According to a recent eMarketer report, 2015 will feature new top-level domain choices to greet Internet marketers and Internet users alike. Everyone from venture capitalists, major brands and tech companies are doing their part to assist in the push to expand the Internet beyond the .com, .net and .org domains that users already embrace.
As with anything Internet-related, this move to add 1,300 new domains in the coming months is fraught with controversy. While some marketers may believe it will facilitate new levels of imagination and creativity, others worry that it will only serve to confuse users.
Currently, few online users are aware of the new generic top-level domains (gTLDs). This is expected since the rollout remains in the early stages. A poll in November 2014 revealed that only about 25% of Internet users even knew that there were efforts underway to expand available domains.
While there was a time when the need for additional gTLDs was obvious, a decreasing number of online users actually enter websites by typing in the domain name. In the US, nearly 85% of users conduct at least one online search per month. Between the increasing use of search engines and the popularity of link sharing on social media sites, the need for additional domains may not be as urgent as it once was.
In fact, when asked how they most frequently navigated to websites of interest, respondents worldwide reported:
- Entered company name or relevant search term in search engine – 39.7%
- Entered domain directly into address bar – 34.5%
- Used a bookmark – 12.8%
- Used social media – 6.5%
- Clicked on link from email or other sources – 4.4%
- Used a company app – 2.1%
It bears mention that while highly developed markets – like the US, UK, Germany and Australia – didn’t place much importance on typing the domain into the address bar, users in countries like India, Brazil and Mexico considered it to be the primary way to get to a website rather than using search. Respondents also revealed that the domain name listed by the search engine was a factor they considered before visiting the website.
Regardless of how online users around the world choose to access the websites they visit, online users tend to be adaptable in nature and are likely to be receptive to the new gTLDs once the rollout awareness efforts begin reaching more people. It may also fall to the big brands to spur widespread adoption of the new domains once they begin to promote their company on their own .brand domain.
With thousands of new domains becoming available throughout the year, the opportunity for increased company branding on the Internet could be an important one for businesses taking advantage of the relevant generic gTLDs.
eMarketer. The Domain Name Explosion: What Do Internet Users Think? April 14, 2015.