I’ve gone through the entire gamut of emotions and opinions about new gTLDs. If you search online back far enough, you can find a few of my rants stating that adding anything more than .com, .net, and .org is a terrible idea (this was when they were proposing .info and .biz). Obviously, I’ve warmed up to the idea today and have a different view. I’ve been directly involved in assisting 10 or so applicants to submit 60 new gTLD applications. I’ve been a domainer, worked for a registry, and now, work for a registrar so I’ve seen the industry from all sides.
So, what should a domainer do about new gTLDs? How should you prepare? Here are my suggestions.
1. Be Optimistic, But Don’t Be Stupid – I have reasons to believe that some new gTLDs will succeed in spite of the naysayers. I’ll give my top reason at the bottom of this post, but this point is about common sense.
There are going to be endless choices. If you are going to succeed you are going to have to make choices. If you are going to “invest” in new gTLDs, invest in those where you have at least a measure of expertise or in an area that you care about and want to be involved. If you put your investments all over the board, there is going to be too much space to cover and you’re attention will likely be diluted to complete ineffectiveness. Lack of focus is already a problem for many domainers, it will be worse in a world with 500 new gTLDs.
2. Don’t Forget What Makes a Domain Name Valuable – Although experts can name 20+ factors about what makes a domain name valuable, they all boil down to two things; 1.) Will someone visit that domain name? 2.) Can someone remember that domain name? Number one is already a strike out with new gTLDs. I don’t think anyone will visit new gTLD as a type-in visitor or via direct navigation within several years, if ever. But many new TLDs will be punchy and memorable. There will be plenty of opportunities for rhyme or coolness; names that are easy, meaningful, and memorable. These are the names you should consider.
3. Play in The Top to Top-Middle Space – There will likely be competition at the very top of the space where people will get carried away and spend too much money. This is sure to drive unreasonable speculation and risk. Lots of people seem to want the most generic .web or .shop keyword domain names. There are at least seven new TLD applications in for the .web TLD which will likely cost someone dearly with no real evidence that they’ll recoup that money. But competition should taper down quickly right below the most common keywords. Unless you have a lot of money to invest (assuming you want to “invest” in new gTLDs), I think that some of the best opportunities and the most opportunities for growing value will lie here. I also think that they will mean the most to people and businesses who do business in the specific market represented by the new gTLD (Dentists for .dentist and Bike shop owners and enthusiasts for .bike, etc.)
4. Watch Out for the Most Confusing Bunches – Although I like most of the vertically targeted domains, I am concerned about a few like .plumbing and .contractors. I was recently tasked with writing an article about each of those two TLDs. Forgive me, but as I sat at my computer, I couldn’t recall if the TLD was .plumbing, .plumber, or .plumbers. The same thing happens to me when I think of .contractors. Is it .contractors, .contractor, or .contracting? I’m concerned about these types of endings. I think that end users are going to struggle with this on certain new TLDs. On the other hand, TLDs like .clothing or .sexy can’t be expressed any other way. I believe that these types will be more used, less confused, and hold more long term value.
5. Plan Ahead and Stay Abreast – We already have dates of release for 60 TLDs going into Sunrise before March, 2014. ICANN is releasing new TLDs at a rate of ten to fifteen per week right now. If you are interested in investing, you’d better plan now and be thinking of which vertical markets and TLDs you are interested. It’ll get overwhelming to try and do this all at the last minute. You don’t want to be making rash decisions about purchases at the last minute; much better to think ahead. 101domain offers a free weekly new gTLD tracking service that informs subscribers about the dates for Sunrise, Landrush, Early Access, and General Availability. Visit http://101domain.com to subscribe.
Why I Have Hope for the Success of New gTLDs
I think that time has condensed over the past ten years. News travels faster. This isn’t new. It’s a historic pattern that is accelerating today. Where it took telephones 39 years to mature from 10% to 40% market penetration, it took computers about 15 years (1.). It has taken smartphones only about 3 years to achieve that same market penetration rate.
My view is that with the popularity of social networks today, there is a much shorter time period from adoption to maturity for any technology. It also costs much less for ideas to spread. There is less friction and more viral activity. If people like new gTLDs (and I think they will), then news of them will spread faster and easier than anything we’ve ever seen.
Nice article. Good thought pattern. Convincing. Good job to you and Elliot. It’s nice to read from different authors at DomainInvesting.com
I agree with you. It’s nice to get different perspectives and to be able to share them. It’s much more sensible on DomainInvesting.com than it would have been on Elliot’s Blog.
Thanks for the feedback.
Wow! I would be considered a “naysayer”……until maybe reading this article. You make some points I have considered but not embraced. I will now have to take a second look. Particularly I agree with you when you say, “But many new TLDs will be punchy and memorable. There will be plenty of opportunities for rhyme or coolness; names that are easy, meaningful, and memorable.”…………Thank you!
funny how those who work with and for companies dealing in the gtld’s always have a change of view.
I get your point. I tried to write this article as fairly as I could with points on both sides. Although I’m pretty bullish on many of the new gTLDs, I see problems too. The next article I’m planning is an Ode to Domain Name Registries on how to choose a string and build a registry that succeeds.
(FYI, JZ [short for JoeZeppy] was moniker on forums, etc. for many years! Some people still call me that. :-))
Aaron Strong@ Great to read such a genuine heart felt yet honest comment, Elmer Gantry would proud of it. Thank You.
This article is succint, accurate and long overdue. A well thought out piece which all self respecting domainers should be paying attention to.
Thanks very much. I appreciate your comment.
For anyone critical, I’ve never suggested letting your .com domain(s) lapse. That’d be plain dumb. .Com will likely always be the most important TLD in the root (like 800 numbers are in the toll-free business).
FYI, I’m a serious believer and advocate of .com domains, but I’ve been surprised by the interest in and success of many new TLDs that have come out over the years; TLDs that I thought would go nowhere. I am sure that I (we) will be surprised again. We are still in the very first stages of naming evolution online. Things will likely look very different in five or ten years.
Most domain investors who speculate in new extensions (.mobi, .co, .me for example) go overboard and since there is no way you will see massive end user demand for hundreds of new extensions in 2014, then I believe one could just wait, see which extensions seem to garner end user interest via reported sales on DNJ, wait for the inevitable drops after the first couple renewal cycles and see what quality keywords you can pick up at that point. Or post on Namepros a few years from now you are willing to buy keyword.TLD domains paying up to $x for them – but only after seeing evidence end users are actually buying them in 2016 or later.
Secret: Here is how to prepare for the new gtlds…are you ready?
Renew your .com’s.
The gtlds will be a flash in the pan and you will be thankful you didn’t let those precious .com’s lapse.
Interesting points for those who don’t want to learn about risks-return tradeoffs. I agree that there are tremendous viable investment opportunities in new gTLDs.
In the end it all boils down to this:
Do companies want to be perceived as cheapskates? (as in “they didn’t have enough money to buy the .com so they went for some lesser extension”).
Com has been and will be THE extension to go to if you’re serious about your business since it gives instant credibility, basically the opposite of what one of these random new gtlds will give you.
Maybe this global mindset that people have about COM will change over the course of the next couple of years and some new extensions will become popular as a result. But I don’t see it happening fast.
For now renew your (good) com’s and continue to profit.
Do you consider that you were wrong about .info and .biz being a terrible idea ?
These would be great new gTLDs if they were issued today !
By the way every serious domainer keeps away from .info and .biz, and I don’t know any enduser who would accept to use them.
So these TLDs are the flop that you predicted, despite the great number of “opportunities for rhyme or coolness”…
What made you really change your mind as a domainer ?
Diplomacy, I guess! Well, we are waiting & watching. Posterity shall be the judge.
I agree that in the context of “domain investing” that .info and .biz are not favorites.
Where I changed my mind was when I considered the size of the world. There is no question that high dollar sales have been made in other than .com domains. There are a few people who have made fortunes in ccTLDs (I wrote those off early on as well; my mistake).
I like prognostication but I learned better than to think I know it all either way. All we can do here is speculate to the best of our knowledge.
I don’t think that end users automatically assume that if you don’t have a .com you are cheap. Even if they do, it’s my view that the perception will change over time, especially with younger demographics.
And to put this to bed… .Com is best! I get it and I agree with that! It’s best for investment, it’s best for your business. I love .com. This article is for those who might like to consider new gTLDs. 🙂
But it’s not all that there is. In fact, we could have en entirely new way of addressing the Internet in ten years. It could have much less to do with domain names over time. It may involve something we could never envision right now.
Nice article Joe!
Hope all is going well at 101domain.
I think the biggest risk for domain investors is the issue of confusion due to:
1) synonyms – e.g .attorney, .lawyer, .law, .legal, .esq
2) plurals – e.g .game, .games
Private New Gtlds can benefit their owners by providing marketing advantages. Because Private New GTLDs are not expected to be available for public domain registration, 101domain listed all Domain extensions for informational purpose on their website. 101domain is not taking pre-registration for these domain extensions.
I decided to focus on .directory and picked up insurance.directory, lifeinsurance.directory, etc. I also picked up porn.directory (45 million searches a month on google was just too tempting). I also took the package route and picked up design.kitchen (an easy brand identity I think) with some practical keyword domains like countertops.kitchen, lighting.kitchen, tile.kitchen, etc. grabbing singular and plural versions, etc. to round out a nice domain package focused on kitchen renovation. .gallery I like too. I picked up musclecars.gallery, faucets.gallery, cabinets.gallery, hairstyles.gallery all as good keyword domains and dress.gallery and hair.gallery as good branding names. I think .gallery will be an easy one for shoppers who want to visually pour through hundreds of options online (bridesmaiddresses.gallery). .today I thought was interesting for financial markets. I picked up futures.today, options.today (keyword domains) and for branding I took themarket.today and thetrade.today. I actually plan to exploit most of these myself with the right partners. I see more value here as developer than a domain investor. I think .com is going to end up as a branding disaster. The clunky 80’s “mobile phone” of domain names and not one that cutting edge companies will want to be associated with.