Like the Advent of Zip Codes, gTLDs Will Shape New Industries
Posted by Jennifer Wolfe on 30th July 2013 in 360 Blog

In 1930, the Post Office still moved the bulk of its domestic mail by rail through the major railroad hubs of the nation. More than 10,000 mail-carrying trains crisscrossed the country, moving around the clock into virtually every village and metropolitan area. By 1963, fewer trains, making fewer stops, carried the mail. In these same years, 1930-1963, the United States underwent many changes. It suffered through a prolonged and paralyzing depression, fought its second World War of the 20th century, and moved from an agricultural economy to a highly industrial global leader in business.

The social correspondence of the earlier century evolved in an accelerating pace to business mail. By 1963, business mail constituted 80 percent of the total volume. The single greatest catalyst for the exponentially increased volume of business mail was the computer, which brought centralization of accounts and a growing mass of utility bills and payments, bank deposits and receipts, advertisements, magazines, insurance premiums, credit card transactions, department store and mortgage billings, and payments, dividends, and Social Security checks traveling through the mail.

In June 1962, an Advisory Board of the Post Office Department made several primary recommendations. Most importantly, and similar to the expansion of the Internet, was that the Department to give priority to the development of a coding system.

Over the years, a number of potential coding programs had been examined and abandoned. Finally, in 1963, the Department selected a system advanced by department officials, and, on April 30, 1963, Postmaster General John A. Gronouski announced that the Zip Code would begin on July 1, 1963.

By July 1963, a five-digit code had been assigned to every address throughout the country. The first digit designated a broad geographical area of the United States, ranging from zero for the Northeast to nine for the far West. This was followed by two digits that more closely pinpointed population concentrations and those sectional centers accessible to common transportation networks. The final two digits designated small post offices or postal zones in larger zoned cities.

Zip Codes began on July 1, 1963, as scheduled. Use of the new code was not mandatory at first for anyone, but, in 1967, the Post Office required mailers of second- and third-class bulk mail to presort by Zip Code. What followed in the years to come was an expansion of the use of mail and the ability to target specific households in specific areas meeting certain demographics to marketers, allowing for greater specialization. An industry was borne including direct mail providers, advertisers, printers, paper companies, market research companies and the like. All because of zip codes. Could gTLDs be the zip codes of the Internet – providing us guiding sources to find what we want more easily or deliver content to use based upon segmentations much greater than just where we live? Could gTLDs create new industries we haven’t even considered as a possibility?

We live in digital world driven largely by a code or a .com environment for businesses. .com is simply the gold standard when it comes to launching a new product, new business or new anything. But .com is saturated. That’s why companies pay so much to acquire high value .coms, particularly if they really want the name for a new business strategy. But, with the thousands of new top level domains launching there will be more options. And, with the unprecedented scaled expansion, the impact as a whole will likely be much more impactful than prior roll outs of a new top level domain, as was the case with .info or .biz or .tv, which never really took off. So, if gTLDs segment the internet into categories of family, Mom, horses, or tennis, golf and football or republican and democrat, will they serve as zip codes to helps us make sense of a massive internet environment? Only time will tell, but entrepreneurs would be well advised to look at what’s happening and innovate ideas that will help consumers navigate this changing internet environment.