Are New gTLDs Just Another Headache for IT Departments?
Posted by Jennifer Wolfe on 03rd October 2013 in 360 Blog

If you are in the IT department of a company that applied for a new top level domain, you are likely already developing a headache just thinking about what it will take to maintain not only the existing thousands to millions of pages you have in your existing web sites, but now contemplating how to maintain even more subdomains and pages within the new top level domain.

Half of the world’s top brands applied for top level domains. Most of the brands have completed their initial evaluation of their application with ICANN and now teams of marketing, digital and IT experts are sitting around conference room tables discussing possibilities for 2014. The IT people in the room are concerned about replicating what already exists without a clear benefit. And, rightly so. While gTLDs offer many marketing benefits such as enhanced authenticity and the possibility of offering a more robust experience for consumers, much of what can be done with a gTLD can be done in a .com. And, while there is a layer of additional security and protection from phishing or typo sites (provided you market that to consumers), from an IT perspective that additional security is minimal.

What is different about a gTLD is that it is a completely closed eco system that the brand can fully control and track big data across traffic and activity. This data has value on multiple levels for the organization including driving operational decisions, marketing, as well as partnerships and revenue generators. But more importantly, it’s an opportunity to think innovatively about the experience consumers have with your brand on your web site. Simply replicating what you have on your home page just creates a lot of work for IT without a clear benefit. But developing a clear strategy about how to create something new and unique with a very focused functionality for the user taps into the power of the gTLD.

If you’re sitting in those meetings discussing possibilities, make sure you take time to survey the landscape. Look at the other brands that have applied, consider what they might do with their gTLD. There are four to five clear strategies that brands will use. Take a look at how you are using social media and apps – the innovative ideas you need can likely be found in other digital initiatives. Provide data to your marketing and digital counterparts about how people currently navigate your home page. What do consumers search for most frequently? Where do they spend the most time? The answers to these questions provide the information you need to build an effective top level domain. For example, if you’re Major League Baseball, you might want subdomains like scores.mlb or playoffs.mlb or maybe live.mlb. Consider what people are most frequently looking for when they come to your site and peel it off – make it unique, memorable and a specific sought after experience. This changes the way people think about navigating the site into specific functions. This also allows you to maintain your existing site and the search equity associated with it while testing specific functionality of new landing pages associated with the gTLD. As the IT professional in the room, data should guide the discussion and tracking data about usage after roll out should be the foundation for your plan.

Although gTLDs can surely be the source of headaches, turn it on its head and use it as a catalyst for innovative thinking.
If you’re an applicant and looking for help in planning for your gTLD, Click Here.

If you didn’t apply, but want to know more about how this may impact your brand and digital experience, Click Here.