I am writing these words on a train en route back home to Washington from New York City and I’m happy to report that the train is moving just a tad faster than development of the new gTLD program. Based on my calculations, it will take considerably less than seven years for me to arrive at DC’s Union Station.
The great thing about a train trip is not speed, but the fact that it facilitates reflection. This one allowed me to contemplate the meeting I just attended in NYC, the Digital Marketing & gTLD Strategy Congress.
What was notable about this particular conference, more than what was said, was the simple fact that the meeting was the first of its kind.
In no small way, it marked an unofficial and unheralded moment in the new gTLD program, where the emphasis began to noticeably shift from the application and evaluation process, to the question of how best to use a new gTLDs. In short… the fun stuff!
The conference drew about 100 new gTLD applicants, branding consultants and marketing specialists.
The new gTLD program has given them a blank canvas and they are beginning to paint an online landscape that may well redefine the way we will come to view Domain Names. Some of the images are clear, others are emerging slowly, one brush stroke at a time.
The theme that seemed to resonate most, was that some applicants are simply not waiting to hear whether they passed initial evaluation before they map out the branding and/or marketing strategies for their applied for Domain Names.
“If you wait until then, it might be too late,” said Louis Cohen, Citibank’s Senior Vice President of North America Marketing.
Citibank has applied for “.citi” and if it ends up being delegated, then Cohen said Citibank wants to bring all its many web sites in “one trusted location, which will be easy to navigate.”
Like many of the attendees, Cohen was somewhat guarded about going into the exact details of Citibank’s plans if its new gTLD application is approved, but his enthusiasm was unmistakable.
“The time to form a plan is now,” said Jennie-Marie Larsen, the CEO of DomainDiction, a PR/Marketing firm devoted entirely to new gTLDs.
“The challenge is how to be noticed,” said Larsen during a panel discussion on how businesses can use their news gTLDs to increase customer engagement strategies.
Some attendees said they don’t expect broad and immediate acceptance of gTLDs, but they also said that will not be terribly disconcerting, since the dot-com sites that many applicants already have, are not going anywhere.
ICANN’s head of Global Stakeholder Engagement told the attendees that she wants to herald the long anticipated arrival of new gTLDs. “We are developing a comprehensive communications plan,” Sally Costerton told the attendees. “We want to raise global awareness that new gTLDs are coming.”
In other words, the train is finally arriving!