Have you noticed websites using a different top level domain (TLD) extension than the standard “.com” extension?  I’m not talking about “.net”, “.org”, “.biz”, or any other of those common extensions that you may have seen in the past; I’m talking about new extensions such as “.apartments”, “.plumbing”, “.digital” (yes, we do own mason.digital), and other industry-specific extensions. If you haven’t noticed these “Not-Coms” yet, you certainly will soon.  However, is this the start of a paradigm shift in how we use and market our website/URL, or is it just the newest marketing fad to get you to purchase an extra domain name?  Before we answer that question, let’s look at the two different types of TLD extensions you may see on the web.

CUSTOM TLDS

If you have enough money (the evaluation fee alone is $185,000), you can register your own TLD extension for your business.  I’ve seen a few businesses jump on board with this, but let’s look at the large investment firm Barclays for example.  If you go to barclays.com, you get redirected to home.barclays.  Interesting, huh?  From their May 11 press release, Barclays stated:

The launch of the .barclays and .barclaycard domain names creates a simplified online user experience, making it crystal clear to our customers that they are engaging with a genuine Barclays site.

This clarity, along with the advantages of controlling our own online environment, enables us to provide an even more secure service, which we know is of utmost importance to our customers, and ultimately serves to increase trust and confidence in Barclays’ online entities.

Marriott has also gotten on-board with their .marriott custom TLD extension:

Our company purchased .marriott to protect customers from being confused by third parties that could themselves have purchased the domain and built their own rogue websites.

Both Barclays and Marriott state that having their own TLD extension has more to do with trust and security, and while certainly true, I think it can also help simplify websites that offer a lot of services.  Take Google for example.  They could simply use maps.google, mail.google, drive.google, etc., instead of having the “.com” on the end of their domain.  Not a huge difference, but it saves you 4 characters.

GENERIC TLDS

If the cost of registering your own TLD extension is just a tad out of your budget (probably 99.9% of businesses), you can always register a generic TLD extension for a very affordable price.  But why not just use a standard “.com”?

  1. Availability – If “yourcompany.com” is already taken, you can instead reserve “yourcompany.industry”.
  2. Marketing – Your website address can more effeciently describe who you are or what you do than your basic “.com”
  3. Geo-Targeting – You can register geo-specific TLD extensions such as “.nyc”, “.miami”, and “.vegas”.  Want to visit the Eiffel Tower?  Get more information at toureiffel.paris.
  4. Simplification – For example: instead of a long domain such as scratchtownbrewingcompany.com, simply go to scratchtown.beer
  5. Stand out – Be the first in your industry to use a different and unique URL to stand apart from the competition.

SO ARE “NOT COMS” A PARADIGM SHIFT, OR JUST A MARKETING FAD?

I’m going to say it’s a paradigm shift, but one that will definitely take some time.

First, people have to get accustomed to not seeing a “.com” at the end of a URL.  Not an overly difficult concept to grasp, but may take some time for everyone to “get it”.  I think that as the large companies that can afford the hefty price tag associated with a custom TLD extension make the change (like Barclays and Google), people will be more accepting of the generic ones.

So, should you jump on board?  Go for it.  The cost to own a generic TLD extension is negligible, and you will be securing the domain for the future when “.com” may be less popular.  At this time, I would certainly recommend still purchasing a “.com” when getting your URL while the industry is still shifting towards the new TLDs, but don’t be afraid to redirect it to your new domain extension.