Three predictions for .brands in 2018

By Tony Kirsch
Head of Professional Services, Neustar

As I wrote in my 2017 recap, last year the .brands space certainly did not disappoint. I’m not ashamed to admit I’m an optimist and an evangelist when it comes to .brands, but 2017 truly was a year of exciting launches and building momentum.

So, now that over 200 brands have launched their TLDs, and we’re seeing usage expand, diversify and truly push the boundaries, what can we expect to see in 2018?

And of equal importance, will 2018 be the year that ICANN finally gets moving and delivers the second round of new gTLDs to the community?

1. Social media continues to lead the way

Many marketers will know social media can be both a blessing and a curse. Connecting directly with customers has never been easier – but the platforms change by the day and the goal posts are constantly shifting. To survive, creativity and innovation are key. That’s why it was really exciting to see the use of .brands in social emerging as a trend last year, particularly in the last six months. We’ve seen huge organizations like Citi, HSBC and Philips lead the way and this is really just the beginning.

In fact, I’m going to suggest that this will be the year where we all sit back and reflect by saying “what the hell were we thinking?” when it comes to using horrible links in our social media. I’m seriously excited about how .brands could make waves in the world of social by showing marketers that there’s a better way to do things. This will definitely be a space to watch as the year develops.

You can read more about why social media and .brand TLDs are a match made in heaven in my blog Did you ever stop to think what the ‘link’ is all about?’ or my colleague Corey Grant’s piece on 5 reasons to use your .brand in social media’.

“In fact, I’m going to suggest that this will be the year where we all sit back and reflect by saying “what the hell were we thinking?” when it comes to using horrible links in our social media.”

2. Security remains a key selling point

The ability to create domains in your .brand TLD that can’t be replicated, imitated or malevolently acquired has resonated with many .brands since the beginning, and now more than ever organizations are seeing the benefits of increased consumer trust and one extra layer of defense in their cybersecurity arsenal. In fact, it was one of the main features that helped us gain buy-in from Neustar leadership to launch our own .neustar TLD.

I’m predicting this to be a true motivator as the year rolls on, as organizations educate their customers that ‘if it doesn’t end in our .brand, it isn’t us.’

3. .brands as the basis for digital disruption

Finally, 2018 will likely feature many brands challenging the status quo of digital, using new technologies in conjunction with their .brand to develop new tools and techniques for engaging with customers. In particular, we’re just beginning to see how Blockchain technology could interact with new, owned digital platforms like .brands to create unique new ways for consumers and brands to interact online. AXA’s use of Blockchain for its fizzy.axa site is just one great example of this – check out the explainer video on the site for a cool introduction.


 

We’re no longer talking about a handful of examples in niche, technical industries. The .brands space now encompasses a huge number of the world’s biggest brands, ready to reap the rewards of more direct customer relationships.

2018 is set to be a momentous year in .brands, and we’re thrilled to be part of the movement that is truly revolutionizing digital.

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