Is ICANN Starting an Unnecessary Domain War?

We’ve become accustomed to websites ending in .com for some time now. Other gTLDs, which stands for “generic top level domains,” have peeked their heads out, like .org, .edu, .mil and .biz. But a new initiative from ICANN, the not-for-profit corporation that manages Internet Protocol address spaces, may mean that we see a deluge of new gTLDs.

The organization is opening the floodgates for organizations to apply for new gTLDs. That means we will see more than the existing 22 top level domains, and may see websites using “.luxury,” “.brand,” “.whatever.” ICANN is encouraging businesses with deep pockets (the application costs $185,000) to create the next “.thing.”

Why Would Anyone Want Their Own gTLD?

ICANN’s introduction video explains that creating your own gTLD can provide a business opportunity for you (you can then sell URLs to others, the way a domain registration site like Network Solutions does), or you can control your brand by creating a gTLD relating to your company name.  (Hmm, maybe I should look at “.egg” for my own brand!)

Applying for your own gTLD is a costly and lengthy process. Once companies apply, ICANN researches the application, and it can take about a year before it’s approved. If anyone objects to you registering a particular gTLD, they can do so formally, which could present a knot in the process.

My understanding is: If your competitor doesn’t want you to get the gTLD, they can stop you. Not sure how that will work out. . .

Those Opposed?

Not everyone’s thrilled about this initiative. The Association of National Advertisers (ANA) and other organizations have  banned together to form the Coalition for Responsible Internet Domain Oversight (CRIDO). The group feels that the program will cannibalize small and large businesses. According to its press release:

“The proposed ICANN program would permit applicants to claim virtually any word, generic or branded, as an Internet top-level domain.  Top Level Domains are everything to the right of the dot, such as .com and .org.  In the first year alone, the ICANN plan would allow hundreds of new Top Level Domains, and thousands in the future. This would strongly pressure brand owners at every level of business, including small businesses, consumers, NGOs, charities and foundations, to defensively buy and protect new top level domains.”

Are We Small Businesses Really in Danger?

While CRIDO says small businesses will be the victims in this scenario, it’s not clear whether that’s true. So many top level domains (think .net and .biz) have failed to match the popularity of .com that I don’t see us all scrambling to buy up new, more obscure gTLDs.  Large companies will certainly want to protect their brands, and can afford to do so.

As a small business owner, don’t sweat it. You might find the opportunity to get a unique top level domain, but don’t stress about buying up as many as possible. My suggestion is to keep doing what you’re doing, and let’s sit back together and see how this war ends.


Susan Payton Susan Payton is the Communications Manager for the Small Business Trends Awards programs. She is the President of Egg Marketing & Communications, an Internet marketing firm specializing in content marketing, social media management and press releases. She is also the Founder of How to Create a Press Release, a free resource for business owners who want to generate their own PR.

6 Reactions
  1. Thanks for the information, Susan.

    I think that this entire push is ridiculous.

    Seems really, really greedy.

    And, totally unnecessary.

    All the companies with deep pockets enough to afford it should say no.

    The Franchise King®

  2. @Joel–
    I agree, it’s ridiculous. Let’s see if it really takes off!

  3. Hello Susan,

    Very well written post articulating the concerns of small businesses relating to new gTLDs.

    Even as an advocate of the new gTLD program (disclosure: we provide technical registry services), I must say that you are absolutely correct in your concluding advice to businesses:

    > Are We Small Businesses Really in Danger?

    > As a small business owner, don’t sweat it. You might find the opportunity to get a unique domain..

    Indeed, there is likely no point in registering your business name in multiple up and coming new gTLDs. However, you could well find a few TLDs that represent your industry vertical or in your geographic locality that best represent your business and could potentially deliver SEO or other branding image benefits. For example, a cafe owner in Sydney may want to register as well as

  4. I don’t think the new gTLD’s will gain much traction. If anything, it will make .com’s more valuable.

  5. @Wil–
    Thanks so much for the tips!

    We shall see. At one time, it was easy to snag simple .com domains, but that’s getting harder!