5 Things Your CMO Should Know About Generic Top-Level Domains and Dot Brands


In the early days of the Internet, there were only four top-level domains: .GOV, .EDU, .ORG and of course .COM.

Unless you were a government, a school or a non-profit, the only top-level domain (TLD) that made any sense was .COM. Naturally, everyone from plumbers to politicians flocked to secure important .COM domain names.


However during the last 10 years, social media, apps, mobile and the internet of things have changed the relevance of the domain name.

With the expansion of the internet from these four tried and tested TLDs to now more than 1,000, what should your chief marketing officer (CMO) know about the new generic top level domains (gTLDs) and dot brands?

Is it just a fad? Will it soon fade away like other top-level domain extensions that struggled to take off, such as .BIZ, .MOBI, .TV or .TRAVEL? Will domain names continue to matter?

Will the fact that half the world’s top brands – Google applied for 101 new top-level domains, Amazon applied for 76 – now own a dot brand change things? Will the ability to more specifically define your product, service, slogan, campaign or company into a category more closely aligned with your messaging win in favor of the oldie but goodie, .COM?

Here are a few things your CMO should know.

1) Search will change in the next few years

Many speculate that the top-level domain doesn’t matter. But it likely will in the future.

In the past, the top-level domain didn’t mean a lot because everyone was either in .COM or a CO.CountryCode. These big piles of domains didn’t distinguish one company or product from another, so naturally the top-level domain didn’t have a lot of weight.

In the past, algorithms have recognized when top-level domains started to have meaning or become signals. When .CO was introduced to mean company or commerce, as opposed to the country of Columbia, the algorithm eventually recognized that shift.

“There have been enough people using .CO around the world that we are not treating it as if it is specific to Columbia,” said Google’s Matt Cutts after .CO shifted its meaning. The same is likely to happen here.