New TLD Sale – The Internet’s Biggest Transformation?

Pepsi TLD SaleAfter six years of negotiations, from today (12th January) a new TLD sale will allow companies to register any web address suffix for the price of $185,000 (£119,000). Companies will have until 12 April to apply for their very own suffix in one of the biggest changes the Internet has seen since its conception 30 years ago.

There are currently 22 generic top level domains (including .com, .co.uk and .gov) as well as 250 country-specific ones. The new regulations, however, will allow companies to use branded suffixes, for example Pepsi are rumoured to be applying for the rights to .pepsi, with the prospect of new sites called drink.pepsi, taste.pepsi, football.pepsi, beckham.pepsi etc.

Although this new TLD sale does allow companies that have previously been unable to purchase the web address of their choice, a second chance to reclaim their brand, the proposal is likely to benefit larger companies, those that can afford to pay large sums of money to increase their SEO.

Is the new TLD sale just going to create one big mess?

One of the main issues is how complex searching for specific websites will become. For example, we currently have the following websites:

  • bigbrandname.com
  • bigbrandname.co.uk
  • bigbrandnameuk.com
  • big-brandname.com
  • bigbrandname.fr

The introduction of new suffixes could lead to:

  • uk.bigbrandname
  • name.bigbrand
  • home.bigbrandname
  • try.bigbrandname etc.

This is surely making the issue far more complex than it needs to be.

New TLD sale too expensive, little benefit

The move follows last year’s change concerning adult websites which were given a .xxx suffix. This controversial decision took six years to take action and there are many concerns for the new proposals. Many businesses see the new TLD sale as highly expensive with very little benefit. After the change, businesses will almost certainly experience a decrease in the number of online visitors as consumers get used to the new web address. Many companies may feel the need to purchase a specific suffix in order to ensure nobody else can purchase it. A high price for something they don’t really want or need.

ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers), the body appointed by the US government to oversee internet addresses, claim that the application process will include a fifty question form designed to deter potential fraudsters and ensure companies with copyright win the right to branded domains. The US Federal Trade Commission, however, argue that there are many opportunities for consumer harm including taking advantage of misspellings (Amazon.comm).

After the deadline for applications in April, the process will be closed for three years, meaning companies have a limited time to make a very big decision about the future of their website.