Join the Debate: Dotbranding and ICANN’s new gTLDs


ICANN’s new “generic Top-Level Domain” (gTLD) initiative continues to create controversy and confusion.

The board of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers voted in June that any word in any language can now be used as the suffix on a URL, so brand owners can now pony up to buy .pepsi, .nike or .mtv instead of being limited to .com, .net, .org, .edu and other more common web address endings.

The problem: anyone can submit a name (along with a non-refundable $185,000 fee) for a gTLD, sparking fears of cybersquatters and irritating brands and organizations that already own their trademarks. It’s also unclear whether switching to a new so-called “dotbrand” will boost online search engine results and strengthen digital branding, or override the long tail of digital equity that many brands have spent years establishing online with a seasoned dotcom address.

Our blog post on ICANN’s gTLD ruling noted that while New York City pounced on .nyc, other brand marketers are taking a wait-and-see approach. Responding to the debate raging over gTLDs, ICANN president Rod Beckstrom — speaking Monday at the Futurecom conference in Sao Paolo, Brazil — stated that the organization is not “advocating” gTLDs, just enabling them.

Beckstrom emphasized in his remarks to Futurecom attendees: “I want to make clear that ICANN is an organization that is not advocating new gTLDs for anyone. Our role is merely facilitation to implement the policy and the programs approved by our community, so we are here to educate not to advocate.”

To understand the pros and cons of gTLDs and dotbranding, read Interbrand’s new white paper, “What’s in a Domain? Generic Top-Level Domains and the New Dotbrand Frontier” and tell us what you think in this week’s debate.