My First Annual “Reveal Day” Awards

Posted: June 13, 2012 in Uncategorized

Today ICANN revealed 1,930 potential new generic top-level domains (gTLDs), each a possible competitor to familiar TLDs such as .com and .org. The list of what was applied for, and who applied for it, makes interesting reading and stirs speculation. Here are my first impressions. (I apologize to regular readers of this blog, who know I generally comment on marketing communications and fiction techniques. I spent three years at ICANN and simply can’t resist commenting on the new strings.)

Most Contested Award. Thirteen companies each arrived at the idea that .app would make a great gTLD. Eleven of those companies must be disappointed to learn they’ll be slugging it out with Google and Amazon.

Runners-up for Most Contested: .home, 11 applicants; .inc, 11 applicants; .art, 10 applicants; .llc, .book, .shop, 9 applicants for each; .design, .movie, .music, 8 applicants for each.

Why Bother? Award. Admitting my utter ignorance of their respective business plans, I question the revenue possibilities of .web. That strikes me as a backwards-looking extension with a 90’s feel and no community that feels passionate about it — yet 7 companies will vie for it.

Battle of the Titans Award. It’s startling to see how many TLDs Google and Amazon will contend for. Examples include the aforementioned .app, plus .book, .buy, .dev, .mail, and several more. Since ICANN evaluators are not going to disqualify Google and Amazon on technical, financial, or criminal grounds, many of these strings will go to auction. I assume each company has a business plan that specifies how much they are willing to spend on each string to outbid the other, and I fully expect the totals to go into the millions. Surely, though, Amazon would not spend as much to defend .smile as it would .kindle.

Thus, for centrality of brand, I think the cut-throat battle to watch will actually be Google versus Microsoft for .docs. I don’t think either side will want to yield on this one.

Voice of the People Award. Three companies will contend for .sucks, a potential “defensive registrations” goldmine. Only Ruby Moon, LLC had the foresight to apply for the more positive .rocks. But for best contemporary resonance with the way my friends talk, I think the coolest string of these is Atomic Pipe’s application, .fail.

Zag When They Zig Award. This is the award for out-thinking the competition so that you have no competition. For example, 8 companies applied for .music — but only 2 had the insight to apply for the related .band. Many have spoken about the potential battle between .eco (4 applicants) and .green (4 applicants). For slipping away quietly with half the audience while everyone else was arguing, this award goes to Afilias, the sole applicant for .organic.

Conspicuous By Their Absence Award. I expect tech companies like Google and Amazon to fully grasp what gTLDs can mean. Many have commented on how odd it seems that Facebook and Twitter sat this round out. But I think the weaker move is from Apple, who applied for nothing but .apple. How will they feel when someone else wins .app? Amazon is the sole applicant for .tunes; can Apple live with that?

You Go Grrl! Award. Most companies without a technological product ignored gTLDs. Clearly the SC Johnson company got it, but their applications look defensive (can they seriously have a business plan for .AFamilyCompany while also applying for .scjohnson?). The company that looks to me like it gets it and means business is L’Oreal. By my count, they applied for at least 13 TLDs, ranging from brands (.garnier, .lancome, .maybelline) to categories (.hair, .makeup, .salon). With none of their competitors in sight, L’Oreal’s foresight just might let it own the beauty space on line.

Good Luck With That Award. Under ICANN’s evaluation rules, an applicant can gain priority over other applicants by proving that a clearly defined community stands behind their application for a TLD meant to serve that community. Among the 9 companies applying for .shop, 2 have claimed community priority. How on earth can there be a clearly defined community of people who shop when every person on earth shops, and when every other mom and pop runs a shop? Good luck with that!

LOL Award. Among the TLDs I had not heard of prior to today’s publication were a few that made me smile because they were unexpected and yet in retrospect, predictable. This includes .hiphop and Google’s application for .foo. (I’m disqualifying .lol and .wtf because I’d heard of them before Reveal Day.) The TLD that gets the award, though, because I’m still wondering about the revenue model hours after reading it: .unicorn.

“Reveal Day” promises to provide a treasure trove of interesting stories as the contention battles begin. I look forward to commenting on Reveal Day every year — assuming I live on Jupiter.

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Comments
  1. Scott Pinzon says:

    I don’t usually comment on my own post 🙂 but I should declare a tie for the Zag When They Zig Award. While the four applicants for .gay remain in contention, Afilias — besides getting a head start with .organic — is also going to walk off with a lot of the gay audience with their uncontested TLD, .LGBT. Afilias FTW!

  2. Ken Bour says:

    I spent a few minutes browsing the list with my wife, but you, my good sir, have harvested it! Hilarious! My compliments. As a former ICANN employee and employing your keen insight and witty writing style, is there some possibility that a budding critic has been born?

  3. Going to be interesting to see how they resolve conflicts. Can you have both .school and .schule newgtlds revealday

    • Scott Pinzon says:

      An excellent question, Janis! It is up to independent evaluation panels to decide what strings are too “confusingly similar” to co-exist. Besides .school vs. .schule, I’m keeping an eye on .sport vs. .sports, .theater vs. .theatre, and a few others.

  4. lol says:

    yeah – you should stop that – commenting on your own post.

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