What do ICANN's new top level domains mean for business?

Steano Maruzzi
GoDaddy's Stefano Maruzzi

In September 2013, internet registration outfit ICANN introduced a slew of new Top Level Domains (TLDs), far expanding the options beyond .com, .co.uk and a multitude of other aging suffixes.

Many of the new entries - including .technology and .photography - touched down with an obvious purpose, which can't be said for decidedly less conventional ones - such as .barefoot, .whoswho. and .zulu.

In France, the new TLDs have even sparked protest among the country's wine vendors. They reckon that the introduction of .vin and .wine could harm business through fake websites claiming to be associated with some of its regions' premium brands, undermining them in the process. On the other hand, the new TLDs received a warmer reception in the UK, which introduced new geographical domains .london and .uk in recent months.

Stefano Maruzzi - vice president EMEA at GoDaddy, the 200lbs silverback gorilla of the domain name world - sees their introduction as an opportunity for individuals to be creative and for businesses to be savvy by catering for local audiences. We speak to Maruzzi to find out more.

Losing fizz

TRP: Some of the new TLDs have caused a bit of a fuss in France, what with the country's industry trying to ban .vin and .wine. Do you think the new domains pose any threat to industry?

SM: I don't drink wine, so it's tough for me to answer. But seriously, it's like pizza: everybody claims that they make the best pizza in town, and that theirs is different from everybody else.

I'm not sure if the availability of these two specific domains could hamper or damage the industry - I have an opinion but it's personal. In general we've seen creativity stem from the new .TLDs - some, like .guru, .technology, and .photography - are super popular.

We're purposefully moving from a phase when choice was very limited even in terms of country or international domains to a new namespace where domains can clearly indicate what you do, what your mission is or what problem you might solve.

TRP: How popular do you think the new TLDs will be compared to .com and other older ones?

SM: In the short term, the contribution and market share taken by the new TLDs will by definition be small. When there's a new phenomenon it takes some time - it's a matter of promoting them.

Capital venture

TRP: .london recently launched in the UK. What will that mean to how businesses and individuals in the capital manage their identities?

SM: I think that .london is one of the best geo domains because London's a world capital. There are two components to that: first, a local implication, which indicates that the business sits in London. Second, with London being such an aspirational and emotional brand, it resonates with businesses outside of the capital - and the UK too.

Big business chains like McDonalds or Starbucks that have a worldwide presence should consider articulating a local communication strategy on the back of these domains.

TRP: Do you think there should be geo domains for other cities - such as Manchester?

SM: It would be difficult devising a local strategy for all places at all times, but with London being so big - attracting around 20 million or so tourists per year - it makes sense to provide specific information. That could revolve around food, entertainment or a number of other industries.

Kane Fulton
Kane has been fascinated by the endless possibilities of computers since first getting his hands on an Amiga 500+ back in 1991. These days he mostly lives in realm of VR, where he's working his way into the world Paddleball rankings in Rec Room.