Up until now, the internet has mainly been dominated by 21 Top Level Domains (TLDs), which are mostly .com sites. A top level domain is the end portion of a web address (e.g. .com, .net, .org, .biz, and .gov). However, this has recently shifted with the introduction of many generic TLDs (gTLDs) into the internet landscape. By 2013, there will be thousands of gTLDs(e.g. .nyc, .taipei, .apparel, .hotel).

Come 2013, we will have a new internet generation which will require that digital brand experts redevelop their marketing strategies. Digital branding teams will need to reconsider which domain names are the most useful to use, as well as which social media outlets and apps are worthwhile to invest in. Life for Chief Marketing Officers will become much more complicated, because .com sites will no longer be the default option. Instead of monitoring 21 Top Level Domains, they will need to monitor the integrity of their brand across 1,400 gTLDs!

This upcoming shift will pervade the market in 12 to 18 months, so businesses need to analyze what their competitors, vendors, suppliers and customers immediately. Only the businesses that demonstrated effective analysis and leadership will come out on top.

Lastly, folks will need to decide whether or not to apply for a gTLD or not. Those who chose to cross over will need a clear brand strategy to ensure that their investment pays off. Those who stick with one of the 21 TLDs must assess whether or not to shift away from .com sites in order to secure desired website spots.

Those who apply for gTLDs and are accepted will have complete control over that gTLD. For example, if a company bought the gTLD “.anthem”, then they would either be able to reserve that for just the company’s own use, or they could choose to sell second level domains to other companies that wished to use .anthem in they website.

As of now, Google, Amazon, L’Oreal, VeriSign, Richemont, Dish Network, Microsoft, FIAT, and Johnson & Johnson have the most gTLDs. However, large companies such as Starbucks, ebay, facebook, Disney, Coca-Cola, PGA, Viacom, and NBC have little to none.
There are many brand segments that have emerged quickly on the gTLD market. Retail and Consumer Goods make up 36%. Media, Sports and Travel make up 24%. Tech and Health make 20 %. Lastly, Business-to-Business services, Financial Services, and Non Profits make up 20%. As we can see, even at this point in history, the new Internet is already in play. Will you be ready?
For more information, check out the infographic created by Wolfe Domain.