New Report by Afilias Shows Consumers Still Unaware of New Top-Level Domains

April 5, 2013

Despite the brouhaha and raucous that the new gTLDs (generic top-level domains) have made in the domain and marketing community, a new survey undertaken in the US and in UK by YouGov shows that 75% of adults are completely oblivious to the new gTLD rollout.

The report, published by Afilias Ltd, one of the largest global domain name service operators, was only known by 21% of adults in the UK and only 20% of adults in the US.   In addition, 73% of UK adults would prefer to visit a traditional web address such as in contrast to for example.

This is pretty scary news for registrars and businesses such as, who have invested over $50 million in new gTLDs such as .web, .football and .buy.  The fact that the first batch of new gTLds are set to be released next month really reiterates how unprepared everyone is to the change.

About the dot Brand or dot What Survey

The results of the survey were published in Afilias “dot Brand or dot What” report, which polled a total of 2,000 UK and 2,000 consumers in the US.  The survey was conducted with the help of Yougov to understand consumer perceptions about the new gTLDs.

The CMO of Afilias, Roland LaPlante stated:

“The advent of new gTLDs coming over the months ahead will result in major changes to the Internet. Some of the world’s best-known companies will roll out a dot Brand extension, but our research shows consumers are unaware that these changes are coming and would avoid the new gTLDs due to their unfamiliarity. However, the new gTLDs offer consumers great benefits, such as reducing the risk of purchasing counterfeit goods online. Our research demonstrates that businesses need to seriously consider the ways that they will integrate the new gTLDs into their online strategies and how they will educate consumers about their benefits,”

The ironic thing is that even though a huge amount of money have been spent on applying for new gTLDs to date (including $18 million by Google and $57 million by Donuts Inc), there has been virtually zero actionable marketing of the new domains to date.  In fact, nearly all of the news surrounding the new gTLD program seems to revolve around cynics and security issues rather then consumer promotion and insight.

Even when Godaddy’s CEO announced they were going to drop the .com from their logo, stating “10 years from now, we will look back at a world where every domain name ending in a .com like our kids look at record players,” many commentators suggested this would ironically reinforce the .com as it carries a weight of implied assumption that the business operates on .com.

Overall, the Afilias survey simply reiterates the fact that no one is ready for these new gTLds.  I don’t think that’s hardly surprising either.  The majority of the best gTLDs applications will still need to be settled in auction between their application rivals, meanwhile new gTLD objections are still being carried out on a daily basis.

Without knowing which gTLDs will be approved or who will be running them (and in what capacity and functionality they will do so), no one is going to be in a rush to invest in these new domains.