Starting next year, companies will be able to bid on new Internet domain names that end in .shop, .hotel, .news, and more as familiar domain suffixes like .com and .org expand to include nearly 2,000 new Web suffixes.
The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), which oversees the Internet's addressing system, is leading the expansion. ICANN refers to the process as the New generic Top-Level Domain (gTLD) Program, and its purpose is to "allow for more innovation, choice, and change to a global Internet presently served by only twenty-one generic top-level domain names," according to a company statement.
The fee for each domain application was $185,000, and ICANN received 1,917 applications. The organization held a lottery earlier this week in Los Angeles to determine the order in which ICANN will evaluate the applications.
The first set of applications largely consisted of Chinese script applications and received priority numbers one through 107. They are expected to be processed in the third quarter of next year. Amazon, Google, Microsoft, Del Monte, and Virgin Enterprises were among the corporations that filed the following 300 applications that received priority numbers.
Under the name "Charleston Road Registry Inc.," for example, Google filed applications for several top-level domains such as .gle, .prod, .how, and .ads. Applicants who applied for the same domains must decide between themselves who will keep the string or share it. If they cannot decide, ICANN will hold an auction that is limited to the applicants. Some of the contested domains include .app, .cloud, .blog, .talk, and .buy.
Google's applications and those of other global corporations—which will most likely be reviewed in the fourth quarter of 2013 through 2014—are what most U.S. marketers will want to pay attention to, observes Jennifer Wolfe, founder and CEO of Wolfe Domain, a gTLD advisory firm.
"Marketers need to understand the landscape and figure out which top-level domains impact their industry," Wolfe says. The company that successfully bids for a top-level domain such as .cloud, for instance, could decide to sell second string domains (names directly to the left of .com, .net, and other top-level domains) with it.
Marketers need to prepare for a "paradigm shift" in the way the Internet works, Wolfe warns. "If these large companies launch their domains next year," Wolfe notes, "that means…these are the brands that could start educating consumers away from the dot com into this new way of navigating the Internet."