By Janette Speyer and Alison Brown, Web Success Team
The Internet is about to change. Are you ready for the switch? ICANN, the Internet Corporation of Assigned Names and Numbers, has been working on a domain overhaul that will allow you to have a Top-Level Domain (gTLD) that uses a .yourbrand extension instead of .com, .net or .org. This change has the potential to open the door for endless online branding possibilities. For Coca Cola, they can purchase the extension .coke and then create a number of different URL’s that help build their brand.
On January 12, 2012, the world’s largest branding revolution will begin, as ICANN will start accepting gTLD applications. Prices for owning the rights to various domain’s is very pricey and opens the door to a number of bidding wars for companies fighting for rights over general domain names.
What is a Domain URL?
Domain names are used to declare ownership and control over a said resource on the Internet. The domain name is a memorable address that allows a user to communicate with an Internet server. It hides the IP address, which is just a series of numbers, and replaces them with something easier to remember. In any website URL, you first have the “mid-level domain,” which is usually the name of the company or service that you’re offering. Then you have the “top-level domains” or “TLD” which is usually .com, .biz, .org or .net. The levels of domains are then separated by periods. For example, “WebSuccessTeam” is the mid-level domain in “websuccessteam.com” and the top-level domain is “.com.”
Who is ICANN?
ICANN is the Internet facilitator and oversees a variety of Internet related tasks. It was founded on September 30, 1988 under the George W. Bush Administration and is headquartered in Marina Del Rey, California. Its purpose has been described as “helping preserve the operational stability of the Internet,” but before ICANN existed, the United States government controlled the distribution of domain names. ICANN is recognized as a “corporate non-profit” and is governed by a 16-member Board of Directors. There are also three separate organizations that serve under ICANN called the Generic Names Supporting Organization (GNSO), which deals with creating policies for generic top-level domains (gTLDs). Then there is the Country Code Names Supporting Organization (ccNSO), which creates policies for country-code top-level domains (ccTLDs) such as .com.au for Australia. Lastly, the Address Supporting Organization (ASO) creates policies for IP addresses.
Cons for Making the Switch
- It will cost companies thousands of dollars. The application fee alone is $185,000, and the annual fee is $25,000. It also costs an additional $500,000 for integration. Most companies can’t afford such astronomical fees and there has been a lot of criticism in regards to small business owners and what this means for the future of the Internet. If only several wealthy companies gain access to all the rights of domain URL’s, then it’s a concern as to what this means for small business owners or those who want to brand their company, but just don’t have the resources.
- It will be confusing. People can hardly remember the difference between .com, .biz or .org, and now with the possibility of endless top-level domains, it will be harder for people to keep them straight.
Pro’s for Making the Switch
- It will be easier to brand your company. There will be an opportunity to market your brand, products, community or cause in new and innovative ways. It once took decades to promote a brand and what it stands for, but with the help of branding your URL, it will be a lot easier to promote the services you offer.
- You keep your brand offshoots in the same domain. Once you own the rights to your sector’s top level domain, such as .phone, .food or .money, you can begin getting creative with your brand name URL’s.
What does it mean for the Future of the Internet?
Some are unsure as to whether this change will take hold or not in the online community. ICANN isn’t giving companies very much time to make a decision as to whether they will be applying for top-level domain rights. It will be interesting to see how it plays out, what small business owners have to say, and who gets approved in the first round of applications.
Is your company deciding whether or not to apply? If you are, please join our discussion!
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