Three NgTLD Trends To Watch: Affinity Groups, Geographic TLDs, and Chinese IDNs

by William Stahl on May 8, 2014

Whether you are marketing your brands or protecting them from infringement, you would be prudent to take a closer look at the leaders recently highlighted in our weekly NgTLD updates here on T+B. Each case embodies an important evolution and change to the NgTLD landscape.

1.       The NgTLD as an online anchor for an affinity group

At NamesCon, the NgTLD industry gathering held in Las Vegas in January, the buzz was about fragmentation of the online social world. Registry operators aspire to create new gTLDs that embody and unite affinity groups in ways existing generic TLDs cannot. These communities would be smaller, but more intense and more durable, higher ranked by search, and more profitable to exploit because they would be based on affinities with real emotional pull.  (Does anyone identify as a “.com”?) Currently, Donuts, Inc.’s .GURU, the hottest NgTLD yet with almost 53K registrations is in the lead. Donuts, Inc. has clearly hit a sweet spot, because a lot of people want to think of themselves as ‘gurus’ of one kind or another! As the year goes on we’ll see other lucky guesses, plus a large number of duds.

2.       Strong local identity mapping onto its matching Geographic TLD

.BERLIN is a close second to .GURU with 46K registrations. It’s natural that a glamorous international city’s ‘GEO’ would be a leader; in fact, a registry operator would have to do a very bad job indeed to overcome the built-in advantages of proud citizens and enormous local markets. And unlike a small startup betting on an affinity-based TLD, nobody doubts that Wien, London, New York, etc., are in it for the long haul. But prospects for some GEOs are less clear. For example, most of the international community will not be sure what .NRW represents—although it may be pure catnip to residents of Nordrhein-Westfalen. Do your brands need to be represented in .NRW? Only your German office can say, and even they may not be sure.

3.       The ever-maturing Chinese-character Internet

TLD Registry Ltd’s Dot Chinese Online (.在线) and Dot Chinese Website (.中文网) opened for General Availability on April 28, and these two NgTLDs have already seen impressive numbers. Dot Chinese Online boasts the biggest launch of any NgTLD to date with 33,012 domains under management (ahead of .BERLIN’s 31,645 domains registered on the first day of its General Availability just over a month ago), and Dot Chinese Website has 17,537 domains under management. IDN second-level domains in ASCII TLDs (‘IDN.com’) have long been registered in moderate numbers, but they’ve always had an awkward hybrid look. Some registries (notably CNNIC) have already added IDN TLDs (‘IDN.IDN’), but combining 100% Chinese character domains with NgTLDs that strike the right chord with Chinese Internet users may mark a breakthrough in popularity. If so, that will have big consequences for Chinese consumers—as well as for brand holders and cybersquatters.

If you’d like to discuss these recent developments further, or if you have any questions about NgTLDs, please contact Corsearch at NewGTLDs@wotlerskluwer.com.

Previous post:

Next post: