By John Feeley
As you may or may not have heard in the last couple of months, the Internet is exhausting its resources. Well, no, not really — but the need for top-level domains are at an all time high. Top-level domains, technically known as generic top-level domains (gLTDs), are becoming a hot commodity. Thanks to the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), the process for applying for a top-level domain was opened to the public and to businesses.
Before ICANN opened up the process to the outside, there were 22 top-level domains, which include familiar ones like .com, .net, .org, .info, and others. With the opening of the bidding process, there are buyers for a variety of reasons, like those looking to brand their business and profit seekers looking to squat on domains.
According to PCMag.com, over 2,000 applications were received by ICANN for a variety of different domain extensions. Domain extensions have ranged from companies like Apple and Google buying up terms like .apple, .google, .cloud, and others to people and businesses buying up generic terms like .sports and .cars.
For businesses, being able to purchase your own domain name has its costs and benefits. In terms of costs, owning a top-level domain name costs $185,000 to purchase and $25,000 to maintain, according to PCmag.com. Throw in legal and administrative costs and the price tag further escalates.
The benefits for owning a top-level domain can be beneficial for businesses, though. By having a top-level domain that is tailored to your company, you can help eliminate any branding problems you have in the Internet world. When people visit a site with your company’s extension, they will know they are visiting your official properties. By doing this, companies eliminate the opportunity for domain squatters and profit seekers from buying domain names and misleading consumers away from your web assets.
Furthermore, businesses aren’t as inclined to be so locked into a .com domain extension. As consumers become more acclimated to the Internet and learn how to more effectively navigate the Internet, they are more aware of the sites they are visiting.
What does this mean? When the Internet was first booming about 20 years ago, having a .com top-level domain was the sign of legitimacy on the Internet. Having a .com extension was your message to consumers that this was your official web property and provided a blanket of trust between the consumer and the business. Consumers were often turned off or dissuaded from visiting businesses that did not own a .com site because there were questions and concerns about the legitimacy of the site.
As the Internet has grown and more top-level domains were needed, consumers have slowly but surely adjusted to going to websites that didn’t have the .com extension. For businesses that took advantage of buying their own top-level domain, they don’t have to worry as much about the stink of not being a .com site.
Finally, businesses that are looking to gain a competitive edge had the opportunity to buy more generic top-level domains. While this can get competitive with competing businesses, it can prove to be extremely valuable if companies really begin to utilize their top-level domain purchases. Essentially, a company that buys .sports will have total control over this top-level domain. They will be able to set the market on domain names and have power over the entire process.
For consumers, the idea of companies changing over their URLs to these top-level domains can make one’s head explode. Trying to remember the various extensions is an issue as well as consumers being acclimated to typing in the regular domain extensions into their web browser. It remains to be seen how these companies will utilize their top-level domains but there’s no denying that the Internet as we know it could be changing, one gTLD at a time.