gTLDs as a Catalyst for Creating a Better Digital Experience
Posted by Jennifer Wolfe on 06th February 2015 in 360 Blog

While many remain skeptical about the value of the gTLD, there’s one thing most can agree on. It is a perfect catalyst to foster innovative thinking about the digital experience. As many brands are moving through the contracting process, they are likely beginning to think about how to use the gTLD.

I encourage you to do so carefully and follow a clear methodology that will help you and your colleagues build out a plan that includes thinking about the future of your digital world.

Platform Strategies

The gTLD can be used as a platform with many different strategic advantages. To build out a clear plan, you need to identify which are right for your organization. Consider these platform based strategies:

Channels of Distribution. The gTLD, as your brand backbone, can become a channel of distribution of content. Content marketing has become a key strategy in digital marketing. Most companies are distributing content as part of their strategy. Consider how consumers will soon surf the Net from their couch using Chromecast, Apple TV or Roku, and many people already some use their phones as a remote control. While apps may be prevalent in this experience, many will still resort to browsing the internet and your TLD becomes the perfect channel to help them experience your digital world from the comfort of their couch.
Social Networking. Brands are quickly becoming frustrated with performance and costs of ads on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and other social networking sites. As digital marketers realize their advertising other companies every time they list a Twitter handle or Facebook page, they may begin to consider creating independent social experiences that they own. gTLDs become a perfect place to build out unique branded social experiences. For example, jcrew.wedding, run.nike, or secondact.open.
Authenticity and Security. A clear strategy platform is to market the gTLD as more secure or more authentic. While technology will surely be developed to enhance the security of the gTLD for brands, consumers can instantly feel more secure in knowing that only your company can issue domains names in your TLD. For financial companies, pharmaceuticals and luxury goods, plagued with counterfeiting and phishing sites can easily use this as a platform strategy. This is clearly a top strategy for those industries.
Better digital experiences. Retailers and consumer facing brands can easily build out better digital experiences by using microsites tailored to specific audiences and products rather than trying to be all things to all people under one .com. By understanding data points about how consumers live in your digital world, you can actually create a better place for them to be with names that are more memorable and tied to the experience they seek. Want more examples, check out this short video “What will you do with your dot brand” [INSERT LINK]
Data Mining. Brand gTLD owners will instantly have access to two important data points:
o What search queries go unresolved in their TLD? When people type something into a browser looking for you and it is unresolved, you will be able to know. This can help you spot trends or search indicators that you didn’t know existed and build out spaces to meet those needs.

o Traffic across your spaces. While current data is typically reserved to your own .com space, you can now track across an unlimited number of domain name possibilities in your own space to help you understand how consumers navigate from various aspects of your digital world. This means that if you build your digital assets in your own space, you generate more data you can own and use.

o Future technology will be developed to better mine data in the gTLD environment.

Disruptive Innovation. Of course, for all brands, the gTLD serves as a point of disruption – what new products or services will be needed as a result of this paradigm shift. How can you remain on the cutting edge?
Internal Usage. Another often overlooked platform strategy is to see the gTLD as an internal backbone or intranet for you to use. With limitless domain names and spaces you can truly create a knowledge sharing environment in a secure platform that you own.
Cloud Computing. If you provide cloud based services, having a gTLD should provide easier architecture and naming conventions for your consumers and give you the platform to create new layers of security.
Speed of Resolution. While untested, there is a theory that a gTLD might perform slightly faster since users are only resolving queries in your TLD with other people in your TLD versus the millions of people querying a site in .com every single second. Combined with Net Neutrality debates and bandwidth debates, this is surely something to consider for every gTLD owner.
For brands, the gTLD can be used in many different ways. While there are many steps in building out a solid data driven strategy, understanding the basic platform strategies is an important first step. Determining how you will leverage or monetize the asset is another. Considering best practices for new campaigns, SEO and digital optimization, assigning new domains within your organization, tracking data and how you partner with other companies in your digital world are all important considerations as well.

A cross-functional team is essential. Outside experts can help in pushing thinking, particularly with cross functional teams that may have different budgets and plans.

Most essential is to realize the gTLD is an opportunity to rethink the digital world you have created. In most companies the home page was built ten or more years ago. Apps were probably added. Social media was integrated. There may not have been a centralized cohesive approach to creating this digital world back then. But the time to bring those all together is now and the gTLD provides a blank canvas to rethink what really works for you and your customers in a modern digital world.