June 2, 2010, 11:48 AM

Consumers say it would be easier to find sites with domains like .YourBrandHere

A domain name like .Canon or .sport would appeal to some U.S. web users.

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Retailers and consumer goods manufacturers may soon have the option of creating a domain name based on their brands, such as .Amazon or .Canon, or a category such as .sport. A survey suggests some U.S. consumers would find it easier to find such sites and might have more confidence in a brand that has its own web domain.

The survey finds:

  • 42% of respondents say a generic top-level domain, or gTLD, ending with a company brand such as .Canon would make it easier for them to navigate to web sites.
  • 60% prefer to enter a web address they have seen in a TV or print advertisement.
  • 44% say having web sites grouped by category, such as .sport or .cars, would facilitate finding and navigating to sites.
  • 39% say they would feel more secure transacting with companies that have their own .brand domains.

Internet technology company Melbourne IT Digital Brand Services surveyed 548 U.S. Internet users last month for the survey.

“The survey findings indicate that a brand gTLD will provide marketing advantages that may actually drive the decision to register for a .brand top-level domain,” says Kanchan Mhatre, Melbourne IT executive vice president of Digital Brand Services.

However, note all agree with Mhatre's assessment of the survey results. 

"Unfortunately the sample surveyed a rather small percentage of total Internet users," says Josh Bourne, president of the Coalition Against Domain Name Abuse (CADNA), a trade group that fights online brand infringement. "If past experience is an indicator, the demand for new gTLDs looks to be less than the survey indicates. For example, .Travel generated very little interest when it was introduced despite being a top online category. That contradicts Melbourne IT's finding that Internet users would enjoy content categorization in the TLD.”

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, which manages web addresses, is considering  allowing new generic top-level domain names based on company name or industry. Melbourne IT says such domains may be permitted by next year, and notes that Japanese camera manufacturer Canon has announced plans to acquire the .canon domain name.

“With the adoption of the new gTLD system, which enables the direct utilization of the Canon brand, Canon hopes to globally integrate open communication policies that are intuitive and easier to remember compared with existing domain names such as ‘canon.com,’” Canon said in a statement in March.

There are now 21 top-level domains, such as .com, .net, .org and .edu, and 250 country code domains such as .uk, .fr and .au.

Some retailers and brand manufacturers have objected to ICANN’s proposal to allow domains based on brand names, fearing that the change would require them to spend money to acquire new domains but not lead to added revenue. CADNA has estimated expanding the number of top-level domains could cost major brands $500,000 each, based on each company acquiring three domain names to prevent others from abusing its brand. The organization estimates the total price tag for brand-holding businesses would be $746 million.

Mhatre notes objections over the possibility of abuse of brand names in new top-level domains. “Many intellectual property managers view the expansion of gTLDs as a brand protection headache, however this ignores the marketing benefits specific to a company,” he says. “This study indicates there are definite advantages for marketing-savvy organizations to exploit the new names to their full business potential.”

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