About the DotBrand Observatory

DotBrand Domains

A domain name is an identification string for an organisation on the Internet, such as in dotbrandobservatory.com. The top level domain is the part located at the right of the name and the second level domain comes just before the dot. Today there are around 300 million domain names. The most popular TLD is .com, with around 120 million second level domain names.

ICANN, Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, is the not-for-profit California-based company that administers the domain name system in order to enhance inter-operability and competition.

In early 2012, in order to promote Choice, Competition and Innovation, ICANN opened its doors to allow organizations to apply for new Top Level Domains. In spite of a complex and costly application process, ICANN received a very large number of applications: In total, 1,930 applications were received, of which 675 were brands applying for a closed new gTLD, a dot brand.

Potential future opening, in rounds or in a continuous mode, is presently being discussed by the Internet Community.

The focus of the observatory is on 589 applications that meet our definition of a closed brand registry. In early 2015, dot brands emerged from the ICANN application process as a new tool for the brand marketer and intellectual property protection specialist alike. A dot brand is a closed gTLD that ends with the brand name like .apple or .bmw.

Under the contract with ICANN, registration in a dot brand is limited to a single registrant – i.e. owner of the website. This means that nobody except the brand themselves, can own a “.brand” domain name. It is possible for brands to enable partners to put up some content on those domains.

There is a wide range of reasons why brands applied for their name as a Top Level Domain. Some of the applications are defensive, designed to protect the Intellectual Property or Trademark from abuse. A branded Top Level Domain enables brands to control one more layer of their technical backbone, offering an additional level of security to their customers. And for yet more dot brand was also seen as an opportunity for innovation, and a great asset in an ever more connected world.

A wide variety of brands applied for their name, both from a geographical standpoint and from a vertical standpoint, including manufacturing, financial services, luxury goods, technology companies, services businesses.

Brands such as apple, intel, microsoft, bmw, shriram, citic, tiffany, lamborghini, barclays or bnpparibas have been successfully applying for their domain name.

dot brand opens up a completely new way to think about your online representaton. The present paradigm for webdesign tools and expertise, search and UI is to build up one website on one unique domain, with lots of content and a high google page rank. Other domain names are usually limited to campaigns microsites.

Our observatory looks at how brands are moving in that space and what sort of approach they are taking, from very prudent to proactive.

DotBrand Support the Digital Strategy

Over 10 brands have switched their core web sites completely across to the dot brand domain. global.weir being a great example of a business who recognised that the domain they had wasn’t right for them, and took the opportunity to register and then switch their domain completely.

There are several who have created campaign specific microsites to focus on particular aspects of their business: next100.bmw, makethefuture.shell, sustainability.clubmed or annualreport.sandvik. Swatch relaunched the pop collection on the very nice pop.swatch domain.

There are yet others who have chosen to create new keyword rich domains that host specific content that helps drive traffic ultimately back to an existing domain: infrastructuresandtransport.sener is very well ranked on searches for insfrastructures and transport, which is one of the sener’s core businesses.

jcbJcb, the Japanese payment industry business has created a number of country specific websites within its new dot brand infrastructure to enable its local territories to tailor content, especially in the far east.

Fage, the greek dairy products company, relaunched their local websites using country names – usa.fage, deutschland.fage

The Spanish car manufacturer SEAT has set up domains for its distributors. MMA created one domain for every one of their 1’700 agencies in France, but is redirecting to actual content.

The number of use cases is growing and some brands are testing several different approaches.

Growing presence

Depending on where you live in the world and what you do means that your exposure to the new world of domains will vary. If you’re in France you’re more likely to have seen some of these domains in action, simply because the French have had more big brands actively using their dot brands for longer (BNP Paribas, Leclerc, Axa or MMA).
We are also starting to see all manner of advertising and promotion of dot brand sites, from adword campaigns for Hitachi, to billboard campaign from Pictet. See further examples of advertising campaings run by dotbrand such as Leclerc Barclays on our communication page.

What is the DotBrand Observatory

The evolving community of dot brands

The dotbrand community is evolving. Early 2016, there was no more than a handful of early movers to watch, there are now a significant number of brands who are visibly making their mark with their dot brand domain and many more in the background who are testing and developing their strategies in this new world of domains.

The dotbrand observatory is an extensive research programme of dot brands, the new branded top level domains. Close to 600 brands have registered their name at the highest level of the domain hierarchy. The observatory analyses the strategies, tactics and operations of first movers, providing benchmarks and insights to everyone involved in brand protection and marketing.

The statistics

Since we started our analysis and reporting on the active use of dot brand registries in late 2015 we’ve seen the dot brand community develop significantly.
Today 96% of the 556 dot brand registries are live with at least a nic.brand site (the site where they host certain mandatory information about the dot brand domain itself).

Content Overview

observatory dashboard

You will have access to an interactive dashboard which is designed to provide a global picture of the present dot brand situation.

The dashboard goes above and beyond what is contained in the report and provides up-to-date data, charts and infographics.

Information available within the dashboard includes a thorough overview of all dot brand extension activity globally per geography, per vertical, per brand. It also includes an analysis of each site’s popularity and search engine efficiency.

dot brand observatory reportThe report is a snapshot of the state of the dot brand market as it stood in February 2016. We have profiled every live dot brand registry so you can see how each one is being used and technically, how it is set up. The list of profiles was updated in April 2016.
We consider:

  • What dot brand applicants are using their new namespaces for and why
  • How dot brand applicants are approaching the exploitation of their new asset and why they are approaching it with great caution
  • The scale of uptake and which sectors are most active
  • What drivers of change exist in the market at the moment
  • The new challenge in terms of naming strategy and the lack of a global standard
  • The different approaches to content – re-using and creating new, and the implications on search

dot Brand Top Level Domain Names ProfilesThe Top Level Domains Profiles provides essential aggregated data on every Dot Brand registry. Brands are following independent activation strategies for their new Top Level Domain, based on their Brand DNA and internal culture.

The criteria include technical, content and marketing data. The aggregated data is presented on a multi-criteria chart, where brand strategies can be assessed in one glance.

Second Level Domains profilesActive Second Level Domain are dot brand domains that resolve to a website that can be visited and analyzed.

The status of each site is detailed, in every one of the analysis performed, and are organized into 5 main categories :

  • Semantic and language of Top Level Domains
  • Traffic and popularity of websites
  • Search Engine Performance
  • Content
  • Technology

case studiesThe Case Studies are deep dives into specific brand strategies, tactics and operations. These insights lighten up the approach the brand has taken, including social media marketing and communication, use of domain names in brand material. The case studies also look at the global digital ecosystem of the brand and the position of the new domain names. We analyse the position and the relationship of new gTLD and traditional domain names

Some extracts of our deep dives are available for free in the case study section.

The Authors

Valideus is an application support and Front End Registry Management (FERM) consultancy dedicated to supporting dot brand and “Restricted Open” new gTLD registry operators.

Dot stories is a TLD Activation Platform providing three pillars to present and future dot brand: Facts based analysis, Strategical support, and a innovative cloud based Management System