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Social networks likely to lose grip on brand/consumer conversations in the wake of new “dot Brand” Web domains

Afilias research reveals that Internet experts predict a decline in brands’ use of social media
when brand-owned domains hit the market   

New research from registry services provider Afilias reveals that the launch of branded generic Top Level Domains (gTLDs) will likely mark the start of a decline in the number of brands using social networks.

By polling participants at the recent London-based Digital Marketing and gTLD Strategy Congress, hosted by the Momentum Event Group, Afilias found that 83 percent of gTLD applicants and industry experts believe that branded domain extensions (like .NIKE or .TIFFANY) will be a more effective way to engage customers online than social networks or other third-party sites. As a result, 41 percent of attendees believe that businesses will reduce their reliance on social media marketing once their new domains have launched.

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) announced that the first top-level domains from its new gTLD program were delegated in October 2013. That means the shift to corporate use of branded gTLDs is coming very quickly.

“Brand pages on social networks may enable brand/consumer dialogue, but third-party sites — whether Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest — also own that interaction and information. One of the key advantages of a ‘dot Brand’ gTLD is that businesses will be able to take back control of their online presence and reduce reliance on social networks for online conversations,” said Roland LaPlante, CMO at Afilias.

The new gTLDs also present a threat to “heritage” Web extensions such as .com and .net. Seventy-one percent of event attendees polled stated that they intend to sunset their heritage domain names with a more relevant gTLD once their branded domain is available for use.    

“Our survey shows that businesses across industries are finally ‘getting it’ about the benefits of new gTLDs. The program represents the largest expansion of the Internet’s naming system since it began, and many brands are putting all hands on deck to take full advantage of the branding and security benefits the changes bring,” LaPlante added. “Businesses like Google and Amazon, which applied for their own domains in this preliminary round, are now working on how they will integrate their new gTLDs into online strategies and communicate the benefits to consumers. Businesses that did not apply for a new domain in the initial round must prepare for the competitive impact of these launches and begin planning to apply for their own gTLDs in ICANN’s next round.”

Methodology
Surveys were completed by 51 percent of the 134 delegates and speakers at the London Digital Marketing and gTLD Strategy Congress, presented by Momentum Event Group, September 26-27, 2013.

The next Digital Marketing and gTLD Strategy Congress, presented by Momentum Event Group, is scheduled for March 3-4, 2014, in New York City. For details, visit www.gtldworldcongress.com.

About Afilias
Afilias connects the world with reliable, secure, scalable and globally available technology that makes Internet addresses more accessible and useful. Afilias supports a wide range of applications, including Internet domain registry servicesManaged DNS and mobile Web services like goMobi® and DeviceAtlas®. For more information on Afilias TLD services, visit http://www.afilias.info/ntlds.