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Over the next few years, the Internet will look like a very different place. More than 1,000 new top-level domains (TLDs) are now joining "heritage" domains, such as .com, .info, and .org.

Retailers will now be able to take advantage of branded TLDs (like .nokia), geographic TLDs (like .vegas) and generic TLDs (like .shop). For example, consumers might buy new phone chargers from "charger.amazon" rather than "amazon.com/chargers" and jewelry from "necklace.tiffany" instead of "tiffany.com/necklaces."

That transformation will have a profound impact on how people find and use websites. The change also likely will impact brands beneficially by luring customers away from fragmented social media applications and back to branded environments.

The Problem with Social Media

In a survey of brand managers who have applied for new TLDs, 83% said they felt the engagement opportunities available with a branded TLD would be more effective with consumers than with a third-party environment.

In addition, 41% said they would reduce their reliance on traditional social media to reach end users once the new branded domains go live.

Though it may seem like an odd move for brands to rely less on the large current audiences served by social media networks, the problem is that networks like Facebook and Twitter are not keen to give up the valuable data and insights on their users—data that can help brands make better decisions on production, marketing, and promotion.

For example, all the brand interactions that occur via Twitter happen in a contained environment controlled by Twitter, so brands are limited in their ability to get insights that could be gained from those interactions. Brands are no better off than the public and must rely on the minimal analytics provided by Twitter or those than can be pulled using third-party resources.

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image of Roland LaPlante

Roland LaPlante is CMO of Afilias.

LinkedIn: Roland LaPlante