to ensure that the management of these domains reflects the interests of rights holders and does not become a new home to piracy.

Depending on the size and importance of the brand, a ".brand" strategy could also make sense, as it allows you to create a branded universe for all your sites and content that consumers and search engines can easily distinguish from non-official content and sites. This is a "no-brainer" for $100 million + brands as they will easily earn the investment back in savings from their fraud prevention and brand protection budgets, plus they will get the added revenues by capturing traffic that used to be diverted to knock-off sites. However, when obtain the name is mission-critical to them, brands with revenues as low as $10 million are acquiring their own Top Level Domains.

You mention this widening of domains will make web addresses more intuitive for consumers and search engines — how so?

Today nobody can tell if these domain names are official sites or not: , etc.. But if there was a .metallica, then everything that ends .metallica is official, endorsed content, product, etc..

With search engine iterations becoming more intuitive and powerful, isn't the domain name becoming less important than the overall search-ability of a company?

As shown above, .brand Top Level Domains contain a guarantee of authenticity that no domain names have ever offered before.  But they are only one method of presenting content online – apps, social media, aggregators, search engine optimization, etc. all also have their place.

Purchasing a .com, .org or .net is fairly inexpensive, if they are available. Clearly availability will be greatly improved with this expansion. What about domain costs — how do you see the expansion affecting that?

There will no doubt be more domain names that are cheaper than .com, but that does not necessarily mean that people will want them. .net is typically cheaper than .com, but its sales are only 10% of .com's. The fact is that consumers don't necessarily want cheaper domains, especially as the domain becomes part of their website's brand.

Still, it is going to be a fairly expensive proposition to apply for a new domain. Why did ICANN set the rate where it did and doesn't that push out a significant population of bootstrap start-ups?

Running a TLD is running core infrastructure of the internet, so ICANN has put in place expensive safeguards to ensure that successful applicants are up to the task, including technical requirements that far surpass those of existing TLDs, disaster recovery and failover plans, redundancy, financial tests, and a detailed due diligence process (for which the user pays $185,000). The overall cost of acquiring a domain is more like $500,000, before you see the first cent in revenues – and as measures to ensure the security, stability and resiliency of the internet as a whole, this is entirely reasonable.

get the .brand buzz...

Etisalat secures top-level domain -

CentralNic Powers First New Top-Level Domains Announced by ICANN -

Expert view: Gavin Brown -

New domain names to break grip of tech giants
The IndependentIOL Scitech

The End of the Dot-Com Era? -

Dot-anything Web domain costs big .$$$ -

ICANN's Domain Expansion: Why .Metallica Makes Sense -

Your .brand gTLD: hopeful registry partners go into marketing overdrive -
World Trademark Review

How companies are coping with gTLD applications -
Managing Intellectual Property

DotBrand Solutions launches in the Middle East
AME Info
Zawya Alrroya
The National Trade Arabia
Gulf News
The Next Web
Al Watan The Peninsula

DotBrand Solutions in Germany IT Espresso DE Domain Recht

How ICANN's Approval of New Domains Will Change the Web -

Analysis: New Internet rules will spawn battle for "dots" -
Yahoo! News OnIslam CNBC MSNBC Arabian Business

Forget .com, here's .coke -
CNN Money

Experts clash on benefits of owning and managing .brand domains -

Site Name Broker Preparing for Suffix Explosion
LA Business Journal

Hundreds of dot-brand domains predicted -

New '.music' web domain worries recording industry -

Marketers debate usefulness of ICANN's new domain names -
BtoB Online

Drinks firms could profit from internet expansion -

ICANN Approves Custom Generic Top Level Domains -

ICANN approves top level domain name changes -

ICANN Approves Generic Top Level Domains -

Here come the domains -

Goodbye .Com, Hello .Anything -

ICANN Vanity Domains: A Caution for Midmarket Firms -

Top-Level Domains Will Help Web Growth & Reach -

.Branding: It's the End of the .com World as We Know It -

Dot-Brand: Get those applications ready -
Marketing Daily

Money Radio 1510 Interviews Ben Crawford - New gTLDs: A New Era for Brands on the Internet
Money Radio

Are You Ready for .anything? Generic Internet Domains on the Way -

Ben Crawford: Why Trademark Owners Are Acquiring Their .Brand TLDs "Defensively" -

A New Era for Internet Domains: Why .XXX Is Just the Beginning -

Squawk On The Street: Has The Internet Out Grown .Com? -

The Big Bang in Domain Names Is Coming - The CMO Site
the CMO site

Here Come the .Brand Top Level Domain Names - Domain Name Wire
Domain Name Wire

Introducing dot Brand Solutions - Launching Brands into a New Digital Landscape

Please direct PR enquiries to our London Headquarters on +44 20 33 88 0600 or via email at

next: DotBrand Solutions' events