I am not a native New Yorker. I have only lived on the Upper West Side of Manhattan for six and a half years, but I feel like a New Yorker. I hate crowds of tourists, I try my hardest not to pass through Times Square, I love running/rollerblading/playing tennis/walking in Central Park, I know I will never make it on time if I need to take the W train, and I keep my elbows out when walking past people meandering on the sidewalk during rush hour. The only way you could tell I am not a native New Yorker is my Sox and Pats gear. I am also a domain investor.
When I was in graduate school at NYU, the reason I moved to New York, the director of the program challenged us to think like marketers and like consumers. It was critical that if we were going to develop direct marketing strategies for brands, we couldn’t just think about ways to market products. We had to put ourselves in the minds of the consumers who would buy our products, and we needed to think about whether our marketing efforts would appeal to them.
In the case of the .nyc extension, I am able to think like a domain investor and like a consumer, and I have a pretty good idea about how the .nyc extension will be successful. I can also imagine how it could struggle.
Several years ago, the city of New York rolled out its 311 phone line. This is the number you can call for just about anything and everything related to New York that isn’t an emergency. If you need information about paying taxes, call 311. If there’s a car alarm going off at 2am outside of your building, call 311. If you see a rodent in a restaurant, call 311. This is the phone number to connect you with the city, and most people who live hear know about it through a variety of television, subway, billboard, and other advertising efforts.
For consumers to adopt .nyc as they adopted 311, I think a few things need to happen:
I think every government organization, entity, office and program will need to use .nyc for their website. Whether this is forwarded to the existing .gov or not, we, the people of New York, need to know that .nyc means connecting to New York City, it’s government, businesses and everything else related to the city.
Every city marketing effort needs to be branded .nyc. Mayor.nyc should go to to the mayor’s office, FDNY.nyc should go to the Fire Department, 311.nyc should go to the 311 system, CentralPark.nyc should go to the Central Park Conservancy, and Weiner.nyc should not go to Gray’s Papaya, but should go to State Representative Anthony Weiner who represents the city.
If the city adopts .nyc as their extension, consumers will begin to adjust to it, and they will adopt it as well. However, it can’t just end at the city government. The .nyc extension will not be commercially viable if the businesses in New York don’t buy their domain names, which is where the revenue generation steps in to the picture. I am all for capitalism, but the people running the .nyc extension need to do something to ensure legitimate New York City business get their domain names so New Yorkers use the extension to find their favorite businesses.
If AtlanticGrill.nyc, PerSe.nyc, Bloomingdales.nyc, and MenuPages.nyc end up with PPC links on them or go to a Sedo for sale page, I will probably never type in a .nyc domain name to find a local business. When I am on my Blackberry, I never type in a .mobi, because I know the chance is good that the brands I want to find don’t even own their .mobi name! Two immediate cases in point are JetBlue.mobi and YouTube.mobi. In my own humble opinion, I would say that the consumer marketing effort of .mobi has not been good, and I the registrations of .mobi domain names have stalled (846,994 registered as of February 1, 2009 vs. 956,412 on October 1, 2008 – source: 2009 and 2008). Out of the 14 extensions on that list, .mobi is the only one to have lost registrations between October and February.
The .nyc extension isn’t a new technology that stands out from other extensions and would give it a unique selling point. The extension is a marketing effort that needs to be branded and sold to consumers in addition to businesses. I think it will take a big effort to make it work, but I certainly think it is possible.
I should also add that I think this will be a boon for the owners of NYC.com. No matter how much effort is done people will still add the .com after .nyc, which will take them to a NYC.com subdomain.