WASHINGTON, December 18, 2012 – The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers’ (ICANN) new gTLD Prioritization Draw held yesterday marks the definitive point of no return that new gTLDs are coming – and brands may be leading the charge, with 47 of the first 100 non-IDN gTLD strings drawn backed by major brands. More importantly, according to FairWinds Partners, the leading domain name strategy consultancy, the Draw results have significant implications for the strategies brand owners use to adapt to new gTLDs.
For the first time, brand owners have a concrete sense of when their competitors will be launching their new gTLDs. “Those brand owners that drew an earlier spot than their competitors should be actively planning ways to gain and benefit from a first-mover advantage. Given that only 4% of average Internet users know what new gTLDs are, brands have a blank slate,” advised Josh Bourne, FairWinds co-founder and Managing Partner. “Research shows that Internet users will be quick to begin using and accepting new gTLDs once they start learning about them, so brands have an unprecedented opportunity to define the marketplace for their entire industry.”
But that doesn't mean that brand owners who drew a later spot are necessarily at a disadvantage. They can benefit from the lessons learned by other companies and applicants who launch ahead of them. Even companies that draw an early spot have the option to delay launch if they so choose. FairWinds co-founder and Managing Partner Phil Lodico commented, “Brand owners that participated in the Prioritization Draw have a substantial advantage over those that did not when it comes to maintaining control over the timing of their new gTLD launch. Those that opted out of the Draw will not be able to launch their new gTLDs until the second half of 2014, at the earliest,” he explained.
Understanding the order in which new gTLDs will launch gives all brand owners – applicants and non-applicants alike – the information they need to plan their strategies, and more importantly, their budgets for second-level registrations in other new gTLDs. Whether their priority is to defend their brands and trademarks in these new extensions, or if they plan to use domain names in new gTLDs to promote their brands and expand their digital reach into new markets and to new consumers, brand owners now have a much clearer picture of how to proceed with new gTLDs.
“We can’t recommend strongly enough that all brand owners start developing their plans and formalizing their strategies early in the New Year,” stated FairWinds CEO Nao Matsukata. “2013 is going to be the year of new gTLDs and brand owners need to really hit the ground running. New gTLDs will begin launching too quickly for brands to put off making these important decisions.”
With the results of the Prioritization Draw, the last outstanding piece of information impacting the New gTLD Program that has yet to be revealed is the makeup of contention sets. These will determine which new gTLD applicants will have to go to a bidding war for their new gTLDs. ICANN is expected to announce the final contention sets later this month or early in January.
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