Could Brand gTLD Owners use Subdomains like Apps?
Posted by Jennifer Wolfe on 24th November 2014 in 360 Blog

Most brand gTLD applicants like Apple, Microsoft, McDonalds, American Express, Macy’s, JP Morgan, BMW, Lexus, Toyota, Target, Walmart, Safeway, and Johnson & Johnson, to name just a few, are starting to plan for how they will use their brand gTLD(s) in 2014. While most brands are in agreement that just migrating the home page from .com isn’t the solution, they are looking for an innovative strategy to deploy in their roll out. Most brands are concerned about how consumers will adopt to this new way of navigating the web and don’t want to lose the valuable search equity they have in their existing .com sites.

Brand gTLDs, as a digital platform, have the power transform how people think about and navigate the user experience on the web and could actually build off of a brand’s success in apps. Consider that the second string domains function similar to an app version of a web site– a window into one function the user is seeking – one purpose – one single interaction focused on cool, fun and simple engagement with the user. For example, apps have provided single points of entry to games like angry birds, or navigation tools to find what you need, instant coupons tied to your exact location, easy streams to your favorite local restaurants, social communities or to shopping. Apps are more tailored to quickly and easily accessing one function of an experience with a brand rather than a home page with every function available. While apps are certainly tied to the mobile experience, a similar navigation concept could apply in thinking about how to design the brand gTLD.

With a brand gTLD, brands are no longer married to the home page concept using the .com as a landing page in a rectangular shape with tabs across the top or along the side luring the user into layer up layer of rectangular pages of content. They can now build out each experience into a separate landing page unique to the experience the user is seeking with the intention to engage them fully in that one function. Those brand gTLDs own the entire space so they can easily track how users navigate from one functionality to another. Brands could evaluate how users currently connect with their web experiences, what terms they use in searching and what functionality they invest the most time on while engaging with the brand on the web. These are all the important data points to consider when creating a user experience not just a web page with the brand gTLD platform.

Digital has changed things dramatically for all marketers. In a digital world, brands can control the content and the distribution of their message and create unique user experiences. gTLDs provide brands a higher level platform to control engagement with the consumer. Once consumers start to adopt this way of thinking to how they navigate the web, the doors are wide open for more innovative thinking – just as apps opened up the door to think more streamlined strategies for engaging the user and solving their problems.

Take a look at this word cloud of possibilities and new ways to think about navigation:

new domains

No longer chained to a home page, brand gTLDs can tap into their current analytics to create functionality and user experience based solutions through the gTLD platform. While it may be confusing to consumers at first, if this becomes a trend of how consumers navigate the web, ultimately it will be more intuitive. So, too, the generics gTLDs may become directories of websites related to those categories. For example local.restaurants, beach.vacations or zip.coupon, new.style, live.sport, live.news, etc.

Technology disrupts markets & transforms industries. Think of the gTLD as a new technology platform. In just the last few years we have seen cloud computing shift users from installing desktop based software to accessing software from the web. This technology could ultimately help software companies eliminate software piracy of latest versions by having complete control and access over how the software is used and accessed. Apple took a big bite out of the music piracy industry by offering a low cost and easy ways to download music. Pandora took it one step further – why buy any music if I can get what I like for free? Netflix eviscerated Blockbuster and is now competing as a content producer and distribution company. Market solutions form and drive consumer behavior. Consumers have migrated to an app like approach to getting want they want online and as a result often use their mobile devices increasingly more than a laptop or desktop computer. But, as smart TVs begin to connect the in-home experience to the web, brand gTLDs have the power to deliver this same market based solution in the more intuitive navigation of their web page through the technology platform of the gTLD.