I had the opportunity this month to talk to Mason Cole and Jon Nevett of Donuts, which is the biggest filer of generic top-level domains applications. Once they have heard the word donuts, the majority of people first think of the food they try to avoid throughout morning meetings. However, Donuts Inc. is a corporation that filed for 307 gTLDs, such as .network, .media, .fashion, .enterprises, .email, .condos, .computer to name a few.
In 2014, Donuts is right on track to operate thousands of new domains. Some of the first set of domains includes .voyage, .singles, .holdings, .clothing, .camera, .ventures, .guru and .lighting will soon enter or they have already entered the sunrise period which is a time for trademark holders for exclusive access to registrations and in January 2014 it will be available to the public. I asked the one important question what digital marketers have to know about the Donuts’ gTLDs as it is the biggest applicant for top-level domains.
Jon Nevett said that the current name space is worn out and overused at a high level. In existing name space,they cannot find what they want as new businesses start-up so they eventually end up with an insane combination of vowels and consonants because in dot.com that’s all that’s available. So instead of newyork35.pizza or newyork.pizza, they eventually choose newyork35avepizza.com. That’s why, in order to make sense for their businesses small ones like contractors or plumbers have to be in the .contracting and .plumbing domain, instead of being in a domain with the millions of pizza shops.
Mason Cole added that when they have started this process, they have viewed dot.com as a downtown with only one main department store where the businesses of everyone were in it. That’s why they have decided to build an entire shopping mall with new gTLDs instead of just one store.
The digital shopping mall was described by Cole as one with anchor tenants and many boutiques in it.
He explained that on their own the boutiques might not be very successful, but because of the economies of scale, they can offer people more choices and options and be successful at the same time. As a result of their scalability Cole said that they could go deeper in the market and really competing with dot.com by applying for more than 300.
In early November, the first sunrise for Donuts began and since then the company is moving into sales and marketing from acquisitions.
Nevett said that the company would be engaged in consumer awareness and marketing of the new gTLDs and they would focus on the advantages to mid-sized and small businesses along with the bigger brands. The company has a marketing and sales team Los Angeles that is pretty active focusing on consumer awareness, but in order to buy domains, consumers and businesses would still need to go to a registrar such as 1and1or GoDaddy. Despite the fact that it’s very likely for businesses to receive the biggest share of domains, the majority of top-level domains are designed for individuals who want to stand out from the crowd such as .gripe, .photos, .sports, .run, .style, .fashion, and .blog.
When we spoke about the search, they both agreed that the search will be influenced by the new gTLD program.
They said that for what the site is related to or about a good indicator for that would be the top level domain and Google has promised that they would factor into the algorithm the top level domain name. The gTLD program has relevance and importance to search.
However, another question that remains is the consumer adoption. Given the fact that no one has the ability to predict the future, in the last ten years based on the quickening rate of adoption of new technologies, the Donuts Inc.’s team is optimistic regarding quick consumer adoption. It’s very likely for consumer adoption to be rapid, if new campaigns using the new domains are initiated by registrars such as Go Daddy and other big brands.
When questioned about the concerns from the Association of National Advertisers, Mason Cole and Jon Nevett replied that since the beginning they have been committed to aiding brands.
Jon Nevett said that in order to assure the Internet community that their TLDs are designed to provide maximum opportunity to anyone who is looking for more options and choice rather than infringing sites and leverage squatters and because of that for brand owners they have put nearly a dozen additional protections. Everyone would notice that they are a safe environment and all concerns would be handled professionally and swiftly.
In addition, in order to handle brand protection, Donuts Inc. included a Domains Protected Mark List (DMPL) for brands.
With the help of the Trademark Clearinghouse, Cole said that they are encouraging brand owners to have their trademarks registered and use the sunrise periods.
In the new TLDs, 60 days will be the period for each sunrise and trademark owner can block or register their trademarks during that time. They can choose to watch the domain with Donuts’ domain and decide whether to block it or not later.
Registrars, who have signed contracts with Donuts, once sunrise is over, will be offered a first come first served approach in order to purchase domains. Now, that includes registrars like 1&1, NetNames and CSC.
Nevett said that now is the time where the businesses have to pay attention. They have signed 36 new contractors and later on they are expecting to reach up to 60.
Cole added that this is a golden opportunity to aid the success of your company by considering new available options regarding more specific domains for your own business.
In conclusion, even though there are still a few skeptics regarding the gTLD program, we are all anticipating the grand opening of the digital shopping mall of domains. Is the new domain going to be the one thing everyone is chatting about? Will dot.com transform from “gold” to “old” standard in the world of digital marketing? Visit www.donuts.co for more information regarding the complete portfolio of Donuts Inc.’s domain names.