My Trip to Another Planet: An American Goes to Munich to Talk Domains

Conferences
Smash and Shamazon do Munich

Smash and Shamazon do Munich

The Internet is freaking exploding with growth. Not only is it expanding by the creation of new namespace via new TLDs, but access to the internet across the globe is growing rapidly, supplemented by technologies like tablet devices and mobile smartphones making it even easier to plug in. Information is a commodity and as humans we are addicted. I’m pretty sure I already knew this, but I hadn’t synthesized what it means to you, to me … to all of us, until I had my mind = blown in Munich.

Name.com Product Manager (and all around badass) Shannon Brown and I had the pleasure (and I use that word lightly because I’m not exactly a ray of sunshine after an 8+ hour flight) of traveling to Munich to learn about the New TLDs at the NewDomains.org conference. Though the travel was long and exhausting, I walked away with a refreshed and energized perspective on the future of the Interwebs and the role our team is going to play in it. If you’re looking for a lowdown on who spoke at the conference READ THIS. The info nuggets and mini brain explosions about the intersection of “Life + The Internet” I walked away with are below:

tl;dr: The Internet is fundamentally changing, expanding, and growing rapidly. It will continue to alter how we live, interact, and do business. New TLDs provide an enormous opportunity for innovation, so start your brainstorming.

The Internet is powerful. #straightup

Fadi Chehade, the President and CEO of ICANN, provided the opening remarks for the conference. Along with general updates around the new TLD program he also touched upon the hot (and increasingly even hotter) topic of Internet Governance. I won’t pretend for a second that I know the first thing about Internet Governance but I mention this because it reminded me that the Internet is growing at a wild pace, connecting and affecting people in even the most remote of locations and fundamentally changing how we live and conduct business. Chehade referred to the Internet as  “the engine of growth for the world, and the engine of peace.” That is powerful. And in this very moment of time and space the Internet is undergoing the largest change since its inception. With that comes an enormous opportunity and a lot of unchartered territory ripe for innovation and trail blazing.

You + The Interwebs

The days of brand-to-consumer are over. Today’s world is consumer-to-consumer, largely driven by forums and reviews. Whether you are a seller or a buyer that touches you. Maintaining an online presence is essential to any business’ marketing strategy (and any sole individual pushing a message, project, or idea). A domain name is one piece of an online marketing strategy. If you want customers to find you, or readers to engage, obtaining a keyword-rich, branded, simple, and easy-to-remember domain name is increasingly important. That’s not a sales pitch, that’s what’s up.

Brands + New TLDs

Case in point comes from Li Yinxiu the President of Aigo, the No. 1 consumer electronics company in China. He spoke about how they plan to adopt .AIGO to consolidate their multi-national brand for a more consistent, unified, and simple user experience. One thing that he said that struck me was that his only initial reservations around new TLDs were because of lack of knowledge. Whether you are big or small, my advice to you is to gather your team and put your heads together around how you can use these extensions to DO SOMETHING DIFFERENT. INNOVATE! Differentiate yourselves. Be the first. Learn. Play!

So what about adoption?

One thing I found very interesting in visiting Germany was how frequently I saw companies advertising with .DE extensions instead of .COM (yes, market share stats told this story but SEEING it in person is different). Coming from the US, .COM more or less is our ccTLD—that is, .COM is what most Americans are conditioned to registering and searching for. The Germans (as well as countless other countries like France and Greece) are already hyper local, so what will happen when the .NYC and .LONDON TLDs start to launch? Personally, I feel the communities that will spring up (around geocentric TLDs but also industries, hobbies, and the like) are one of the most interesting aspects of the new TLDs. For example, .DESI is for people who identify with India but don’t necessarily still live there. It’s a hip, modern, Bollywood-driven term. Technology that connects Indians that live in America with content, ideas, and voices from people still living in the country is … beautiful. The possibilities for how these extensions will be adopted and grow are limitless.

ENERGY + INNOVATION

Sol, everybody's favorite guy. #ninja

Sol, everybody’s favorite guy. #ninja

My final thought is around meeting the team behind our friends at United TLD. As you look at a lot of new extensions like .blog, .democrat, .dance, and .web you can see these investments were very targeted and driven by data. Then all the sudden Solomon Amoako  jumps into his presentation (in that tough slot right before lunch … ) around .NINJA. I can’t put into words how proud I was to be sitting in the crowd (repp’ing my .NINJA hoodie) thinking to myself, I’m with THAT GUY. Not only did he breathe some much-needed fresh energy into the room, but he reminded us of two things: New TLDs at the end of the day are about having an identity online, and that even in a room full of “competitors,” we are all on the same team.

Another interesting quote from the conference is that from a registry and registrar perspective we continue to talk about New TLDs as serving the “end-user” … a.k.a. the registrant. Finally, someone stood up and said Hey, let’s get real. The “end-user” is not the registrant, it’s the person who is online searching for the information. How will new TLDs change that landscape? Will it make that process easier?

OK I’M DONE, FINALLY.

From an entirely personal perspective, I’ve been working at name.com for 3 years now and am so excited to see how people and companies run with these new extensions. It’s a blank slate, the wild wild west of the web all over again. Are you coming along?