New geographic TLDS are often discussed as a homogenous category, but for brand holders there are crucial differences between city, regional, and national top-level domains, including these:
- Full names are clearer than two-letter country codes derived from postal codes, more intuitive for search, and carry emotional ties a warmed-over postal code cannot. (.PARIS vs. .FR? Enough said).
- Cities are often older (sometimes by millennia) than the city states to which history has assigned them at the moment, and may outlast them too (e.g., Budapest). Many people identify so deeply with their city that it is part of their core identity. At the other end of the scale is Las Vegas, an upstart but also a powerful brand with international appeal, and .VEGAS is perfectly suited to visitor use.
- Hyper-local marketing in cities is a highly effective way to promote the TLD and reach deeper into the local population. Registries boast of strong media campaigns, including advertisements on buses and billboards, to reach groups not usually involved in domain registration.
- Higher international recognition for cities vs. regions makes city TLDs easier to evaluate for an international brand holders than regional new TLDs, even if a regional TLD’s appeal is obvious to locals. .RYUKU (Japan’s Ryuku Islands) and .NRW (Germany’s Nordrhein-Westfalen state) may turn out to be winners, but their value for overseas brand holders will seem less obvious than .TOKYO or .BERLIN.
- A way to avoid confusion. It’s relatively easy for brand holders to identify which city TLD is important to them, because web users will know the difference between TAXI.TOKYO and TAXI.VEGAS—especially since search engines will assign priority according to the searcher’s location. Setting aside cases of blatant brand infringement, brand holders can safely ignore cities in which they do not operate.
The second round of the ICANN new TLD process will include smaller cities following the lead of the current crop, some more as a vanity project than for financial ROI. Eventually, some small municipality will wake up to find itself saddled with a money-losing TLD of no interest to anyone except for a member of their own city council. For now, the city TLDs belong to major urban centers and have strong prospects for success. In fact, some of their registry operators could do almost everything wrong, and still succeed.
Here’s a snapshot of new city TLD activity for interested brand holders:
|.BERLIN||General Availability phase has begun|
|.COLOGNE||Sunrise phase ends July 13|
|.KOELN||Sunrise phase ends July 13|
|.LONDON||Sunrise phase ends July 31|
|.moscow||Sunrise phase ends July 10|
|.москва||Sunrise phase ends July 10|
|.NAGOYA||General Availability phase starts June 23|
|.NYC||Landrush phase starts June 25|
|.PARIS||Sunrise phase starts September 9|
|.RIO||Sunrise phase ends August 3|
|.TOKYO||Landrush phase ends July 18|
|.VEGAS||Sunrise phase ends August 1|
|.YOKOHAMA||Sunrise phase ends August 4|
Also coming up but not yet with announced dates: .HAMBURG, .BARCELONA, .BUDAPEST, CAPETOWN, .DOHA, .DURBAN .HAMBURG, .ISTANBUL, .JOBURG, .MELBOURNE, .MIAMI, .OSAKA, and .ZEURICH. Over the next year we’ll see which attract the most interest, both from local registrants and international brand holders.
What city geographic TLDs most interest you, and why?