Dot brands are trending


Dot brands are on a roll (2017 – continuation of blog article n° 76 – New extensions: all set for “.brand”?)

Domain names: status of the <.brand> in 2017

In June 2011, the ICANN launched the new gTLDs program in order to boost innovation and competition. This is how we uncovered new gTLD applications in October 2013.

Surprisingly, many <.brand> applications were submitted (cf. Companies using registered brands were consequently able to apply for their own top level domain name extensions, at the same root level as the <.com>.

The top level domain name registration process is far more complex than domain name registration insofar as it is compulsory to become a registry operator to achieve the former. It is a time-consuming and expensive process and no one can, at the present time, submit an application anymore. A new round is scheduled for 2020. In order to become a certified registry operator, the ICANN would need to conduct an operational and technical assessment on an application basis. The applicant would submit its infrastructures (servers and networks) for examination in order to inspect its viability and security. In addition, the applicant would have to pay application fees of 185,000 US dollars, followed by an annual payment of 25 000 US dollars per “extension” to the ICANN. Once the assessment process is complete, the applicant would obtain the pre-delegation and sign a registry agreement (Registry Agreement) with the ICANN in order to guarantee compliance with its operating guidelines. Should the applicant not possess the technical skills, he may contact a service provider who would have to pass the operational and technical tests.

In January 2017, there were 551 <.brand> “extensions” in total. However 2016 proved to be the <.brand> year: 46% of delegated top level domain names were <.brand> “extensions”.

New gTLDs (generic Top Level Domains), and in this instance the <.brand>, are becoming increasingly widespread for a number of reasons.

First of all, the <.brand> extension implies not only better visibility on the Internet but also increased security insofar as this type of domain may only be registered by brand owners.

These top level domains enable the likelihood of confusion to be averted  when the brand appears in the domain or sub-domain name. Indeed, in order to acquire a top level domain delegation, evidence of earlier rights over the brand must be provided to the ICANN. It therefore represents an effective means to reduce cybercriminality such as phishing. In that respect, one could easily speculate that websurfers will be more suspicious of domain names that have other “extensions” once they will have gotten used to the matching <.brand>. This security is an essential spur to some brands, particularly to banks as they are frequent victims of phishing. For this reason, as depicted by studies done by Alexa Internet, an American company specializing in data analysis, two of the most popular “extensions” are respectively owned by Banco Bradesco, a brasilian bank, and BNP Paribas.Barclays also recently registered the <.barclays> “extension”.

Secondly, the launch of the new gTLDs program has triggered the creation of entities such as The dot brand Observatory, whose activity is to assist brands in creating their own <.brand> extension.

Brand strategies on the Internet, in fact, have become an unavoidable issue for professionals but success is never guaranteed. By the end of 2015, The dot brand Observatory was created to assist companies in their top level and second-level domain name strategy. This research program entails a full analysis of brands registered as top level or second level domains which takes into account their environment, brand naming strategy and marketing approach. The observatory immediately noticed a rapid increase in <.brand> top level domains.

Finally, the growth of top level domains allows for better brand outreach on the Internet and facilitates access because the <.brand> extension is better referenced, in most cases leading to enhanced brand visibility. In addition, companies can provide exclusive access to their clients, employees and prospective clients, or make a single website accessible to the three user groups.

It is worth noting that nowadays many brands use the extension <.brand> for their own different purposes. According to the Dot Brand Observatory’s statistics, most brands use the <.brand> extension for their main website. However some prefer to dedicate the <.brand> extension exclusively to consumers, or only internally. Some companies use a <.brand> extension to fulfill both purposes such as <.bnpparibas>, the only company so far that has destined its’ <.brand> to its’ clients and its’ intranet users.

A new <.label> extension category has been developed around the <.brand> use. An example : the <.eco>.

The <.eco> extension was launched on February 1st, 2017, with the purpose of enabling domain name registrants who wish to use this extension to showcase their activity’s ecological awareness to consumers. The <.eco> is open to everyone willing to commit themselves to the ecological cause, whether it is an association or a company, so long as they demonstrate that it is in accordance with their actions. The project is supported by leading international organisations in ecology such as World Wildlife Fund, Greenpeace and the UNEP (United Nations Environment Programme) which have laid down strict requirements for eligibility to a <.eco> registration.

This project is shaping the future of domain names by developing <.label> extensions which are meant to guarantee genuine quality of the registrant to the public.

However, the downside of this system lies in the fact that it is possible for domain names to be reserved without yet having been activated, and while waiting for the registrant to undergo the post-registration check.

To be continued…