Web Set to Widen

Web Set to Widen

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How many top level domain (TLD) names can you think of? Those end bits of a web address. Most people know between 5 and 10 of the usual suspects like .com, .co.za, .org, .net, perhaps .gov or .biz.

In the next 18 to 24 months though, these options are going to increase exponentially to literally thousands of TLD names to include a host of options like industry, location, and even different languages. While this eases competition for certain domain names and will give businesses a lot more choice in their naming and positioning on the web, it can potentially cause a lot of confusion for customers. If you’re in the business of search engines, that’s great news. If not, you’re going to need to address this possibility and set about preparing your customers. John Ginsberg, marketing director of Ensight, a leading international multi-channel marketing company, walks us through what these changes mean.

How will this impact South African SMEs?

In the future businesses will be able to integrate their branding and reach into their domain name, for example .music, .retail, .insurance or .consultancy, and their reach like .gauteng, .africa or .global. Languages like IsiZulu, Afrikaans, even non-Anglicised languages like Mandarin or Japanese can be used to target markets more effectively.

As with all change though, the value to cost ratio must be considered. Applications alone cost $100 000 and there’s always the risk of your application not being successful. For high competition domain names like .music for example, businesses will be subject to an evaluation in order to determine what business is awarded the domain name. In the future other domain names like .bank will require businesses to be accredited before they can use the domain name to prevent phishing.

Where to from here

While the roll-out is still in its early stages and it’s going to be some time before Internet users start encountering these new TLD names, businesses can explore the International Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers’ (ICANN) list of proposed generic TLD names (gTDL) to get an idea of where their business might fit and whether the proposed names relate to and are appropriate for their industry.

The list can be viewed here:

http://newgtlds.icann.org/en/program-status/application-results/strings-1200utc-13jun12-en

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