A fundamental transformation of the way brands and consumers connect on the Internet is amid us. Icann, the authority responsible for Internet domains, has approved a plan to expand the 22 currently available domains (.com, .net, etc.) to allow trusted brands and organizations to apply to own and operate their own gTLDs (generic top-level domains). In just a few years, new brand gTLDs will impact the way consumers search for and find products online as recognized brands switch away from .com to their own .brand top-level domains. URL paths used today for categories, products, and marketing campaign landing pages (e.g., www.apple.com/iphone) will be replaced by new shorter, catchier URLs (e.g., iphone.apple).
eBusiness professionals must carefully evaluate this change and start the process of mapping out how owning their .brand domain will impact their eCommerce sites. I recommend that Forrester clients read our latest research report written by my colleague Jeff Ernst and myself, .Brand And The Impact For eBusiness, which outlines the reasons why eBusiness leaders and their marketing counterparts must carefully evaluate the significant opportunity that owning gTLDs for the their brand or brands presents.
ICANN will soon allow companies to apply for and operate domain registries for generic Top-Level Domains (gTLDs) that represent their brand or keywords. For example, Aetna can apply for .aetna or .insurance. Many of the biggest brands are planning to apply for their .brand TLD, but many marketing leaders I've talked with look at this as a nuisance and are skeptical about whether Internet users will embrace them.
What do you think? Do you believe that the new .brand domains will catch on with users, or are they so used to .com that they won't change their behaviors? Take the poll over on the right pane of my blog.