The debate is over and ICANN is moving full steam ahead to create the next generation of the Internet. What is happening, what will change in how people use the Internet, how will businesses make money from it and what was the reasoning behind it all? How much will it cost companies to protect their brand when the Internet infinitely grows in size? These are just a few of the questions to be answered in Domain Names Rewired.
In case you hadn’t stumbled across the limited and often buried articles in the mainstream media covering this topic, for the first time in the history of the Internet, ICANN (the non-profit organization which runs the Internet – more formally known as the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) has approved the release of up to 1,000 new generic Top Level Domains (gTLD or TLD) such as .yourbrand or .restaurants, to anyone who wants to apply for one. While it is costly to obtain a new top level domain, likely at least $250,000 – $500,000 or more in the initial year, this is the new frontier – just like it was when .coms became mainstream, full of opportunities to create the future, adopt disruptive innovation and new business models, along with challenges to protect existing business models and brands.
This rapidly changing new regime of the Internet will impact the hundreds of millions of Internet users around the globe, not to mention every business that already has a “.com.” Largely under the radar of even sophisticated and savvy business executives, when the new Internet launches in 2013, businesses of all sizes will need guidance on how to respond. Those who caught on early and applied for their own top level domain between January and April of 2012, will be in for the biggest paradigm shift since the Internet began and potentially capitalize on the next channel of the Internet. Even for companies who didn’t invest in the new Internet, they will need to protect their existing .com and brand in an exponentially increasing Internet world and evaluate new opportunities.
In the first chapter, we provide an overview of the business community’s response to the program, opportunities, new business models and what is needed to defend your brand in this new regime. Throughout the remainder of the book, we interview global leaders in trade organizations, corporations, technology and other thought leaders to identify and predict trends.
Based upon our research and interview of global thought leaders, a few top trends emerged:
- .com strategies that don’t evolve will fail.
- Many of the generic TLD business will fail and new business models will emerge just as in the .com era.
- There will be increased merger & acquisition activity because large companies that did not apply will look for companies that did apply and adopt successful strategies to acquire.
- This will likely spawn innovative activity that may lead to an increase in IPOs of the companies that get it right. IPOs always follow innovative or disruptive technology as a fast way to generate capital and grow at an accelerated rate.
- There will initially be an increased cost to businesses, but those that restructure their approach will realize more economies of scale.
- Elimination of cable and traditional television will accelerate. A few sources we trust will emerge as aggregators of content. Consumers will select a handful of sites and Apps they trust to manage their entire life and world online.
- Mail will continue to disappear in favor of a customized online world. Most businesses may start to charge consumers for delivery and payment of bills via traditional mail rather than online. Consumers will be incented to do more online.
- Brick and mortar retail will need to become a destination source of entertainment for consumers to continue to come into the actual store and they will need to tie their in-store experience to savings when purchasing other products online. Like Apple, the store is so much more than just a store.
- There will be new ways of navigating the Internet, accessing communities and apps and disruptive innovation will result. Search won’t die, but must evolve. Apps and tools that get people to exactly what they want faster will become more prevalent.
- Thinking about brands has to evolve to incorporate a comprehensive Internet, app, digital, interactive and intellectual property strategy – none of these can operate independently in a .brand world.
- While there is a bigger universe to protect, trademark owners have more tools available today than they did in the .com explosion and need to think more strategically about the approach in a return on investment methodology rather than just a defensive cost structure in the annual budget.
- There will be opportunities to partner or collaborate to build communities that mean something – especially if you didn’t apply for a top level domain – who did and might be a good partner for you?
- Companies could actually improve their overall Internet strategy by taking this challenge and fear about brand protection and turning it into the opportunity to audit, evaluate and improve the way they build and cultivate their brand identity on the Internet.
- Early adopters will capitalize on the loyalty of community followers – members of their organizations or top level domains – this access to information will be worth billions to advertisers.
- .com will ultimately symbolize – antiquated or not cool – remember the world before emails – remember when everything was .com?
- A new way of thinking about the Internet and our digital world will emerge and people will rely more on finding what they want when a company has its own top level domain or belongs to a trusted community top level domain.
- Big search engines may begin to charge in a different way to use their search engine. Consumers could pay a premium for better search or companies may pay even more for enhanced results.