Amazon Web Services Targets Startups and Creators With .aws

Amazon Web Services Targets Startups and Creators With .aws

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Amazon Web Services targets startups and creators with .aws

By Tony Kirsch
Head of Professional Services, Neustar

It will come as no surprise to those who’ve read my blogs that I get pretty excited about seeing .brand domains launch. 

At Neustar we’re all in on promoting .brand usage in any industry, from all around the world and as such, we’re always watching closely for any signs of new domains on the horizon, trawling for case studies or any hint of new activity. 

So imagine my surprise when a brilliant .brand example jumped out in front of me at JFK airport.

Amazon Web Services (AWS) recently launched a campaign around its AWS Cloud solutions, appealing to startups, creators and ‘builders’. The catchy tagline “Build On” rounds out the branding nicely – and the go-to location for information is the new address www.buildon.aws.

The campaign includes a great video that speaks to ‘the new builders’ of today’s startups and big businesses, as well as billboard and other display advertising at major airports and train stations throughout the US. All these efforts use the www.buildon.aws call-to-action.

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“Widespread advertising using a .brand domain is still something we’ve seen only sparingly, and Amazon has gone big here with its buildon.aws campaign.”

Credit where it’s due

This is an extraordinary effort from AWS. As I’ve written in the past, we’re under no illusion that changes to branding in major organizations is easy. In fact, my entire job revolves around slowly but surely making the case for brands to change their approach to branding, marketing and online navigation. And that can be a gamble – it’s no easy feat and I acknowledge that.

And that’s why I’m so impressed by this launch from AWS – for a brand as established, recognized, and customer-facing as Amazon this must have taken a lot of effort.

It takes guts to see the potential benefits of .aws to the brand as a whole. It takes trust that customers won’t be deterred by an unfamiliar domain. And it takes some awesome forward-thinking to rethink customer experience in this way and consider how to create the most memorable, meaningful call-to-action possible.

Back to advertising basics

I’ve written before about the considerations required for using .brand domains in advertising, and how a simple ‘back to basics’ approach to advertising theory can remind us of the most important aspects of audience, medium and recall.

AWS has done an excellent job here of applying solid ‘old-school’ advertising principles to a ‘new-school’ asset. And who would expect less of Interbrand’s number five ‘Best Global Brand’, especially one highlighted as one of the top growing brands in 2017?

You don’t get to a position like that by sticking to the status quo, and Amazon has really shown its mettle here.

For example, the decision to include ‘www’ in the call-to-action is a clever tool to avoid any possible confusion around the new .aws extension and to reinforce audience education that this is a legitimate address.

Also, given the ads appeared largely in locations where people are commuting, recall is vital for the success of the campaign – so the ‘build on’ branding and a call-to-action that sticks in audience’s minds are essential.

Throwing down the gauntlet

With almost 9,000 domains registered under .brand domains, momentum is undeniably growing. In fact, this isn’t even the first domain on .aws – Amazon has also created specific product domains like www.ecs.aws and www.kinesis.aws.

However in this burgeoning space there is still an opportunity to be a ‘first mover.’ Widespread advertising using a .brand domain is still something we’ve seen only sparingly, and Amazon has gone big here with its buildon.aws campaign.

It’s truly impressive to see a brand of this size get a campaign like this off the ground using its .brand domain.

And it’s not a stretch to say this serves as a challenge to other .brand applicants: tackle the challenges of internal engagement and take advantage of the unique branding opportunities offered by .brand domains – or be left behind by those who are.

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

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

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

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.

Medium

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

How should I present .brand domains in advertising?

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How should I present .brand domains in advertising?

By Tony Kirsch – Head of Professional Services, Neustar

Do consumers still get confused when they see a URL without a .com (or other traditional extension)? 

Probably – but I don’t think anyone really knows the answer to that from a global perspective.

What I do know however, is that it’s important for those of us in the new TLD industry to help our brand customers ensure that we’re providing audiences with the best possible chance to identify new domains as legitimate web addresses.

One question that arises frequently in our conversations with .brands is about just how to represent .brand URLs to maximize audience understanding, recall and action when used in advertising or promotional material.

The short answer is that there are a number of ways to represent .brand domains, each with its own advantages and challenges – and the best fit is based upon the media in which it will be displayed and the action you want your audience to take.

So let’s have a look at a few of the options that we’ve seen to date and see if we can uncover what the best option is for you.

www

Traditionally, use of the ‘www’ was seen as the preferred method to ensure that the audience identified the text as a domain name. Many will also recall the http:// also being used interchangeably in days gone by.

As browsers have improved over time, the requirement for users to type the ‘www’ and/or the ‘http://’ has been eliminated and thus, many advertisers simply use the simplified domain in their creative these days.

When it comes to advertising new .brand URLs however, many have reverted back to the use of the ‘www’ to help train audiences that this is in fact a legitimate web address. This avoids confusion in situations where ‘dots’ are used as creative devices rather than functional elements of a domain name.

For example, Neustar has opted to include the ‘www’ wherever possible when using its .brand.

 

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http

As discussed above, using ‘http://’ is a slightly more outdated version of the ‘www’ option but does establish well understood URL elements to illustrate that despite the unfamiliar extension, this is a real domain name.

Domain only labels <something.brand>

This option eschews any prefix and instead focuses on the domain itself. Some brands have made a conscious decision to support this option, most likely seeking to reinforce the simplicity of the something.something vernacular that new TLDs provide as memorable options for the end user. Whilst many have chosen to have the www record created but focus on the domain only labels in advertising, some have gone further and not even created the www record.

To illustrate, the Australian Football League’s women’s competition site is accessible from www.womens.afl and womens.afl – yet the promotional signage on the stadium shows just womens.afl.

Symbols

Similar to the use of a phone icon to symbolize telephone number or an envelope to signify mailing address, a computer or tablet icon can be a simple, visual way to indicate that the text that follows can be typed into a browser.

Search symbol

In the same vein as symbols, positioning the domain (with or without ‘www’) next to a search symbol is another way to illustrate to users how it should be treated – just type it in and go!

With most browser bars now having inbuilt search functionality, this also serves as a double purpose for those seeking to get the user back to the browser bar.

Variations of this may also include a cursor icon. While search and direct navigation by domain name have traditionally been seen as opponents, typing a domain into a browser bar achieves the same outcome of delivering visitors directly to the content and educating them that this is a quicker way to get where they want.

Written instructions

Including a written call to action before the domain (which again may or may not include ‘www’) is another way to make it clear to your audience what action you want them to take. Phrases such as “find us at…”, “type…” or “go to…” are commonly used in the communication of web addresses and therefore tie into users’ previous understanding that what follows is a domain name they can visit.

So how do I choose?

As you can see, there are many options for how domain names in general can be displayed in advertising, and .brand domains carry their own peculiarities relating to audience comprehension and recall. While different approaches may be preferred by different brands, there are a number of common criteria you can use to select which option works for your brand – considering your audience, your desired behavior and the medium you are advertising in.

I’ll address the elements you need to consider when choosing the best approach for you in my next article on this topic.

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

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