Washington Post Covers gTLDs, Amazon’s Bezos Buys Washington Post
The Washington Post covered gTLDs in its style section on August 5, the same day they announced that Jeff Bezos, founder and CEO of Amazon, acquired the Post. Amazon coincidentally applied for 76 gTLDs. Was there a strategy behind the feature story, particularly given Amazon’s potential woes in some of its applications as “closed generics”? Likely, Bezos is not already influencing editorial direction, but consider how the iconic institution may evolve into more digital thinking with Bezos as owner.
Amazon applied for 76 new top level domains as one of the largest brand applicants. These include strings like: .book, .author, .tunes, .mobile, .zero, .joy, .book, .show, .cloud, .coupon, .mail, .music, .game to name just a few along with its core brands, .kindle, .prime, and .zappos. While it continues down the path to transforming the internet with its innovative thinking, Amazon has been the target of the Government Advisory Committee (GAC) of ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names & Numbers), claiming that they can’t own .Amazon because Amazon is a region of the world. (Maybe people on the GAC don’t have Prime accounts on Amazon or they would understand that Amazon, the brand, is an important region of the digital world). The GAC has flagged many of Amazon’s applications for being “closed generics” or words that should be open to anyone to own as a second string domain rather than for Amazon’s exclusive use. While these objections certainly challenge its plans, Amazon will surely find some work around to the strategy given their digital power, even if forced to “open” them up in some form or another. Amazon notably won its fight in an objection filed against them by social media company Pinterest (they lost their objection over Amazon’s application for .pin.). Pinterest did not file an application for a gTLD, so it will now have to compete with Amazon running .pin. And Amazon won in the objection on .mail filed by the United States Postal Service. While it’s hard to trademark “mail”, you’d think the United States Postal Service might have had more luck here. Signs certainly point to Amazon’s continued success in overcoming challenges as a digital leader in using this new gTLD platform and its market leadership as one of the top applicants. As they continue to dominate in fulfillment, contextual intelligence and search within product categories, and local discounting, it’s not hard to imagine what innovative business models can emerge from the data produced from their massive gTLD platform environment.
With the potential for not only Amazon, but Google, Microsoft, half of the world’s top brands, and 900+ new generic terms to transform the way we use websites, why aren’t more main stream media covering the story or is the Post story just the beginning? The quick answer may be that this is still a bit too “out there” for most media to cover. The big brand applicants are stealth with their plans, and because the onslaught of the new gTLDs won’t hit consumer web browsers until 2014, it’s not really news yet for consumers. But, for marketers, it should be on the strategic planning agenda. While the actual impact on search, navigation and digital strategy is still speculative, the knowledge that Amazon and Google could transform the Internet user experience with their portfolios alone should give digital marketers pause to take note and be proactive rather than reactive.