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How new domains are building better brands

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Driving the new American century

New domain extensions have accumulated some pretty big numbers over the last couple of years. Collective registrations for the new GTLDs (generic top-level domains) have now surpassed 13 million, according to NTLD stats. This number is not small by any means. Comparably speaking, this represents just over 10 percent of total .com registrations, more than 50 percent of the total .net registrations and 30 percent more than total .org registrations.

While these numbers may not be a surprise to some, they certainly prove the Not-Com revolution (a term coined by Jeff Davidoff, CMO of Donuts, and the largest applicant for new domain-name extensions) is certainly making waves.

From Lady Gaga (bornthisway.foundation) to Oprah (wherearetheynow.buzz) to Slack (slack.help), thousands of companies have adopted the new domains. Some use one as a primary domain, others for email; others are embracing the very tangible, visual marketing advantage of these.

Companies spend billions annually on brand building, yet one of the most visible elements that brands have often been forced to use in social media are URL shorteners, owned by another brand. For example, take a look at one of Deadpool’s recent tweets:

Deadpool uses a URL shortener from bit.ly to promote an external link. In theory this works, because Bitly is a well-trusted brand. However, Deadpool is missing out on a very real opportunity for consistent brand experience by using a custom URL shortener — maybe deadpool.link, dp.link or something that’s more the Deadpool brand than someone else’s.

Bitly has even started embracing the adoption of Branded Short Domains under their Bitly Enterprise product offering. For example, ATTN.com is a highly popular news site with more than 1.6 million Facebook likes. However, if you look at ATTN’s Twitter feed, you’ll see they use attn.link as a URL shortener.

Now, visit ATTN.link and you’ll clearly see that the domain name is part of Bitly’s Branded URL enterprise solution product, where Bitly claims users can experience up to a 34 percent CTR increase simply by changing the name of their URL shortener (read Bitly’s case study).

For brand builders, these custom URL shorteners provide an extremely low-cost solution for maintaining brand consistency. You may have to sacrifice a character or two, but Twitter has discussed expanding the number of characters in future tweets.

From generic extensions like .help and .link to targeted extensions like .movie and .style, brands may do well to remember they often have the power to control anything left of the dot.

For those who doubted new domain name extensions, it may be time to widen your perspective and possibly even your ROI — which is, after all, every company’s dream.

Featured Image: Bryce Durbin