Industry News, Ramblings
•on June 12th, 2012
In just a few hours from now, the international unveiling of the of applied-for domains under ICANN’s New Generic Top Level Domains will be upon us. With coverage and anticipation brewing amongst a lot of the major media, I can’t help but wondering if it is going to be kind of like Ty Pennington yelling “Move that Bus” in the Domaining world’s equivalent of Extreme Home Makeover.
Will people squeal in delight? Or will will they simply say… “Oh crap, now how am I supposed to cut the lawn of that size?” No one really knows the reaction. Probably the only thing certain with this whole process is that there is no certainty about what this will all mean. Of course, there are some visionaries within the domain space (see: Frank Schilling) who are betting big that this day is a turning point in the web and domain names in general.
So where does Left of the Dot stand on all of this? Simply put, we are excited about what this means for ourselves, our properties, and our clients.
Last week Donuts Inc. announced that they were applying for 307 new gTLDs, publishing in a media release:
“Finding a usable Internet address is a real problem. There are more than 125 million total names in the top five TLDs, with three fourths of them in .COM alone,” said Donuts CEO Paul Stahura. “The Internet was opened for worldwide use almost 20 years ago, and we’ve had only 22 generic names made available since then. We’re overdue for expansion.”
Stahura’s rationale for pursuing $50M + worth of gTLDs is the same as we stated in our AllICanAffordIsThisShittyDomain.com message from late last year. There is an ever-increasing appetite for online identities and there is not enough virtual real estate to go around.
The Left of the Dot approach has been to build virtual high-rises on these virtual properties (we’re focussing on the waterfront lots at the moment). Or another way to put it, our virtual properties are being converted from 3 bedroom bungalows on large tracts of farm land into strata developments. Meanwhile, the new gTLDs are terraforming new planets and building new waterfronts.
We believe that these new gTLDs are solving the same problem of giving consumers a choice and an alternative. We also believe that with the amount of money being put into these new extensions, the general public will start seeing alternative domain constructs in their daily lives. And once they start accepting alternate domain extensions, it can only mean good things for our sub-domain model.
In our AllICanAfford… video we asked those watching whether they wanted to turn the clock back 15 years when the first domain names were first being conceived … “IMPOSSIBLE!” we claimed. Who knows, maybe in another 15 years, we will be kicking ourselves once more wishing we could turn back the clock again to right now. Only time will tell
We saw this quick rambling by Shane Cultra of DomainShane that we wanted to share. Shane is an offline businessman first and foremost, but owns a good collection of domains mostly in areas that he knows well (i.e., plant and garden-related). He asserts…
“When you own a category killer domain, a person that enters that site is making an assumption that the owner must be one of the leaders in that category. They haven’t a clue that many of the owners are clueless about their products or the industry in general. In my opinion, new customers won’t feel as comfortable going to Jones’ Mattress Factory as they would Mattress.com. Jones’ may have been around for 80 years and Mattress.com only 3 years (made up numbers) but Mattress.com gets a big head start. This doesn’t mean that Jones can’t become the largest seller on the net, but the road will be longer and actually could be more expensive than the mattress.com road with the advertising budget needed. The Internet is still young but major keyword domains feel older, more experienced. People feel like they’ve been to the site even though it was most likely some other generic type site. That familiarity helps them sell…”
Will the name make you an overnight success? Hardly. If you fail to deliver on customer expectations within the business itself (e.g., if Importers.com could not gain the trust of its users through its actions), then the name doesn’t matter.
The impact that “Trust” has with customers, and the ability for a domain to influence this trust, is directly attributable to the brand positioning that we’ve established for Importers.com. This category killer and brand is all about “Trusted Global Trade.” We’ve been working since the brand’s launch to reflect this intrinsic trust of the domain name, back out in any of our marketing messages.
Launching and running a business is hard. There are bumps, twists, headaches all along the route. One second things are going well, then the next you are scrambling to reconfigure a merchant account so as to not miss out on any online orders. But when things are running properly and all things are equal: in our opinion (and Shane’s too) the ability for your customers to trust you over your competitor does give you an unfair advantage.
Part of what we do at Left of the Dot is allow small businesses as represented by the category killer domain name is to leverage this trust bestowed on the domain as sub-domains. In a way, having a marketing name is kind of like a celebrity endorsement from someone you trust. Everyone trusts Tom Hanks, so if you have your product next to Tom, some of that trust rubs off on your products too.
What do you think … do category killer domain names give you an unfair advantage?
•on March 5th, 2012
I was reading this article over at Owen Frager’s blog over the weekend, exploring the power of conversion words when combined with core concepts (e.g., VisitStockholm.com) … which is an interesting read for anyone who is interested in its own right … but a paragraph contained within the article really caught my eye:
…”Don’t forget the sub-domain factor,” counsels Turkel. “I know of dozens of large cities ramping up their budgets to reach the Dual Income No Kids (DINKs) recession-immune audiences.” This might help move domain negotiations that previously lacked justification or sense of urgency to buy. Sub-domains extend the reach of the domain by enabling you to present different faces to different demographic groups…
The Turkel being quoted is Bruce Turkel of TURKEL, an agency focussed on travel and tourism marketing, branding and advertising.
What he is alluding to of course is using sub-domains to segment your audience into silos, providing each with content and an experience relevant to the whole. If you have Oahu.com, you could just as easily have HeliTours.Oahu.com or KidFriendly.Oahu.com. While each of these could support the overall brand experience of the main domain and borrow the trust associated with the primary brand, they could stand alone and speak to the target audience.
It is no wonder then that the major search engines still treat sub-domains as separate websites… because they are. However, an effective sub-domain strategy can allow large brand holders to sculpt the end user’s experience so that they see content that is relevant to them. The domain “Helitours.Oahu.com” can deliver on the brand promise that the name implies: visitors (and search engines) would expect that this sub-domain is, well, about Helitours in Oahu.
Our approach at Left of the Dot is to allow the brand holder to create these sub-domains easily, allowing either the natural community to build out sub-domains to their “best fit and use”, or the brand holder to build their own network underneath.
Normally we don’t like to talk about our projects and sites until they launch, but I had to direct you to our upcoming launch of Themes.com to call attention to the great work done by our lead designer on the “Coming Soon/Splash Page”.
Check it out here before it is gone and is replaced by the “real” site.
Themes.com will be a new marketplace, according to our branding documents “For Designers, By Designers”… so maybe he was just super-excited to play in his playground.
This splash page highlights our manifesto that we created, describing the vision we have for the domain.
When we start on any new Domain Name, we spend the first while truly understanding the space. After all, we are not building mini-sites or mass developed parked pages. Every name we tackle can become a category-defining brand and business unto itself.
Company News, Ramblings
•on January 15th, 2011
Tickets were booked today for our leadership team to head to DOMAINFest. We will be in the Los Angeles area for the entire week (Jan 31 – Feb 4). So if you are planning on attending the conference (or live nearby), chase one of us down and we would love the opportunity to share what we have been up to.