How Audi’s .brand approach aligns with its tech-driven business strategy

How Audi’s .brand approach aligns with its tech-driven business strategy

How Audi’s .brand approach aligns with its tech-driven business strategy

By Ryan Baker
Advisor – Professional Services, Neustar

In a speech at the Audi Summit in July 2017, Audi AG Chairman Rupert Stadler said, “When it comes to mobility, technology matters. We strive to be one of the world’s leading technology companies.”

Technology was a common theme of the speeches that day. Dr. Dietmar Voggenreiter, Member of the Board for Sales and Marketing said, “We strive to…keep our customers connected to the world…In a nutshell: We make their lives easier. With our technologies, e-tron, myAudi, and Audi AI.”

In 2017 we featured Audi in a .brands Spotlight article due to its market-leading approach to .brand domains, and interesting adoption strategy revolving around a large volume of redirects.

And in recent months, we’ve seen more .brand activity from Audi that even more closely mirrors its focus on customer-driven, technology-based solutions and innovations.

While the company innovates in automotive and ‘mobility’ technology, it is fascinating to see how its digital strategy – supported by its .brand – demonstrates this same passion for clever tech.

    How .audi plays a part 

Audi was among the quickest adopters of .brand TLDs, with several .audi domains emerging in the early days of the program.

However its usage of the TLD has ramped up significantly in recent months, at a time when its corporate messaging is reinforcing its new focus on technology in all aspects of the business.

What we’ve seen of Audi’s .brand approach so far falls into four key areas: 

  1. Relocating official Audi dealerships to .audi domains
  2. Creating .audi domains and websites for third party dealers
  3. Introducing new products on .audi domains
  4. Building supporting .audi domains for areas of corporate identity

These activities – relating to functions such as branding, supply chain management and sales – tie directly into core areas of Audi’s business.

Audi dealerships find a home on .audi

In the last 12 months, Audi has overhauled its website strategy in Germany, with its 85 Audi Centre car dealerships switching over to .audi domains. For example, visit audi-zentrum-baden-baden.audi or audi-zentrum-leipzig-sued.audi.

Overarching this structure are a number of regional websites such as berlin.audi or munchen.audi, which use a map to direct users to their closest Audi dealership.

 

Third-party dealers stay on-brand on .audi domains

Third-party dealers who sell vehicles from multiple manufacturers also appear to have been allocated .audi domains with a corresponding, Audi-branded webpage – such as autoschmitt-idstein.audi which exists in conjunction with its main website autoschmitt.com.

This is a great way to ensure the Audi brand is presented consistently and accurately even when control is out of the hands of the Audi marketing team.

New offerings launch on .audi

A number of campaigns, promotions and new products have launched with their own .audi domains. For example, the introduction of the Audi A4 was accompanied by the domain revealthea4.audi, and the prominent Geneva Motor Show launch of the e-tron electric vehicle gained major press coverage for the primary site e-tron.audi.

Supporting corporate domains tied to .audi brand

While not all resolve to websites yet, Audi has registered a number of domains relating to areas of its corporate identity and branding. Some of these include twitter.audi, blog.audi, summit.audi, finanzierungsrechner.audi (leasing.audi), and weare.audi. The rollout of these domains could be a hint at an eventual entire transition to the .audi TLD.

What does this mean for .audi – and other .brands?

Of course, we can only speculate about Audi’s underlying strategy with these domains and the way it is rolling out .audi. But there are clear parallels between its .audi activity and Audi’s business-wide focus on new technology to keep customers connected and make their lives easier.

In fact, of the three core technologies Dietmar Voggenreiter called out in his Audi Summit speech – e-tron, MyAudi, and Audi AI – two already have a home on .audi. (see e-tron.audi and my.audi)

Audi is a fantastic reminder for other organizations with a .brand that it’s not about domain names, websites and SEO. By thinking more broadly about how it impacts customer experience and digital branding, a .brand TLD can become one of many tools in achieving real business objectives.

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

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.brands Spotlight: Automotive industry

.brands Spotlight: Automotive industry

.brands Spotlight: Automotive industry

The .brands Spotlight series takes a deep-dive into interesting facets of the .brands space, looking at Stats Hub data to find insights about how .brands are being used across different industries, regions and organizations. This Spotlight piece focuses in on the global automotive industry.

Summary

The global automotive industry produced over 94.9 million vehicles in 2016, and is considered one of the world’s most important economic sectors by revenue. As an industry of such magnitude which has by definition been built on a foundation of constant innovation, it is no surprise that the automotive sector is one of the most highly represented in terms of .brand TLD applications and subsequent usage. While automotive brands in some geographic regions are more active than others, overall the sector is emerging as a leader in .brand adoption.

Key statistics

Total TLDs delegated: 42

Including

AUDI        BMW       FERRARI       HYUNDAI       TOYOTA

Total domains registered

Average domains per .brand

  • Industry percentage of all .brands 13.8% 13.8%
  • Proportion of active TLDs (more than 2 domains registered) 41.6% 41.6%
  • Proportion of active domains (resolving or redirecting) 74.4% 74.4%

Key use cases

Industry spotlight: Audi leading the way

Of the automobile manufacturers using .brand TLDs, Audi is the clear leader, registering over 600 domains, 75 percent of which are actively resolving or redirecting.

Audi’s usage of its .audi TLD is interesting and varied. The resolving domains on .audi, which total over 440, include product and campaign pages, redirects to existing content and assets, links to corporate information pages and shortcuts to local dealer websites just to name a few.

Take for example the Audi dealership in the medium-size town of Leipzig.

While the URL for the specific dealer (www.audi-zentrum-leipzig-sued.audi) appears longer than one might expect, its performance in organic search is clearly the goal – which it appears to be achieving.

Other more intuitive examples include the July 2017 Audi Summit, which is hosted at www.summit.audi, while the brand’s social media profiles can be accessed through vanity URLs such as www.twitter.audi and www.facebook.audi. Links to .audi domains have been widely publicized in social media posts.

Audi is not the only German automotive brand to have adopted .brand domains. In fact, of the six top automotive companies by .brand domains registered, four of them are from Germany. BMW features highly in the ranks, with the motor group collectively registering 55 domains of which 82 percent are currently active. MAN SE follows closely behind, also with 55 domains.

So why is Germany so highly represented in terms of .brand TLDs in the automotive sphere?

As many would be aware, Germany is a country known for its technological innovation, with a great deal of investment every year in research, development and education. In addition to its strong automotive industry which was responsible for manufacturing around 6 million vehicles in 2016, the country’s broader desire for continual technological advancement has embedded innovation into Germany’s culture and economy.

In fact, the prominence of German companies in the top-performing automotive .brands may be linked to a wider trend of European uptake in .brand TLDs. Certainly in the automotive industry however also identifiable in other sectors, European brands are among the most active in terms of .brand domain registrations and usage.

One potential reason for this may be that European brands and consumers are more ‘primed’ to use alternate domain extensions, with .com being less ubiquitous than in the USA. European consumers would be very familiar with websites under .uk, .de or .fr to name a few, and perhaps have more day-to-day experience with a range of domain options beyond .com. This may then impact European brands’ openness to adopting .brand domains as an alternative that can encompass all geographic regions and remains relevant without requiring a separate domain for every location.

dotbrand spotlight stats hub

Conclusion

Representing 14 percent of all .brand domain registrations, the automotive industry is highly represented in the .brand space. It also has one of the highest proportions of active domains, indicating that usage of .brands in the sector is significant.

However this ranking is supported largely by the efforts of a few key players that are leading the way, with 85 percent of the industry’s domain registrations coming from just five brands.

As an industry, the automotive sector is not without its challenges. As threats emerge in changes to the global economy, challenger companies like Uber and new technologies such as self-driving cars, the automotive industry as a whole is facing an environment of ‘disrupt or be disrupted.’ By its nature, the automotive sector has always been one of technological advancement, however more and more auto manufacturers are needing to think more like tech companies in order to stay relevant in the swiftly-evolving market.

We’ve seen evidence of this in the future-minded projects launched from some of the world’s most established automotive brands. This year Ford announced a five-year, $1 billion investment in the development of a self-driving car; while General Motors acquired a similarly-focused organization in 2016.

In this regard, it is not surprising to see automotive brands looking for opportunities to innovate in their marketing, digital and customer experience as well. In projects like BMW’s www.next100.bmw campaign, we can see .brands finding a place among the culture of innovation that has become synonymous with automotive manufacturers since their early days.

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

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