1&1 Domains has taken the lead (at least based on my viewing habits) in firing the first salvo in what is sure to be an oncoming avalanche of commercials and paid media related to the New gTLDs. Rather than going the GoDaddy route and appealing to users via an attractive spokesperson like Danica Patrick, 1&1 has opted for a more focused approach (see below).
In the aggregate, the new generic domain space will provide a tremendous opportunity for large registrars to bring in new customers by advertising around the new domains. 1&1’s campaign has already appeared to pay dividends with a whole slew of pre-registrations (over 2.1 million as of this writing), and who knows how many actual domain registrations from people who visited the site and decided to register a domain in an existing registry while going through the pre-reg process. For myself, although I like 1&1’s approach, I am also looking forward to a GoDaddy Super Bowl commercial involving the new domain spaces.
The .brand TLDs will also be a part of this wave of new advertising. Although initial surveys of the public indicate that there is a good deal of distrust and skepticism about non-traditional domains that don’t end in the suffix .com, .net or .org, advertising and educational programs will be critical to introduce the new spaces and get the public comfortable with the concept. This advertising in the .brand space will also be the first opportunity for companies to show what types of innovations they have come up with for their registries and to differentiate their .brand from the others going online in terms of ease of use, functionality, consumer engagement, etc… Whereas the clear play for the vast majority of the generic registries (and the reason that they got into the domain registry business in the first place) is to try and sell as many domains as possible in order to maximize their ROI.
Some companies have made the decision to sit out the first round of .brand applications, for example Mercedes. However, its competitors, like BMW and Toyota, did not wait and will bringing their registries online in a few months (likely). Thus, for BMW and Toyota there is an opportunity to start advertising their registries as part of their “.brand customer experience” and gain an advantage over companies, like Mercedes, that sat out and won’t be able to enter the market for at least a year or two.
Whether the new registries will resonate with customers is anyone’s guess, but if they do, and if BMW and Toyota can use them as a new/exciting way to appeal to customers (many of whom are likely sick of email and hate getting advertising and trade in offers in their mailboxes), companies like Mercedes will be playing catch-up and likely petitioning ICANN to start the second round immediately!..