The land grab is officially starting. For the first time since the popularization of the Internet, the big news today is that ICANN is opening up the ability for the creation of new suffixes that come after the dot, such as .com or .org. The open application process lets any organization apply to be the manager of a new top level domain (TLD) and applications are expected for everything from categories and industries like .ngo (for charities and nonprofits) or .city (for cities). In addition, of the over 2000 applications expected (despite the $185,000 application fee), more than 2/3rds will expected to be brands who are registering their own brand out of fear of cybersquatting.
This may not matter as much as many marketers and brands think it will. In fact, here are five big reasons why as of right now this is an overhyped development in technology:
1. History hasn't been kind to TLDs.
Wouldn't it be great if you were in the travel industry to be able to signify your site with a .travel domain name? Or for career sites to use .jobs? Or museums to use .museum? Well, all of those top level domains already exist. How often have you navigated to a site that uses any of them? New TLDs don't matter until people's behaviour starts to change for using them.
2. Any changes are years away.
The application process will be open for the next three months, and then will close. From that point, experts are predicting that it will be at least another year or two before ICANN is able to decide which of the TLDs are approved. The most obvious proof that this process will take years? There are a bunch of new consulting companies popping up as experts who can smell money to be made in the interim.
3. Categories will require a shakeout.
When tags started becoming popular to describe content online, it was seen as great news. Now you could describe content in a way that would index it automatically. The only problem is that people use different words. Some people call a retail place a shop and some call it a store. Will more people use .shop or .store? How about .bazaar or .boutique? Until there is a single word, a TLD for a category really won't matter.
4. Google is still the kingmaker.
What most people are forgetting in all the hype is that a TLD really won't matter at all unless almight Google decides to list it in search results. So which TLDs get approved matter less than which ones Google chooses to index as part of their regular search results.
5. The web is now global.
In the early days of the web, .com (short for communications) was ok because the vast majority of sites were in English. Today the web is a different place. So TLDs that are in English may not see wide adoption globally. And different countries may use different TLDs. So the truly global TLDs like .com or .org may be few and far between … and they may not be in English at all.