The Internet universe reached a whole new level of expansion recently, with the release of new generic Top Level Domains (gTLDs), and already we're seeing brands taking advantage.
Out of 18 million domains registered last year, 4 million were new gTLDs. These are domains like .berlin and .rocks, which fill the same slot in a web address as .com or .org but turn that slot into a meaningful space for communicating who you are and what you do. With domains like these grabbing one-fifth of all new registrations, legacy TLDs are getting too crowded to give brands the flexibility they want, and they're looking for other ways to project themselves online.
Moreover, familiarity with new gTLDs is rising in the US, as celebrities like singer Taylor Swift make headlines for acquiring new domains to manage their brands. But outside the US is where we're seeing a lot of early adoption. Moreover, the openness to new gTLDs in foreign markets poses a compelling opportunity for brands looking to enhance and diversify their global reach.
Accustomed to Variety
Three of the five most popular new gTLDs, in terms of domains purchased, are largely if not exclusively serving foreign markets.
Why are new gTLDs more popular outside the US? A likely reason is that Internet users in other countries are used to seeing variety to the right of the dot. Germans use sites like google.de every day, and there are more than 7 million monthly visitors to the Indian news site intoday.in.
Whereas users in the US (where many Internet naming customs were born) tend to think of legacy TLDs as the only options, people elsewhere in the world have long accepted that there’s more to a Web address than .com and .org.
Brands have an exciting opportunity, therefore, to access foreign markets with novel, informative and eye-catching Web addresses.
Here are three reasons to take advantage of new gTLDs for international markets now—before this space gets crowded too.
1. Search isn't everything
A recent survey [PDF] by the Domain Name Association (DNA) showed that, some or all of the time, 85% of Internet users around the world type Web addresses directly into the browser address bar. In other words, when users know where they want to go, most people go directly there. And that means that having a Web address that people can remember is crucial for keeping them from resorting to search (where they might be drawn to someone else's site). And on that note…
2. New gTLDs are easy to remember
That's the opinion, anyway, of the majority of people in the DNA survey mentioned above. On top of that, people judge geography-specific domains (like .london) and profession-specific domains (like .dentist) to be both more creative and more exclusive than legacy TLDs. Creativity and uniqueness are tremendously important in capturing attention and staying top of mind the next time a user gets online.
3. Interest is growing, especially in countries where the Internet is growing most rapidly
The fastest-growing internet markets are China and India, and users in these countries showed the greatest interest in the expansion of domain name options (69% and 75%, respectively). Users in India and Mexico proved to be the most aware that online naming options are growing more diverse.
Using city- and country-specific Web addresses (e.g., hotels.mumbai) is one way for brands to access these savvy and eager foreign markets—not the only way. The number and variety of new gTLDs opens the door to all sorts of possibilities.
Imagine how an address like nike.futbol, for example, could be used to appeal to soccer fans and activate unique campaigns across the global Spanish-speaking market. Many gTLDs are words that have currency in multiple languages—such as .moda, which means "fashion" in Spanish, Italian, and Portuguese and is also popular now among many English speakers. Addresses like versace.moda, therefore, can be a smart choice for branding both at home and around the world. This ability to cross borders while still conveying a specific message led the Vatican, whose constituency is about as global as they come, to claim .social as the domain for its education and cultural outreach website (scholas.social).
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We've all heard the mantra "think globally, act locally." The expanded Internet we have today gives brands an unprecedented opportunity to live up to that mantra. Global outreach can be strategically targeted for local appeal—and there's a world of users out there ready and waiting.
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