The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) held a lottery in Los Angeles this week to decide on which of the proposed new top-level domain names will become the first to go live.
Among the banks, media companies and Internet companies, Google applied for 101 and Amazon, 76. There were more than 900 applications for generic names like shop, news, music, and movies. The organization released the application list in June.
Just as brands began to feel comfortable with online marketing and advertising, the Internet will fundamentally change as domain names get released, said Jennifer Wolfe, president at Wolfe Domain, a digital brand strategy advisory firm.
Amazon, Google and Microsoft were among the companies with "low numbers," meaning these companies will begin to release their domain names by Q4 2013. Other big brands were Wal-Mart, Transformers, Showtime, Dish Network, Chase, Capital One, American Express, Go Daddy, Cisco, and McDonald's. This means consumers will open a browser and type in www.bigmac.mcdonalds.
The shift from dot-com to thousands of TLDs will begin in 2013 and continue through 2014. The money and power behind the brands will change the way consumers navigate the Internet.
"Half of the world's top consumer brands will move consumers away from dot-com and into their own top level domains," Wolfe said. "Then we have Google and Amazon making a major play for a specific space, and they're going to move people away from dot-com and into dot-google, dot-youtube, dot-kindle, and dot-amazon."
Brands like Chase will benefit by owning the name. It should give consumers a sense of security that they are banking with the real company and not on a fraudulent site. Luxury goods companies like Coach could run campaigns that push consumers to only trust dot-[brand names], rather than dot-coms. Aside from creating a sense of security, Wolfe said owning the TLD allows brands to better track data by customizing the site's architecture.
How will TLDs change search engine marketing, paid search and optimization? "Everything will change about search, Wolfe said. "Algorithms will change, relying more on what I refer to as ZIP codes," she said. "Search engines will start to categorize the Internet based on these top-level domains."