Join the Debate: Dotbranding and ICANN's new gTLDs

Posted by Shirley Brady on September 16, 2011 12:15 PM

ICANN's new "generic Top-Level Domain" (gTLD) initiative continues to create controversy and confusion.

The board of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers voted in June that any word in any language can now be used as the suffix on a URL, so brand owners can now pony up to buy .pepsi, .nike or .mtv instead of being limited to .com, .net, .org, .edu and other more common web address endings.

The problem: anyone can submit a name (along with a non-refundable $185,000 fee) for a gTLD, sparking fears of cybersquatters and irritating brands and organizations that already own their trademarks. It's also unclear whether switching to a new so-called "dotbrand" will boost online search engine results and strengthen digital branding, or override the long tail of digital equity that many brands have spent years establishing online with a seasoned dotcom address.

Our blog post on ICANN's gTLD ruling noted that while New York City pounced on .nyc, other brand marketers are taking a wait-and-see approach. Responding to the debate raging over gTLDs, ICANN president Rod Beckstrom — speaking Monday at the Futurecom conference in Sao Paolo, Brazil — stated that the organization is not "advocating" gTLDs, just enabling them.

Beckstrom emphasized in his remarks to Futurecom attendees: "I want to make clear that ICANN is an organization that is not advocating new gTLDs for anyone. Our role is merely facilitation to implement the policy and the programs approved by our community, so we are here to educate not to advocate."

To understand the pros and cons of gTLDs and dotbranding, read Interbrand's new white paper, "What's in a Domain? Generic Top-Level Domains and the New Dotbrand Frontier" and tell us what you think in this week's debate.


Dashworlds United Kingdom says:

But what does the future really hold for ICANN's new Dotbranding gTLDs?

Bearing in mind that ICANN won't allow applications from individuals or sole proprietorships, effectively ignoring the interests of the vast majority of Internet users worldwide.  Add in the non-refundable deposits of $185,000 per extension, $500,000 for "integration" plus potentially unlimited annual costs and expenses etc, and how many new gTLDs will actually see the light of day?  Is this a commercial venture or simply a loss making exercise in vanity?  

ICANN’s main aim has always been to convince Internet users they're the only game in town and to try and herd everyone into a tiny part of an otherwise infinite universe....but that's like telling people that the only place they can shop anywhere on Earth is a “convenient” Kroger store in Cincinnati.   Yes, the current ICANN Internet set-up may be “convenient” right now, but then some years ago sending a telegram was convenient and sending an email meant inventing the computer (and World Wide Web).  So, before making any "investment", it’s worth considering whether instead of bringing organisations to the forefront, ICANN's new gTLDs will actually isolate you.  It’s also worth considering that the Internet is evolving with more fitting and less expensive options coming on-stream.  

Increasingly ICANN finds itself under pressure to modify.  The rules have changed and Alternatives are already available; e.g. as well as "Dotcoms", there are now free "Dashcoms" (example only: at sites like, you can already create domains such as http://sports-com" or http://rock-music or http://happy-birthday at zero cost).   As ICANN realises that competition is finally at hand, the true value (or the true cost) of their gTLD "opportunities" will become all too apparent.  Still, look on the bright side, at least ICANN and their associates will have made money from your efforts.  

Disclaimer: Author provides dashcom (not dotcom) domain names.

September 17, 2011 05:07 AM #

Kevin Murphy United Kingdom says:


The $185,000 fee is in fact partially refundable, up to a maximum of $148,000, if you drop out of the process at any stage.

In fact, the only people who *won't* get a refund are the successful applicants who ultimately sign contracts with ICANN.


September 19, 2011 09:00 AM #

S. Brady United States says:

Here's the comment posted by Jim Tengrove, ICANN senior director of communications on our debate:

The $185,000 non-refundable fee is just for the application. An applicant must clearly demonstrate the right to own a particular top-level domain. An applicant also must produce a business plan with adequate resources that show the applicant has the ability, financial and technical, to operate a top-level domain for several years - an additional $500,000 or more. The questions is - will someone interested simply in cybersquatting invest that much time and expense, particularly if there's a better than even chance the application will get rejected?

September 19, 2011 05:13 PM #

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