Psst, Wanna Buy Some Virtual Real Estate? A Beginner’s Guide to the Internet’s New World, Slightly Right of the Dot
In 2013, we are witnessing a resetting of the Internet clock, making it possible to purchase a tract of virtual real estate to the right of the dot, as in .chevy, .samsung or .dell. We saw early signs of it this past February, in some of the Superbowl advertising. Remember how Booking.com ended its spot with a saucily intoned, “Booking dot yeah”? This was one of the first widely publicized hints of the new world that’s opening up online. From .com, .org, .gov, .edu, and a handful of other domain name suffixes we’ve become accustomed to, the world to the right of the dot — known as generic Top Level Domains, or gTLDs — is exploding to hundreds, and possibly thousands, of these suffixes.
Back at the beginning of the Internet era, many companies, manufacturers included, gained a dawning realization of the need for their own online presence. Before you could say “Cadillac,” big manufacturers were racing to lock in the .com after their brand name. Many succeeded, but a few didn’t — which is to say that others grabbed their brand name followed by .com before they could, and were then able to resell it to the brand owner, sit on it, or use it whether fraudulently or otherwise, to trade on the good name built by the actual brand owner. So if Coca-Cola hadn’t successfully registered for coke.com, it was out of luck, and left to the tender mercies of whoever had bought it.
Now a world of online opportunity is opening up, and with it, a world of risk. What happens when a manufacturer gets its own (brand name) gTLD? What happens if it doesn’t? What can happen with a plethora of new open suffixes (TLDs) becomes available, suffixes like .car, .credit, .nyc, and so on?