Youtube.LOL? Let the gTLD Bidding Wars Begin

Google has released just a few hints towards what top-level domains they plan to bid for when gTLD applications are ready for business in two weeks. They plan on buying gTLDs such as .google, .youtube, .docs, and even .LOL. What does that mean for Google? And what does that mean for small businesses? Let’s take a look.

Generic top-level domains (gTLD) are the endings of your web addresses:  .com, .biz, .edu; these are all top-level domains. Currently, there are only 22 total gTLDs available to businesses: major country-specific choices like .ru, .jp, and .uk; and industry-specific gTLDs like .gov for government addresses and .org for organizations and NPOs.

On June 13th the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, the organizational company behind these gTLDs and addresses worldwide, will expand gTLDs to include any custom character set businesses choose, within reason. With this new customization feature, anything can become the .something at the end of your address. The biggest rule moderating these “custom” addresses is that a purchased address cannot violate a contract: meaning Samsung can’t lock their competitors out by purchasing the .SONY gTLD, but they will have .Samsung reserved specifically for them.

New gTLDs Make Internet Navigation Easier

Google is going all-in and bidding on a handful of familiar gTLDs for their company. .Google is an obvious choice, and they’re snapping up .youtube and .docs for their various products. Google’s chief internet evangelist Vint Cerf also announced through a Google blog post that Google plans on bidding for .LOL as well, and any other domains that have “interesting and creative potential.”

.LOL aside, their other acquisitions are fairly straightforward: google.com could potentially become search.google, for instance. Google Docs, currently found at docs.google.com could just be shortened to google.docs. Private Youtube account pages are currently accessed by visiting youtube.com/user/YourUserName, but with a gTLD, that could be simplified to me.youtube. Just as it’s easy to imagine all the possibilities Google will have with their planned gTLDs, it’s especially easy to see how these same gTLDs could help small businesses.

With a web address registered along with a gTLD, your business’s address could be shortened dramatically, or composed of more easily understood words and terms, making it easier for customers to remember. It’s almost guaranteed that a clever Internet Marketing firm is going to purchase internet.marketing for their own business. Whole Foods, the popular health food superstore chain, could change their web address from the current wholefoodsmarket.com to whole.foods. Food truck owners and entrepreneurs can purchase a domain like HotLunch.ToGo and craft an entire brand identity around their custom web address. You get the idea: easier addresses mean easier customer retention and added top-of-mind benefits.

Steep Costs, But Expect The Price To Drop Soon

Just as the possibilities are endless, so is the price: it costs $185,000 to control your own custom gTLD through ICANN. Large tech-oriented businesses that make millions each year can easily afford their own private gTLD, as should be expected. For smaller businesses that can’t justify the cost, there is still hope: gTLDs can be purchased by web registry services and sold to clients just like current TLDs like .com and .net addresses now.

ICANN allows new gTLDs to be “sold” through web registrars, so it’s highly likely that web hosting companies will purchase valuable, broad-focused gTLDs and then offer the domain to clients. After the bidding wars cool down, you may be able to snag a custom domain for your website through another hosting company for as little as $10, depending on the custom domain’s relative value. You may even be able to purchase a .LOL from Google if they decide to do business with it.

Small businesses will certainly see the benefits of having a custom .something at the end of their web address sooner, rather than later. These custom domains will turn web hosting and address registry on their heads: instead of shopping around based on the best value, you may soon shop around for hosts that offer exclusive .something addresses relevant to your business. Hotly contested market spaces will see equally intense competition over domains: which major oil company will purchase .oil, for instance? The possibilities are endless.

There’s no telling what Google has planned for .lol, and I’m certain that we’ll see an explosion of interesting new addresses and domains once they’re purchased and in-place. One thing is for sure: a generic top-level domain customized specifically for your business will make you the talk of the town, and will ensure that potential customers remember your unique web address above all others.

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Andrew Glasscock is currently based in Nashville, Tennessee. He graduated with a BA in English, specialized in Creative Writing, with a minor in Marketing this past May. Along with copywriting, he loves being an improv comedian, playing frisbee, and dogs.

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