Part 2: How should I present .brand domains in advertising?

How do I choose the right option for my brand?

By Tony Kirsch, Head of Professional Services at Neustar

In my recent article, I discussed the question of how to represent .brand domains in advertising. 

As you can imagine, it’s a balancing act – stimulating awareness of the domain, creating the desired customer behavior of the future using .brands, whilst ensuring that we are considerate to the fact that .brands are yet to hit mainstream awareness. Sounds simple right?

As you may recall, the first article outlined a few key options that we’ve considered in our discussions with clients.

While all of these options have their advantages and disadvantages, the process for selecting the right approach for presenting your .brand in your advertising can be boiled down to two key factors: the advertising medium and the desired customer behavior.


As a marketer, you’ll be aiming to select the best possible medium, or range of mediums to execute your campaign with the maximum impact. In today’s world, you’ll have dozens of options and the balance of the mix will be vital. 

Specifically for the .brand, one of the most obvious factors to consider is to consider whether the domain will be spoken aloud (such as on radio), read visually (such as in print or digital), a combination of spoken and read (such as on television) or clicked (such as social media).

Audio media relies heavily on clear, uncomplicated information that can be processed easily. The other unique feature of audio media such as a radio advertisement is that audiences often hear them at a time when they’re not able to take immediate action – such as while they’re driving – making recall a very important factor. Without visuals to reinforce the message, the call to action needs to be memorable and simple enough that a listener can remember and follow instructions at a later time.

Obviously audio media discounts any of the visual options for displaying .brands, such as using symbols or more complex options like using http:// which are also likely to be unsuitable. In this instance, a combination of a call to action such as “find us at” or “visit our website at”, followed by a domain with or without the ‘www’ can be a simple way to convey the message.

“The nature of new technologies is that they require rethinking the ‘old rules’ to make sure they still fit with the tools and the audiences of today.”

 Visual media allows for more options of presentation with the introduction of symbols. However, when presented in a visual format such as a print or digital ad, too much text is likely to drive designers mad and the aesthetic appeal of the call to action becomes much more important. In this medium, simple is better and for this reason, we tend to favor the www or the use of a symbol that would clearly indicate a digital call to action.

Click based presentations of domains can be overshadowed by the prevalence of rich image previews which tend to be more visually attractive to the user than the placed URL – which in some cases may be obfuscated. However, we strongly believe that where possible, the .brand should be presented to reinforce the usage of the .brand and build consistent and potentially sub conscious awareness of the .brand itself.

Desired customer behavior

Regardless of the creative execution of your advertisement, there will be an objective tied to it that outlines a key behavior you want audiences to take once they’ve been exposed to the ad. Historically, this could include calling a particular number, coming in store, typing in a web address, downloading an app or clicking on a digital ad.

One important question when using your .brand to convey a message is: do I want my audience to react immediately, or will recall of the domain for later use be required? The former is likely more applicable for example in digital ads where you want someone to click through – whereas recall may be more important for traditional advertising methods such as radio or television where the brand may be hoping that the client recalls the message, or acts at a later time.

It’s not (yet) an exact art

While some of this sounds like Advertising 101, the nature of new technologies like .brand domains is that they require rethinking the ‘old rules’ to make sure they still fit with the tools and the audiences of today. The advantage .brand owners now have is that this is a namespace they control entirely; meaning they can easily create domains, create ‘backups’ to cover mistypes or incorrectly-recalled domains, and ‘try out’ these approaches on any part of their business they wish.

More importantly, regardless of the medium or the domain chosen – these brands can begin to reduce their reliance on third parties such as social or search for their traffic, by creating calls-to-action that get audience directly where they need to be and build more meaningful connections with customers.

That’s a goal well worth pursuing if you ask me.


GoDaddy acquired Neustar's registry business as of August 3, 2020.


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