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New gTLD registries increasingly attacking .com

Kevin Murphy, August 18, 2014, 10:56:00 (UTC), Domain Registries

Is .com “silly” and “meaningless”?

That’s what some new gTLD registries would have you believe.

In separate blog posts over the last week, Donuts and ARI Registry Services have gone on the offensive, dismissing .com as an irrelevant relic of a bygone age.

ARI CEO Adrian Kinderis branded .com as “meaningless and unintuitive” in a post slamming the Board of Racing Victoria, an Australian horse-racing organization, for the purchase of racing.com for (he claimed) $500,000.

New gTLDs with more semantic relevance to horse racing or geographic regions will make this purchase look “silly” in future, he said.

Take for instance .racing which is set to launch soon. It would offer a more creative and relevant domain name such as horses.racing, victorian.racing or vichorses.racing.

He also said that most Australians are conditioned to visit .com.au (for which ARI provides the registry back-end), which will lead to traffic leakage from racing.com to racing.com.au.

The problem is that racing.com does not have an intrinsic connection with Victorian horse racing that would lend itself to intuitive navigation and recall.

Donuts had a similar message in a blog post last week.

Donuts vice president Mason Cole said on that company’s blog that .com is “diluted and meaningless” when compared to more vertically oriented TLDs such as Donuts’ .photography and .bike.

It adds nothing to an identity. Except perhaps to say, “Iā€™m on the Internet somewhere.” .COM is “1999” ā€” not “today,” and definitely not the future. New .COM registrations are extraordinarily long and much less meaningful when compared to a new registration in a new gTLD. And with its recent price decreases on new registrations (which apparently is necessary to match their low quality), .COM now means “low quality and cheap.”

It will be interesting to see whether this kind of messaging will be carried over from lightly trafficked corporate blogs into more mainstream new gTLD marketing by registries.

What do you think? Do Donuts and ARI have a point? Is .com meaningless? Will it fall out of fashion? Is going negative on legacy gTLDs a wise strategy for new gTLD companies?

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Comments (19)

  1. equalizatore says:

    D E S P E R A T I O N!

    dnjournal sales report speaks louder than their verbal diarrhea…

    Newbie uneducated domainers are the target of their absurd rhetoric…

  2. @domains says:

    Pretty harsh comments on .com, people are still willing to pay a premium for good .com domains even with all the new gtlds out. The market tells the real story.

  3. .com is like the NFL (National Football League), whereas new gTLDs are like the defunct USFL.

    Congrats to Racing Victoria for entering the big leagues, and not getting suckered into a cheap counterfeit.

    There’s a great speech in Hamlet (Act 3, Scene 4) where Hamlet compares his father to his uncle. It begins “Look here, upon this picture, and on this, The counterfeit presentment of two brothers.” I leave it as an exercise for those interested to look up the rest of that speech. šŸ™‚

  4. Rubens Kuhl says:

    .com is meaningless in an all-digital society. It used to mean the online presence of an organization, but not being online is not an option in most verticals nowadays.

    It’s not out of fashion, though; it might be the old collection, but the new collection still has to prove itself, and whether this will happen or not is yet to be seen.

  5. Alexa Raad says:

    Its true dotcom is not an indicator of what kind of content there is, nor if the content is trusted, safe, accurate etc. But it is and has been what most internet users (and not to mention search and other applications) know and recognize.

    The Jury is still out on whether new gTLDs will pose a threat and/or complement legacy TLDs. Until there are reliable usage statistics (and I do not mean just registration numbers, I mean content and traffic, email addresses, etc) it is too early to declare the death of one or the supremacy of the other.

    What is more important is that for now every new gTLD has to stand on its own merits. In an increasingly crowded market with many choices for their $$s (and btw, not all of them domain names) they need to show prospective registrants why registering their gTLD will translate into greater benefits for the registrant AND for end users.
    Availability of a great name (left of the dot) is not enough. For example, there are lots of great properties but the ones in London or Manhattan tend to stay in demand. To continue the analogy…If London and Manhattan were the incumbents, lets consider Las Vegas. A city purpose built in the in the Nevada desert, with a very interesting (and for back in the 50’s and 60’s) novel value prop: concentrated center for entertainment and legal gambling. This was a value prop that many existing cities could not or would not easily replicate. The marketing of Las Vegas to this day is focused on the fun and entertainment value of the city itself. Maybe there is a pony in there somewhere for new gTLDs.

  6. AdamS says:

    So a couple years ago when all these guys were selling .com domains and pushing those, were they just selling “low quality” and “meaningless” domains ?

    I think the new TLD guys are just grasping to be relevant.

    I’m reminded of a clip from the movie Mean Girls.
    Insert whatever new TLD you like over the word “fetch”

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pubd-spHN-0

  7. TLD says:

    What is nice about some of the new gTLDs is that brand is great for like a writer to use the new .BIO as a showcase that is perfect when used appropiately.

    The .com, .net, .org and .info are still the ulimate. Racing.com will hold its value as being the domain for it regardless.

  8. Kassey says:

    Have they addressed the issue of future expansion of a company buying into a .racing extension? Say you start with horse.racing. You become successful and want to expand into car racing. What do you do if car.racing is not available? What about if you become very successful and want to be in every kind of racing? Would you have the same problem if you bought racing.com in the first place?

    • Rubens Kuhl says:

      Yes one would. Although car.racing.com and horse.racing.com would be under their domain, less detail-oriented users could type carracing.com and horseracing.com and those domains might not be under their control.

  9. Barry says:

    Isn’t this the same conversation that took place on OD last week? It seems like these new gTLDs cause more confusion than anything. See the discussion here:

    http://onlinedomain.com/2014/08/12/news/donuts-com-has-become-diluted-and-meaningless-it-adds-nothing-to-an-identity/

  10. John Berard says:

    Having invested in being awarded a new gTLD (be it .bike or .racing or .notcom), it falls now on the shoulders of new registries to create consumer and business confidence in the name-space. Online, we type in very little and search quite a lot. Will Google return schwinn.com at the same rate as schwinn.bike? And if it does, will the consumer be confused or understand the difference? Will there be a difference? At the least, schwinn.bike should assure the consumer that it is the company she is looking for. Perhaps even a safer and more secure web location. On paper, such value created by new gTLDs can diminish the market lead held by the legacy ones, but there has been too little done at this point to know just when that might happen.

  11. @Alexa
    “Until there are reliable usage statistics (and I do not mean just registration numbers, I mean content and traffic, email addresses, etc) it is too early to declare the death of one or the supremacy of the other.”

    Some of us are actively measuring those things. However measuring web usage and development in a TLD is a complex business. I ran surveys on the top 10 new gTLDs in June and 110K domain surveys on .COM, .CO, .EU, .ES, .FR, .CO.UK in early July. (In addition to the 390K domain monthly survey of the Irish hosted domains.) Verisign ran surveys on the the new gTLDs but based its categories on the rather iffy Eurid surveys. Eurid’s surveys appeared after I ran a 2.3 million domain survey on .EU ccTLD. Eurid’s surveys only sampled 5000 domains per TLD and manually categorised them with a flawed methodology. With a 114 million domain TLD like .COM, that survey size is about as reliable as a newspaper’s Astrology column. However with smaller TLDs like .PRO, the 5K sample size is more reflective of the trends. The .EU ccTLD is being used but its usage patterns are far more complex than Eurid’s 5000 domain survey would suggest.

    Some zone file counts have been largely devalued by the freebies. Those are often easily identified when it comes to web usage analysis – they are either parked on PPC or not even set up in DNS.

    Email addresses can be unreliable as a metric. Many people still use Gmail and other free e-mail services. The e-mail addresses detected might just be role account e-mails and at least one venture intended on using the .EMAIL gTLD for such services until it ran into some brand protection issues. The cost of some new gTLDs largely precludes their use as disposable domains for spam.

    Content is a more difficult metric to assess as a deep site (a site with many pages) may just be an online shop. In reality, deep sites are rare on the web and the majority of websites are relatively shallow (<100 pages). In the early phase of a TLD, most of the sites will be shallow because the costs of developing a deep site will be high and the risk too great to gamble on using an unproven TLD as the brand. Therefore these deep sites are more likely to be developed on a .COM or .ccTLD domain.

    There is a consolidation trend in the main TLDs that has been in effect for a few years now and some of them have been losing domains each month. The .COM TLD had some of its worst months, in terms of net growth this year. However the number of new registrations each month in .COM is greater than the total number of registered new gTLDs. This is the market that the new gTLDs are facing.

    Selling domain as part of a value added service is a good idea and one that might work. But the new gTLD registries would have to convince the prospective registrants that the benefits of switching from their existing .COM or .ccTLD domain outweigh the disadvantages.

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